COLUMBIA — The Clemson University board of trustees Friday approved a 1 percent tuition increase for in-state undergraduate students for the 2019-2020 academic year, reflecting both the university’s ongoing commitment to providing value to South Carolina students and their families and the state’s commitment to increased funding for higher education. The board also approved a 3.8 percent tuition increase for non-resident students.
“Clemson and our state’s leaders share a commitment to providing an affordable, high-quality educational experience for our students, and we are thankful for our partnership with the governor and the General Assembly,” said Clemson President James P. Clements. “By all measures, Clemson represents a great educational value and we remain mindful of the need to operate as efficiently as possible while continuing to provide our students with a highly relevant education that prepares them for success once they leave our campuses.”
Under the approved rates, posted tuition for in-state undergraduate students will increase $75 a semester to $7,560. The actual average out-of-pocket cost to in-state freshmen is only 36 percent of the posted tuition rates, due in large part 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 support.
The percentage increase for in-state students is half of both the current annual national rate of inflation and the cap that was set by the state legislature in return for providing increased funding for public higher education institutions. Clemson received $5.7 million in new funding from the state to keep tuition increases for in-state students to a minimum and another $1.9 million to partially cover state-mandated increases to health insurance and pension plan costs for its employees.
In addition, Clemson received another $12 million in one-time funding from the state for university priorities, including expansion of its health extension program, campus safety and security upgrades and support for Clemson’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing.
Student demand, success levels remain high
Clemson, which has been among the nation’s top 25 public universities as ranked by U.S. News and World Report for more than a decade, 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. Additionally, 54 percent of Clemson graduates leave with no student debt, compared to 35 percent nationally.
In addition, market demand for a Clemson education has never been stronger. Clemson had a record of nearly 29,000 applications for approximately 3,800 slots in the fall of 2018, and applications have increased 39 percent over the past five years while the academic credentials of applicants have steadily improved. Clemson educated 3,400 more in-state students in 2018 than a decade earlier, and more than two-thirds of the undergraduate population is from South Carolina.
Clemson also has been cited as one of the most efficiently operated universities in the country. For example, Clemson’s expenses per student are 38 percent lower than the average of its U.S. News top 25 peers.
“The board’s focus has been on helping the administration drive continuous improvements in efficiency, quality and relevance, and the results over the past several years have been very positive. By doing so, we are optimizing value to our students,” said board Chairman Smyth McKissick. “We are consistently attracting top students from across the country to Clemson and preparing them for successful futures, and doing it at a cost that is well below that of our peers.”
Housing and dining fees approved
The board also approved new rates for the university’s housing and dining options for the upcoming year. Housing rates will increase from 1.5 percent to 4.5 percent — or from $29 to $215 a semester — depending on the option.
The university provides a wide range of student housing options at different price levels and, even with the increases, rates for next year will remain at, or somewhat below, the median of peer institutions across the Southeast. Additionally, Clemson student housing — which has enjoyed consistently strong demand with a 10-year average occupancy rate of 98 percent — is priced to be competitive with local off-campus housing.
Finally, the board approved a 4.5 percent increase in the cost of all meal plans for the upcoming academic year. Even with the increase, the per-meal cost for students purchasing an unlimited meal plan will remain below $5.50. Approximately one-third of Clemson students participate in a university meal plan.
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