Big Drop in Enrollment Creates Budget Crisis at Historically Black South Carolina State University

South Carolina State University, the historically black educational institution in Orangeburg, had set a goal of expanding enrollment to 6,000 students by 2014. In the 2008-09 academic year, total enrollments stood at close to 4,900.

But the university’s plans were dealt a serious blow this fall when enrollments dropped to 4,545. The university reports that 300 first-year and transfer students who were expected to enroll, decided not to matriculate. Another 900 returning full- and part-time students did not come back to school this fall. Of these, 118 were seniors.

The university found that financial reasons were the major cause of the low retention rate. Many students simply did not have enough money to pay tuition and the university had used up all its available financial aid. Charles N. Davis, vice president for student affairs, told The State, a local newspaper, that “a lot of black families have not saved any money for school. They are very dependent on aid from the schools. Pell Grants are not going to cover the cost of your education, not totally.”

The loss in tuition income from lower enrollments will now force the university to make further budget cuts. The school is projecting a $6 million shortfall.