Students on SCICU campuses across South Carolina are busy penning thousands of letters to members of the South Carolina General Assembly expressing their thanks for the S.C. Tuition Grants program.
S.C. Representatives and Senators know that budget time in the Statehouse means student letters. Over the years, members of the General Assembly have grown to expect many letters from students to cross their desks, all with a common theme: Tuition Grants make it possible for me and approximately 12,000 other S.C. resident students to stay in-state and attend the private college or university of choice in South Carolina.
S.C. resident students attending SCICU’s 20 member colleges and universities have been sending Tuition Grants thank-you letters to members of the General Assembly for many years. Although the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on 2020 student letter-writing and cancelled the 2020 Statehouse day, SCICU students hit a grand slam in 2019 with a letter-writing campaign record exceeding 9,000 letters.
Preparation for the student letter-writing campaign begins before each legislative session with a December gathering of SCICU’s campus legislative coordinators. In December 2020, the kickoff shifted to a virtual meeting due the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our previous years’ in-person kickoff meetings were high-energy gatherings of legislative contacts from SCICU member campuses,” said Jeff Perez, SCICU president and CEO. “COVID-19 may have changed the venue for our kickoff, but it did not steal our group’s enthusiasm for student-led grassroots advocacy.”
In December 2020, campus legislative coordinators gathered via Zoom and heard a from-the-ranks legislative overview from Rep. Chandra Dillard (D-Greenville), newly appointed to the House Ways and Means Committee. Senate Finance senior budget analysts Brenda Hart and Jake Scoggins presented the FY 2021-22 budget outlook.
Legislative coordinators and public information officers on many campuses collaborate and organize special events that encourage Tuition Grants recipients to write thank-you letters to their Representatives and Senators. Limestone University held a two-day event (March 9 – Facebook and Twitter posts, March 10 Facebook and Twitter posts) for student letter writers and celebrated the students on social media. Limestone also has a special thank you website that features comments from Limestone students regarding the personal importance of Tuition Grants.