When “Public” No Longer Means Public

It appears that Clemson University will be raising tuition and fees next year by 2.75 percent.  While that’s the lowest increase in twenty years, it nonetheless means that in-state undergraduates will be paying $14,712 in tuition and fees for the 2017-2018 academic year.   The annual median household income in South Carolina is approximately $44,000; to pay one-third of that for a child to attend a year of college is well-nigh impossible.

Clemson, however, is not where the blame lies.  clemson-universityIt is a world-class university that provides an excellent education to its students.  Like all institutions of higher learning, it has faced (and will continue to face) many challenges, but its legions of alumni will quickly attest to the benefits of having received a Clemson diploma.

Where we need to point the finger is the South Carolina legislature.  During the upcoming year, it will provide only $69.5 million toward Clemson’s projected $1.15 billion budget, which is a scant 6 percent of the total.  This is a trend that we have seen throughout the country over the past three decades: the near starvation of our public institutions of higher learning.  It seems silly to continue to call them “public,” given that they receive so little public funding–and have, as a consequence, become financially prohibitive to many members of the public.

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