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At Carolina Day, Alumni Advocate for a Tuition Timeout

More than 200 University of South Carolina alumni, staff, students and supporters met one-on-one with state legislators on Wednesday, February 5, at the State House, asking them to support President Harris Pastides’ “Tuition Timeout” proposal. The 11th Annual Carolina Day at the State House is organized each year by My Carolina Alumni Association’s Carolina Action Network. Pastides initiated the proposal because state appropriations to the University of South Carolina have been cut by nearly 50% in the past decade. 

“We’ve tightened our belts,” President Pastides said. “We’ve done more with less, but we will simply not be able to freeze tuition without some relief from our elected officials. We’re not asking the state legislature to restore all of the funds that were taken away over the past five years. We’re here to ask for a simple thing: A tuition timeout is a step toward accountability-based funding.”

See a full photo album from Carolina Day 2014!

Carolina Day 2014

Simply put, the university will not increase in-state undergraduate tuition if the General Assembly:

  • Provides the USC system new recurring appropriations equivalent to last year’s 3-percent increase in tuition ($10.1 million for the USC system in FY15)

  • Imposes no unfunded mandates for across-the-board state employee pay raises or increased health care premiums
Pastides says Tuition Timeout can be the first step toward a new performance-based model of funding higher education that rewards colleges who excel in graduating, retaining and preparing students to join our state’s economy. 

Lin Laffitte, ’87, from Estill, SC, has a son and daughter attending Carolina, and as a member of My Carolina Board of Governors as well as the Parent Advisory Council at the University of South Carolina, she is well aware of families throughout the state who cannot cut anything else out of their budgets to meet rising tuition costs. She adds that a tuition timeout would be lifeline to families that want a college education and better life for their sons and daughters.

“As tuition increases, their current sacrifice to educate their children becomes an impossibility,” Laffitte said. “A tuition timeout is the first step toward accountability-based funding and fair funding. A tuition timeout is a bold and compassionate step.”

USC student body president Chase Mizzell said that the current education environment forces many students to graduate college with the burden of large sums of debt.

“Rapidly rising tuition costs make higher education inaccessible to too many South Carolinians,” Mizzell said. “We believe it’s time that the General Assembly thinks about reinvesting in higher education. It is the key to ensuring that our brightest minds stay in South Carolina and strengthen South Carolina’s economy.”

A year-round lottery scholarship proviso was among the other legislative priorities advocates discussed with lawmakers. The university requests a new proviso to allow students to use their lottery scholarships year-round. This will not increase the total amount of the scholarships; rather, it will give students the flexibility to use them on their time, including during the summer term. 

This authorization will require a one-time appropriation of lottery dollars to bridge any cash-flow issues associated with this transition. This proviso has the support of the Commission on Higher Education and is included in the governor’s executive budget. 

My Carolina offers opportunities for all alumni to donate their time to make the University stronger through advocacy, supporting academic scholarships and many other programs. My Carolina strives to keep alumni connected and show how each alumnus can make a difference for the university today and for the future. Alumni and supporters of the university who wish to find out more about the Carolina Action Network or wish to receive regular email updates about advocacy efforts can register here.