Protecting America’s Future:
Student Solutions for Federal Issues
2012 Annual Report
Compiled by members of the University of South Carolina
Student Congressional Advisory Board, 2011-2012
This report may be found online at
Table of Contents
Mission Statement 2
Message from the Director 4
James M. Strickland
Secretary of Government–Community Relations
Restoring American Healthcare 5
Eeshwar K. Chandrasekar
Spurring Economic Expansion 10
C. Andrew Dorsey
Planning Nuclear Energy for the Future 14
George M. Helman
Relieving Students from Burdensome Taxation 20
Jessica V. Kaczmarek
Engendering American Leadership 25
Emory D. Roberts
Equalizing Access to College 31
Samruddhi P. Somani
Preserving Educational Innovation 37
James M. Strickland
Controlling the Cost of College 45
Steven D. Vanderlip
Author Biographies 57
The Student Congressional Advisory Board serves as the voice of South Carolina students to
the U.S. Congress. The board gathers information about specific issues pertaining to students
and assists South Carolina’s Congressional Delegation in finding better solutions for these
concerns. We are tasked with:
addressing federal lawmakers with academic, financial, and social issues relevant to
student development and achievement;
soliciting input from institutional constituents such as students, faculty,
administrators, and staff;
educating the campus community about federal higher education initiatives; and
serving as an outlet through which students can realize their potential for active
involvement in national politics.
As student advocates, we believe we can transform both the state and the University of South
Carolina by informing our elected leaders of issues that are relevant to our generation. By
doing this, we can enhance their future—benefiting our community and leaving a lasting
heritage for future students.
Without the gracious assistance of several members of both Student Government and the
Carolina community, this report simply would not exist. The entire Congressional Advisory
Board thanks the following:
Mrs. Theresa Sexton, coordinator for Student Government, greatly assisted the board in
reserving meeting venues, scheduling visits with administrators, and in planning the logistics
of its travels. Mr. Jerry Brewer, associate vice president for student affairs, arranged for
members’ lodging and accompanied them throughout their trip. Mr. Steven Beckham,
director of federal relations for the university, arranged the board’s meetings and interviews
in Washington, D.C. Mr. Joe Wright, student body president, provided valuable guidance in
choosing worthwhile topics for policy proposals. Ms. Emily Supil, student body treasurer,
greatly assisted with the board’s financial arrangements. Finally, a special debt of gratitude is
owed to Mrs. Melissa Gentry, director of parents programs, who proofread and edited this
Individual board members would like to thank the following:
Emory Roberts is grateful to Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Wessel of the Air Force and
Lieutenant Colonel John Wright of the Army, both of whom volunteered their time for
James Strickland appreciates the help of Senator Mike Fair, Professors Valinda Littlefield
and Dorothy Pratt of the University of South Carolina Department of History, and Mrs.
Theresa Younce, a retired school teacher.
Message from the Director
Dear Representative or Senator,
Over the past six months, members of the 2012 Student Congressional Advisory Board
(CAB) have vigorously researched issues pertinent to the University of South Carolina
student body. They administered an online poll, used social media, conducted interviews, and
hosted meetings to gauge the opinions of students. Their findings reflect the views of many,
and included in this report are eight policy proposals that address federal issues.
All members of the 2012 CAB were selected on academic merit. Applicants were subjected
to a rigorous interview process. Please note that many who wanted to join the board in this
endeavor were not able to. The university’s Student Government chose the best students for
the board, and I am confident that you will be impressed by their thoroughness, dedication,
and intellectual curiosity.
CAB members represent a variety of backgrounds. They hail from all six of South Carolina’s
current congressional districts and maintain exceptional grade point averages. They also
represent a variety of majors, from history, political science, and economics to chemistry,
astronomy and mathematics. In addition, the board represents the interests of graduate
It is with great honor and appreciation that the Board presents this report for informing you
of the issues that are most important to South Carolina students.
With sincerest gratitude,
James M. Strickland
Student Congressional Advisory Board Director
Secretary of Government–Community Relations
University of South Carolina Student Government
Restoring American Healthcare:
The Medical Deficit of Primary Care Practitioners
Eeshwar K. Chandrasekar
The U.S. continues to serve as a model of hope and justice for the world. The liberties
and opportunities afforded to American citizens are marveled upon, and their standards of
living are among the best in the world.1
Despite its position as a global leader, however, the U.S. is falling behind in
healthcare. While the nation has the fourth highest per capita healthcare expenditures in the
world (exceeding $7,000 per year), its healthcare system falls far behind many other
developed nations.2 The last health systems ranking by the World Health Organization put
the U.S. at an abysmal ranking of 37th in overall healthcare system performance and 72nd in
overall level of health.3 More recent studies show that Americans have only the 50th highest
overall life expectancy at birth—far behind other developed and many developing nations
(including Costa Rica).4 A large portion part of the problem is that primary care practitioners
are not available to the fullest extent possible.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 made healthcare accessible
to many more American citizens.5 There are not enough doctors, however, to meet this
growing demand. The country’s biggest deficit in healthcare consists of a lack of primary
care physicians, specifically family care practitioners.6 Primary care physicians are health
specialists with a variety of functions. They provide preventive care and teach healthy
lifestyle choices. Additionally, they are trained to treat common medical conditions and
ailments. They also make recommendations to medical specialists whenever necessary. In
essence, these “generalists” are the first physicians patients visit.7
Despite their importance, the U.S. significant lacks such essential physicians. It is
estimated that there will be a deficit of up to 44,000 adult family care practitioners by 2025. 8
Even today, family practitioners experience significant strain because of patient demand. Of
the total healthcare sector work force, only 209,000 are practicing primary care physicians.9
Consequentially, they are forced to consult many patients daily with the national average is
ranging between 22 and 25 (please see chart 1.1 on page 51). Individual health consultations
also are extremely short, with the majority of family practitioners spending fewer than 16
minutes with each patient (please see chart 1.2 on page 51).10 Indeed, upon expanding
medical care to thousands of individuals in Massachusetts, local doctors reported having to
spend less time with each patient.11
Such a medical shortage puts significant strain on both physicians and patients.
Because of the lack of family practitioners, patients are often put on a waiting list to see such
doctors. This waiting time often exceeds four months. Unfortunately as well, doctors are
unable to fully assess patients’ conditions and make recommendations for healthy lifestyle
choices within 16-minute consultations. As a result, patients are hesitant to share personal
information with physicians whom they hardly know, making the job of the physician
significantly more difficult and limiting his ability to treat underlying causes. As chronic
diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease become more prevalent in the U.S., the
advice of physicians becomes more important in preventing such diseases.12 Such lifestyle-
associated ailments cannot be addressed in only a 20-minute discussion. These conversations
involve comprehensive lifestyle behavior changes, including exercise regimens and dietary
modifications. Patients are less likely to adhere to physicians’ advice, however, if they do not
have personal relationships with them.13
Despite the importance of primary care physicians, the U.S. healthcare system has a
tremendous shortage of them. This problem is largely a result of financial scarcity. Becoming
a physician requires several years of dedicated work and sizeable amounts of money. Today,
the average American medical student graduates with a debt of $157,944.14 With such a
substantial debt, graduates must explore means of repayment. Many of them pursue medical
specialization, which often yields greater returns. In fact, the average annual income of
primary care physicians is about $135,000 lower than the average annual income of medical
specialists. Over the course of a career, this difference amounts to more than $6 million.15 As
a result, a large portion of family care practitioners feel that they are unjustly compensated
for their services.16
Three methods could alleviate the primary care practitioner shortage:
1) Improve the ease of acquiring a permanent visa for international medical graduates if
they become family care practitioners.
2) Reallocate Medicare reimbursement rates to more fairly reimburse family doctors for
3) Increase funding for the National Health Service Corps.
The first solution to filling the void for family practice is completely budget-neutral.
Today, international medical graduates (IMGs) represent 24 percent of the total physician
workforce and 58 percent of primary care physicians in America.17 Moreover, family care is
the second most practiced specialty of medicine for IMGs, with more than 80 percent of them
providing direct patient care.18 International medical graduates are currently given J-1 visas,
which require returning to one’s home country after medical residency is completed.
Providing an opportunity for permanent residency is an ideal way to provide incentives for
more IMGs to complete U.S. family practice residencies and fill the family doctor void.
Therefore, these IMGs should be granted H1-B visas, which lead to permanent residential
status. These individuals have the potential to contribute to American tax revenue, generate
domestic wealth, and become functioning members of civil society. Because they have to
pass certification exams, IMGs can provide the same care as U.S. doctors. A pool of capable
medical professionals willing to will the nation’s void already exists.
To shift America away from relying solely on IMGs, the second solution provides
incentives for domestic students to pursue careers in family practice. This second budget-
neutral measure involves reevaluating Medicare reimbursement rates for medical services.
American family practitioners often make less money than their foreign counterparts. In most
developed nations, such care represents 20 percent of all healthcare expenditures. In the U.S.,
this figure is between 12 and 15 percent.19 This discrepancy is caused largely by below-
average reimbursement rates for family physicians. The growing demand for family
practitioners, however, will go unfulfilled if Medicare does not fairly pay such doctors.
