South Carolina has lagged behind the rest of the country in funding higher education since the Great Recession, according to a new report.
Per-student spending on higher education in the Palmetto State ranked 40th in 2016, down nine places from 2008, where it ranked 31st, according to a report from the American Federation of Teachers, a nationwide teachers union.
“Only five states had larger reductions in state support,” the report said of South Carolina. “This has meant higher costs for students. Tuition for two-year and four-year colleges is up 37 and 28 percent, respectively.”
The report comes as the University of South Carolina raised its undergraduate tuition 2.9 percent.
Compared to 2008, the state spent $477 million less on higher education in 2016, according to the report, which adjusted for inflation.
As for K-12 education, S.C.’s per-student spending increased one rank between 2008 and 2016, from 33 to 32, according to the report, titled “A Decade of Neglect: Public Education Funding in the Aftermath of the Great Recession.” S.C. is facing “crisis” levels of K-12 teacher shortages, driven by below-average pay, heavy workloads and poor classroom conditions.
The report compares the levels of education funding to tax reforms since 2008. It ranks S.C. 34th in what it calls “tax fairness,” a measure of how much taxes the richest 1 percent pay.