The South Carolina General Assembly is back in town for the 2024 session, and the House has begun the process for developing its version of the state budget. The subcommittees of the Ways and Means Committee kick-off budget season by holding hearings with the various state agencies over which they have purview.
On January 11 the House Ways and Means Higher Education Budget Subcommittee heard from Katie Harrison, executive director of the South Carolina Tuition Grants Commission. She provided a report on the Tuition Grants Program which provides need-based aid to South Carolina residents attending private colleges and universities in the state. Harrison also presented the commission’s budget request.
The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Nathan Ballentine, and on which sits Reps. Gilda Cobb-Hunter and Bill Taylor, was impressed by the commission’s success at using the additional funding it has received in previous years to increase the size of the maximum grant – this year, $4,800 – and expand eligibility. The commission also acts as the state repository for all FAFSA applications submitted in the state.
Harrison requested the same level of funding as submitted by Gov. McMaster in his Executive Budget, which includes $20 million in lottery funding for the Tuition Grants Program, to which the subcommittee seemed favorably disposed.
At the end of the hearing Chairman Ballentine specifically noted the impact of the thank-you letters from Tuition Grant recipients received by all members of the General Assembly. Last year the SCICU student letter-writing campaign resulted in more than 7,100 letters ending up in the in-baskets of legislators.