Funding for this initiative may be found in cutting other, often overly compensated, medical
A third solution involves more funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC),
which operates under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NHSC is a
program that allows young doctors to repay their medical school debts by practicing in high-
demand areas. The program currently reimburses doctors up to $120,000 in six years, half of
which is paid over the course of two years with an additional $30,000 per year in potential
benefits. After this, doctors can apply to continue at a rate of $20,000 per year but are limited
to 16 years of service.20
Although the NHSC now pays more than 10,000 medical graduates to serve more than 9
million patients, this program is still in high demand. In 2010, only 13 percent of applications
were awarded NHSC funding. Despite a plethora of capable medical professionals, such a
low acceptance rate is due to the program’s limited funding.21 Because of this, fewer than
five percent of medical graduates have the opportunity to serve in the NHSC.22 Nevertheless,
evidence suggests that receiving such scholarships encourages students to enter primary care
practice.23 Moreover, these individuals serve in low-income and rural areas where healthcare
is often high in demand yet scarcely supplied. Of all doctors, family care practitioners are the
most likely to work in rural areas and maximize access to professional healthcare for millions
of Americans and are associated with more cost-effective care, early disease detection, and
preventive care.24 Increasing funding for the NHSC will allow medical students to meet
critical healthcare demands.
Despite valiant efforts to expand medical care to millions of Americans, the federal
government is not maximizing the efficiency of healthcare expenditures. Regardless of any
possibility of reforming or repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the need
for primary care practitioners will not diminish. Members of the U.S. Congress can act now,
however, if they are to avoid a serious public health catastrophe. No other doctors appear to
have the greatest impact on overall health as do family care practitioners. Fulfilling the three
steps above will substantially increase the efficiency of the American healthcare system and
improve the personal well-being of millions of U.S. citizens.
Spurring Economic Expansion:
Innovative Research at the University of South Carolina
C. Andrew Dorsey
In 1801, the South Carolina General Assembly granted a charter for the creation of
what became the University of South Carolina (USC). From just a single building and eleven
students on the historic Horseshoe emerged one of the world’s premier research and teaching
institutions. The university’s 44,000 students and more than 255,000 living alumni are
actively improving the lives of millions of others around the world. When visiting USC in
1987, Pope John Paul II proclaimed, “It is wonderful to be young and be a student of the
University of South Carolina.” Indeed, even now it is a great time to be at student of this
great university. The Congressional Advisory Board deeply values the opportunity to both
share exciting information about USC and tell members of the U.S. Congress how they can
support the university.
Eight university campuses serve various communities throughout South Carolina.
With the main campus in Columbia, four-year campuses in Spartanburg, Aiken, and
Beaufort, and regional campuses in Salkehatchie, Union, Lancaster, and Sumter, students
from many backgrounds are able to obtain a quality education. In fact, USC campuses serve
students in all six of the state’s congressional districts. With more than 324 degree-granting
programs administered by 14 academic departments, prospective students are empowered to
pursue courses of study they find most appealing. The student body includes people from all
fifty states and 127 foreign nations.25 The university has experienced tremendous growth
over the past decade and now enrolls approximately 10,000 additional students.26 They all
recognize the financial and personal gain of obtaining a baccalaureate degree from USC.
When taking into consideration the increased income of graduates, research clearly
indicates that USC contributes $4.1 billion in additional revenue to the state’s annual
economic output. This equates to sustaining more than 53,000 jobs.27 Over the past five
years, faculty have submitted 354 invention disclosures, filed 198 patent applications, and
licensed 58 technologies through academic research. The university has earned recognition
by the Carnegie Foundation as a top research and service institution.28 It has become a
tremendous economic powerhouse through its discoveries and innovations.
In addition to its economic impact, USC is a leading service institution that promotes
and preserves major aspects of the culture and history of South Carolina. In 2011, more than
23,400 students, faculty, and staff donated approximately $7 million to local charities and
volunteered nearly 350,000 hours of community service.29 The university houses the state’s
only Poison Control Center and a number of other unparalleled institutions. The South
Carolina Political Collections maintains the historical documents of various elected leaders,
including current members of South Carolina’s Congressional Delegation. Moreover, the
South Caroliniana Library is a leading archive for antebellum documents. USC was once
called a “faithful index to the ambitions and fortunes of our State.” The Carolina Community
continues to live up to that standard through its leadership and service to the world.
On the banks of the Congaree River in Columbia is one of the nation’s hottest spots
for business, technological advancement, and innovation. Innovista, a newly-constructed
500-acre research campus, promises to be a leading center for the research of hydrogen fuel
cells and public health initiatives. Researchers are currently developing fuel cells for such
diverse items as small Segways and large public transportation buses. In December 2011,
USC broke ground on the new Darla Moore School of Business. This building will sit at the
gateway to Innovista and provide businesses with the expertise to create thousands of local
jobs through newly discovered energy applications.
Innovista is the foundation on which the University of South Carolina will build its
future. This project is critical for sustainable economic development and will be a driving
force for researching the future energy needs of the U.S. Unfortunately, federal funding for
energy research has fallen by more than 80 percent in the past 30 years.30 Such a significant
decline in research funding substantially weakens the ability of universities and research
programs to develop technologies that expand economies and improve lives.
A recent report released by the non-partisan American Energy Innovation Council
argues for greater investment in energy hubs such as USC Innovista. Energy hubs
concentrate capital assets and enhance investments in energy research. The report further
concludes that energy innovation is ultimately a matter of national and economic security.
Today’s research is focused on finding ways to enhance domestic energy production through
better hydrocarbon reservoir management, solar and wind resources, and future fuels.31
While the University of South Carolina and other institutions are committed to energy
research, such organizations are often beholden to haphazard grant appropriations that are
annually subject to extreme change. Long-term, capital-intensive research can be done only if
researchers are confident in receiving sustained funding rather than the current micro-funding
model where grant appropriators review individual projects rather than a combination of
interrelated projects. In lieu of this current funding scheme, the U.S. federal government
must adopt a more stable model whereby a portion of the Royalty Trust Fund created by the
Energy Policy Act of 2005 is automatically allocated to research at energy hubs such as
Innovista. Such a sustainable and predictable funding mechanism will allow universities and
research programs to better plan for future projects and liabilities. It also will stimulate
additional capital investments and local economic development.
While the Congressional Advisory Board recognizes that public revenue is limited
during troubled economic times, members of Congress should demonstrate compassion for
the university when voting on potential laws and administering the budgetary process. Over
the past 10 years, USC’s total support from the state of South Carolina has shrunk by more
than $100 million.32 While alumni and donors have been faithful in giving, the school’s
necessary expansion and fiscal shortfalls have overpowered its budgetary capacity due to
record-breaking increases in enrollment.33
The University of South Carolina is committed to discovering technologies that
improve the lives of American citizens. The Congressional Advisory Board consists of
students who are proud Gamecocks and are thankful to Congress for supporting higher
education and research.
Planning Nuclear Energy for the Future:
Nuclear Reprocessing and Fast Breeder Reactor Technologies for
Long-Term Energy Advancement
George M. Helman
Nuclear energy is intrinsic to South Carolina’s economic prosperity. In fact, nuclear
reactors currently produce 49.9 percent of the state’s total electricity, surpassing coal’s
meager 36.4 percent.34 As such, South Carolina is a great location for conducting long-term
research in advanced fast neutron reactor technology and nuclear reprocessing. Due to their
technological complexity, if the U.S. ever wants to implement these technologies, even three
decades from now, research must commence immediately. Once implemented, these two
technologies promise to increase energy production and usher in a new era of economic
expansion. Specifically, they are capable of both extending the world’s nuclear energy
capacity by a factor of sixty and reducing risk of exposure to high-level radioactive waste.35
Having both fast neutron reactor technology and reprocessing would be a tremendous
impetus for the nuclear industry. The U.S. Congress is the only entity within the country that
is capable of making such a wise investment.
Nuclear energy is promising for many reasons. First, it is “clean energy” that does not
emit carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, or nitrogen oxides.36 Second, because the U.S. has the
fourth largest uranium resources in the world, nuclear energy relieves the country from
dependence on foreign resources.37 Switching from coal-fired power plants to nuclear
reactors also will significantly reduce radioactive discharges, as coal-fired power plants emit
much more radiation.38
Most nuclear energy presently utilizes traditional, once-through light water reactors
(LWRs). This technology derives energy from a single variety of uranium isotopes, U-235
(with 235 being the number of protons and neutrons in a single uranium atom).39 Natural
uranium has so little U-235 that it is not suitable for use as fuel.40 A process called
enrichment is employed to increase the U-235 concentration in uranium.41 After enrichment,
only five percent of the uranium fuel consists of the sought-after U-235.42 The other 95
percent can only marginally be used by LWRs.
In contrast, fast breeder reactors derive their energy from two varieties of uranium
isotopes, U-235 and U-238. By using U-238, breeder reactors catalyze a series of reactions
that form an isotope of plutonium (Pu-239).43 This plutonium then is extracted and
condensed during reprocessing. Breeder reactors essentially “breed” more fuel than is
consumed because they transform the unusable U-238 into Pu-239.44 Many breeder reactors
are also fast reactors that use highly-energized neutrons to catalyze nuclear reactions.45 While
highly-energized neutrons are less efficient at utilizing U-235, they catalyze U-238 much
more effectively.46 This leads to a huge technological advantage since U-238 represents more
than 99 percent of natural uranium.47 Adoption of fast breeder reactors would ensure that
current uranium supplies last 50 to 60 times longer than what currently is possible using
LWRs.48 Fast breeder reactors would require a significant time and money investment,
perhaps on the order of decades, but their benefits are truly game-changing. Another issue is
that fast breeder reactors must be used in conjunction with some sort of reprocessing—
informally, the process by which nuclear fuel is recycled.49
U.S. Senators Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham personally have called for the
reprocessing of commercial nuclear waste in South Carolina.50 They also have suggested that
the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken County could serve as a national nuclear
reprocessing center.51 However, if Senators DeMint and Graham hope to reprocess fuel at
SRS in the very near term, there is only one process capable of meeting that need—
Plutonium-Uranium Extraction (PUREX).
