On the last day of the 2018 legislative session, the House and the Senate adopted the report of the Budget Conference Committee and sent the $8.2 million general fund budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 to Governor Henry McMaster.
For the higher education community, the final budget was a compromise that balanced little additional funding in the House version with a more robust approach by the Senate.
Programs that significantly impact students attending independent colleges and universities did, in the end, receive House and Senate approval for increased funding over the previous year.
Specific budget items impacting funding for independent higher education include the following:
- Tuition Grants – Increase of $1,169,992
- Commission on Higher Education’s need-based grant program – Net additional increase of $1,612,922 of which approximately 16.5% or ($266,122) is designated for Tuition Grants
- PASCAL (Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries) – $1,500,000
- SC Merit Scholarship program – Full-funding at over $300 million
Barring any vetoes of these key-line items by Governor McMaster, the Tuition Grants Commission will determine how an additional $1.44 million in FY 2019 can help students attending South Carolina’s independent colleges and universities. Presently, the maximum Tuition Grant award is $3,200 per year.
The Governor will have 5 days (excluding Sunday) to approve the budget or return it to the House with line-item vetoes. The House and Senate separately will review the vetoes. Both chambers must achieve a two-thirds majority to override each line-item veto. Depending on the urgency of the vetoes, the General Assembly may defer returning to Columbia until a later date.
SCICU staff is confident that the hard-fought budget increases will survive any vetoes. SCICU thanks it many advocates for their efforts in helping to increase the amount of financial aid that will be awarded to South Carolina students who attend a private non-profit college or university. A more complete report will be provided to the SCICU Public Policy Committee at their next committee meeting on July 17 at 10:00 a.m.