University of South Carolina set to approve highest tuition increase in 7 years | News

COLUMBIA — The University of South Carolina is poised to raise tuition by the largest amount in seven years, according to a documents obtained by The Post and Courier.

If approved by trustees at their meeting Friday, tuition and fees for in-state students would rise by $410 next fall to $12,265. That’s the biggest one-year price jump since a $630 hike in 2010. Out-of-state students would pay $32,365 next year, up $1,082.

USC administrators have proposed a 3.46 percent increase in tuition for the upcoming academic year, the biggest year-over-year hike since 2011. The state’s largest college has raised tuition every year for the past 30 years.

The latest hike at USC is second highest among South Carolina’s public four-year colleges who have announced tuition for next fall. College of Charleston is raising tuition by 5.38 percent, though the state’s third largest college is not changing fees for dorms and meals.

The Citadel, Coastal Carolina University, Francis Marion University and S.C. State University all are raising tuition by about 3 percent next school year. Clemson University and Winthrop University have not announced tuition increases yet. USC plans to raise tuition by 3 percent next fall at its three satellite four-year campuses, four two-year campuses and Palmetto College online program.

College leaders have lobbied lawmakers for years to win back the roughly one-third of their state funding lost since South Carolina trimmed its budget during the recession. But their efforts have been unsuccessful as other needs have taken precedent, including responding to a court order to fix failing K-12 schools and repairing crumbling roads and bridges.

USC gets about $60 million less from the state budget than a decade ago, according to S.C. Commission on Higher Education data. So to help make up for the state funding shortfall, USC — along with most other South Carolina public colleges — has raised tuition and boosted enrollment.

The state’s flagship university has added nearly 7,000 students on its Columbia campus over the past decade, an increase of 25 percent. While the campus grew, tuition rose by more than 45 percent during that time, adding nearly $4,000 to yearly tuition bills. 

Still over the past 10 years, USC’s tuition, when adjusted for inflation, has risen at a slower pace than the national average for public four-year colleges, according to a Post and Courier analysis of data from New York-based The College Board and USC.

USC is looking for other ways to generate cash. The Columbia campus announced a plan last month to raise $17 million for academic improvements by having all departments kick in 3 percent of their budgets. The money will go toward recruiting faculty, reducing class sizes and creating new experimental courses.