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The Official Web Site of the State of South Carolina

About The Commission on Higher Education

CHE LogoThe South Carolina Commission on Higher Education was established in 1967 and serves as the coordinating board for South Carolina’s 33 public institutions of higher learning. In addition to partnering with institutions to deliver an effective statewide higher education system, the CHE acts both as an oversight entity on behalf of the General Assembly, and an advocate for the citizens of South Carolina as they seek opportunities to improve their lives, and those of their families, through higher education.

CHE's Role 

The agency performs a range of work to support and coordinate the state system of higher education. Generally, this entails:

  • Administering state, regional, and federal programs, in addition to state-funded lottery scholarships and grants.
  • Approving new academic degree programs and revisions to mission statements at public institutions.
  • Collecting, analyzing, and reporting comprehensive data on postsecondary education in South Carolina.
  • Coordinating the interests of federal and state government, institutions of higher education, public K12 education, students and their families, and the business community.
  • Licensing non-public educational institutions operating and soliciting within the state.
  • Recommending policy to the governor, the General Assembly, and relevant state agencies using data.
  • Reviewing the productivity of existing academic programs and institutions’ missions to ensure they are advancing defined state goals.
About the Board of Commissioners

The Board of Commissioners

The CHE is governed by a board of 15 members appointed by the Governor. There are four statewide at-large members, with one appointed as chair; one member from each of the state’s seven Congressional Districts; three members who serve as college and university trustees representing the public sectors of higher learning, which include research institutions, four-year comprehensive teaching institutions, and technical colleges; and one non-voting ex officio member who serves as a president of an independent college representing the independent higher learning institutions.

Members representing Congressional Districts are appointed by the Governor upon recommendation of a majority of the State Senators and House members comprising the District’s legislative delegation. The remaining members are recommended and appointed on the advice and consent of the Senate. Commissioners serve four-year terms, except for the institutional representatives, who serve two-year terms. All members continue to serve until a replacement is named.

As outlined in its enabling legislation, the Commission can organize its membership into standing committees as it sees fit. The Commission has four standing committees at present: the Executive Committee, the Committee on Academic Affairs and Licensing, the Committee on Access & Equity and Student Services, and the Committee on Finance & Facilities. These committees each specialize in a subject important to the Commission’s statutory mission, intake related proposals and information, and make policy recommendations to the Commission for final approval. Board members serve on one or more committee(s).

For additional information on our board members, visit our Board of Commissioners biography page.

CHE Mission and Values

Mission:

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education is committed to promoting access, affordability, and quality in the state system of higher education through coordination, regulation, advocacy and oversight, as directed by the General Assembly.

Values:

− Importance of quality higher education

− Accessibility of this education to the citizens of the state

− Accountability of the institutions to their students and the General Assembly

− Excellence on the part of its staff in performing its functions

− Excellence on the part of the institutions in providing educational opportunities

− Affordability of higher education in South Carolina to the citizens of the state

CHE Organizational Structure

The Office of the President and Executive Director

The Office of the President and Executive Director carries out the directives of the CHE board, coordinates interagency operations, and oversees the agency’s legislative affairs and public relations.

The Office of Internal Operations and Administration

The Office of Internal Operations and Administration is led by the Deputy Director and General Counsel, who supports and provides legal advice to the Office of the President and Executive Director. The office processes qualifying capital projects, leases, and land purchases proposed by public postsecondary institutions; collects data concerning institutions’ building conditions and infrastructure needs; and compiles the higher education portion of the Comprehensive Permanent Improvement Plan (CPIP). The office also works with the Centers of Excellence for teacher education and orchestrates programs dedicated to ASCEND 60X30 attainment, including Educator Quality, Recruitment and Retention.

The Office of Academic Affairs and Licensing

The Office of Academic Affairs and Licensing provides staff support for the committee of the same name. The office oversees academic programs, providing reviews, evaluations, and productivity analyses; manages the licensing of nonpublic institutions and distance education programs; and administers P-20 initiatives, such as the Centers of Excellence for teacher education, the SREB academic common market program, and regional contracts.

The Office of Student Services

The Office of Student Services supports the Committee on Access & Equity and Student Services. The office manages initiatives preparing high school students for entrance into postsecondary education; administers veteran and adult education programs; and supports student financial aid by administering state-funded lottery scholarships (Palmetto Fellows, LIFE, and HOPE), need-based grants, lottery tuition assistance (LTAP), and making determinations of residency.