PUREX comes with many notable disadvantages. Economic studies have shown that
the industry-wide adoption of PUREX would increase the price of nuclear energy. 52 Another
issue of the PUREX process is that it completely separates plutonium from other radioactive
elements, allowing it to better be handled but more easily stolen. Although it is not practical
for a weapon of mass destruction, commercial-grade plutonium can be dangerous if allowed
to fall into the wrong hands.53
Today’s form of nuclear reprocessing, PUREX, “should be seen as an interim phase
of nuclear power development, pending widespread use of fast neutron reactors.”54 This is
because PUREX will not be able to meet the needs of the nuclear industry. However,
alternate reprocessing technologies warrant further research. One example is pyroprocessing.
Pyroprocessing is technologically well understood and needs only to be developed for
commercial application. In fact, the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute wants to do
The potential advantages of pyroprocessing (as opposed to PUREX) are
overwhelming. Whereas PUREX produces high volumes of liquid waste that is usually
dumped into bodies of water,56 pyroprocessing does not use water and therefore does not
create liquid waste.57 Furthermore, pyroprocessing can reduce proliferation concerns because
it can be designed so as not to separate plutonium from other radioactive elements, making
the plutonium much more difficult to steal.58 Best of all is that pyroprocessing is compact and
is capable of being performed on-site.59 This gives pyroprocessing a versatility that is
unparalleled by PUREX technology. Having on-site reprocessing would reduce time,
expense, and safety concerns associated with transporting used nuclear fuel. Pyroprocessing
and fast breeder reactors are inherently cooperative due to the nature of the technologies,
greatly simplifying waste management if used in conjunction.60
Because of a cooperation agreement between the two countries, the U.S. controls
research on nuclear reprocessing in South Korea.61 It would be in America’s best interests to
allow South Korea to conduct research on this technology as American power producers
could reap the benefits without needing to conduct the research. At the same time, the U.S.
should remain involved enough that the safety of the technology can be ensured.
Also, promising new technologies akin to PUREX with drastic improvements exist
that may be able to compete with pyroprocessing. For example, the CoEx (co-extraction)
process, developed by Areva, does not separate plutonium from the rest of the spent nuclear
fuel.62 This is easily the largest criticism of PUREX reprocessing, and this improvement
alone makes CoEx a viable option. The Boston Consulting Group, which is one of the top
management consulting groups in the nation, recommended that the U.S. use CoEx to
manage its used fuel.63 Because the SRS already has experience in using aqueous
reprocessing for nuclear weapons, it could lead the way in development CoEx reprocessing
for the entire nation.
Currently, nuclear reprocessing is not economically viable because uranium is cheap
and could remain so for a very long time.64 The Blue Ribbon Commission states that it does
not foresee any nuclear technology fundamentally changing U.S. nuclear strategy for the next
few decades. Therefore, the current U.S. nuclear strategy probably will remain the status quo
for the next few decades. However, these technologies still come with profound potential
advantages, and the U.S. should leave these options open for the future. Honing these
technologies to become economically competitive is a long-term project; it is not as simple as
beginning research only after they become marketable. If the U.S. wants to pursue these
technologies in the future, pursuit should begin as soon as possible.
Therefore, the U.S. Congress should commit itself to a long-term agenda that
incorporates the following three actions. Doing so will greatly benefit both current and future
1. No new PUREX reprocessing facilities should be built.
Every incentive points to storage as the best option for nuclear waste right now. Nuclear
reprocessing using PUREX technology is uneconomical, and nuclear waste can be stored
almost indefinitely on-site.
2. The federal government should support research in South Carolina to
develop fast breeder reactors.
Fast breeder reactors could lead to a revolution in nuclear energy, and South Carolina is a
perfect place to conduct this cutting-edge research. The state has trained technical expertise,
a strong nuclear infrastructure, and the University of South Carolina’s nuclear science
program that continuously will provide newly minted researchers who could continue work
on this long-term project. Federal grant money to the University South Carolina and its
newly established nuclear research center would stimulate this initiative. A pilot fast nuclear
reactor plant in South Carolina is strongly recommended.
3. Federal public policy should endorse research studies on CoEx and
Fast breeder reactors must be used in conjunction with some sort of nuclear reprocessing. At
least two very promising reprocessing technologies exist, and it is not clear which will turn
out to be better. As such, it would be prudent to pursue both technologies to the best extent
possible. The U.S. should allow Korea to conduct research on pyroprocessing as well as
remain involved enough to ensure the safety of the technology. At the same time, the federal
government should strongly consider both developing CoEx and building a demonstration
facility at SRS.
The fabled nuclear renaissance has yet to come to fruition—due in part to problems in
efficiency and waste disposal. However, these issues are easily surmounted by advancing
technological achievement. The Blue Ribbon Commission on nuclear energy has stated that
improving the once-through nuclear fuel cycle should be prioritized for now, but even so it is
still important to look to the future and conduct research on advanced nuclear technology. 65
South Carolina would be a great place to conduct advanced nuclear technology research. This
would be a much wiser use of federal funds than building a reprocessing plant. There are no
feasible motivations for building new PUREX reprocessing plants. Long-term research of
new reprocessing technologies and fast breeder reactor technologies should be prioritized.
When these two technologies are in operation, the nuclear renaissance could finally become a
Relieving Students from Burdensome Taxation:
Service Sector Workers and The Tax Free Tips Act of 2011
Jessica V. Kaczmarek
When asked to rank a number of issues in order of importance, students at the
University of South Carolina chose the economic recession as their foremost concern.
Indeed, American college students discontinue their studies primarily because of financial
constraints. Nationwide, nearly 60 percent of students depend on loans to help pay for
college and half of these students report feeling anxiety when considering their personal debt.
Even though 60 percent of them also rely on their parents for financial help, parents now feel
the effects of the economic recession. It is because of such financial concerns that many
young citizens go to great lengths to pay for college. More than 65 percent of American
college students have at least one part-time job.66 Bartending and waitressing in the service
sector are currently the most popular and feasible jobs for students.67 Service-sector
legislation has the potential to benefit millions of college students.
In light of current economic conditions, members of the U.S. Congress should
consider co-sponsoring and voting in favor of House Resolution 1139, the Tax Free Tips Act
of 2011. This beneficial act has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means,
where it currently rests. HR 1139 proposes needed changes to the Internal Revenue Code that
will ensure greater standardization of tax practices throughout the service sector. Because of
burdensome and often confusing legal standards for reporting tips, reform is needed to help
student workers cope with increasingly severe economic conditions and properly obey
federal law. HR 1139 has the potential to greatly benefit many American college students.
According to current federal tax law, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires
service workers to maintain records of all their tips, including those received in cash and by
credit, and those received from other employees out of a “tip sharing” arrangement.68 These
tips are reported to the employer within 10 days of the end of each month and are considered
part of the employee’s total income.69 From this total amount, an employee’s income and
Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes are calculated and deducted.70
The current IRS method for reporting tips, however, is vulnerable to corruption and
poor accounting. For any given month, employees who do not report tips are required to
calculate their own FICA taxes and pay them upon filing. 71 The IRS can charge a penalty for
suspected under-reporting of tips.72 Because both the establishment and its employees are
required to pay taxes on reported tips, a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding cash tips has
been adopted. In a popular restaurant worker forum, many workers recommend reporting “as
little as possible” or at least “half, so as not to look suspicious.”73 The opportunity for
incorrect reporting is extensive because cash transactions are more difficult to track than tips
given on credit cards, which come with an electronic paper trail.74
“Food and beverage establishments where tipping is customary” are required to
complete IRS form 8027, the Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and
Allocated Tips.75 If the establishment’s reported tips are below eight percent of its total sales,
the employer is required to assign additional (and perhaps fictional) tips to its “under-
reporting” workers’ W-2 forms.76 This motivates restaurateurs to encourage their employees
to truthfully report all tips. The National Restaurant Association (NRA), however, finds that
reporting cash tips is burdensome, stating that employers cannot go so far as to force their
employees to report a certain level of tips but can only encourage truthful reporting
Judicial dispute has arisen between restaurants and the IRS over the aggregate
estimation method. This model calculates the total tax burden of individual restaurants by
applying the tipping rate of credit-paying customers to all customers. Although the Supreme
Court has ruled that the aggregate estimation method is constitutionally valid, practical issues
remain that prevent fair tax assessment practices.78
The IRS method ignores variations in cash tips. Customers who pay via cash may
leave a smaller tip than if they paid by credit, and some customers do not tip at all. Such
tipping fluctuation is evident in the variation seen in servers’ hourly wages. For example, “in
May 2008, median hourly wages (including tips) of waiters and waitresses was $8.01. The
middle 50 percent earned between $7.32 and $10.35. The lowest 10 percent earned less than
$6.73, and the highest earned more than $14.26 an hour.”79 The federal minimum wage in
May 2008 was $5.85 per hour.80 In addition, “national surveys indicate that about one-third
of the adult population in [the U.S.] is unaware that they are expected to tip 15 to 20 percent
of the bill in restaurants.”81 This creates problems when customers who are unaware of the
standard tipping rates tip less than customers who are knowledgeable about the rates.82 It is
also problematic that the IRS assumes that cash tips are equal to credit tips. Customers
paying by credit tend to leave greater tips than customers who tip by cash. 83 Present
consumer behavior research indicates that the greater association of credit cards with
spending causes credit tips to be significantly higher than cash tips. A credit tip averaged
16.95 percent of the check in one example study, while the cash tip averaged only 14.95
Furthermore, the IRS has never explicitly stated that employers “have a
recordkeeping duty for cash tips.”85 Even though “the employer may have knowledge or
suspicion that tips are underreported… the employer has no obligation to keep records of, or
pay taxes on, anything other than reported tips.”86 In general, cash tips are completely private
transactions that are impossible to accurately track. The Internal Revenue Code should be
amended to allow for tax-free cash transactions.
