South Carolina Student Grants for College
Fund Your Education with Free Grant MoneyAre you planning to go to college? If you're a South Carolina native, your state wants YOU to study in state. And the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The South Carolina legislature has provided financial aid options in a variety of ways as incentives to pursue higher education, while simultaneously strengthening the future social fabric of the state.
Ways to Obtain Financial Aid in South Carolina
As you may know, higher education financial aid generally comes in three basic forms: scholarships, grants, and student loans. A scholarship is an amount of money usually awarded on a competitive basis, but does not have to be repaid.
A grant, on the other hand, can be awarded from a competitive pool of applicants, but can also be awarded based on the financial need of the applicant, and, likewise, doesn't have to be repaid. A student loan provides funds to a student in financial need, but must be repaid when the student is no longer attending college.
South Carolina offers the Palmetto Fellows, LIFE, and HOPE Scholarship programs in its financial aid portfolio, but also provides the Lottery Assistance Tuition Program. South Carolina Tuition Grants assist resident students with financial aid who choose to attend participating private colleges in state. Other financial aid options are available within South Carolina, as well.
Palmetto Fellows Scholarship
The Palmetto Fellows Scholarship seeks to recruit the most academically promising high school seniors in the state to attend in-state institutions, and also seeks to retain talented minority students who might otherwise study out of state. This award runs up to $6700 each academic year.
Eligibility requirements include college entrance exam scores, in-state residency, and other criteria.
LIFE Scholarship Program
The LIFE Scholarship (which acronym stands for the Legislative Incentive for Future Excellence), is also a merit-based, rather than need-based, scholarship. Its aims include increasing access to higher education, improving the employability of South Carolina students, and encouraging students to graduate from college on time.
The scholarship is good for the cost of attendance for up to eight terms, as gauged from the student's first enrollment in college. The award amount varies, depending on the type of institution the student attends. To be eligible for this award, incoming freshmen must meet two of three academic criteria. Students may earn or regain the LIFE scholarship.
South Carolina HOPE Scholarship Program
The SC HOPE Scholarship Program was established by the state legislature in 2001. This state-funded, merit-based scholarship was created for those students enrolled at a four-year institution who don't qualify for the Palmetto Fellows or LIFE scholarships.
This scholarship funding is only available during the freshman year. Funds are generated from the South Carolina Education Lottery, and are channeled via annual appropriation to the Commission on Higher Education.
Lottery Tuition Assistance Program
The Lottery Tuition Assistance Program provides help with tuition to South Carolina residents who choose to attend a two-year public or private institution.
With this program, a student may receive funding up to the cost of tuition. The institution of the student's choice will inform him/her of the award amount received, and this is based upon how many eligible students have applied, and also upon the amount of funding available each academic year. In addition to other eligibility requirements, students receiving funds from this program cannot be recipients of LIFE, Palmetto Fellows or HOPE scholarships.
South Carolina Tuition Grant
In addition to this state-funded assistance, the SC state legislature has decided to offset the cost of all eligible students attending some 21 in-state private colleges, as well.
To apply for a South Carolina Tuition Grant, which is need-based financial aid, an applicant simply completes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Once the application has been submitted to the federal government's processor, and the applicant has listed a participating South Carolina independent college as his/her preferred choice, the SC Tuition Grants Commission can then receive the application from the federal processor.
Application information is then used to determine eligibility for a SC Tuition Grant. This grant is only available to legal residents of South Carolina.
The Application Process
The SC Tuition Grants Commission figures financial eligibility based on the following information: number of family members in the household, the number of household members attending college, family income, family assets, and the cost to attend the selected college.
Incoming freshmen who apply for the SC Tuition Grant must graduate in the upper 75% of their high school class OR have a composite score of 19 on the ACT exam OR score a minimum of 900 (in the Math and Critical Reading sections only) on the SAT exam OR graduate from high school with a 2.0 final GPA based on the SC Uniform Grading Policy.
Upperclassmen applying for the SC Tuition Grant must be fulltime students who have successfully passed at least 24 semester hours each year, and who meet their college's federal Satisfactory Academic Progress standards.