The Office of Strategic Initiatives and Engagement 

The Office of Strategic Initiatives and Engagement drives the pursuit and attainment of strategic goals established by the CHE and General Assembly, with an emphasis on focused initiatives leading to tangible and timely outcomes. OSIE programs providing agency-level support include Legislative and External Affairs, and Strategic Communications. The office also orchestrates programs dedicated to ASCEND 60X30 attainment, including Workforce Development, College Completion, and Educator Quality, Recruitment and Retention.

The Office of Fiscal Affairs

The Office of Fiscal Affairs manages agency funds, budgets, and procurement, and oversees distribution of state-funded scholarships.

The Office of Data-Research & Information Technology Management

The Office of Information Technology Management supports the agency and external stakeholders by collecting and reporting data from the state’s postsecondary institutions, maintaining the agency’s information system (CHEMIS), and maintaining this website.

PASCAL

Though separate, the CHE serves as the fiscal agent for the Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries (PASCAL). PASCAL, a consortium of South Carolina’s academic libraries and state agency partners, fosters cooperation for shared licensing of electronic resources, universal borrowing, ILS hosting, and affordable learning.

Historical Overview of the CHE
  • Peabody Report (1946): recommend a higher education commission to “develop and maintain an adequate, efficient, and progressive system of coordinated higher education in keeping with the needs of the State.”
  • Act 811 (1962): Established Advisory Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) to advise Budget and Control Board (strictly advisory, no authority)

  • Act 194 (1967) creates the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and provides it with the authority for:
    • Academic program approval
    • Institutional budget review and recommendations
    • Recommendations on policies, programs, facilities, administration, financing
    • Study requests for new or additional appropriations for operations and programs
    • Report on state of higher education in SC, with recommendations as appropriate
  • 1969: CHE-Institution Data Collection Agreement

  • 1970: Goals for the Seventies Plan

  • 1970: Participation in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Education Reciprocity Programs

  • 1971: Collection of five-year institutional capital improvement plans (pre-cursor of the Comprehensive Project Improvement Plan)

  • 1972: Creation of the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education

  • 1972: First Transfer and Articulation Committee and Study

  • 1973: Statewide criteria for admission to associate of arts and associate of science degrees; approval of associate of applied science degrees

  • 1974:  Addition of SREB’s Academic Common Market

  • 1974: South Carolina Student Loan Corporation chartered

  • 1975: Approval of degree program approval process, incorporating new committees: CAAL and ACAP

  • 1976: Statewide higher education computer network established

  • 1977:  Authority to license non-public degree-granting institutions

  • 1979: South Carolina Master Plan for Higher Education

  • 1979: First edition of Higher Education Statistical Abstract

  • 1981: South Carolina Five Year Plan for Equity and Equal Opportunity in the Public Colleges and Universities

  • 1984: Promotion of Advanced Placement Courses accepted at institutions for credit

  • 1984: Education Improvement Act Centers of (Teaching) Excellence grant awards

  • 1987: “The Cutting Edge: Higher Education’s Initiatives for Research and Academic Excellence in South Carolina” Report

  • 1988: Palmetto Fellows Scholarship established

  • 1989: Establishment of South Carolina Program for Recruitment and Retention of Minority Teachers (SC-PRRMT)

  • 1993: Designation as state coordinating agency for the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

  • 1993: Implementation of the CHE Management Information System (CHEMIS)

  • 1996: Establishment of Need-Based Grants Program (SC Children First Act 458)

  • 1998: Legislative Incentives for Future Excellence (LIFE) Scholarship

  • 2001: Creation of Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries (PASCAL) consortium

  • 2002: Lottery Tuition Assistance Program (LTAP) and HOPE scholarships (Act 496, Education Lottery)

  • 2003: Establishment of the Higher Education Excellence Enhancement Program (HEEEP)

  • 2007: South Carolina National Guard Tuition Assistance program

  • 2007: STEM enhancements to LIFE and Palmetto Fellows Scholarships

  • 2010: South Carolina Transfer and Articulation Center (SCTRAC) portal active

  • 2010: SC CAN GO website and media campaign to promote college access

  • 2014:  College Transition Program Need-Based Grant for for students with intellectual disabilities

  • 2016:  Tucker Hipps Transparency Act

  • 2018:  Public Agenda for Higher Education

  • 2021: Ascend 60x30 Public Agenda for Higher Education in South Carolina

Regulatory Information, Policies and Procedures

CHE’s Governing Legislation: 59-103

CHE Bylaws, Rules & Procedures (PDF)

Facilities Policies and Procedures Manual (PDF)

Requesting Information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

CHE FOIA Policy and Instructions October 2022 (PDF)

Spending Transparency (PDF)