Why Choose a Public College or University in South Carolina?
To choose the right college, prospective students need to consider every option available to them, including private vs. public colleges and on-campus and online colleges in South Carolina. There are 71 colleges and universities in South Carolina, including 34 public institutions.
Public colleges in South Carolina provide many benefits to students, including lower average tuition rates than private colleges, greater program selection, and more facilities and extracurricular activities. The Academic Common Market allows South Carolina residents to study in other states for in-state tuition rates.
On the flip side, public schools tend to have larger class sizes, possibly leading to less personalized support and one-on-one time with the instructors. However, larger schools tend to boast better research facilities and faculties.
Pros and Cons of Attending a Public College or University in South Carolina
Lower average tuition and room and board rates
More programs and courses available to choose from
More campus diversity and a wider variety of entertainment options
More facilities, extracurricular offerings, and student organizations
More accessible admission requirements
Reciprocity agreements with other states
Larger class sizes and less personalized support from teachers and administrators
Schools may not have the prestige of private schools
Classes may be less specialized and more generic
Scholarships may not be available to students without financial need
Large campuses can feel less community oriented
Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Colleges and Universities in South Carolina
Public schools receive government funding, while private schools rely on student tuition to fund their programs. The primary difference between nonprofit vs. for-profit colleges is how they manage the incoming tuition money. Nonprofit colleges have to reinvest that money into the school, whereas for-profit colleges can use that money to pay out investors and other stakeholders.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), South Carolina has 36 for-profit colleges. Among the pros and cons of for-profit colleges, prospective students typically benefit from career-focused training. The main drawbacks of for-profit colleges include lower six-year graduation rates and higher rates of graduate loan debt than in nonprofit schools.
How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Public College or University in South Carolina?
Prospective students should pay attention to the differences between in-state vs. out-of-state tuition. The average tuition rate at public colleges and universities in South Carolina was $12,500 in 2019-20 for in-state students, according to the NCES. Room and board rates were $6,400 and $3,900, respectively.
The average cost for out-of-state tuition and fees in South Carolina came in at $32,850 for public school students. Meanwhile, the average private school tuition rates and fees were $36,240 in 2019-20. Each of these South Carolina rates exceeded the national average out-of-state tuition rate of $27,020.
One of the misconceptions about paying for college is that public colleges always cost less than private schools. While the least expensive public institutions in South Carolina, like Williamsburg Technical College and Florence-Darlington Technical College, offer tuition rates below $5,000 a year, Clemson University’s tuition rates exceed $15,000.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Public Colleges and Universities in South Carolina
How many public colleges and universities are there in South Carolina?
In total, there are 96 institutions of higher education in South Carolina, according to the NCES. There are 34 public institutions, which includes 14 public 4-year colleges and 20 public 2-year colleges.
Of the 62 private colleges, 26 are nonprofit and 36 are for-profit. There are also 33 private 4-year colleges, eight 2-year schools, and 24 schools that run programs shorter than two years.
What is the most expensive public college or university in South Carolina?
The most expensive public institution in South Carolina is likely Clemson University. With a tuition rate above $15,000, this school costs more than most other public schools in the state. According to the NCES, however, tuition here is still considerably lower than the state’s average private school tuition of $26,270.
In general, college is expensive in South Carolina. The average tuition rate of $12,497 exceeds the national average tuition of $9,349, as per the NCES. Prospective students should look into their financial aid options to help manage the costs.
What is the least expensive public college or university in South Carolina?
The least expensive public colleges and universities in South Carolina are Williamsburg Technical College and Florence-Darlington Technical College. The tuition rates at these schools come in below $5,000 per year. At Williamsburg Technical College, full-time students may even pay less than $3,000 per year.
Thanks to the Academic Common Market, South Carolina students can find affordable out-of-state schools as well. This multistate agreement permits South Carolina learners to access in-state tuition rates at many colleges within participating states.
What is the biggest public college or university in South Carolina?
The biggest public institution in South Carolina is the University of South Carolina-Columbia, which enrolls more than 35,000 students. Clemson University is the second-largest school, enrolling more than 27,000 students.
While big public schools may have larger class sizes, they also have their benefits. For example, they may offer more class and program options, facilities, extracurricular activities, and student organizations. These large schools also tend to have superior research facilities and faculties.
Is a public college or university right for me?
Public colleges and universities have many strengths and benefits that students find appealing, but every individual needs to decide on a school that aligns with their needs and goals. Public schools typically feature lower tuition rates and a greater selection of programs and courses.
Public schools also tend to have more extensive facilities, more diverse campuses, and a larger variety of student services. Students may feel less connected in big public schools, however. They may want a more personal and intimate school experience that smaller private schools can offer.