Pricey projects on college budget wish lists

Pricey projects on college budget wish lists

Recently, some of South Carolina’s top universities shared their fiscal year 2024-25 spending plans with the Senate’s higher education budget subcommittee. The requests included plenty of high-dollar projects that would be funded with taxpayers’ money. Below are a few highlights.  

  • Clemson University – $174.5 million for the remaining funds needed to build a new College of Veterinary Medicine, planning to open in 2026  
  • University of South Carolina – $90 million for a new building adjacent to the Science and Technology Center for academic and research space  
  • The Citadel – $28.1 million collectively for building replacement, maintenance and renovations  
  • Lander University – $24.5 million collectively for renovations  
  • Medical University of South Carolina – $131 million for a new academic building for its College of Medicine; and $30 million for the Health Care 4.0: Building the Healthcare Workforce for the Future project  

This also marks the fifth consecutive year that S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has asked the General Assembly to freeze tuition for in-state undergraduate students. He collectively proposed $49.8 million for this effort in his January executive budget. In total, however, colleges requested far more than the governor’s offer – $128 million to be specific (which also includes increased funding for scholarships and operations, reported by The State). Here are several schools’ requests for tuition mitigation.  

  • Clemson University – $21.2 million 
  • University of South Carolina (undergraduate) – $25.8 million 
  • University of South Carolina (School of Medicine) – $6.5 million 
  • The Citadel  $1.8 million 
  • Lander University – $4.4 million 
  • Medical University of South Carolina – $19 million 

Evidently, some of these big-ticket items could put a strain on taxpayers’ resources. During a recent budget hearing with the University of South Carolina, S.C. Sen. Ronnie Cromer said that lawmakers will try their best to meet the schools' requests, but also explained that some big items, such as Clemson’s new veterinary school, are putting pressure on the budget.  

Many of the Senate’s budget hearings this year have not been livestreamed, making it hard for the public to stay informed without attending in person. The body can do better on this issue. A healthy government should be transparent and accountable. Specifically, South Carolinians have a right to know how the state’s budget is formed, where their tax dollars are going, and why these expenses are necessary. To give citizens better access to this information and help them engage in the legislative process, streaming must become the norm. 


Ella Williams is a research intern for the South Carolina Policy Council