A measure that helps South Carolina State University get back on its feet financially is now back in the state Senate’s hands.
The House voted 67-24 this week for a plan that forgives most of the school’s $18 million in loans from the state. House budget chief State Rep. Brian White, R-Anderson, says the plan would help the financially-struggling school’s budget as its accreditation comes up for review. The state’s only public historically-black college will learn next month whether the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) will ends its two-year probation or revoke its accreditation.
“We have been working with a lot of different folks to try and address this as quickly as possible,” White told fellow House members on Tuesday.
The plan would require SC State to pay $355,000 each year towards a $6 million loan made by the Budget and Control Board two years ago. It would entirely forgive a $12 million loan the legislature set aside around the same time over the next three years. The forgiveness plan would be tossed out, however, if SC State loses its accreditation. The school must also not run a deficit and keep a growing student body.
That plan differs from the Senate, which had combined the two loans and would have eventually forgiven $15 million had SC State repaid $3 million and followed the proposal’s other conditions.
SC State received both loans in 2014 after its previous administration accrued a $23.5 million deficit and unpaid bills to vendors. Legislators replaced the college’s entire board that year and the new board has since made cuts and furloughed employees to get its budget back in balance.
Two dozen Republicans opposed the measure, arguing the school would only have to repay a small portion of what it owes.