Issues related to service industry taxes are of great importance. A substantial number
of American students have part-time jobs. Nationwide, “the labor force participation rate (the
proportion of the population working or looking for work) for  high school graduates
enrolled in college was 40 percent.”87 In fact, 21 percent of workers nationwide in the food
and service industry are between 16 and 19 years old.88 Young people typically enter the
service sector because of financial concerns.89 Also, the restaurant industry is the second-
largest provider of jobs in the U.S., employing nearly 10 percent of all working Americans.90
More than 13 million Americans serve in the restaurant industry.91
Granting these employees a tax break will stimulate the economy by allowing more
dollars to circulate in the private sector.92 According to Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at
the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, tax breaks for lower-income earners make sense
because these people typically “spend more of every dollar coming in,” pumping money back
into the private sector economy.93 In addition, consumer spending currently makes up nearly
70 percent of current gross domestic product, and this percentage has been increasing in
recent years (see Figure 4.1 on page 52).94
Economic growth is contingent upon the amount of disposable income of those in the
lower- and middle-class income brackets. However, wealth disparities within the private
sector only have grown in recent decades. Since 1980, the national share of income earned by
the bottom half of Americans has declined by 33 percent.95 Had wealth disparities remained
stable, today’s average American family would be earning an additional $13,000 per year. 96
Moreover, lower-income workers are disproportionately affected by consumer price
inflation. While in 2011, total inflation was three percent (according to the Consumer Price
Index for Urban Wage Earners), this rate was more than 50 percent higher for both food and
energy. Poor and middle-class Americans spend a greater proportion of disposable income on
food and energy than their wealthier counterparts.97 Granting a tax break to lower-income
workers in the service industry would allow for more consumer confidence among hard-
In conclusion, if members of the U.S. Congress co-sponsor House Resolution 1139,
the Tax Free Tips Act of 2011, both service industry workers and the entire nation will
benefit. Because cash tips would be excluded from income and FICA taxes, service sector
workers would greatly benefit. In fact, this particular piece of legislation will greatly benefit
American college students. HR 1139, if passed, would allow more money to cycle within the
private sector, thereby spurring economic growth. Moreover, accurately taxing cash tips is
incredibly difficult and entrepreneurs are often the ones confronted with such hardship.
Taxing tips made only by credit cards would eliminate meaningless paperwork and obstacles
to private enterprise. Members of Congress must consider this vital piece of legislation.
Engendering American Leadership:
Augmenting Military Participation in American Colleges
Emory D. Roberts
Since her inception, the U.S. has been fertile ground for growing great leaders.
Leaders like George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, and George Patton all
were commanders on the field of battle, leading their nation to victory time after time. These
outstanding leaders were tempered by the rigors of armed conflict. In order to meet future
challenges, however, the U.S. needs many of her brightest young citizens to serve as military
officers. Three programs currently produce outstanding American military officers: service
academies, officer training schools, and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).99
With nearly 30 percent of active duty officers being products of an ROTC class, the
program has been a valuable asset to national security. Yet in recent years, several American
universities have become unfriendly and even hostile towards ROTC. They have begun
refusing to grant academic credit for completion of the program. In fact, only three of the
eight Ivy League schools offer academic credit for the completion of ROTC.100 In order to
reaffirm the program’s benefit to young Americans, Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL)
introduced House Resolution 2628, the Eliminating Disincentives to ROTC Participation
Act. This act has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and
is deserving of support from South Carolina’s Congressional Delegation.101
With ROTC being such a vital part of national security interests, America’s most
capable men and women must not be discouraged from participating. By examining the
history and current successes of ROTC, policymakers gain a greater understanding of how
removing barriers to participation will not only benefit young cadets but also contribute to
university culture and enhance America’s strategic competitiveness.
In 1862, Congress passed the Morrill Act, establishing the land-grant college system.
In return for federal support, the new colleges were required to teach military tactics to all
students.102 While all of them fulfilled this requirement, Norwich University in Vermont
pioneered the early development of what became contemporary ROTC. The university’s
founder, Captain Alden Partridge, led the charge for establishing a comprehensive program
designed to produce citizen-soldiers of the highest caliber. Capt. Partridge believed that
education must include the traditional liberal arts and prepare youth to excel in both peace
and war. His fundamental guiding principle was to prepare youth “to discharge, in the best
possible manner, the duties they owe to themselves, to their fellow men, and to their
country.”103 Because his country’s constitution designated defense for civilian command,
Partridge believed that the teaching of military tactics produced the ideal American
citizen.104 Norwich became the first college in the U.S. to offer ROTC.
ROTC currently is offered at more than 1,000 American colleges and universities and
offers cadets a great variety of benefits.105 In exchange for committing themselves to terms of
military service, cadets receive both a college education and guaranteed career opportunities.
They also receive essential experience in leadership. To meet the demands of the Armed
Forces, ROTC provides comprehensive and regimented training in practical management and
interpersonal skills. For example, Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Wessel, commander of the
University of South Carolina’s Air Force ROTC Detachment, claims that his program
“provide[s] a hands-on, structured environment… where [cadets] get to succeed and fail and
learn from [their mistakes].” Cadets are put into leadership positions, given standards or
goals to reach, and allowed to gain first-hand experience in the challenges of leadership.106
With more than 40 percent of private employers identifying leadership as a skill of great
importance, college students are discovering the importance of leadership potential.107 Lt.
Col. Wessel attests that by producing quality leaders among the student body, the
environment and culture of the university is enriched.108 This sentiment is echoed by research
that indicates that students with extensive leadership experience tend to demonstrate greater
self-efficacy, civic engagement, personal character, and academic achievement.109 Many
colleges, including the University of South Carolina, are developing comprehensive
leadership programs for their students.110 ROTC is a major mode of providing students with a
fundamental skill as well as giving them the career opportunities to develop those skills.
Some colleges, however, do not offer academic credit for the completion of ROTC, thereby
echoing a time of hostility towards the U.S. military.
In the 1960s, the Vietnam War was the subject of much controversy, especially
among young people. American college campuses experienced protests against both the
military and authority figures. ROTC was subsequently removed from several colleges by
either administrative coercion or extortion.111 In 1996, Congress passed the Solomon
Amendment, 10 U.S.C. § 983, which allowed the secretary of defense to deny federal grants
(including research grants) to institutions which actively engage in prohibiting or preventing
ROTC and military recruiters from visiting their campuses.112 Although Ivy League schools
are all private institutions, the withdrawal of research grants convinced many to offer ROTC
once again. While ROTC may be offered on campuses, colleges still create barriers to
Of the eight Ivy League schools, only the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell
University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offer academic credit for the
successful completion of ROTC courses.113 Officials at Yale University, for example, claim
erroneously that ROTC courses do not meet rigorous academic standards. Introductory level
ROTC courses that pertain mostly to military culture and career opportunities are required
for entry into advanced ROTC courses. Such introductory courses are rarely granted
academic credit. Advanced courses are also infrequently granted credit and include Air Force
Leadership Studies and National Security Affairs. Because lower-level courses cannot be
considered part of one’s academic transcript, however, an unusually low number of Ivy
League students successfully complete an ROTC track. Andrew Hendricks, a student at Yale
University who travels to the University of Connecticut once every week as the only Air
Force ROTC cadet at Yale, says that more students would likely join an ROTC program at
Yale if the university granted academic credit for such courses.114 Such intellectually gifted
students should not be precluded from military service.
One possible cause for the lack of acceptance and cooperation with ROTC, albeit a
more ambiguous one, could be the tradition of animosity towards the nation’s military. As
stated previously, several anti-military protests during the Vietnam War led many colleges to
remove ROTC from their campuses. This particular issue has been corrected but an anti-
establishment culture still resonates today. For example, in early 2011, Columbia University
held an open forum on campus to discuss the possibility of ROTC returning to campus. At
the forum, Army Staff Sergeant Anthony Maschek, a retired Iraq War veteran, recipient of
the Purple Heart, and recent enrollee, took the stage in defense of the program. While
speaking, the wheelchair-ridden veteran was subjected to a variety of heckling and jeering,
even being inexplicably called “racist” by a group of students. The groups who opposed
ROTC cited certain policies that they found discriminatory, such as the (now repealed)
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.115 While their concerns are duly noted, Congress and
president govern and direct the U.S. military. Just as Capt. Alden Partridge envisioned,
respect for authority and governance (as represented by the Armed Forces) must be
reestablished if one is to receive a truly liberal education.
