Education: A question of affordability

More public — and fewer private — college and university students.

Less state money for higher education offset, in part, by higher tuition.

That’s the post-recession outlook for S.C. colleges and universities.

The economic downturn has stripped the state’s public colleges and universities of more than $100 million in state money even as more students turn to them for an affordable education.

State lawmakers, faced with lower revenue projections, doled out big cuts to colleges and universities. That has put colleges in the position of raising tuition to offsetthe cuts. But the tight economy restrains public colleges from raising tuition too much as a record number of students turn to them for a degree.

Students who in past years might have preferred private colleges now are considering public schools, officials say.

“It’s affordability,” said Denny Ciganovic, director of the College of Charleston’s Career Center. “There are some realities about what I can and can’t afford. Thepublic schools are a bit more affordable.”

And there’s no reason to believe that will change anytime soon.