USC just raised tuition and fees for next school year

University of South Carolina students make their way past the Russell House on campus.
University of South Carolina students make their way past the Russell House on campus.

The University of South Carolina’s Board of Trustees approved tuition and fee increases Wednesday that will cost in-state students at least $354 more during the coming school year.

Tuition for the 2018-2019 school year will increase 2.9 percent; food service will increase 3.5 percent and housing will increase roughly 4 percent, depending on the dorm, according to a fact sheet USC provided.

For tuition, that means in-state undergraduates will pay an additional $177 per semester, while out-of-state students will pay $468 more per semester, Chief Operating Officer Ed Walton said.

Altogether, the tuition and fees could cost some in-state students roughly $784 more per year to attend USC.

Student Body President Taylor Wright supported the tuition increase as a way to invest in better parking, improved classrooms and additional faculty.

“As the board representative for the students, I recognize the impact this has on students and their families. I guarantee you that no increase is taken lightly,” Wright said in a statement issued on student government letterhead. “While we continue to find ways to improve the University, we will continue fighting to ensure that this doesn’t create a financial burden to current and prospective students.”

The tuition and fee increases affect every one of USC’s branch campuses, albeit at different amounts. The only students in USC’s 51,000-student system whose tuition will stay the same are out-of-state students at USC’s Medical School in Columbia and Greenville, according to the fact sheet.

The tuition increase comes just after USC announced it will require most students to have health insurance, making the annual cost to attend USC $2,000 more expensive for most uninsured students.

Senior Jessica Waters said the tuition increase — which was approved later in the year because the state legislature took longer than normal to approve a budget — is forcing her to re-evaluate her own budget before classes resume Aug. 23.

“I love everything about (USC), but it’s kind of rubbing me the wrong way that they’re doing all of these increases,” Waters said.

The tuition increase will bring in $11 million in additional revenue. It will be spent upgrading IT infrastructure, improving the in-demand programs such as health sciences and data design, and increasing spending to USC’s police department, spokesman Wes Hickman said.

“We’re operating on an (IT) infrastructure here that was built in the 1970s,” Hickman said.

The tuition increase is the lowest, as a percentage, of any year in the last 20 years, Walton said, calling the increases “reasonable” and “necessary.”

Last year, USC increased tuition roughly $400.

Tim Hofferth, chairman of the S.C. Commission on Higher Education, said colleges and universities should avoid raising tuition.

“As college costs continue to rise and students look for relief from crippling debt, we should be focused not on raising tuition but instead on cutting the total cost of college,” he said in a statement.

All board members present, except for Thomas Cofield, voted in favor of passing the budget, which included the tuition increases.

Below are the new, approved tuitions (with technology fee factored in) per semester for the 2018-2019 school year, per USC’s fact sheet:

USC main campus (2.9 percent increase)

Undergraduate, in-state: $6,308

Undergraduate, out-of-state: $16,649

Graduate, in-state: $7,025

Graduate, out-of-state: $14,798

Medical School — Columbia and Greenville

In-state: $21,342 (3 percent increase)

Out-of-state: $43,875 (no change)

Law School (2.9 percent increase)

In-state: $13,304

Out-of-state: $25,751

USC Aiken (2.5 percent increase)

In-state: $5,355

Out-of-state: $10,584

USC Beaufort (2.48 percent increase)

In-state: $5,340

Out-of-state: $10,863

USC Upstate (1.5 percent)

In-state: $5,744

Out-of-state: $11,495

Palmetto College Campuses (2.9 percent)

In-state: $3,779

Out-of-state: $9,119

Palmetto College Online (2.5 percent)

In-state: $5,355

Out-of-state: $10,584