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Scholarships hit by S.C. Lottery downturn

South Carolina LotterySouth Carolina Lottery: Scholarships hit by S.C. Lottery downturn

As revenue declines, grants could cover less of rising in-state tuition

Declining revenues from the S.C. lottery and increasing demand for the scholarships it provides means students could see their tuition grants drop.

It's already happened in Georgia, where tighter standards for winning lottery-funded scholarships have cost 18,000 students once-free rides.

"Some day, we will have to cap the cost," S.C. Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman said. "The general fund cannot afford to have open-ended accounts like that."

But some senators disagree.

"We made an obligation to those scholarships, and that obligation was heightened when we allowed tuition to rise during the 2002-2004 economic downturn," state Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, said.

Even if the scholarships hold at current levels, they rarely are enough to give students a free ride at in-state schools, where double-digit tuition increases have been common in recent years.

Like most lotteries, South Carolina's has experienced a drop in revenues, partly from a decline in interest and partly from the competing lottery that started in neighboring North Carolina, which launched in March 2006.

Profits from the S.C. games were $273 million in fiscal year 2007. That's down from a peak of $320 million for the year ending June 30, 2006.

Those profits go in part to pay for a set number of student scholarships, which cost an estimated $245 million last year. About $50 million from the state's general fund was needed to make up the difference and continue to pay for the LIFE scholarships, and lawmakers say the taxpayer portion could increase to $80 million next year.

Lottery profits also pay for other education programs, such as $30 million a year for endowed chairs that S.C. universities say helps them recruit nationally recognized research professors.

But it is the scholarships and other tuition grants that college leaders say is most important.

"These awards have had an absolutely phenomenal impact," University of South Carolina President Andrew Sorensen said.

"More and more, the bright students are deciding to stay in the state. Naturally, I'd prefer that they come to the University of South Carolina, but we all are benefiting from this program," he said.

Sorensen cited Clemson University research that showed 60 percent of S.C. students with SAT scores higher than 1,390 now stay in state to attend college, compared with 17 percent before the start of the scholarships.

If the scholarships are reduced, he said, "as surely as night follows day, we will become less competitive for these students."

AP

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2 comments. Last comment 9 years ago by Just6ntlc.
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sweetie7398's avatar - flower2
South Carolina
United States
Member #22702
September 30, 2005
3033 Posts
Offline
Posted: August 7, 2007, 2:28 am - IP Logged

Hopefully these scholarships will not decline.  I have recently taken a few classes at a nearby technical school and since I did not have the specific amount of minimum hours, I was unable to receive any lottery tuition assistance.  The school suggested I pick up an additional class that I did not need in order to receive this money.

Life, love, family Love


    United States
    Member #16612
    June 2, 2005
    3493 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: August 7, 2007, 12:31 pm - IP Logged

    I hope these scholarships in South Carolina will help the students go on to college. I have an associate arts degree at Diablo Valley College. I rather have some type of college degree right now so I want to have a good future.