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USC board makes tuition free for active-duty military; USC Sumter has been offsetting rise in costs for 6 years

BY BRUCE MILLS bruce@theitem.com
Posted 11/5/19
The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees recently took a step to help active-duty military members go to college in its system essentially tuition-free, something USC Sumter has been doing for several years. Eric Reisenauer, USC …

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USC board makes tuition free for active-duty military; USC Sumter has been offsetting rise in costs for 6 years

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The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees recently took a step to help active-duty military members go to college in its system essentially tuition-free, something USC Sumter has been doing for several years.

Eric Reisenauer, USC Sumter's executive associate dean for academic and student affairs, spoke recently about a system-wide change in tuition costs per credit hour for active-duty military members who take classes to match funding they receive through a military tuition assistance allowance program.

The U.S. Military Tuition Assistance Program compensates active-duty military members who pursue college coursework $250 per credit hour. Last year, USC's system-wide in-state tuition rate rose to $298.25, meaning tuition was $48.25 per credit hour above the military allowance, according to Reisenauer.

Reisenauer said since the state tuition rate initially creeped above the $250 active-duty military allowance rate about five or six years ago, USC Sumter has been offering scholarships so those students haven't had any out-of-pocket tuition costs.

"So, last year, we were covering $48.25 for every credit hour for active-duty people," he said. "We recognized this was a burden on them, and we wanted to honor them and give them the opportunity to go to school; so, we found a way to use other resources to cover those costs."

With the USC Board of Trustees' recent decision, any active-duty military member's tuition will be adjusted and lowered down to $250 per credit hour at all eight USC system colleges, including USC Sumter.

With the change, any active-duty military member can take classes in the system effectively tuition free, since the rate will match the $250 assistance allowance, Reisenauer said. The change will positively affect USC Sumter, which will no longer have to carry the burden of paying the $48.25 difference for students.

"So, what they did is a different mechanism," he said. "They are not coming up with money to cover the gap. Now, when someone enrolls and is identified as active-duty, the system automatically adjusts their tuition down to $250."

Reisenauer said he thinks the system Board of Trustees' decision is "very positive."

"I think what the USC board did was great with this move," he said. "I praise them because I think it's an awesome thing to show their commitment to the military."

Campuses in the University of South Carolina System

USC Columbia

USC Aiken

USC Upstate (Spartanburg)

USC Beaufort

USC Sumter

USC Lancaster

USC Union (Union, Laurens)

USC Salkehatchie (Walterboro, Allendale)