A state senator wants hearings into tuition discounts S.C. colleges use to recruit out-of-state students, citing a report from The State newspaper on the University of South Carolina’s enrollment strategy.
Meanwhile, newly released data show USC offered more than $84.1 million in tuition discounts to out-of-state students last year. That figure is twice the amount The State previously reported, based on data provided by a state agency that oversees colleges.
South Carolina’s flagship university school has awarded more than $515 million in tuition discounts to nonresidents over the past 10 years, the new numbers show.
State Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, Tuesday asked acting Senate Education Committee chairman Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, to call Senate hearings to look into the discounting.
“USC is turning its back on South Carolina residents in pursuit of national prestige,” Jackson wrote in a letter. “The result of USC’s enrollment strategy is to limit the educational opportunities for South Carolina residents. It should also be noted that USC is diluting its minority student representation as a result of its enrollment practices. And my concern is USC is not alone.”
USC has defended its growing out-of-state enrollment and use of tuition discounts.
Recruiting out-of-state students – some paying higher tuition than in-state students – is necessary because S.C. lawmakers have underfunded higher education since the Great Recession, USC says.
Tuition paid by out-of-state students helps pay to educate in-state students, USC says, adding it currently educates more S.C. residents than ever before.
USC’s $84.1 million in tuition discounts last year is more than double the $40.4 million The State reported Sunday, citing data the Commission on Higher Education provided in response to an open-records request. A clerical mix-up resulted in that agency providing only data for the fall 2015 semester, instead of the full year, commission officials said.
A USC spokesman last week confirmed the validity of the commission’s data, not mentioning it accounted for only one semester.