CCU trustees vote to raise tuition, a concern for some students

Coastal Carolina University’s board of trustees approved an increase in tuition on Friday that university officials say is necessary to keep pace with costs but is discouraging news for some students.

“It’s just going to make things a little more difficult,” said senior Danielle Rome.

The board voted unanimously Friday to raise undergraduate tuition for full-time students (12 to 18 hours) by 2.89 percent, or $140 per semester, for in-state students and by 2.96 percent, or $335 per semester, for out-of-state students. The university had been able to keep in-state tuition flat for the last two years, but officials say CCU will remain competitive even with the increase.

Other increases will come in the technology fee, which will increase to $90 for all undergraduates, and room and board rates, which will increase by 5 percent, along with a housing technology fee at $75 per semester.

Rome, a graphic design major, has three more semesters before getting her degree and has a job on campus. She does not live in university housing and said her mother helps with tuition, but it is still a challenge to meet all of her expenses.

“Education is a good investment, but with everything you have to pay for, [a tuition increase] makes it harder to get the financial aid, to get help from your parents,” Rome said. “Even with work study, I have to use that money for food.”

Judy Thurston, a rising sophomore from Connecticut, said she didn’t know that tuition was going to increase, but her parents pay for her education. She said she learned about CCU through high school friends who attended the university and enrolled  because she liked the campus and the location. The increase isn’t welcome, she said, but her parents will pay the tuition anyway because she’s happy at CCU.

“My parents will probably be a little mad, but it’s just a bump in the road,” Thurston said.

Greg Thornburg, vice president of enrollment services, said his department did a tuition comparison last year of 2012-13 costs and found that CCU’s tuition was competitive with similar universities outside South Carolina. For example, at Virginia’s James Madison University, in-state tuition – including room and board – was $17,096 versus $17,460 at CCU, and Thornburg said CCU remains competitive everywhere except for North Carolina, where CCU is focusing more of its recruiting efforts.

“The North Carolina schools have significant support from their state for in-state students but not out-of-state students,” said Thornburg, adding that the state’s universities also offer a wealth of programs, including marine science – a popular draw for CCU – at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

Rome said she came to CCU as an out-of-state student because it was more affordable than attending a university as an in-state student in Illinois. She said she was able to establish residency when her mother moved to South Carolina, which she said further lowered tuition costs.

“It will be more difficult, but I love my program, and the teachers really do care about their students,” Rome said. “I do love this school, and I would still come here.”