CHARLESTON - The Medical University of South Carolina's board of trustees voted Friday to roll back tuition for spring semester, a move that frees the school from a moratorium on future building projects.
The state's Budget and Control Board last month gave public, four-year schools that raised tuition more than 7 percent and two-year schools that raise it more than 6.3 for the current school year an ultimatum: Roll back increases to 7 percent for spring semester or face a ban on new construction projects.
MUSC students shouldn't expect a big tuition reduction. The university's previous overall tuition increase for the 2010-2011 school year was 7.1 percent, though the specific hike varied by college.
University officials said Friday that the specific decreases for spring semester are not yet available, but the overall tuition rate will meet the 7 percent edict.
MUSC is the first Lowcountry school to take action on the matter when it approved the rollback. The College of Charleston, which raised tuition 14.8 percent, and The Citadel, with a 13 percent increase, have not yet held or scheduled public discussions on the moratorium.
The Budget and Control Board, comprised of the governor, legislators and state financial officers, approved the moratorium amid concerns that the state's colleges and universities were gouging students and their families.
Higher-education officials point to numerous cuts in state funding as the driving force behind tuition increases. But a Post and Courier analysis this past summer revealed that tuition increases at many of the state schools were much greater than the cuts to the institution's budgets.
Other state schools couldn't say Friday whether they will follow MUSC's lead, or stand their ground on tuition increases.
The College of Charleston's board meets next Friday, but the agenda is not yet finalized, spokesman Mike Robertson said.
The Citadel's Board of Visitors doesn't have a quarterly meeting scheduled until January, but the group holds a monthly teleconference meeting. A discussion on tuition and the moratorium hasn't yet been scheduled, spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells said.
MUSC President Ray Greenberg said the university's board didn't have to struggle with the decision to roll back tuition, which will cost the university about $100,000.
That demonstrates that what the Budget and Control Board wanted was "in the ballpark of what we approved," he said.
The school has several renovation projects under development, Greenberg said. And a project to renovate research space for microbiology and immunology has a major federal stimulus grant, which the university would have lost if it was subject to the moratorium.
Greenberg said he is ready to move forward and already is thinking about next year's tuition and budget.
South Carolina's public higher education institutions have received some money from the federal stimulus program for the past two years, he said, but they will get nothing next year.
"We all face a very challenging time," he said.
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491.
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