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, while non-resident tuition will increase by 1.9 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.

 Per-semester undergraduate tuition this fall will be $6,344 for in-state residents and $16,964 for non-residents. The slight tuition increase in Columbia will be used to cover a portion of rising costs commonly faced each year not only by institutions of higher education, but business and industry as well.

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

 University leaders credited additional state support for keeping tuition in-check. 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 was included in this year’s state budget.

 “This was the result of institutions working with elected officials to make higher education a priority,” said President Harris Pastides. “We would specifically like to thank Hugh Leatherman, Harvey Peeler and Vincent Sheheen in the Senate; Murrell Smith and Gary Simrill in the House; and Gov. McMaster for their efforts this year to keep tuition affordable for more South Carolina families. We’ve made great progress.”

 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 semester combined. That reduction will help South Carolina stay competitive with other regional and national law schools. Tuition for in-state residents will lower to $10,736 this fall. Since USC is the state’s only public law school, and because resident law students are not eligible for the state’s merit and need-based grant programs, the board voted to reduce resident law school tuition and fees for the combined Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 semesters by $5,000,
  • Housing and meal plans 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 to reflect inflation in costs of goods and services.
  • An across-the-board reduction in administrative costs at the Columbia campus totaling $10 million. South Carolina already is ranked among the most efficient universities in the nation and this plan will enable the university to make strategic re-investments in core functions that promote its academic mission. 

 Board Chairman Jon von Lehe said this year’s budget is fiscally responsible that also allows the institution to move forward in its service to the state’s research and economic prosperity.

 “This is a budget that protects students and families as well as the taxpayers that support our institution,” von Lehe said. “There’s a lot of positive momentum