Statehouse Report today reports on the contrasting investment strategies from South Carolina legislature for its public colleges and universities, outlining how institutional appropriations have dramatically dropped in recent years while support for merit-based scholarships have increased over the same period.
According to the report, public institutions in South Carolina have lost more than 30 percent of state appropriations since 2008, but has increased its funding for lottery-based merit scholarships by 12 percent each year over the last decade.
This shift in funding from institutional to selective student aid puts colleges like South Carolina State University in jeopardy by forcing schools to raise tuition costs, which price out students who do not qualify for merit-based funding.
“One of the problems with this high-tuition, high-aid approach, it establishes a formidable, up-front barrier to attend college and unreliable promises for financial aid on the backend,” said American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Director of State Relations and Policy Analysis Thomas Harnisch. “(Lawmakers) need to start making more investments in higher education because it will be an economic driver for the state to help it compete in the global economy.”
In June, SCSU announced a three-percent tuition increase for its undergraduate students and a five-percent hike for graduate students. South Carolina is in the bottom tenth pf the nation’s worst states for higher education investment, joining other HBCU states such as Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.
In recent weeks, alumni have publicly split on the university’s efforts to grow enrollment and while improving academic and operational competitiveness with other in-state institutions.
Opposing letters to the editor in the Orangeburg, SC-based Times and Democrat paint a vastly different picture of how alumni of South Carolina State University feel about the direction of the institution, and its future.