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Clemson board approves tuition freeze for 2020-21 academic year


Clemson University’s Board of Trustees approved on Thursday the University’s plan for a tuition and mandatory fee freeze for the 2020-21 academic year for all in-state and out-of-state students. Housing and dining fees are not mandatory, and a decision on those will be made in the near future.  

“This tuition freeze provides a bit of stability for our families during these uncertain times,” President Jim Clements said. “I want to express my thanks to our Board of Trustees for their leadership in taking this timely action as Clemson continues to provide a great value to our students and to the State of South Carolina and its citizens.”   

Today’s action marks the first time Clemson tuition has remained constant in recent years. The administration attributed its ability to make this decision to the university’s focused efforts on cost containment and operational efficiency, as well as the Governor and the South Carolina General Assembly’s investment in higher education through tuition mitigation funding.   

The actual average out-of-pocket cost to in-state freshmen is only 36 percent of the posted tuition rates and is directly attributable to South Carolina’s generous scholarship program and Clemson’s commitment to providing financial support to its students. More than 99 percent of all incoming freshmen from South Carolina receive scholarship funding.

Earlier this month, Clemson’s Board of Trustees authorized the administration to provide more than $17 million in unused housing, dining and parking fees to students for the Spring semester.   

“Our Board is keenly aware of the financial impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on many of our students and their families,” said Clemson Board of Trustees Chairman Smyth McKissick. “The decision to hold the line on tuition is consistent with Clemson’s student-centric approach to providing a relevant, high-quality educational experience in as efficient a manner as possible.”  

Clemson has been cited as one of the most efficiently operated universities in the country as Clemson’s expenses per student are 38 percent lower than the average of U.S. News top 25 institutions.  

“Like many other institutions of higher education nationally, Clemson has been affected financially by the pandemic and we’ve already taken steps to control our costs,” Executive Vice President for Finance and Operations Tony Wagner said. “Our University is in a position to make this commitment to our students because of the ongoing focus on efficiency of each of our colleges and departments.”  

The University has previously announced an immediate hiring freeze, reduction in travel expenses and other temporary budget cuts.  

As a result of the University’s commitment to efficient operations and the State’s support, 54 percent of Clemson graduates leave with no student debt, compared to 35 percent nationally. Simultaneously, Clemson graduates its students at rates well beyond the national average. More than 83 percent of students graduate within six years, compared to 59 percent nationally.   

In other actions at its spring quarterly meeting, Trustees approved a preliminary budget for FY21 which maintains maximum spending levels at FY20 levels while aggressively controlling expenses and authorized the administration to award a new dining contract. Trustees also heard detailed reports from President Clements, EVP Wagner, Associate VP for Public Safety Greg Mullen, Provost Bob Jones and Vice President for External Affairs Angie Leidinger, each informing the board about the University’s response to COVID-19 and plans for the University moving forward.   


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