The Eliminating Disincentives to ROTC Participation Act would prohibit the
awarding of all federal funding, grants, and contracts to any 4-year college that does not
award academic credit for the successful completion of senior Reserve Officer’s Training
Corps. If the law is implemented, all four-year institutions that receive any type of federal
funds shall be required to certify that they offer no fewer than six credit hours for the
successful completion of ROTC courses. If they fail to provide proper certification, all
funding and contracts will be denied. This will provide an effective incentive to institutions
of higher learning to begin offering academic credit. The bill offers to help put an end to
discrimination against the U.S. Armed Forces. Just as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended
centuries of lawful discrimination against people of color, HR 2628 will end an era of
discrimination against the nation’s military.
Although colleges that once adamantly opposed all military-related establishments
have now begun accepting recruiters, they often exploit a major loophole of the law. As
written, current federal law mandates that all public higher learning institutions that receive
federal funds accept ROTC. But the law also allows colleges to effectively hinder
participation by disallowing early involvement. As stated, only three Ivy League institutions
provide academic credit for successful completion of ROTC. This issue, however, can be
easily resolved. Members of the South Carolina Congressional Delegation must consider
supporting HR 2628, the Eliminating Disincentives to ROTC Participation Act.
Equalizing Access to College:
Eradicating Financial Barriers through Increased Grant Aid
Samruddhi P. Somani
A college education is one of the best investments a person can make. A variety of
lifelong advantages come with having a college degree. There are also many social and
economic benefits for society. For many young Americans, however, acquiring an education
is a costly endeavor that is prohibitively expensive. For them, education is made possible
only by federal financial aid. As college tuition continues to increase steadily, unmet
financial need also increases. In order to ensure that these students are able to study in
American colleges and universities, members of the U.S. Congress must extend federal
financial aid using fiscally responsible means.
College degrees confer individual benefits upon their recipients. The most obvious
benefit is a higher, more stable income. The median yearly earnings of recipients of
baccalaureate degrees are $21,900 higher than those of high school-only graduates. Over a
lifetime, college graduates earn about 66 percent more than high school graduates. Median
hourly earnings are almost twice as high for college graduates. In fact, a bachelor’s degree
earned in four years and fully financed by student loans typically pays for itself within 10
years. While these numbers represent averages, students at the margin—those most benefited
by federal aid—tend to realize even greater financial gains.116
While the economic benefits of a college education often are touted as reason to
invest in one, the social benefits are just as impressive. College graduates and even those
with just some college education tend to be more satisfied with their jobs than high school-
only graduates. They also are more likely to hold jobs they find personally meaningful.
College graduates exhibit better health than high school graduates. They are less likely to
smoke, less likely to be obese and have obese children, and are more likely to exercise.
Additionally, the children of college graduates tend to be better prepared for school and
participate in more educational activities, such as attending plays and concerts and visiting
museums and historical sites. Moreover, college graduates are more likely to vote and
volunteer (both by percentage of people involved and by time spent). While the figures
presented here are correlations, strong evidence shows that higher education causes some of
Investment in higher education also is beneficial for local, state, and national
governments. High school-only graduates face tougher employment prospects, suffer a
doubled unemployment rate, and are three times more likely to be impoverished. Inversely, a
college-educated citizen typically depends less on government aid programs such as
Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. On average, college graduates
generate nearly $6,000 more in tax revenue each year. Additionally, college graduates are
significantly more likely to be offered pension plans and to have health insurance, thus
requiring less government aid in the form of social support services. People with a college
degree will save tax payers up to $108,700 on social support programs and increase tax
receipts by up to $141,500 over a lifetime.118
The cost of a college education is among the most important considerations in the
decision to pursue a degree, especially among lower income families.119 This cost has
recently skyrocketed. In 2007, average tuition was 87 percent higher than it was in 1995.120
From 1992 to 2008, the price of college (minus grant aid) as a percentage of total family
income also has increased—from 41 percent to 48 percent for low-income families and from
22 percent to 26 percent for moderate-income families.121 The percentage of students who
demonstrate financial need—students for whom the price of attending college exceeds their
expected family contributions—has increased from 56.4 percent to 69.7 percent in the same
years.122 Initial enrollment and baccalaureate attainment of these students also have fallen due
to financial concerns.123 Furthermore, the average amount of need has increased from $6,900
to $11,400, an increase of 65 percent. While the percentage of students who have remaining
need—“the price of attendance minus expected family contribution minus all types of
financial aid except federal education tax benefits”—has increased slightly, the average
amount of remaining need has increased drastically, from $4,100 to $6,800, an increase of 65
percent. Students from lower-income households are the ones most likely to have remaining
need. Eighty percent of dependent students from the lowest income quartile and 85.4 percent
of independent students from the lowest income quartile have remaining need.124 As
mentioned earlier, these students benefit the most from attending college.
Financial barriers continue to hinder students’ pursuit of college degrees. Rather than
increasing access for low-income students, changes in perspectives on financial aid in the
1990s have led to increased affordability for middle-income students. Instead of allowing
low-income students to attend college at all, these policies allow middle-income students to
do so at lower costs. The inflation-adjusted costs of attending college as a percentage of
family income has increased from 42 percent to 62 percent for low-income families between
1972 and 1999, while remaining relatively steady for middle-income and high-income
families.125 Between 2000 and 2010, financial barriers prevented between 1.4 million and 2.4
million qualified students from attaining an undergraduate degree. Educating these students
would add $250 billion to the gross domestic product and add $85 billion in tax revenue.126
These estimates, however, are cautiously moderate. They do not account for lower high
school graduation rates, lower academic preparedness, or net price of college on attainment
of a bachelor’s degree. Because students anticipate high net prices stopping them from
attaining a college education, they are less likely to take courses to prepare themselves for
college. Financial barriers also undermine the effectiveness of early intervention programs
and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) simplification initiatives.127
Grants are the most successful form of federal financing in terms of increasing
attainment of college degrees. The most pressing obstacle to earning a baccalaureate degree
is unmet need. Thus, instead of attending a four-year college as a full-time student and living
on campus, the pattern with the highest success rate, these students may attend a two-year
college part-time and work long hours to reduce cost. These behaviors, intended to be cost-
saving measures, reduce persistence and degree completion by as much as 75 percent.128
Starting at a four-year college instead of a significantly less expensive two-year college
significantly improves a low-income student’s chances of graduating with a bachelor’s
degree. Highly qualified low-income students (those who have taken at least trigonometry)
are almost twice as likely to complete a bachelor’s degree if they begin at a four-year college.
Because grant aid reduces unmet need, grant aid allows these students to make the decisions
most conducive to completion of a bachelor’s degree.129
Federal aid programs continue to serve as a key component of financing higher
education in the U.S. The federal government provided 75 percent of all total undergraduate
aid (including grants, loans, work-study, and tax credits and deductions) in 2010. State grants
accounted for only five percent of total undergraduate aid, and institutional grants accounted
for only 17 percent of total undergraduate aid. Total federal aid accounted for approximately
$169 million for the 2010-2011 school year. Federal grants, such as Pell Grants and grants to
veterans, have grown by 249 percent while federal loans, such as Stafford Loans and PLUS
Loans, have grown by 139 percent.130 However, these increases do not nearly cover the
increase in need. As better academic preparation, better financial aid information, and a
simpler federal aid application process have increased the number of students (especially
low-income students) capable of succeeding in college, demographic changes mean that
increasing aid is the only way to ensure these students can enjoy the benefits of a college
education.131 Federal programs are indeed a crucial component of financing higher education.
Cutting federal programs such as Pell Grants and Stafford Loans will have a strongly
negative impact on the ability of American students, especially those from low-income
backgrounds, to receive a college education, which will in turn reduce their ability, and
American society’s ability, to enjoy the benefits described above.
The University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus (USC) enrolled 19,874 degree-
seeking undergraduates for the 2010 school year. A significant number of these
undergraduates depend on federal financial aid to fund their educations. Eighty-three percent
of them received some sort of federal aid in the form of grants, federal work-study funds, or
student and parent loans. Only 21.6 percent of all students in financial need, however, have
their need fully met.132 In fact, only 74 percent of the average full-time undergraduate
student’s total need is met. Although a significant percentage of USC students receive state
and institutional aid, federal aid programs still contribute more than twice as many dollars to
undergraduate education as these programs.133 Further cutting federal funds dedicated to
higher education will inevitably harm USC students, just as it will harm college students
across the U.S.
A college education is one of the best investments an individual can make. Funding
such an education is one of the best investments society can make. College graduates
contribute a higher amount of money to the private sector and are less likely to need public
assistance. Financial barriers, however, prevent thousands of otherwise qualified high school
graduates from attending college. Federal aid is a key component to funding college
education for many students. While state aid and institutional aid do cover some financial
need, these programs are much smaller than federal programs. Most of the students who
choose not to attend—those already at the margin—are the students who would realize the
greatest gains from a college education. Cutting federal funds for education would hurt both
society and the 47 percent of undergraduates who fund their education at least partially
through federal programs. Federal spending on education is among the best investments the
U.S. Congress can make.
