COLUMBIA, SC — The need-based Tuition Grants program would receive an additional $2.53 million in state general fund appropriations if the recommendations of the House Ways and Means Committee hold throughout the lengthy budget process. The additional funds would allow the Tuition Grants Commission to increase the maximum award for the 2016-17 academic year from $3,100 to $3,200.
The budget committee also recommended that the Higher Education Commission’s need-based grant program receive an increase of $4.54 million. The Tuition Grants Commission receives between 16%-17% of the total need-based appropriation–$29.5 million estimated for FY 2016-17—based on the percentage of students attending independent colleges and universities.
The Ways and Means Committee funded the anticipated growth in the Palmetto Fellows, LIFE, HOPE, and Tuition Assistance scholarships to fully fund the merit-based student financial aid programs.
With the exception of additional funding for the academic library consortium PASCAL, SCICU was successful in achieving 100% of its legislative priorities before the Ways and Means Committee. The Higher Education subcommittee of Rep. Jim Merrill (Daniel Island), Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (Orangeburg), and Rep. Phillip Lowe (Florence) was very strong in its support of need-based grants and worked hard to advocate for more funding among the many competing interests before the Ways and Means Committee.
The recommendations of the Ways and Means Committee will be deliberated by the House during the week of March 21-24 before moving to the Senate. Friends of independent higher education should use every opportunity to encourage members of the House and Senate to concur with the recommendations of the Ways and Means Committee.