State lawmakers move to shutter S.C.’s only public HBCU for two years

South Carolina's House Ways and Means Subcommittee voted on Tuesday to shutter S.C. State University for two years because of the school's financial woes.

S.C State University has a $10 million deficit from unpaid food and maintenance suppliers.

The shutdown—the subcommittee’s proposal must pass the full House and Senate before going into effect—would include terminating the school’s administration, board of trustees, faculty and staff, and the suspension of all athletic programs.

“We are looking at a bankrupt institution,” Republican state Rep. Jim Merrill, who heads the panel that recommended suspending operations at the college, told The State. “No one takes any pleasure in recommending this.”

S.C State University is a historically black university that was established in 1896. Only 14 percent of its students have graduated within four years and even with a 96 percent acceptance rate, the school's enrollment has drastically decreased.

If the proposal is passed, current students will have to relocate by the end of this spring semester but will be eligible for in-state scholarships.

SCSU President Thomas Elzey previously asked the state for a $6 million bailout to cover the next year's deficit in his budget plan, and the school at one point asked the state to furlough its employees.

If the proposal passes the legislature, the school would close on July 1 and reopen in the fall of 2017.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Christon_S