Carolina Seeks $5 Million to Expand Summer Session
Originally published by the Associated Press
The University of South Carolina has asked for an additional $5 million to support an expanded summer session that redefines the school year as three full semesters.
University President Harris Pastides told a House budget-writing panel that the "on your time graduation" initiative would allow students to earn a college degree in three years for less money, since tuition rates for the summer program would be lower.
"It's shaking up the calendar," he said. "It expands opportunities to either accelerate or take a fall off to do an internship and make up credits in the summer."
The initiative would create a 12-week summer semester, in addition to the 15-week fall and spring semesters.
Currently, the college offers two one-month summer sessions, as well as a three-week session in May. But those course offerings are limited.
"We want to do something extraordinary and offer required core courses as well," Pastides said.
Under the new initiative, students could take a full, 15-credit course load over the summer, while the shorter courses would still be available for those who may want to more quickly earn a few credits.
The additional money is needed to compensate professors for the additional work and to keep buildings open, Pastides said.
"If this happens, there will be a new buzz in the summertime. It would become more of a year-round campus," he said.
The university is also seeking a repeat of the full $5 million it received in the current budget to launch an online initiative this fall. USC's Palmetto College offers residents with at least two years of classroom credits as a way to complete a bachelor's degree at home. Initial degrees offered include business, criminal justice, education and nursing.
Pastides wants the $5 million to become an annual budget item, saying the money is needed to expand the courses converted into an online format, and to redevelop that format for each course every few years as technology changes.
The idea accomplishes two goals. Palmetto College expands access to higher education in a state where fewer than one in four adults hold a bachelor's degree, hopefully boosting residents' wages.
It provides the public university a new revenue source in an era when money designated in the state budget makes up less than 10 percent of its budget.
Legislators praised the university for taking an innovative approach.
Pastides also sought a total of $22.3 million in one-time money for deferred maintenance at the university's eight campuses, with more than two-thirds of that for the main campus in Columbia.