So why is it that even though enrollment at most state-funded colleges and universities is at record or near-record levels, tuition has continued to skyrocket over the past decade, up 100 percent or more in some cases?
Look no further than a South Carolina law which ties a college’s tuition revenue to the amount of debt it can take on for bricks-and-mortar projects, according to this report by The Nerve.
The bottom line: the more students that schools get in their doors, the more money they can get their hands on for building.
That helps explain why the state’s major schools such as Clemson and the University of South Carolina continue to spend big bucks on building even when budget shortfalls result in things like entire departments having their phone service cut off.
USC is one of the most egregious offenders. The university is building a multimillion-dollar athletics village and recently the school’s board signed off on some $239 million in additional capital projects, The Nerve reported.
This at a time when the nation’s worsening economy has taken a $2 billion bite out of the state’s general fund over the past few years.
A sidebar to the above is that many student body leaders see nothing wrong with building willy-nilly while raising tuition rates at astronomical levels. Some appear to be little more than mouthpieces for university administration, in fact.
Taylor Cain, USC’s student government vice president, told The Nerve that the university administration has done an excellent job preventing her school’s state funding cuts from affecting the quality of its education offerings “even though higher education in this state might not be a priority for the Legislature and the governor.”
But when questioned Cain said she was not aware of how the university’s tuition revenue serves as a backstop for its construction debt, nor of academic departments having their phones turned off because of budget cuts.