Expanding Colleges’ access to Government Grants

Companion bills H.3534  and S.185 would expand the number of higher education institutions eligible to receive funding from the South Carolina Higher Education Excellence Enhancement Program (itself funded by the lottery). Specifically the bills would stipulate that institutions eligible for funding now include “an institution of higher learning that is accredited to offer, and is actively offering, at least one nonsectarian program at the baccalaureate level” and institutions that are “accredited by an accrediting organization recognized by the United States Department of Education and that receives Title III funding”.

Part of the condition for receiving funds under this program is that the receiver institution must first use the funding as the “nonfederal match required by a federal funding program that provides funding for historic preservation or for capital improvements.” In other words the funding must be used to draw down federal dollars for new construction projects. This hardly seems guaranteed to improve educational outcomes in South Carolina higher education. The state doesn’t need to provide more funding to encourage colleges and universities to focus on capital projects before their students’ education. If anything universities should be discouraged from this tendency.

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