Black Enrollments Plummet at the University of South Carolina

During the Reconstruction era, black students enrolled and graduated from the flagship campus of the University of South Carolina. It was the only flagship state university in the South at that time to admit black students.

Jump forward ahead to the year 2000 at which time blacks were 18.7 percent of all enrollments at the University of South Carolina. This was the highest percentage of African Americans at any flagship state university in the nation.

But since that time, black enrollments have spiraled downward. This fall blacks were 12.5 percent of the total enrollments.

Between 2000 and 2007, the number of total freshman students on campus increased by 66 percent. But during the same period, the number of black freshmen decreased by 32 percent. Blacks were 17.6 percent of the incoming class in 2000 but only 8 percent of this year’s freshman class.

University officials say that there are two main factors contributing to the decline. First, admissions standards have been boosted and the average SAT score of incoming freshmen is now more than 300 points higher than the midrange scores for blacks.

Also, in 2001 the new scholarship program funded by the state lottery was established. These scholarships provided enough money to cover full tuition and other fees at the state’s community and technical colleges but did not cover the complete cost of attending the University of South Carolina. As a result, many low-income black students decided to enroll at schools where they could attend for free.

To deal with the decline in black students, the university has hired a group of recruiters who will focus on expanding the pool of African-American applicants.