Preserving Educational Innovation:
The Common Core Standards and Classroom Independence
James M. Strickland
On January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the No Child Left
Behind Act (NCLB). This law served as both an eighth reauthorization and major revision of
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 and was the single-most
progressive expansion of the federal government into the affairs of public school
classrooms.134 Despite being passed overwhelmingly amid bi-partisan agreement in both
houses of Congress, NCLB has become a political lightning rod that divides Republicans and
In light of Congressional inaction and mounting criticism from educators, the Obama
Administration has nullified NCLB by offering waivers in exchange for alternative reforms.
Among these reforms, however, is the implementation of national learning standards that
threaten the independence of teachers, the creative development of students, and the ability
of states to develop their own educational priorities. Because NCLB is an impractical law,
and because the administration has unilaterally changed national education policy, Congress
has an opportunity to both reassert its constitutional prerogative and liberate public schools
from burdensome mandates. If the U.S. federal government is to maintain a competitive
workforce and an engaged body politic, then it must reform unwise laws and policies that
hinder educational progress and cultural development.
One of the primary goals of NCLB is the elimination of a massive achievement gap
between white and minority students.135 Since its passage, all public schools have been
required to measure their students’ progress through the use of state-developed standardized
tests administered every year between the third and eighth grades (and at least once after the
10th grade).136 NCLB divides pupils into racial and socioeconomic subgroups. Schools that
receive federal funding are subject to severe sanctions if any one of their subgroups fails to
demonstrate yearly improvement.137 By 2014, all student subgroups are expected to be
performing at grade level in both reading and mathematics.138 Because of NCLB, statewide
learning standards and standardized tests have become a means for diagnosing poor
performance in key student demographics.
The implications of NCLB are extensive. In 2003, 54.4 percent of America’s 90,000
public schools accepted Title I grants under ESEA, the federal government’s “largest
program supporting elementary and secondary education.”139 These schools are especially
impacted by NCLB. They are required to achieve “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) by
improving the test performance of all student subgroups by a desired yearly increase.140
Subgroups are delineated by race and economic background but also include children with
learning disabilities and those who are learning English as a second language.141 Most
schools in South Carolina have either 17 or 21 subgroups, although a few have 37. 142 The
U.S. Department of Education (ED) has allowed states to establish desired yearly increases in
reading and mathematics proficiency, but all states must obtain complete proficiency in all
subgroups by 2014.143 This requirement has ensured that it becomes increasingly difficult for
schools to obtain AYP status and avoid severe repercussions (please see table 7.1 on page 53
for a complete list of sanctions).144 Indeed, in 2011 a record 48 percent of America’s public
schools did not make AYP.145 In South Carolina, this number increased to 76 percent.146
In recent months, due to a lack of Congressional action and increasingly vocal
complaints from educators and state authorities, the Obama Administration has overridden
Congress in administering national education reform. On September 23, 2011, the President
said “…we’ll be giving states more flexibility to meet high standards… Congress hasn’t been
able to do it, so I will.”147 Earlier that summer, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced
that new waivers shall be granted to individual states.148 The waivers eliminate the most
strenuous provisions of NCLB—obtaining AYP status and complete proficiency in reading
and math by 2014—and instead require states to adopt “college- and career-ready standards”
and redistribute effective teachers “equitably among schools.”149 States also must agree to
host “education reforms the White House favors—from tougher evaluation systems for
teachers… to programs tackling the achievement gap.”150 In February 2012, the South
Carolina Department of Education submitted a waiver request. 151 The waiver allows the state
to use an older, pre-NCLB evaluation system for schools while still holding them
accountable for student test performance.152 As of December 2011, 39 states, the District of
Columbia, and Puerto Rico each had submitted either a waiver request or plans for
In lieu of developing “college- and career-ready standards,” 45 states and the District
of Columbia have adopted the Common Core Standards (CCS), a 150-page document that
establishes grade-specific objectives in mathematics and language arts for K-12 students.154
The document originally was developed by the National Governors Association (NGA) and
the Council of Chief State School Officers and released on June 2, 2010.155 States that
adopted the CCS by August 2, 2010, were awarded additional points for competing in the
Obama Administration’s Race to the Top (RttT) grant program, funded by the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act.156 Although the ED was not directly involved in the
creation of the standards, it has awarded more than $330 million in RttT funding to two
consortia that will develop CCS testing assessments.157 Education Secretary Duncan highly
favors the new nationalized standards and claims that implementation will “save the country
billions of dollars.”158 The standards include such minutiae as recommended readings and
dictate what skills pupils are expected to master in each grade.159
These new standards, however, are not in the best interest of teachers or students and
represent a substantial departure from current state-based content guidelines. Despite a
number of claims from various education groups that the standards are only slightly more
rigorous than state curricula, many of these same groups have financial ties to the Standards’
creators.160 These groups include Achieve, Inc. and WestEd.161 Independent researchers have
found that the CCS represent a very dramatic shift from already-established state guidelines
and that implementation will be difficult for most states, many of which are currently
suffering public education budget cuts.162 Moreover, the CCS differ significantly from the
standards of high-achieving countries, such as Finland and Japan, and from what U.S.
teachers currently claim to teach.163 The new standards differ even from what is found on the
National Assessment of Educational Progress exams, which are administered by the Institute
of Education Statistics within the ED.164
The development and adoption of the CCS are cause for concern. Despite being
developed by the NGA, not all states participated in the formulation of the standards.165 Of
the 65 authors, only one has experience in public school teaching.166 The other authors all are
college professors or “representatives of private educational companies” (mostly Achieve,
Inc.).167 The CCS were developed in less than one year and subject-matter experts and
practitioners were excluded from the process.168 Indeed, the standards’ “Feedback Group”
also consisted largely of test company practitioners.169 The CCS were developed,
unfortunately, largely by individuals who have no direct teaching experience. While the CCS
do not instruct teachers how to teach, private companies have begun marketing curricula and
lesson plans that are purposefully designed to meet the demands of the standards.170 The state
of South Carolina has presently suspended the purchasing of new textbooks, which is putting
teachers into the unfortunate role of having to teach more with fewer resources.171
Implementing the CCS would exacerbate this problem. As of this writing, Department
officials at the South Carolina Department of Education were still trying to calculate the full
cost of implementation.172 The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation played a pivotal role in
funding the development of the CCS and now supports pro-standards advocacy groups and
State budget cuts encouraged state agencies to both compete for RttT grants and
hastily adopt the CCS, thereby avoiding the costs of attempting to develop “college- and
career-ready standards” that may not have been otherwise authorized by the ED.174 The
White House threatened to withdraw Title I funding if such standards were not adopted.175
State agencies had only two months to consider adopting the CCS, and many administrators
and teachers were ignorant of the standards’ implications.176 Amidst a divided State Board of
Education and Education Oversight Committee (EOC), South Carolina adopted the standards
in July 2010 and is currently preparing for implementation.177 This involves recalibrating the
state’s 31 teacher training programs at colleges and universities, including one at the
University of South Carolina in Columbia.178
Despite Washington D.C.’s push for national control of education, individual states
are fully capable of developing rigorous standards and accountability measures. By adopting
the new CCS for mathematics, for example, California, Massachusetts, Indiana, and
Minnesota will diminish already-established state benchmarks.179 The new standards also
may adversely impact South Carolina, as in 2009 “seven independent national studies cited”
the state’s academic standards “as among the most rigorous in the nation.”180
Two years prior to the passage of NCLB, 39 states held their schools accountable for
student performance.181 With passage of the federal law came conflicting signals from both
state departments and federal authorities.182 In Kentucky, for example, a sizable number of
schools often achieved AYP status but failed to achieve state quality objectives.183 In light of
applying for a waiver from federal mandates, South Carolina has reverted back to its pre-
NCLB accountability system, which measures how children perform.184 With adoption of the
CCS, however, South Carolina’s elected lawmakers, who represent their constituents, will no
longer have the ability to easily amend what students are taught. Adoption of the CCS
substantially diminishes the authority of the state EOC. In this aspect, adoption of the
standards will lead to less accountability by state officials.185 While the exact impact of
adoption varies from state to state, Virginia, Texas, and several others have opted to keep
their own benchmarks.186
Moreover, there does not appear to be a significant correlation between national
benchmarks, standardized testing, and student achievement. Every three years, the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development surveys 15-year-old students in
industrialized nations. The survey, known as the Programme for International Student
Assessment, has consistently indicated that Finnish schools produce the best-performing
students in the world (in mathematics and reading comprehension). Despite ranking highly,
however, Finnish students are subject to only one standardized exam throughout their entire
careers.187 Finnish teachers are allowed great leeway in choosing how to best instruct
children with diverse learning needs, and school administrators are also directly responsible
for the actions of individual teachers.188 Because the demographics of Finland are highly
comparable to those of 18 states in America, such management models may prove applicable
to American schools.189 While finding a direct link or correlation between national standards
and student achievement is tenuous, the Finnish school model is contrary to the purposes of
In mandating that states conform to specific education initiatives in exchange for
waivers, the Obama Administration may be in violation of federal law. Despite Education
Secretary Duncan’s expansive interpretation of section 9401 of NCLB, the Congressional
Research Service (CRS) has asserted that the ED does not have the legal authority to
substitute White House education initiatives for NCLB.190 While the CRS acknowledged that
the ED is able to grant waivers and that section 9401 allows for “very broad” discretion, it
also asserted that “if the Secretary did, as a condition of granting a waiver, require a grantee
to take another action not currently required under the ESEA, the likelihood of a successful
legal challenge might increase.”191 Therefore both the U.S. Congress and state education
authorities must understand that any new mandates appear to be voluntary. This is unclear,
however, as there has been no major litigation prior to this report’s publication.
