Francis Marion University students will pay no more to attend school and live in dorms than they did last year, the school announced Thursday.
That means tuition and mandatory fees at Francis Marion will be $11,160 per year for in-state undergraduate students, according to a fact sheet from the school. The freeze will also apply to graduate students and out-of-state students, spokesman Tucker Mitchell said.
However, the price of Francis Marion’s meal plans will increase roughly 2 percent depending on the type of meal plan, Mitchell said.
The move makes Francis Marion, which has an enrollment of roughly 4,000, the first school to have completely frozen tuition for the 2019-2020 school year, according to S.C. Commission on Higher Education Interim President Mike LeFever.
“It’s a good thing,” LeFever said. “Providing a consistent source of state funding will keep pressure off the colleges to increase (tuition).”
Gov. Henry McMaster and Sen. Vincent Scheheen, D-Kershaw, had pushed for a temporary, total tuition freeze — under similar, but different plans — but lawmakers compromised with colleges, allowing them to increase tuition by only enough to pay for state-mandated increases in pension and health care costs.
“When I went before (the) Ways and Means Higher education subcommittee earlier this year, I was asked ‘would you do your best to not raise tuition and I said I would,” Francis Marion University President Fred Carter told The State. “I wanted to honor the commitment I made to Ways and Means.”
Francis Marion was able to pay for not raising tuition by being proactive, Carter said. Earlier this year, the board of trustees began setting aside money to help fund increases in employee pay, health care and pension costs, Carter said.
“I’m not judging other institutions, but you get within a percentage point and my goodness... you find a way to not raise tuition at all,” Carter said.
If lawmakers were to give Francis Marion another increase in recurring funding next year, the school would try to freeze tuition again, Carter said.
“If the General Assembly is going to be as generous as they were this year, we’ll try to do it,” Carter said regarding tuition freezes. “Why wouldn’t we?”
Clemson University was the first major college to set tuition, fees and room and board costs for next year. There, in-state, undergraduate tuition increased by 1 percent and housing costs increased by 1.5 to 4.5 percent (depending on the dorm). Dining costs increased by 4.5 percent.
Though these are the lowest tuition increases in recent years, the base cost for Clemson freshmen will increase by at least $389 next year, according to a previous article from The State.
On Wednesday, The Citadel increased in-state tuition by .8 percent — $359 for freshmen, according to a press release.
The state’s largest school, the University of South Carolina, has not set tuition rates for next year, but could do so as soon as Friday, when its board of trustees meets at the Pastides Alumni Center, 900 Senate Street, at 10:00 a.m.