The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Lawmakers Need to Rethink Higher-Education in South Carolina

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Some time back we wrote about a PayScale study that looked at the return on investment (ROI) for a college education at the nation’s leading institutions. Among schools in South Carolina, Clemson fared best with a 30-year net ROI of $820,800. Winthrop fared worst, with a 30-year ROI of $166,900 for out-of-state students.

It’s a novel concept: pinpointing exactly how much a college degree is worth. It’s also an exercise state policymakers need to conduct when looking at South Carolina’s higher-ed system as a whole.

As we note in our new review of higher-education in South Carolina:

  • Overall spending for the state’s 10 public institutions has increased 77 percent over the past 10 years (FY01-2002 to FY10-2011).
  • Tuition rates have also increased rapidly over the past 10 years, with a 133 percent increase for in-state students and a 110 percent increase for out-of-state students.
  • Likewise, debt and capital spending has skyrocketed, such that total higher-ed debt, plus interest, now exceeds $1.5 billion.

Yet, the 4-year graduation rate for the state’s public higher-ed institutions is less than 40 percent. The 6-year rate is just over 60 percent. Five schools had a 6-year graduation rate of less than 50 percent.

So, tuition keeps going up (along with administrative costs).

And, half of the state’s universities and colleges have a graduation rate of 50 percent while the other half are hardly better.

Which means, kids are racking up debt, but not getting a degree … and so …

Not getting jobs. Which is one reason the state’s unemployment rate has long been among the worst in the country.

Clearly, the system is not working as intended.

As we suggest in our report, higher-educational institutions should be seedbeds of innovation and creativity.

But innovation shouldn’t be confined to the classroom or the laboratory, it should also animate university leaders and administrators – as well as lawmakers committed to reforming higher education in South Carolina. Read more for some out-of-the-box solutions.


Written by Jameson Taylor

September 28, 2010 at 10:57 am

Posted in Education

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  1. […] suggested in one of our recent blogs, public institutions need to be creative and innovative in using existing resources – especially […]

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