Coastal Carolina University takes step toward tuition increase

A Coastal Carolina University committee voted unanimously Thursday to recommend to the board of trustees a tuition increase for in-state and out-of-state undergraduate students – the first hike for in-state students in two years.

The Finance, Planning and Facilities Committee met Thursday to consider the proposal, which factors in 2 percent growth and includes increases in technology fees and housing, and will take it up at its meeting Friday morning.

In-state undergraduates who attend CCU full-time (12-18 hours) pay $4,840 per semester, which would increase by $140 to $4,980 per semester under the new proposal. The in-state student technology fee also would increase from $40 to $90 per semester.

Full-time, out-of-state students pay $11,315 per semester, which would increase by $335 to $11,650 per semester under the proposal. The out-of-state student technology fee, which is $70, would increase $20 to $90 per semester so that all undergraduates would be paying the same amount.

The proposal also seeks to increase by 5 percent room and board rates, which vary by residence. All rates will include a $75 housing technology fee per semester, according to the university. Stacie Bowie, vice president and chief financial officer, said there is a need to have high-speed wireless in all the residences because students exclusively use wireless, usually with multiple devices at the same time.

Students on the residential meal plan would be able to save money under the new proposal, which would tier the prices of different plan packages.

Committee Chairman William Biggs said they had looked at many options, but a lot of what they do is dictated by the legislature. The university’s reserves have been depleted from $5.5 million to $2.4 million in efforts to keep in-state tuition flat, and many positions were not filled but now must be filled to offer what students have come to expect, he said.

The university asked the state for $3 million to allow in-state tuition to remain flat for a third straight year, but the request was denied. CCU officials say they abided by a state request to keep in-state tuition flat and were penalized, with funding going to other institutions that raised their tuition.

“To be good stewards of the state has backfired to some extent,” Biggs said.

Total yearly costs, which include a meal plan and room and board, for in-state undergraduates is $17,730, which would increase to $18,380 per year. Out-of-state undergraduates pay $30,740, which would increase to $31,770.

“Are we pricing ourselves out of the market?” asked trustee Natasha Hanna, who was told the whole market is moving.

“This is not a drastic increase; other universities parallel us,” said Greg Thornburg, vice president of enrollment services, adding some competitors’ rates were already higher than those at CCU.