Even if a student qualifies based on financial need, he/she must meet academic requirements or he/she is not eligible for a SC Tuition Grant.
How the Tuition Grant Works
A grant recipient doesn't have to repay the monies received, but must refund the state the unused amount of the grant if he/she withdraws from school.
A Tuition Grant is available for a maximum of four years if financial need is still demonstrated, timely progress towards graduation is made, all other eligibility requirements are met, an "on-time" application is submitted each year, and grant funds are available. Tuition Grant amounts cannot be applied toward room and board charges, part-time enrollment, books, enrollment for summer school, or enrollment for graduate school.
If students wish to receive a Tuition Grant for the full year, applicants must enroll in the Fall Term. If a student fails to enroll in the Fall, the Tuition Grant is forfeited for the year.
Military Financial Aid Available in South Carolina
South Carolina boasts two Marine Corps bases: the Recruit Depot at Parris Island, and the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station.
The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation offers awards ranging from $500 to $3,000--which may be renewed annually--to applicants who are children of current and former U.S. Marines. These scholarship funds are to be used for tuition, fees, campus room and board, and books.
Eligible applicants must be registered as undergraduate students at accredited colleges or vocational/technical institutions; family income and student GPA are factored into the decision process. Special consideration will be given to students whose parent was killed or wounded in action.
Loan Repayment Program
In 2001, the Commission on Higher Education, working in partnership with the South Carolina Student Loan Corporation, created a loan repayment program which provides incentives for those students who enlist or who remain a minimum of six years in either the South Carolina Army or Air National Guard (SCNG) in areas of critical need.
Those students who meet these requirements can have student loans repaid. The Commission on Higher Education defines these areas of critical need on an annual basis, in consultation with the Office of the Adjutant General.
South Carolina Teaching Fellows Program
In an effort to strengthen the cadre of potential educators in the state of South Carolina, the SC Teaching Fellows Program seeks to recruit high school seniors into the teaching profession, and to help them develop leadership qualities. The program annually provides fellowships up to 200 high school seniors.
Awards include up to $6,000 in a yearly scholarship for four years, which includes $300 for a summer enrichment program.
Both written and oral applications are part of the competitive selection process, as is high academic achievement, evidence of service to the school and community, and a desire to be an educator.
South Carolina Teacher Loan Program
Another program which aims to strengthen the educator pool in the state of South Carolina is the South Carolina Teacher Loan Program.
By choosing to teach in certain critical geographical and subject areas, a teacher can cancel portions of his/her student loan. Please note: both suburban and rural schools are designated as critical geographic areas. Such areas are designated on an annual basis by the State Board of Education.
Applicants for employment interested in participating in the SC Teacher Loan Program should determine whether a school has been designated as critical before accepting a job with the school.
Freshmen and Sophmores
Freshmen and sophomore education majors may borrow up to $2,500 per year. Juniors, seniors, and graduate students may borrow up to $5,000 annually. Career Changers may borrow up to $15,000 annually, and up to an aggregate maximum of $60,000.
Critical Needs Certification Program participants may borrow up to $1,000 per year, not to exceed an aggregate maximum of $5,000.
EligibilityTo be eligible for the SC Teacher Loan program, an applicant must complete an application and sign a promissory note; be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States; be a resident of South Carolina; be enrolled in and making satisfactory academic progress at an accredited school on at least a half-time basis; and be enrolled in a teacher education program or have expressed intent to enroll in such a program.
Academic requirements for incoming freshmen include a top 40% ranking in their high school graduating class, and an ACT or SAT score equal to or greater than the South Carolina average for the year the student graduated from high school.
Cumulative GPA for enrolled undergraduate students, including freshmen enrolled in their second term of their first year, must be at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale, and must have passed the Praxis I Exam. (Students with a SAT score of 1100 or greater, or an ACT score of 24 or greater, are exempt from the Praxis I requirement.)
