Let the Crybabies work

When I went back to college, my tuition saw several double-digit increases until my graduation in 2004.

I worked full-time and kept up with my kids as best as I could. Somehow, I held down full-time enrollment, and my GPA, which started out at 3.0 my first semester, rose steadily and I graduated with a 3.71 GPA and a bunch of honors.

But in spite of my full-time enrollment and my grades, I could not receive a penny of lottery money. A provision in the lottery funding requires all students to complete college in four years' time - a clause which disqualifies almost every adult (taxpaying, since most adults have jobs) student. Even those who go back and prove themselves, as I and many other older students do.

In my case, the lottery not only didn't help me, it actually hurt me when tuition increases put thousands of dollars of extra financial burden upon me. Thanks, Jim Hodges (Jimmy, I hope you're reading this ... or if you know him, pass this his way).

This story in the Rock Hill Herald made me want to laugh:

Lottery profits were $273 million in the year ending June 30, down from a peak of $320 million in 2005-2006.

Meanwhile, the cost of the college scholarship program is expected to grow by at least $10 million a year over the next three years.

Lottery profits pay for most of the scholarships, which totaled an estimated $245 million last year. However, $50 million from the state's general fund also was needed to pay for LIFE scholarships. The taxpayer share of the LIFE program is projected to rise to more than $80 million for the year that just began.

"The decline in revenue was predictable," Senate Finance Committee chairman Hugh Leatherman said. "After three to five years, every lottery experiences a decline in revenue."

Today, any S.C. student who qualifies for the LIFE scholarship receives the $5,000-a-year grant. However, Leatherman said the most likely way to control the future cost of the scholarship program would be to cut that amount. That could be done by capping the total amount to be paid out in state-financed scholarships and then dividing that money by the number of students who qualify.

If the number of students qualifying continues to grow, the amount of the individual grants would decline.

But state Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, said lawmakers should honor the commitment they made to give more S.C. students a chance to get a higher education.

No offense intended, Senator Martin, but if little Johnny or Susie wants to go to college, fine, let 'em go. But don't buy into the whining about "if I don't get the lottery money, I can't go to college". If I didn't get the free ride, managed to support a family and still graduated in the top 4% of my class, then they outta quit crying and get a job to help pay their way through, like I did. Or swallow some pride and stay with their parents for four more years to afford to pay their tuition.

I've conducted polling in a number of political campaigns around the state, and anytime I asked where lottery funds should go, the overwhelming majority say the money needs to go into K-12, not college funding. I'd put the average of those responses at about four-to-one in favor of K-12 funding.

Given the dangerous condition of our school bus fleet, I'd say that should be a priority for education funding. Or maybe paying off the billion dollars in school construction bonds the state issued in the late 1990s. Not pandering to a bunch of kids who don't value a college education enough to sacrifice for it.

9 Response to "Let the Crybabies work"

  1. Brian McCarty 6/8/07 23:24
    I said years ago, in published comments, that the idea of a lottery for college was assanine.

    Now, we see that the costs for paying for the lottery will infringe upon the so called benefits of the lottery.

    Let us have a forensic accounting of all the money that comes in through the lottery and lets let the people know just how much goes to so called administrative costs.

    Then, we might have some justice.
  2. a friend 7/8/07 06:05
    The four year clause is just a hurdle that is prejudicial to people that need the help, and income of a real job. Much like law school and most grad programs the full time provision sucks.

    Kudos to you for getting tough. Indeed, you have earned my respect over the years.
  3. Earl Capps 7/8/07 07:59
    after going back to school, i've wondered if maybe we shouldn't require everyone to have spent a couple of years out of school, in the "real world", before we let them go to college, pursue a technical education, etc.

    working in the construction industry, i'm a big believer that not everyone needs a bachelor's degree on the wall to pursue their career. but clearly a high school education won't cut it any more.

    maybe we need to be asking ourselves if we need to reconsider what we're doing with K-12 education? but that's another discussion.

    thanks for the kudos ... not sure if i know you, but thanks nonetheless, and keep on coming back.
  4. Anonymous 7/8/07 11:32
    you tell 'em!
  5. Anonymous 7/8/07 13:35
    Lottery as originially proposed would have applied to anyone attending college. Hodges made a point that lottery benefits should help anyone attending college who keeps B average, whether they are right out of high school or adult going back. It was the GOP majority in SC House that opposed idea and tried to draw the legislation as narrowly as possible as part of effort to torpedo the whole thing.

    Agree with earlier comments, and congratulations to you for sticking it out.
  6. East Fork Des Moines River Moye 7/8/07 20:08
    I have to agree some with Brian on this. That hurt. Anyway we need to look at the cost to run this thing and I for one always believed this is just another tax on the poor the people that cannot afford to play it anyway. The same people who will vote Democrat if Satan himself was to be on the ballot.
  7. sc sailor 7/8/07 22:16
    earl youre right on
  8. Anonymous 8/8/07 09:47
    funny .... you think the lottery money should go K-12? But Earl, you are a republican, and don't all of you republicans feel that we have already been throwing too much money at K-12 and that throwing money at the problem is not the solution?
  9. Earl Capps 8/8/07 10:11
    Anon 0947 ... how about me saying "all of you n*****s" ... such a remark would be no less bigoted than your comments.

    Overall, yes, I do think we have reached a point of diminishing returns with education spending in most areas.

    But there is no disputing the immediate needs of our school bus fleet, as well as the value of improving our state's finances by paying off a sizable chunk of its bonded debt.

    Your snide and prejudicial mindset aside, I think if you show most people in this state, myself included, a problem and convince us that a reasonable amount of funding can help show substantive progress, we'll support your idea.

    But we've substantially increased our state's education funding, in terms of the share of the state budget and in real dollars, and are in the same position as we were back in the 60s and 70s, where nobody cared if we were last in the nation.

    This being the case, doesn't this make a rational argument that there is no significant correlation between increased education funding and performance?

    I'm sure you're just going to look at this and think of this as just more drivel from "another one of those skinflint Republican who want to shut down all the schools but the segregated ones" ... but that mindset is one of the biggest contributors to the current problem in clearing the policy logjam.

    As a parent of children in public schools, I care enough about them to want to make sure they have the best resources at hand. I certainly care more about them than to throw money at them and hope it miraculously solves the problem.

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