USC Aiken students and administrators traveled to Columbia on Wednesday for the annual Carolina Day at the Statehouse.

The event is an opportunity for students, faculty, staff and alumni from all University of South Carolina campuses to meet with state legislators and let them know that state support is vital to ensure quality, access and affordability in higher education.

Peyton Faugl, a senior political science major from North Augusta, said the event was an opportunity to speak with local S.C. Representatives and S.C. Senators and thank them for their continued support of USCA.

USCA at Carolina Day at the Statehouse

USC Aiken was well represented Wednesday at the annual Carolina Day at the Statehouse to support higher education. Pictured, left to right, are Rebecca Baxa; Peyton Faugl; Ace, USCA's mascot; Brandon Eberl, Student Body president; Q’Lardin Qourters; and Dr. Sandra Jordan, chancellor.

He said he and his peers also advocated for the Higher Education Opportunity Act. S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, introduced the plan last year to lower higher education costs in the state.

“We’ve seen tremendous progress already with the financial support students receive through the HOPE, LIFE and Palmetto Fellows scholarships and would love to continue to see that support impact more students,” Faugl said in an email to the Aiken Standard. “Their support for this bill would continue to help students get a college degree by offering more financial aid to students who may not normally be able to further their education due to financial restraint.

“USC Aiken has been a great institution for my college career and has helped me grow not only as a student, but also as a person. I am forever grateful that I chose USC Aiken and am glad to call myself a Pacer.”

Brandon Eberl, USCA's Student Body president and a senior industrial process engineering major, said Carolina Day allows students at colleges and universities across the state to "share a common vision for improving higher education.

"The Higher Education Opportunity Act will help to improve higher education by working to lower tuition for state institutions as well as increase the number of needs-based state scholarships offered to students," he said.

USCA pumps $281 million annually into the local economy, according to data provided by the university.

At USCA, 86 percent of students are from South Carolina, and 42 percent are first-generation.

USCA offers more than 50 programs of study and undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.

A native of Aiken, Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.