South Carolina falls short of requirements for federal education funds

South Carolina does not qualify for $143.4 million in federal education assistance approved last week because the state no longer meets minimum higher education funding requirements.

South Carolina is one of seven states that have failed to meet funding requirements for either K-12 education or higher education, according to U.S. Rep. James Clyburn's office. South Carolina is $110.8 million short of the federally-required higher education spending, according to the S.C. Office of State Budget.

According to federal and state estimates, the new stimulus money would save between 2,000 and 2,300 education jobs.

South Carolina has a 30-day deadline to apply for the new education funding, but state budget leaders said they would not rewrite the budget. Clyburn's office and the state education department said they would work with federal officials to find a solution.

"Everybody's hoping that Congress can work this out," said Superintendent of Education Jim Rex. "The simplest fix would be to change the bill's language back to the way it was in the federal stabilization legislation.”

State budget writers said they could do little at this point.

“We never even contemplated any additional funding,” said House Ways and Means chairman Dan Cooper, R-Anderson, of the current year's budget, which cut higher education funding. Cooper said adding $110 million to colleges is not an option: "I don't know where it would come from."

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