A recent report published by the Southern Regional Education Board shows that South Carolina’s public colleges charge the highest tuition rates among the 16 southern states. The median tuition at South Carolina four-year public colleges was $8,400 for the 2008-09 school year. That compares with $4,032 for neighboring Georgia, and $4,174 for North Carolina. South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (SCCHE) Executive Director Garrison Walters says state support for public institutions of higher learning is significantly lower than that of the state’s immediate neighbors.
According to the report, state funding at South Carolina public colleges was around $4,800 a student in 2008-09. That compares with more than $11,500 per student in North Carolina and about $7,800 per student in Georgia.
SCCHE Director of Government Affairs and Special Projects Jule Carullo says several scholarship programs including those provided through proceeds from the South Carolina Education Lottery, and several grant programs have helped students with tuition costs. Eligible recipients of The Palmetto Fellows Scholarship must be enrolled at a four-year college. They may receive up to $6500 per academic year. LIFE scholarship recipients may receive up to $4700 per academic year.
Walters says officials in the higher education community are urging state lawmakers to restore that share of the budget for higher education that has been lowered over the years. Walters says that share has fallen 50 percent over the last 25 years. He says at a time when the state is developing a new emphasis on higher education as it relates to economic growth, that emphasis should be reflected in the state budget allocations to institutions of higher learning. Walters says institutional leaders are working on their end to find innovative ways to cut costs without sacrificing the quality of their educational offerings.
Walters says for the overall enhancement of education in the state, an attitude adjustment must take place in which people in all walks of life renew their commitment to education. He says an attitude of apathy and indifference must be replaced by a focus on academic achievement and confidence.