COLUMBIA -- Tuition at South Carolina's colleges is on the rise to make up for the loss of state-appropriated funds.
In the last decade, money to operate South Carolina's colleges and universities fell 8.8 percent, according to the Southern Regional Education Board, which monitors 12 neighboring Southeastern states.
Colleges presidents across state got less than half the $68 million they asked the Legislature for this year. And the deficit, the presidents complain, will become the burden of the students.
"How can we truly serve the people of this state and be nationally competitive when funding our peers and neighbors is up to 40 to 50 percent greater?" Clemson President Constantine Curris told the Legislature.
This fall, tuition for South Carolina's state colleges and universities will rise between 2.8 percent at Winthrop University and 22.7 percent at Greenville Technical College.
Most of the state's colleges have tried to keep tuition increases close to the national Higher Education Price Index, which sets average tuition increases based on several economic factors. It stands at 3 percent.
Of the $28 million appropriated to the South Carolina's colleges and universities, $10 million will be used to offset enrollment spurts, primarily at the state's two-year and University of South Carolina regional campuses.
"As long South Carolina doesn't keep up with the Southeastern average (in per-student appropriations), we've got a problem," said William Hubbard, chair of the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees, which just raised tuition at the Columbia campus 5.9 percent.
Faculty salaries are also affected by the lack of state funding. Salaries in South Carolina stand at 75.5 percent of the national average, according to Southern Regional statistics.