BOT approves budget; tuition increase lowest in 8 years
In the wake of historic state budget cuts, the Executive Committee of the University of South Carolina’s Board of Trustees gave preliminary approval to a 2009-10 operating budget Thursday (June 11) that adheres to President Harris Pastides’ pledge to keep a tuition increase modest while maintaining the university’s core mission of excellence in teaching, research and service.
The $1.08 billion eight-campus budget will take effect July 1. This budget includes the $584 million operating budget as well as the estimated restricted grants and contracts and auxiliary enterprises. The new operating budget does not restore the $55.4 million in state appropriation cuts since last June and does not incorporate stimulus funds, which are intended for non-recurring expenses.
Undergraduate tuition and required fees on the Columbia campus will go up by 3.6 percent, the lowest increase in eight years. The percentage corresponds with the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI), an index that measures the increase in operating costs in higher education.
“The university’s budget cuts have been historic, and we have made some difficult choices,” Pastides said. “However, I pledged that we would not resort to a steep tuition increase to offset these cuts, and for the Columbia undergraduates we did not raise tuition one penny above the inflation rate. I am keenly aware of the burden that a big increase would create for our students and their families, and I want to increase – not diminish – access to the University of South Carolina.”
Pastides said that at the Columbia campus, a tuition increase of 16.5 percent would have been required to restore the university’s base budget to the beginning base level for fiscal year 2009.
Seventy-five percent of the operating budget is slated for categories that directly serve students, including instruction, academic support, student services and scholarships, Pastides said.
The new budget reflects priorities that deans and vice presidents were instructed to honor when recalibrating their budgets to manage midyear cuts, he said.