New UofSC budget holds down tuition; invests in core mission

The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees approved a budget plan that reduces administrative costs and prioritizes South Carolina residents by holding tuition increases for in-state students on the Columbia campus to a historically low 0.6 percent. Last year tuition for in-state students was increased by 2.9 percent, which at the time was the lowest increase in two decades.

Tuition at South Carolina’s comprehensive four-year institutions (Aiken, Beaufort, Upstate) and two-year institutions (Lancaster, Sumter, Salkehatchie, Union) and Palmetto College will not increase this fall.  

Per-semester undergraduate tuition this fall in Columbia will be $6,344 for in-state residents and $16,964 for non-residents, although most residents pay much less as a result of the statewide lottery scholarship program. The slight tuition increase in Columbia will be used to cover a portion of rising employee retirement costs.

This is a fiscally responsible budget that protects students and families as well as the taxpayers that support our institution.

Board Chairman John C. von Lehe Jr.

University leaders credited additional state support for keeping tuition in check. This year’s budget passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor included an additional $18.7 million in funding for university system operations as well as $36.8 million in one-time funding for systemwide capital needs.

“We worked closely with lawmakers this year to ensure investment in higher education was a priority, and the additional support we received had a direct impact on our ability to keep our tuition increase as low as possible,” said President Harris Pastides. “Specifically, we’d like to thank Hugh Leatherman, Harvey Peeler and Vincent Sheheen in the Senate; Jay Lucas, Murrell Smith and Gary Simrill in the House; and Gov. McMaster for their efforts to make the dream of earning a college degree more attainable for South Carolina students.”

The university system now confers more than 40 percent of all the state’s bachelor’s degrees and above, and this year’s incoming class of freshman and transfer students is expected to include more South Carolinians than ever before.

Other highlights of the budget plan approved by trustees on Friday include:

  • Tuition increases at the School of Medicine in Columbia and Greenville will be held to 1.9 percent for residents.
  • Resident tuition at the School of Law — the state’s only public law school — will actually be reduced by $5,000 for the fall and spring semesters combined. That reduction will help South Carolina stay competitive with other regional and national law schools.
  • Housing and meal plan fees were adjusted slightly, 2.5 percent and 2.9 percent respectively for the Columbia campus. Food and housing operations are self-funded and do not receive any state or tuition dollars. Prices are adjusted annually to reflect inflation in costs of goods and services.
  • An across-the-board reduction in administrative costs at the Columbia campus totaling $10 million was implemented to allow for strategic reinvestment in core academic and research functions. South Carolina already is ranked among the most efficient universities in the nation.

Board Chairman John C. von Lehe Jr. said the new budget, which takes effect July 1, positions the university for continued success.

“This is a fiscally responsible budget that protects students and families as well as the taxpayers that support our institution. Importantly, it allows us to continue the tremendous progress we’ve made in providing more students the opportunity to earn a degree, building our research capacity and growing the economic fortunes of the state,” von Lehe said.

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