The errors of federal education policy still can be corrected. The House Committee on
Education and the Workforce has produced a number of bills that eliminate undue burdens on
public school teachers. Members must consider supporting similar legislation that allows
state governments to maintain their Constitutional and academic sovereignty. Members also
must be weary of bills that enshrine deleterious public policy in federal law. One such
example is the recent 860-page reform of NCLB co-sponsored by Senators Tom Harkin (D-
IA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY). This bill, known as the “Elementary and Secondary Education
Reauthorization Act of 2011,” makes permanent many of the reforms of the Obama
Administration, including the implementation of “college- and career-ready standards.”192
While the Harkin-Enzi proposal does much to reform NCLB, it simply replaces one set of
burdensome mandates with another. Members of Congress must reject such “one-size-fits-
all” proposals and instead allow local education authorities to make decisions that work best
for local learning needs. The Harkin-Enzi proposal was approved by its respective Senate
committee despite no hearings being held on the matter.193
Providing for the intellectual nourishment of America’s youth is indeed critical to the
continued viability of American political institutions. Because American citizens elect their
leaders, they must be properly educated so as to make informed judgments. While there is
tremendous economic benefit to merely having a college degree, lawmakers must not
underestimate the civic value of learning. American school districts must no longer strive to
equip children only with instrumentalist skills of economic application but instead must
strive to instill values of participatory citizenship and civic virtue. The CCS, however, do
very little to instill such values and, in fact, prevent individual states from doing so.
Members of the University of South Carolina Congressional Advisory Board
sincerely hope that members of the U.S. Congress will understand the importance of
education and agree that little room for error exists. The CCS are not in the best interests of
teachers or students, and members of Congress must act now to help save the future of
American representative government.
Controlling the Cost of College:
How Federal Student Loans Contribute to Education Inflation
Steven D. Vanderlip
The soaring cost of higher education has become a topic of conversation at American
dinner tables. In fact, the net cost of college now consumes the largest-ever portion of a
typical family’s income. This is due mostly to public institution tuition hikes that averaged
8.3 percent in 2011 alone.194 While the federal government justifiably has recognized that
soaring tuition excludes many young Americans from obtaining baccalaureate degrees,
federal student loans have inadvertently contributed to education inflation. Although such
loans often are touted as a solution to growing educational disparities, they encourage
colleges to increase fees. The federal student loan program, as it is currently administered, is
deleterious to educational achievement. Correcting this issue, however, can be a painless
process that does not jeopardize current achievement.
Escalating tuition costs at public institutions historically coincide with diminishing
support from state governments. In 2010, colleges and universities in South Carolina
experienced the second-largest state funding cut in the country. While prioritizing Medicare
and K-12 education funding, the state legislature cut funding for public higher education
institutions by 19 percent in that year alone.195 This decrease reflects a recent trend. Over the
past five years, tuition at South Carolina colleges and universities has increased between 18
and 36 percent.196 The largest universities in the state, Clemson and the University of South
Carolina, experienced the smallest increases: 19 and 18 percent, respectively.197 At 36
percent, the College of Charleston saw the largest increase.198
While there is certainly a correlation between rising tuition costs and declining state
funds, this is only a recent phenomenon. The supposed relationship between the two does not
explain why tuition rates have been increasing faster than inflation since the mid-1980s.199 At
all of the universities listed above, rapid tuition inflation existed long before state
appropriations began to diminish. What has consistently risen in tandem with tuition
increases, however, has been federal student aid disbursement. This is much more than a
mere correlation as “student loans are more of a cause than a consequence of rising college
There is a tremendous detachment between the intention of federal programs and the
reality of rising tuition. Originally authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of
1965 (HEA), federal student aid sought to increase access and affordability to college while
promoting equality of opportunity.201 Such federal aid policies were designed to lower the
cost of attending college. Unfortunately, however, college tuition has not remained
affordable and continues to increase. Over the past 30 years, “tuition has increased by twice
the rate of inflation,” far outpacing price increases in other areas of the economy (see Figure
8.1 on page 55). Moreover, “annual loan volume has increased tenfold in [inflation-adjusted]
dollars” (see Figure 8.2 on page 55).202 In brief, despite an abundance of federal loans,
average tuition has only increased. Indeed, student loans spur tuition hikes.
Federal student loans allow colleges to safely increase tuition. Former Education
Secretary William Bennett said, “Increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled
colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions, confident that federal loan subsidies
would help cushion the increase.”203 Thus, in the “Bennett Hypothesis,” colleges tend to
absorb most federal aid by increasing their tuition.204 This is because in order to attract
additional students (who each pay tuition), schools require additional capital. As professor of
labor economics at Cornell University Ronald Ehrenberg has written:
Administrators of colleges and universities also want to maximize the value of their
institutions… To these administrators, this means making their institutions the very best
that they can be in almost every area of their activities so as to attract more students.
These administrators are like cookie monsters... They seek out all the resources that
they can get their hands on and then devour them.205
Thus, as financial aid increases, colleges act to maximize their incomes. This is accomplished
by increasing tuition.
As financial aid increases the number of students who can pay tuition, colleges will
react in order to maximize financial opportunity. For the influx of students whose ability and
willingness to pay is in excess of current costs because of the added padding of student loans,
colleges engage in price discrimination by setting tuition artificially high. As student loans
allow for more students to apply, colleges take advantage of increasing demand by further
raising tuition. In general, an increase of one application per enrollee is associated with a
$126 increase in public institution tuition (see Figure 8.3 page 56).18 For every dollar
disbursed in federal student loans, net tuition increases 93 cents (see Figure 8.5 on page
57).206 With such readily available student credit, colleges increase tuition to artificially high
Just as one couldn’t imagine house prices being as high as they [were in 2006] if
mortgage financing were not available, it is difficult to believe that colleges and
universities could have increased their charges so rapidly over time without the ready
availability of students’ ability to borrow.207
Thus the cycle restarts as schools seek to attract more capital, tuition increases because of
student loans, and an increasing number of people attend college. Ironically, for some
students who are unable to pay the increased nominal cost, universities offer tuition discounts
termed “institutional grants” so as to fulfill the requirements of HEA.208 Moreover, due to a
variety of legal and funding obstacles, many colleges cannot quickly accommodate increased
demand. Student loans provide even more incentive for colleges to increase tuition.209 The
availability of student loans has flooded a fairly static higher education market.
College tuition has increased nationwide because of increased borrowing and student
credit. The three biggest federal student loan programs are Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans,
and PLUS Loans. Among all American lenders, public and private, Stafford Loans provide
the most money for students.210 In 2011, more than $55 billion were disbursed through the
Stafford program.211 Within a decade, the number of annual recipients of Stafford Loans has
increased a dramatic 75 percent, going from 4.15 million in 2001 to nearly 7.3 million
students in 2011. Students are relying more and more on federal loan programs to pay for
college (see Figure 8.4 on page 56).212 It is clear that the trajectory of college tuition parallels
the trajectory of Stafford Loan disbursement.
Unfortunately, the ubiquity of student loans is responsible for education inflation.
Students of any merit or income bracket are able to receive some form of federal student aid.
Although those with financial hardship qualify for lower interest rates (subsidized loans),
absolutely any student is capable of being awarded a loan through the Stafford program.
Currently, students from middle-class backgrounds have the greatest number of loans while
those from the lowest income bracket have the fewest (see Figure 8.6 on page 57).213 From
1992 to 2006, the share of the average American family’s income that went to pay college
tuition increased by five percent, whereas the share of families in the lowest income bracket
rose 16 percent.214 Federal student loans have not fulfilled the mission of helping those most
in financial need to attend college but rather have accelerated growth in college tuition by
providing more money to those who could already afford it.
Moreover, federal student loans have adversely impacted educational policy. As
Caroline Hoxby, professor of economics at Harvard University and Fellow at the National
Bureau of Economic Research, has written, “All too often, higher education initiatives (such
as student loans) focus too narrowly on increasing enrollment in higher education…
Enrolling in college does not necessarily correspond to successful investment in college.”215
In truth, the quality of a college education has decreased.
Recent studies have highlighted the uneven quality and poor graduation rates of
American colleges. Sadly, reading comprehension is declining among college graduates.216
The loose standards of federal student loans have insured that both qualified and unqualified
students can enroll in college. Meanwhile, students are taking more time to finish college. In
an analysis of the largest institutions of higher education in South Carolina, two-thirds of
students graduated in six years while less than 25 percent of students graduated within four
years.217 In 2003, only 34 percent of all American graduating students had earned their
degree in four or fewer years.218 Students now are paying exorbitant tuition for more than
four years. Furthermore, schools use the influx of money to cover additional administrative
costs as opposed to financing instructional education. It is too often the case that universities
become dependent on large bureaucracies for maintaining their relationships with federal
Abolishing all federal student aid, however, would be foolish. Such aid has grown in
importance. American students borrowed more than $86 billion in 2007 alone.219 Because
education transforms young people into engaged citizens, the opportunity to attend college is
invaluable. This training, however, occurs only with students who appreciate learning. The
current administration of federal student aid places non-appreciative students into university
classrooms. This problem is easily fixed, though.
