State colleges struggle with less funding in NC

Public colleges and universities in South Carolina are sifting through painful options as they struggle to cope with state budget cuts many officials describe as deep and unprecedented.

Higher education took a $123 million hit in October when the General Assembly cut $488 million from the state budget because of the sharp economic downturn. For many colleges and universities, the October cut was the third they sustained this fiscal year, as state officials have continued revising revenue estimates downward.

In North Carolina, public universities plan to ax classes, leave jobs vacant and delay construction projects in the hopes of avoiding layoffs as the state struggles with a budget shortfall.

Now, S.C. college presidents are ordering furloughs, slashing staff and freezing open positions – even as more budget cuts loom early next year.

While colleges and universities are getting less money from the state, they are also less able to make up that money by raising tuition.

Tuition at the South Carolina's largest schools is already among the highest in the Southeast, and the weak economy makes it difficult for students and families to meet existing costs.

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