The University of South Carolina joined the tuition-raising club Friday when its board of trustees approved a 6.9 percent hike for the 2010-2011 academic year that will take annual tuition and fee costs to $9,786 beginning this fall.
“The state’s bleak budget picture continues to impact us, and once again we have made some gut-wrenching choices,” USC president Harris Pastides said.
USC is now the 11th of the state’s 13 public, four-year colleges and universities to raise its tuition. Winthrop University and Clemson University have not made final decisions on tuition, but they are expected to increase their costs as well.
USC’s tuition increase is less than the than 14.75 percent and 13 percent hikes approved at the College of Charleston and The Citadel but more than the 4.9 percent and 4.5 percent boosts at Coastal Carolina University and Lander University.
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The General Assembly reduced USC’s state funding by 21 percent this year, a loss of $23.4 million for the Columbia campus and $32.6 million for the entire system.
Over the past two years, legislators have reduced state funding to USC by just under 47 percent, a loss of $75.7 million for the Columbia campus and $104.8 million system wide.
Board members complained Friday that legislators are not adhering to their own complicated formula for determining how state money for higher education should be distributed.
“We’re not talking about more dollars,” board member Herb Adams said. “We’re talking about distributing the dollars in a fair way.”
Last year, tuition at USC Columbia was raised 3.6 percent, the lowest increase in the last eight years.
This year’s tuition increase is expected to bring in $15.5 million for USC Columbia. Most of that money, about $8 million, will be used to offset the $23.4 million in state cuts. The rest will be used for strategic initiatives and inflationary costs such as utilities.
Staffing and travel limitations have helped deans and other department heads deal with the rest of the budget cuts.
“We’ve been preparing for a sizable budget cut for six months,” said William T. Moore, USC’s vice president for finance and planning.
Different parts of the USC system will face tuition increases of varying amounts.
USC Aiken will have a 6 percent increase. USC Beaufort students will be charged 9.5 percent more. Tuition will rise by 5 percent for USC Upstate.
Students with fewer than 75 credit hours at the university’s regional campuses – Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Sumter and Union – will have a 6.5 percent tuition increase. Students on those campuses with fewer than 75 credit hours will have a 5.4 percent increase.
USC’s School of Medicine is boosting tuition by 10 percent, making tuition for in-state students $29,948 per year and $67,162 for out-of-state students.
USC’s undergraduate, in-state tuition is now the fifth-highest in the state, trailing Winthrop, Clemson, the College of Charleston and The Citadel.
Moore said the university will continue to work to make sure it does not raise tuition beyond what South Carolina students can afford.
“We won’t let that happen,” he said.
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