The South Carolina Technical College System

For further info, contact Lawrence Ray: 896-5321

  1. Regarding your political climate: Were there major changes in the Governor's office or the legislature that affected higher education in your state? Did any major ballot initiatives? Please explain.

    During his campaign two years ago, the governor’s major promise was that South Carolina would have an education lottery. During the November elections last year, the people of South Carolina approved a lottery referendum with the understanding that the proceeds would be used to support education.

    A key of the governor’s lottery program is to provide free tuition to South Carolina’s two-year technical colleges. After partisan wrangling about the lottery law, the legislature passed a law that does grant tuition-free access to the state’s two year colleges. They also made provision for enhancing the state’s Life Scholarship program that will benefit students attending a four-year institution.
  2. Regarding college budgets: Did you experience an increase or decrease in your operating budget this year? In financial-aid revenues? In funds for construction? Were there any developments that substantially affected the costs of operating your higher education institutions? Were there substantial changes in the operations of your universities?

    Due to revenue shortfalls, all state agencies were faced with the possibility of up to a 15% budget reduction for FY 2001/02. These budget reductions included higher education, yet did not include K-12. During the process of merging the house and senate versions of the state budget, higher education budget reductions were reduced to between 6 and 7 percent. Most higher education institutions announced tuition increases to offset the budget shortfall. There was no bond bill passed to provide state support new construction.

    Recent Update: South Carolina’s governor vetoed budget reductions for higher education. By eliminating other programs, the governor eliminated budget reductions for higher education.

  3. Regarding tuitions: Who sets your tuition rates? How much, in dollars and percentage-wise, will tuitions increase at your institutions in 2001-2002? How was this received by politicians? By students? By the public? Did your state take or seriously consider any actions regarding tuition rates for out-of-state students? Tuition surcharges for students who take extra time to get through college? Prepaid tuition plans?

    The State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education sets tuition limits for each of the sixteen colleges in the SC Technical College System. Each technical college determines the amount of tuition fees charged to its students. During the past year, the State Board raised the limit for tuition by $100 dollars to $850 per term. All but two of the state’s technical colleges raised tuition fees to this level for the Fall 01 term. By next year, all of the colleges are expected to be at the $850 level. This represents an increase of between 12% and 40% across the System.

    Because of the fact that the System has been traditionally funded well below other sectors of higher education in SC, there has been little political outcry over the tuition fee increase. Neither has there been a large student or public outcry against tuition increases. South Carolina’s two-year technical colleges remain a value when compared to other higher education institutions in the state. In fact, the political, student and public outcry over tuition increases has been directed toward the state’s four-year institutions that announced significant increases in tuition.
  4. Regarding student aid: Have your state's student-aid policies changed? What prompted the changes? Did your state adopt, or significantly expand, any scholarship programs?

    South Carolina’s Education Lottery will provide tuition free access to all students who attend a two-year college and take at least six credit hours per term for a total of eighteen hours per year. This program is projected to begin with the Fall ‘02 term. However, the legislature determined that students choosing to attend a two-year college would no longer be eligible for the state’s Life Scholarship.
  5. Did any important, non-budgetary issues come up during the legislative session, such as changes in the governance structure of higher education in your state? Did anything cause your higher-education system to become more, or less, centralized? More, or less, politicized?

    Higher education governance did not change this year. However, the state’s Commission on Higher Education did review its performance funding procedures and move to restructure reporting requirements. Changes were made that reduced the number of factors that were reported each year.

  6. Have any other issues surfaced, such as calls to increase accountability, to change teaching loads or tenure policies, or to rethink admissions standards or remedial education? Did for-profit or corporate universities acquire much more of a presence in your state?

    At the end of this year’s legislative session, several lawmakers proposed a study of the state’s higher education system to determine where services were being duplicated unnecessarily. This proposal did not get funded, however it did create some moderate editorial coverage due to the fact that in a year of budget cuts, the state needs to use its resources as efficiently as possible.
  7. Have any state or campus officials made any reviews of, or changes to, affirmative-action policies this year?

    Our review and monitoring action and diversity issues is continuous. At each state board meeting, a technical college president reports to the fiscal/ audit and personnel committee on his/her colleges affirmative action and diversity programs. This has been and ongoing process since 1990. In March 2000, the state board adopted a reaffirmation of the system's diversity/ equal employment opportunity statement.

    Over the past several years, our colleges have consistently ranked among the top tier of state agencies in affirmative action performance.
  8. Have there been any changes in key leadership posts at your institutions or on your governing boards?

    Currently, two of the state’s technical colleges are searching for a new president. Horry-Georgetown Technical College and Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.

    There have been two changes to the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education. Mr. Dan Gray and Mr. Montez Martin were selected to fill Board vacancies.

    Recent Update: OCTech has hired Dr. Ann Crook as its new president.
  9. How did this year compare to others? What new challenges or opportunities emerged for higher education in your state? Were there significant developments affecting quality, equity, or access?

    This year proved to be one of the most volatile legislative years in recent history. Major issues such as the state’s new lottery and its impact on higher education, budget reductions for all state agencies and inequity of funding across higher education sectors have made this a trying year for the South Carolina Technical College System.


 

The National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges is an affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).  The council provides a forum for the exchange of information about developments, trends, and problems in state systems of community colleges.  

Through our affiliation with AACC, we also strive to affect national legislation that impacts our colleges and state agencies.

This is the only Council that represents the collective interest of state agencies and state boards of community colleges.  This council is a valuable forum to help state directors deal with the changes in attitude and policies towards community colleges at the international, federal, state and local levels.  We will share information and learn lessons from each other to better serve the interests of our institutions in the coming years.

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