COLUMBIA The University of the South Carolina will freeze tuition for three years in exchange for more money from the state General Assembly, president Harris Pastides said in his annual state of the university address Wednesday.
The states flagship university also will not ask the Legislature for any added money for special projects until 2017 if lawmakers adopt a performance-based funding plan, and cover rising employee pay, health-insurance premiums and energy bills, he said.
Tuition for in-state students has risen by nearly $2,500 a year to $10,816 since the economic downturn started in 2007. Tuition rose 3 percent this year but has increased as much as 7 percent a year during the slowdown.
USC has added 4,000 students over the past six years and brought in a record class of 5,034 freshmen this year, up more than 400 from 2012.
Meanwhile, state funding of the school has dropped by $76 million to $108 million over the past six years.
USC has received state funding for several special projects in recent years, including expanding its summer semester, helping pay for a new $80 million law school and a new online college.
However, the school has not received enough added money from lawmakers to pay for state-mandated employee raises and insurance premium hikes. USC would like to have those expenses paid for with money appropriated by lawmakers.
USC, along with other S.C. public colleges, has worked with Gov. Nikki Haley and legislators to develop a plan to fund schools based on their performance, including their graduation rate. Schools now get state money largely on a formula that gives a set percentage of state money to various institutions.
Pastides is celebrating his fifth year as USC president. During his tenure, the school has reached all-time highs in applications, enrollment and fundraising, built up its endowment and had its most successful run in athletics. The school also has undertaken nearly $600 million in new construction and renovations.
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