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No matter what state you live in, college is expensive, and the costs continue to increase each year. South Carolina residents can help defray those costs by attending college in-state.
If you live in South Carolina, there are plenty of programs that can help you. Most students turn to financial aid to help with education costs. In fact, 88% of the students at the University of South Carolina have some sort of financial aid, according to the university’s statistics.
Getting Financial Aid for College
Procuring financial aid for school is a process. The first step is completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Even if your focus is state-based scholarships, loans, or grants, most funding sources will expect to see a completed FAFSA. The application helps your prospective schools, lenders, financial institutions, or grantors understand your financial situation and the degree of need.
When you complete a FAFSA, it’s automatically sent to the schools you list as prospects, and the schools use that data to compile a federal financial aid package. The package could include grants or federal student loans. That same FAFSA is also used for state-based aid.
When you submit a FAFSA, your financial need is calculated with your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. Since the financial aid world assumes that it is first and foremost you and your family’s responsibility to pay for school before getting any aid, the EFC is what the federal government thinks you should be able to pay over the course of the school year. The amount of your actual financial need is the COA minus that expected family contribution and determines how much need-based aid you can receive.
Not everyone can actually contribute the full EFC, so there are also non-need-based programs available to help cover those costs.
To determine how much of those you can receive, the school will subtract any financial aid from the cost of attendance. You may not be able to get the rest covered by federal programs, however. So then it would be time to look at state-based programs.
South Carolina Student Loans
South Carolina student loans aren’t administered by the federal government, so they’re considered private loans. For reference, 58% of South Carolina graduates in the Class of 2017 had student loan debt. And, on average, college students in South Carolina borrow $30,310 by the time of graduation.
While private student loans don’t have the same benefits and protections of a Department of Education loan, they are often still competitive with flexible terms, and can help bridge your funding gaps.
South Carolina Student Loan
South Carolina Student Loan (SCSL) is a private, non-profit lender offering a variety of student loan products that are comparable — and sometimes better — than its federal counterparts. In fact, SCSL is the only state-based lender offering private student loans.
One of its main loan products is called the Palmetto Assistance Loan, or PAL. It’s available to both students and their parents, and if you borrow in your own name as a student, you have a 6-month grace period before repayment starts.
Interest rates range from 3.87% APR to 9.68%, and if you choose the automatic payment option, that rate will decrease the APR by 0.25%. There are no origination or bank fees for the loan, and you can get either a fixed or variable rate. You will, however, need to be creditworthy. If your parents are applying for the loan on your behalf, they’ll need to be employed.
South Carolina College Scholarships
Before you take on student loans and their interest rates, you should look into scholarships. They’re basically free money. They don’t need to be repaid, and you can get as many South Carolina scholarships as you can qualify for.
Palmetto Fellows Scholarship Program
The Palmetto Fellows Scholarship Program (PFS) is merit-based, and open to high school seniors looking to attend school in their home state of South Carolina. The award can be for up to $6,700 for freshman year, and $7,500 for the remaining years of school. To be eligible, you must have a clean criminal record and not have been awarded any other South Carolina scholarships that year. The deadline is Dec. 15.
SC Hope Scholarship
SC Hope Scholarship is a one-year merit scholarship for college freshmen attending South Carolina schools, who have a B average but did not qualify for the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship. To compete, you’ll need a clean criminal record, good grades, and be a citizen or legal resident of the United States. There is no application needed. The college determines eligibility based upon your high school transcript.
The Legislative Incentive for Future Excellence, or LIFE Scholarship, is administered by the financial aid office at colleges in South Carolina. It can reach the full cost of attendance or $5,000 for public colleges and the full cost of tuition at SC technical institutions within the state. To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and be a legal resident of South Carolina, with a clean record and a ranking in the top 30% of your graduating class, with corresponding SAT/ACT scores and grades. The college will determine your eligibility based on your college application and transcripts.
Horatio Alger South Carolina Scholarship
The Horatio Alger South Carolina Scholarship is available to high school seniors who have unmet financial aid, are attending a South Carolina school, and have a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Students can receive $2,000 per year for up to five years as an undergraduate. The deadline is Oct. 25.
Chris Ebbers Scholarship
The Chris Ebbers Scholarship provides $500 to sophomores and graduate students who are residents of South Carolina and attending a South Carolina school. They must also be pursuing a career in occupational therapy. The deadline for application is Oct. 31.
South Carolina Grants for College
Grants are like scholarships in that they don’t have to be paid back. In most cases, however, grants are offered on the basis of financial need instead of academic merit.
There is only one state-based grant in South Carolina — the SC Need-Based Grant Program. Geared toward helping needy students attend college, the grant gives up to $2,500 each year to an individual student if they are enrolled full-time in a degree program at an eligible South Carolina school.
Application for the program is conducted through the FAFSA, and it is awarded by the school itself as part of a financial aid package.
Author: Jeff Gitlen