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Lowcountry Headlines


SC unclaimed lottery prizes are so common state lawmakers’ budget on it

Mega Millions lottery

Photo: Getty Images

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -The Mega Millions $1.3 billion jackpot winner in Illinois has not yet come forward.

If they fail to claim their prize, that person would lose out on an estimated $780 million lump sum.

In South Carolina, unclaimed lottery prizes are so common state lawmakers’ budget on it.

For the 2023 fiscal year, lawmakers set aside a minimum of $20 million unclaimed funds to help the state’s educational efforts.

Here’s the breakdown:

Commission on Higher Education: $6,072,474

Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Serivces (DAODAS): $100,000

SC Technical College System: $13,827,525

Department of Education: All remaining unclaimed funds over $20 million

The Commission on Higher Education uses the funds for its Higher Education Excellence Enhancement Program (HEEEP) which provides funding to smaller schools to serve less fortunate students in South Carolina.

Those schools are:

Allen University

Benedict College

Claflin University

Clinton College

Morris College


Voorhees College

Columbia College

Converse College

The commission provided the following list:

Scientific or laboratory equipment for educational purposes, including instructional and research purposes;

Construction, maintenance, renovation, and improvement in classroom, library, laboratory, and other instructional facilities, including telecommunications technology equipment or services;

Teacher education programs designed to qualify students to teach in a public elementary or secondary school

Faculty exchanges, faculty development, and faculty fellowships to assist in attaining advanced degrees in their fields of instruction;

Library books, periodicals, microfilm, and other educational materials, including telecommunications program materials;

Tutoring, counseling, and student service programs designed to improve academic success;

Funds and administrative management, and acquisition of equipment for use in strengthening funds management;

Joint use of facilities, such as laboratories and libraries;

Establishing or improving a development office to strengthen or improve contributions from alumni and the private sector;

Commission President and Executive Director Dr. Rusty Monhollon said the investment in the schools serves all of South Carolina.

“Education is not unlike any other sector, that has to change to adapt to and respond to respond to the larger changes taking place in society,” he said.

DAODAS uses its funds to help treat gambling addiction in South Carolina.

Resources for gambling addiction can be found at this link.

The technical college system is slated to spend its money on “high demand job skill training equipment.” An attempt to contact the spokesperson for the system was unsuccessful. Department of Education spokesperson Derek Phillips said Superintendent Molly Spearman identified the need to upgrade the state’s school bus fleet, and the money assists in that goal.

He said almost 50 percent of the state’s bus fleet was from the mid-90′s in 2017.

“To be able to have any sort of funds directly related to purchasing new buses, it’s a big deal for South Carolina,” he said.

Lottery records show those organizations and others have been granted unclaimed lottery winnings since at least 2013. It’s unclear how much money will be unclaimed this fiscal year, but the lottery does keep a running website on unclaimed and remaining prizes. It’s unclear how many prizes are unclaimed as compared to remaining, but a WIS analysis found that for 71 games, 33,267 prizes were available.

That translates to $356 million dollars.

Players who want to claim their winnings can do so by mail, at a lottery retailor or at the claims center in Columbia.

Copyright 2022 WIS. All rights reserved.

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