Students and sponsors from SCICU member colleges and universities
COLUMBIA, SC — One of the most effective advocacy initiatives in Columbia is led by students of SCICU colleges and universities.
During each session of the General Assembly thousands of SCICU college and university students send letters to legislators, sharing the importance of state need-based tuition grants and merit-based scholarships, upon which they rely to complete their degrees.
The SCICU legislative student letter-writing campaign impresses upon General Assembly members how much students at SC private colleges and universities depend on state tuition support. Over two-fifths of the 31,000 undergraduate students attending SCICU member colleges and universities received tuition grants during the 2016-17 academic year. Almost one-third were awarded state merit scholarships (Palmetto Fellows, LIFE, HOPE, and Tuition Assistance).
During the 2018 session, students sent more than 7,300 personal letters to members of the General Assembly. Based on the feedback of campus legislative coordinators, even more letters are expected to flood legislative offices during the 2019 session.
Last year Anderson University led the charge with 1,762 letters written. With 100 percent of their tuition grant recipients writing letters to their legislators, Allen University and Erskine College again tied for highest participation honors.
Members of the General Assembly regularly voice their appreciation for students’ thank-you letters.
During the December 2018 Campus Legislative Coordinators Kickoff Rally, SC Rep. Chandra Dillard (D-Greenville) counseled the coordinators: “Please do not underestimate the impact of thousands of students’ letters sent to legislators saying the same thing about tuition grants and state merit scholarships. This singular message will get the attention of legislators.”
Dillard also warned that state legislators will have a full plate and keeping them focused on student needs should be a top priority.
“Getting the attention of your legislators is important, as there are many other major issues lining up for the 2019 session,” said Dillard.
“So many of our students participate in the letter-writing campaign because they know first-hand that state support for them is the difference between staying focused on academic success and being distracted by financial concerns,” said Jeff Perez, SCICU president and CEO.
2019 Legislative Plan for State Financial Aid Funding
SCICU has established the following 2019 General Assembly priorities related to funding financial aid for in-state students attending private colleges in South Carolina:
- Increase the maximum tuition grant per student to $3,450 ($150 increase over previous year), which would require an additional $1.903 million in state funding for the SC Higher Education Tuition Grants Commission.
- Full funding for state merit scholarships (Palmetto Fellows, LIFE, HOPE, and Lottery Tuition Assistance) to all eligible students.
- $1.5 million increase in need-based scholarships for the SC Commission on Higher Education (CHE). If CHE’s request for additional funding is approved, approximately $247,500 in additional funding would flow to the Tuition Grants Commission.
Click here to download SCICU’s 2019 SC Legislative Priorities and Quick Facts.
2019 Independent College and University Day
The annual letter-writing campaign will wrap up prior to the 2019 Independent College and University Day scheduled for April 10. On this day, students from SCICU’s 20 member colleges and universities will gather for a rally at the State House and meet with their legislators.