SC State on track to run out of money next month - - Columbia, South Carolina |

SC State on track to run out of money next month

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South Carolina State University is on track to run out of money next month.

University President Thomas Elzey told trustees Thursday that the Orangeburg school has $1.5 million on hand. That's less than half of what S.C. State needs to pay its more than 1,000 employees, utility bills and debt payment next month.

The school has requested a nearly $14 million bailout from the state after years of borrowing money to cover deficits caused by declining enrollment and overspending.

"We have $6.1 million in outstanding debts we cannot pay, we have $1.5 million in cash on hand at the end of this month," said SC State Board Member Katon Dawson. "That's not a number that moves the university forward in a facet, that's a number that makes the university whole, where the president can form a plan where the revenues match and balance the budget."

But this isn't a problem that's popped up overnight.

"There are mounting bills, mounting deficits that have all come home because the board has reversed the policies of the past," Dawson said.

Some of those policies prompted both federal and state investigations into the school's finances, with allegations of inappropriate use of school funds and nepotism and mismanagement of millions for the James E. Clyburn Transportation Center.

Even the school's accreditation has come under warning from the South Association of Schools and Colleges because of the SCSU's financial shape.

Dawson said the university got into a habit of transferring money out of places it shouldn't be.

There is a silver lining for the school though.

Dawson said after successful recruitment efforts the incoming class is large.

"It's actually one of the largest lately, one of the largest application processes we've seen at SC State University," Dawson said.

Dawson and other board members hope the state can help keep the lights on and doors open at the school but he knows the legislature will have demands.

"They're going to want a balanced budget and demand a balanced budget," Dawson said. "They're going to want accurate numbers, and in my opinion a look at all the contracts, all the foundations."

At this point, there's no indication where that money would come from if the state bails out the university but Governor Nikki Haley has already expressed her support for the school.

The State Budget and Control Board will be looking at the school's request next week.

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