As proposed by the House, the need-based Tuition Grants program would receive an additional $2.53 million in state general fund appropriations. 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.
Lawmakers voted to fully-fund the State’s merit-based student financial aid programs—Palmetto Fellows, LIFE, HOPE, and Tuition Assistance scholarships—by appropriating more than $300 million.
The House 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 based on the percentage of students attending independent colleges and universities. If funded at this level, it is estimated that $29.5 million in need-based grants through CHE will be available to students in the coming year.
With the exception of additional funding for the academic library consortium PASCAL, SCICU was successful in achieving 100% of its legislative priorities in the House.
The House version of the budget that takes effect on July 1 moves to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. Finance subcommittees have already started their work by holding hearings with state agency directors. Earl Mayo, executive director of the Higher Education Tuition Grants Commission, appeared before the Higher Education subcommittee on March 10. Members of the Senate Finance Higher Education subcommittee include Sen. John Courson (Columbia), chair, Sen. Darrell Jackson (Hopkins), Sen. Danny Verdin (Laurens), and Sen. John Scott (Columbia).
Friends of independent higher education should use every opportunity to encourage members of the Senate to concur with the recommendations of the House in those programs important to students attending private non-profit colleges and universities.