This week the 2020 session of the South Carolina General Assembly kicked off with the delivery by Governor McMaster of his Executive Budget.
There is considerable good news in the governor’s budget.
The governor proposes including the $1.1 million increase requested by the S.C. Tuition Grants Commission in recurring funds, which means that appropriation permanently would be included in the state budget. The funding request will permit the maximum student grant to increase by $100 to $3,600.
The Executive Budget also designates $200,000 requested by the Tuition Grants Commission for upgrading its dated computer system, as well as $275,000 in recurring funds to support the system.
The CHE Needs-Based Aid program, which primarily supports students at public universities, received a big increase – an additional $19 million on top of the $32 million it received last year. It’s important to remember that the Tuition Grants Program receives about 16 percent of what is designated for the CHE Need-Based Grant program. That means the Tuition Grant Program would receive about $3 million in additional funding.
State merit scholarships were fully funded in the Executive Budget.
The state interlibrary loan system, PASCAL, typically has secured its $1.5 million in funding through annual appropriations from the lottery. This year the governor included the PASCAL appropriation as recurring funds, which has not happened in recent memory.
Together, this year’s Executive Budget contains an unprecedented level of support for independent higher education. Of course, this is square one in the state budget game. We’ll have to see how the House of Representatives responds to the Executive Budget. But this is a very good start.