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.
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.