SC State reports $4.4 million deficit to state budget and contro -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

SC State reports $4.4 million deficit to state budget and control board

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South Carolina State University told state budget officials Friday it has a deficit of more than $4 million and needs $13 million to pay bills and loans.

In the letter sent to state budget director Les Boles, President Thomas Elzey said they knew before the beginning of the academic year the university would be in financial trouble due to declining enrollment and existing debt.

The school, which is the state's only public historically black college and university, was forced to raise tuition and fees, eliminate 90 positions, increase fundraising and shifted $500,000 in differed maintenance costs to a federal program to help reduce the deficit, Elzey said in the letter.

"Due primarily to declining student enrollment as well as other factors, the university does not expect to close the 2013-2014 fiscal year within its existing financial resources," Elzey said.

"Although the university's plan to increase student enrollment this year and beyond has already paid dividends, other longstanding structural factors contributing to the expected current fiscal year shortfall remain," Elzey wrote. "For one, expenditures for university operations are based upon student enrollment levels from 5 year years ago, a time in which the number of enrolled students exceeded 4,800. Second, the university has been impacted by the same factors that many of its sister institutions have had to deal with, the cumulative effect of past reductions in state appropriations changes, to qualifications criteria for federal Plus Loans and Pell Grants (changes that were particularity harmful to minority students and their parents abilities to procure needed financial) and declining institutional scholarship dollars."

State Sen. Shane Massey, (R-Edgefield) said he wants to look into the university's finances in order to determine how SC State can stay a viable institution.

"We need to make sure it's going to survive," Massey said.

The state budget office has asked the university for a plan in writing within 14 days on how they will minimize or eliminate the projected shortfall.

The South Carolina State Board of Trustees elected Elzey to be the school's 11th president in April.

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