COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/SCRN/WVOC) - University of South Carolina officials are asking for a “tuition timeout.”

During the school's "Carolina Day" gathering at the Statehouse Tuesday, USC President Harris Pastides asked state lawmakers for more funding in order to avoid a tuition increase next school year.

I do believe that increasing tuition has gone about as high as it can go and that's a national phenomenon.  But why not take the lead in South Carolina and show the the nation that we can freeze tuition here?” Pastides asked.

Over the past decade, USC officials say state funding has fallen to just 10% of the school's budget, causing the university to raise tuition to make up the difference.

The chairman of the House budget-writing committee agrees that tuition costs are climbing too high.

But House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White wants to hire a financial consulting firm to evaluate spending by the state's public colleges and find savings that could reduce tuition.

A subcommittee that handles state spending on colleges heard earlier this week from one consultant who said savings could be achieved through bulk purchasing and other efficiencies without laying people off.