A South Carolina budget analyst told a state Senate Committee that tuition increases likely would not have been as high had a proposed higher education funding formula been put into effect nearly 20 years ago.
SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office executive director Frank Rainwater told the Senate Joint Education and Finance Committee earlier this week that state funding has not kept pace with pre-recession levels.
In fact, Rainwater said higher education is roughly funded by the state at 1999 fiscal year levels, not adjusted for inflation.
“Basically, the difference over the past 21 budgets is higher ed would have received an additional approximately $700 million under the formula (proposed in 1999),” he said.
The joint committee is studying potential ideas to slow the annual tuition increases at South Carolina’s public colleges and universities.
Committee co-chair State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, is proposing the Higher Education Opportunity Act as a way to control tuition costs. The proposal would increase state funding for colleges through newly-collected online sales tax revenues. In exchange, colleges would agree to freeze their tuition next year and limit further increases after that.