ORANGEBURG -- Tuition at South Carolina State University likely will increase 5.7 percent this fall after approval by a key committee Thursday.
Tuition would go up by $484, rising to $8,946 for the 2010-11 school year, if the school's Board of Trustees agrees today with the budget committee's decision.
Board Chairman Jonathan Pinson said the full board likely would approve the jump, which was recommended by administrative leaders at the university.
John Smalls, senior vice president for fiscal affairs, said the university wanted to approve a tuition plan this week so students would know what they would have to pay next year before they left for the summer.
The increase was essential to running the university next year, Smalls said. "We cannot go without an increase."
The school, like other public higher-education institutions in South Carolina, will lose more state money next year.
This year, it received $16.5 million in state money and $3.2 million from the federal stimulus program. Next year, it will receive $13 million in state money and $3.5 million from the federal stimulus program, a total drop of $3.2 million.
Trustees expressed concern about increasing tuition at the historically black university, which serves many lower-income students.
Smalls said 91 percent of students who attend the school qualify for some form of financial assistance. And 71 percent qualify for federal Pell grants, which go to students with the greatest financial need.
But tuition makes up about 75 percent of the school's operating budget, so it had to be increased to meet the cost of running the university, officials said.
But, Smalls warned, the university has to be careful about not increasing tuition so much that students opt not to attend. Now, the average student receives grants and loans to cover all but $1,200 to $1,400 of tuition, room and board. But families struggle to afford that, he said.
The university has to be careful not to pass the full impact of the cuts on to students, Smalls said, or "we would out-price our market."