Graduate Study RequirementsStudents entering graduate study must have at least a 2.75 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Graduate students with at least one term completed must have earned at least a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
Additionally, state funds are available for individuals enrolled in the South Carolina Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE), and have received an Educator's Certificate for the current year.
Such individuals must be teaching full-time in a South Carolina public school; the critical subject is determined when the individual enters the PACE Program. The program loan funds are designed to reimburse the student for expenses with the PACE program. If a student is eligible, a reimbursement check is mailed directly to him/her.
South Carolina Department of Revenue College Tuition Tax CreditIn light of the financial burden which South Carolina college students and their families bear for higher education, the South Carolina General Assembly created an income tax credit for the tuition paid to in-state colleges and universities.
Who claims the credit?
Why, the person who actually pays the tuition bill: the student, parents, or guardian...whomever that may be. If the student is claimed as a dependent on another individual's tax return, that individual may claim the credit.
If the student and parent divide the cost of tuition, they can also divide the credit on their respective tax returns. Please note, however: the combined credit claimed by both parties cannot exceed the maximum amount of the credit.
The happy news for anyone--parent or guardian--with more than one college student enrolled in SC higher education is that a credit may be claimed for each qualifying student.
Students must have graduated from a South Carolina high school or home school program by May 1997 or later. Students remain eligible if they graduated from an out-of-state prep school as long as the parent or guardian was still a South Carolina resident.
The student must qualify for in-state tuition, and must enroll in college within twelve months of their graduation from high school. Students must be registered for an undergraduate degree program, or, at minimum, a one-year undergraduate certificate or diploma program; and must have completed at least 30 credit hours at the end of the tax year for which the credit is claimed.
A student cannot claim the credit if he/she has been awarded the LIFE or Palmetto Fellows scholarships. However, if the student loses the scholarship, a tax credit may be claimed for the remaining time within the four-year credit period if other eligibility requirements are met.
Students must be in good standing at the school of attendance, cannot be in default on any student loans, and cannot have been convicted or have pled guilty or no contest to any felony, alcohol, or drug crimes in any state. (This last caveat doesn't apply if the criminal record has been expunged.)
The money is in the details: a credit can be claimed on a personal income tax return of 25% of the actual tuition paid to the college each taxable year. This translates into a maximum of $850 a year for attendance at a four-year institution, and a maximum of $350 a year for attendance at a two-year institution. If you attend a private college, the credit allowed for tuition is based on the average amount paid for attendance at a public four-year South Carolina school.)
This credit can be claimed for four consecutive years from the start of enrollment at college. If the student, who must enroll in college within one year of high school graduation, begins college and then takes a year off before coming back to school, the tax credit can be claimed for the time left in the four-year credit period.
Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program
Named for United States Senator Robert C. Byrd from West Virginia, this scholarship program provides 96 scholarships annually for higher education on an academically competitive basis.
Funding comes from the United States Department of Education, and awards of $1,500 per year for up to four years of undergraduate work are available.
Eligibility requirements are as follows: graduating seniors must have a minimum of 3.5 GPA, and a minimum SAT score (combined verbal and math score only) of 1300, or a minimum score of 29 on the ACT.
United States Senate Youth Program Scholarship
Created in 1962 by the United States Senate, this nationwide youth program provides an opportunity to high school students to spend a week in Washington, D.C. and gain a brief introduction to the federal government and, specifically, the United States Senate.
The William Randolph Hearst Foundation, the program's sponsor and funding source, subsequently awards each delegate a $5,000 college scholarship to be used for undergraduate studies.
Archibald Rutledge Scholarship Program
Named for South Carolina's first poet laureate, this scholarship program offers high school seniors (enrolled in a public school in South Carolina) the chance to compete for scholarships in creative writing, dance, theatre, visual arts, or music, and also provides a vehicle of recognition for these seniors of artistic and academic excellence.
To apply, students mail original compositions and other necessary documentation in one of the five art disciplines to the South Carolina Department of Education. Five scholarships (of about $2,000 each) are subsequently awarded.
Eligibility requirements include attending public school in South Carolina for the past two years, planning to attend a South Carolina college or university, and applying in only one art discipline.