On tech tuition, ‘State’ got its wish

On tech tuition, ‘State’ got its wish

Letter to the Editor, Published in The State

In the Dec. 22 Impact section, The State implied that Gov. Jim Hodges broke a campaign promise to use lottery money for free technical college tuition for South Carolinians. The anonymous author also mocked the governor’s statement that technical college enrollment would increase because free tuition would enable more students to attend.

The State’s apparent beef with the governor is that the Legislature only approved enough funds to pay for about 75 percent of technical college tuition. What the article hypocritically doesn’t say is that The State is largely responsible for technical college tuition not being fully covered. The State used all its considerable influence to convince the Legislature and public that tens of millions of lottery funds would be better used for endowed chairs at some of our universities rather than to achieve 100 percent technical college tuition assistance.

The paper also ridiculed the lottery-funded technical college tuition by saying “the most financially needy students who receive federal financial aid for college don’t qualify for a nickel of lottery money.” Well, of course the state won’t pay for tuition already covered by federal assistance. This has enabled more students from lower- and middle-income families to get lottery-funded technical college tuition assistance and push tech enrollment up 7 percent this year — just as Gov. Hodges, the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce and other supporters of this effort predicted.

I hope that the Legislature and our new governor find the resources to both complete the goal of free technical college tuition and increase operational support funds required for the increased enrollment.

FRANK KNAPP JR.

Executive Director

The SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce

Columbia