University of South Carolina trustees Friday approved a 3.46 percent tuition hike and then vowed to lobby S.C. legislators harder for more taxpayer money in the next state budget.
The hike, which USC officials blamed on insufficient state money, means S.C. students will pay $410 more – and $12,264 overall – to attend the downtown Columbia school next school year.
The sticker price for out-of-state tuition will rise $1,082 next year, to $32,364 overall.
“We will continue to fight for more support of and investment in higher education,” USC President Harris Pastides said in a statement after the board’s vote. “We will continue to fight for the interests of South Carolina’s students. An educated and competitive population is the key to our state’s economic and overall well-being.”
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USC has increased tuition every year since 1987. But the upcoming 3.46 percent hike is its highest since the 3.9 percent increase before the 2011-12 school year.
The university blames the hike partly on a new state law requiring the school to contribute an additional $3.3 million to the state’s pension system and pay an estimated $700,000 in added health care costs.
The tuition hike is expected to boost the school’s budget by $12.9 million.
USC leaders also are flustered that legislators have not completely restored the state’s higher education funding to pre-Great Recession levels. USC’s state funding for next year is down almost $48 million from the 2008-09 school year.
“The Legislature has failed higher education in South Carolina,” said Tommy Cofield, one of several trustees who made it clear he was having trouble stomaching the hike.
“I don’t like it, and I struggle with it,” trustee Gene Warr said.
During the board’s discussion, Pastides noted in-state rival Clemson University still is more expensive. USC would have raised an additional $57 million by charging Clemson’s tuition rates last year, he said. “Boy, could we have used that money.”
USC trustees also OK’d a plan Friday requiring each of the school’s academic and service departments to trim their upcoming budgets by 3 percent.
The $17 million in savings will flow to an “excellence fund” to recruit top-flight faculty members, and invest in new and current academic programs and research opportunities, the school said.
Trustees also approved raising tuition 3 percent for USC’s sister campuses and online Palmetto College program.
Tuition rates rise
Tuition hikes that S.C. four-year public colleges have announced for this fall:
In state: +3.25 percent, or an added $745; $23,673 total*
Out of state: +3.25 percent; or an added $1,430; $45,436 total*
In state: +2.99 percent, or an added $324; $11,200 total
Out of state: +2.99 percent, or an added $752; $25,872 total
College of Charleston
In state: +5.38 percent, or an added $612; $11,998 total
Out of state: +2.85 percent, or an added $842; $30,386 total
In state: +3 percent, or an added $296; $10,178 total
Out of state: +3 percent, or an added $593; $20,354 total
S.C. State University
In state: +3 percent, $270 or an added; $10,740 total
Out of state: +3 percent, or an added $570; $21,120 total
University of South Carolina-Columbia
In state: +3.46 percent, or an added $410; $12,264 total
Out of state: +3.46 percent, or an added $1,082; $32,364
* For upperclassmen, including meals, housing, uniforms, laundry, books and haircuts
SOURCE: S.C. colleges