Although the path to economic recovery is certainly a multi-faceted one, reformation
can best be accomplished by changing the current practice of providing loans to any student.
Instead, the federal government should award loans exclusively according to need and
academic merit. As an example, Pell Grants do not cause education inflation because they are
awarded only to those with demonstrated financial need. Reauthorization of the HEA is
scheduled for debate in 2013. Members of South Carolina’s Congressional Delegation have
ample time to consider the long-term damage student loans inflict on the American higher
Higher education inflation is pertinent to American civic dialogue. As countless
families face issues of affordability, it is obvious that federal student loans are a hindrance to
making college more affordable. Obtaining a baccalaureate is an admirable goal but, as
tuition continues increasing, the federal government must establish means-testing or merit
qualifications so as to truly fulfill the original purpose of the HEA. Doing so will make
college affordable once again.
Figure 1.1: Percentage of American Doctors Serving Patients Per Week, 2011
Figure 1.2: Average Time with Patients Among American Doctors in 2011
Figure 4.1: Personal Consumption and Total Gross Domestic Product
Table 7.1: SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT OPTIONS of NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
A school is identified for school improvement after it has not
made AYP for two consecutive school years. A school moves to
the next "step" or "year" in this chart if it continues to not make
School In general, schools identified for improvement must receive
Improvement technical assistance that enables them to specifically address the
(Year One) academic achievement problem that caused the school to be
identified for improvement. The local educational agency (LEA) is
required to provide technical assistance as the school develops and
implements the plan, including specific assistance in analyzing
assessment data, improving professional development, and
improving resource allocation. In addition, the following must
1. All students are offered public school choice.
2. Each school identified for improvement must develop or
revise a two-year school improvement plan, in consultation
with parents, school staff, the local educational agency,
and other experts, for approval by the LEA. The plan must
incorporate research-based strategies, a 10 percent set-
aside of Title I funds for professional development,
extended learning time as appropriate (including school
day or year), strategies to promote effective parental
involvement and mentoring for new teachers.
School 1. Make available supplemental educational services to
Improvement, students from low-income families.
In addition, the LEA continues to offer technical assistance to
implement the new plan, and offer public school choice.
Corrective Action Corrective Action requires an LEA to take actions likely to bring
(Year Three) about meaningful change at the school. To accomplish this goal,
LEAs are required to take at least one of the following corrective
actions, depending on the needs of the individual school:
Continued on page 1. Replace school staff responsible for the continued failure
54. to make AYP;
2. Implement a new curriculum based on scientifically based
research (including professional development);
3. Significantly decrease management authority at the school
4. Extend the school day or school year;
5. Appoint an outside expert to advise the school on its
progress toward making AYP in accordance with its school
6. Reorganize the school internally.
In addition, the LEA continues to offer technical assistance, public
school choice and supplemental educational services.
Restructuring During the first year of restructuring, the LEA is required to
(Year Four) prepare a plan and make necessary arrangements to carry out one
of the following options:
1. Reopen school as charter school.
2. Replace principal and staff.
3. Contract for private management company of
4. State takeover.
5. Any other major restructuring of school governance.
In addition, the LEA continues to offer public school choice and
supplemental educational services.
Implement alternative governance plan no later than first day of
school year following year four described above.
Figure 8.1: Percent Growth Rate of College Prices Compared to Other Sectors
Figure 8.2: Financial Aid and Tuition Inflation Rates, 1986-2007
Figure 8.3: Tuition versus Enrollment Applications at Public Schools
Figure 8.5: Clear Correlation between Student Borrowing and Tuition Inflation.
Figure 8.6: Net College Costs as Percent of Family Income
2005 % pts
(MU 2006) increases
Lowest 20% income families 57% 73% 16%
Middle 20% 17% 23% 5%
Eeshwar K. Chandrasekar is an interdisciplinary studies major from Greenville. A junior in
the South Carolina Honors College, Eeshwar focuses on international health and economic
policy with a particular interest in healthcare and development policy. One of two returning
members from last year’s Congressional Advisory Board, Eeshwar is involved in several
organizations on campus. These include the Honors Pre-Medical Community (for which he
serves as the upper-classman advisor), the Roosevelt Institute public policy think tank (for
which he serves as vice-president), and Student Government (for which he is a former
president pro tempore). Eeshwar has served as an intern for the World Health Organization in
Geneva, Switzerland, a researcher at the Advanced Centre for the Treatment Research and
Education in Cancer in Mumbai, India, and as a grant writer for the Young Men’s Christian
Association (YMCA). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
C. Andrew Dorsey is president of the University of South Carolina Graduate Student
Association, serving on behalf of more than 6,000 graduate students. A native of Chester,
Andrew has an Associate of Science degree from USC Lancaster and a baccalaureate in
political science, summa cum laude, from USC Columbia. He is a member of Phi Beta
Kappa. In May 2011, Andrew was awarded a Master Degree in Public Administration from
USC and authored the state Attorney General’s Freedom of Information Act Manual.
Andrew has been involved with the Congressional Advisory Board, the Carolina Judicial
Council, and has served as president of the MPA Student Association. In 2011, he was
awarded the USC Samuel Carter Fellowship. Andrew is currently a student in the Master of
Human Resources program in the Darla Moore School of Business and is a consultant for
Dana Petroleum, a subsidiary of the Korean National Oil Corporation. Andrew has accepted
a summer offer with Halliburton in Houston, Texas. He may be reached at
George M. Helman was born in West Columbia. A graduate of Brookland-Cayce High
School, George is a junior mathematics major in the University of South Carolina Honors
College. George has worked on numerous research projects, including researching new
biotechnology for diabetes treatment, testing new experimental features for electric car
batteries, and researching media perception of Alzheimer’s disease. One of George’s primary
non-academic interests is environmentalism. He is a board member of Students Advocating a
Greener Environment, a student advocacy organization, and won a 2010 international clean
energy competition involving more than 1,000 universities, as part of a four-member team.
After graduation, George intends to perform statistical analysis for the federal government.
He may be reached at email@example.com.
Jessica V. Kaczmarek is a sophomore chemistry major in the University of South Carolina
Honors College. Originally from North Augusta, Jessica is involved in many campus
activities. As Student Government’s secretary of academics, she works closely with
university administrators to address academic issues, particularly those related to student
advisement. Jessica serves as sophomore representative of the Carolina Scholar Association
and helps recruit top students to the university. She also serves as volunteer chair in the Pre-
Medical Community, where she provides members with medical-related volunteer
opportunities. During the summer of 2011, she interned at Georgia Health Sciences
University in Augusta, Ga, where she researched Type II diabetes treatment. Jessica hopes to
become a pediatrician and eventually pursue her interests in business and healthcare through
hospital administration. She enjoys reading the news, shag and salsa dancing, gymnastics,
group exercise classes, shopping, and spending time with friends. She may be reached at
Emory D. Roberts is a junior political science and economics major from West Columbia.
He has an Associate’s Degree from the Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama, where
he served as vice president for education and defense in the Honor Council, as well as
founder and chairman of the institute’s chapter of College Republicans. Emory has served as
an intern for U.S. Senator Jim DeMint and is working to establish the Student Tea Party at
the University of South Carolina. He has been affiliated with multiple facets of each branch
of the Armed Forces and is currently a member of the South Carolina Air National Guard.
Emory has a special interest in defense- and space-related matters and intends to earn a law
degree after receiving his baccalaureate. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samruddhi P. Somani is a sophomore in the South Carolina Honors College, from
Summerville. She is majoring in economics and minoring in both political science and
mathematics. Samruddhi is a recipient of the prestigious Carolina Scholars Award, the
Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, and the Lieber Scholarship. She enjoys cooking and is a
member of Cocky’s Culinary Club. Samruddhi is a regular contributor to The Daily
Gamecock newspaper and also is involved in the Carolina Debate Union. Away from
campus, she has interned at the Old Exchange Building, a historic customs house in
downtown Charleston, Sc. After earning her baccalaureate in May 2014, Samruddhi will
complete graduate studies in economics. She may be reached at email@example.com.
James M. Strickland serves as secretary of government-community relations in the
University of South Carolina Student Government and directs the Congressional Advisory
Board. Majoring in history and politics, James is a student in the South Carolina Honors
College and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After graduating in May 2012, he intends to
conduct graduate research on the historical transformation of American political institutions.
Originally from Lake City, James has a keen interest in education policy and other public
interest issues, and has been awarded two university research grants for examining British
education reform and American political economy. He has completed internships at The
Heritage Foundation, the South Carolina Senate, and the South Carolina Political Collections.
James is a 2011 graduate of the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and
Economic Systems at Georgetown University. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steven D. Vanderlip is a sophomore in the University of South Carolina Honors College
majoring in both political science and English. A native of Clover, Steven graduated with
honors from Westminster Catawba Christian School before enrolling at USC. He is the
recipient of the York County Chamber of Commerce Student of the Year Award and placed
first in the Philo S. Bennet Essay Competition hosted by the USC Department of Political
Science. Steven has served as an ambassador to the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership
Program, a delegate to the American Legion-sponsored Palmetto Boys State, and a
representative of South Carolina in the U.S. Senate Youth Program. He currently serves as a
senator in the university’s Student Government and is involved in Reformed University
Fellowship and the Euphradian Society, a prestigious literary society established in 1806. He
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