Rising Tuition Costs Put South Carolina’s Flagship State Universities Out of Reach of Many Low-Income Black Students

Blacks are 30 percent of the college-age population in the state of South Carolina. And statewide, blacks make up 28 percent of all students enrolled in higher education. But blacks are only 13.7 percent of the student body at the flagship campus of the University of South Carolina at Columbia. At state-operated Clemson University, blacks are less than 7 percent of the student body.  

One of the reasons for the low black enrollments at the two highest-ranking state universities is money. Tuition and fees at the University of South Carolina will increase 7 percent this year to more than $8,300. At Clemson University, tuition and fees for in-state students now approach $10,000. These fees do not include living expenses. Therefore, it is far more affordable for large numbers of black students to attend community college or other state-run educational institutions near their home where tuition fees are significantly lower.

Compounding the problem is a shortage of state financial aid for low-income students. In the 2006-07 academic year, the state of South Carolina appropriated $276.2 million in financial aid for college students. Of this amount, $225.9 million, nearly 82 percent, went to merit-based aid programs. Only $50.3 million was allocated for financial aid based on need.