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USC board approves tuition hike

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The University of South Carolina board has voted to implement a tuition increase for the 2017-18 academic year.

The plans calls for a 3.46% increase for the Columbia campus and a 3% increase for the four-year comprehensive campuses, Palmetto College online and two-year Palmetto College campuses for students that have completed more than 75 hours of coursework.

“It’s an unfortunate reality that in the absence of additional state funding, tuition increases are one of the only tools available to cover rising costs and ensure USC continues to provide a world-class educational experience to its students,” board chairman John C. von Lehe Jr said in a statement released after Friday’s meeting. “The university has been, and will continue to be, a good steward of the funds invested in us by the state, students and donors. The university has consistently been named among the most efficient institutions of higher education in the country.”

Next year’s tuition increases, and those in the previous six years, are still below the national average for tuition inflation, the university said in the release. 

Over the last decade, the university has received less funding from the state and has become mostly dependent on tuition dollars and increased enrollment.

For USC, the 2017-18 state spending plan provides a 1.9% increase in its system-wide base budget, amounting to about $3 million. But those funds are offset by a mandate costing $3.3 million to help shore up the state’s pension system as well as an estimated $700,000 in increased health care costs.

USC President Harris Pastides noted that school officials are encouraged by the progress made this year in the conversation about the state’s responsibility to invest in the future through higher education.

“Among business leaders and in the hallways of the Statehouse, we can see momentum beginning to shift back toward the interest of the student and we appreciate those who have been willing to lead,” Pastides said in a release. “We will continue to fight for more support of and investment in higher education, and we will continue to fight for the interests of South Carolina’s students. An educated and competitive population is the key to our state’s economic and overall well-being.”

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