The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees Executive Committee gave preliminary approval Thursday to a 2009-2010 operating budget that includes a 3.6 percent tuition increase for in-state students, which amounts to a $159 increase per semester. The tuition hike is the lowest at USC in eight years. USC President Dr. Harris Pastides says the timing was right to go with a low range hike in tuition.”We waited to see if we would have the stimulus funding and as a result of that we were able to go with the moderate increase. In fact it would have taken an over 16 percent tuition increase to make up for the shortfall or reduction in state appropriations and that was just not tenable and not something I would ever recommend.”
The $1.08 billion eight-campus budget will take effect July 1.
Pastides says the University Board and the entire University community understands that people are facing tough economic times at the moment. “We understand that this is a bad time to go to our students, many of whom try to get part time jobs but cannot. Some of whom have families or parents who are unemployed right now and we thought no matter how badly we needed the money it was not possible to go back to our own students and their families and try to make up for the deficit that way.”
The new operating budget does not restore the $55.4 million in state appropriation cuts since last June and does not include the stimulus funds. Pastides says the goals in putting the present budget together were to preserve the quality of a USC education, protect the health and safety of students, faculty and staff, and preserve the environment for faculty scholarship and research and creative performance. Pastides says he is confident that the new budget meets those goals. Pastides says the stimulus funds are intended for non-recurring expenditures.
“Now what there isn’t enough money for and what the stimulus money will be used for are the ambitious interest of our students and our faculty to continue to build impactful programs that will benefit South Carolina, but also increase the reach of the University nationally and globally.”
Pastides says as the debate over the stimulus dollars raged in the state, there were some worries concerning some possible key faculty defections to other institutions. “When it became apparent that universities in North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia would get the stimulus funding, I think it made a lot of our top faculty anxious in knowing that there might be more funds to invest in quality and excellence in other parts of the country. I think the stimulus funds came at the appropriate time to able to say, we’re still in a boat that all other public universities are in.”