USC covering tuition, fees for talented students across the state


The University of South Carolina announced Friday (Oct. 13) the USC Commitment, a new affordability initiative to cover tuition and academic fees on all system campuses for in-state students graduating in the top 10 percent of their high school class and whose family’s annual household income is below $80,000.

The USC Commitment initiative, which will begin with the fall 2024 freshman class, follows an admissions plan unveiled in August offering guaranteed systemwide admission to South Carolina high school students who are ranked in the top 10 percent of their class for USC Columbia and in the top 20 percent for all other USC campuses.

“Across South Carolina, we know there are bright, hard-working students who deserve the opportunity to earn their college degree but who do not have the financial resources to make this happen. We want them to know the doors are open for them at USC,” President Michael Amiridis said. “Together with our plan to admit the state’s top high school graduates, the USC Commitment ensures that a USC degree is within reach for all students who demonstrate merit and financial need.”

The plan announced Friday will cover four years’ worth of tuition and academic fees. In fall 2023, in-state tuition on the Columbia campus totaled $12,688 and the average of academic fees across all programs totaled $1,572.

Eligible students must meet the following criteria:

South Carolina residents who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class

Students whose annual family income is below $80,000

Students who have completed a Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Students must continue to meet academic eligibility requirements

The program is made possible by combining state and federal gift aid, private donor and other external scholarships, and part of the recent funding provided from the Governor and members of General Assembly for tuition mitigation.

The USC system has held tuition steady for six consecutive years for South Carolina residents. USC, in partnership with the state, also has increased both the number of students receiving need-based aid and the average award. During the last three years, USC Columbia has doubled the number of students receiving state need-based aid from 2,000 to 4,100. USC Columbia has increased its average need-based aid award by more than 50 percent over the last three years, from $2,000 to $3,300 per student.

“We have made access and affordability for South Carolina students a priority and will continue to look for innovative ways to make earning a degree attainable for more South Carolinians across the USC system,” said Board Chairman Thad Westbrook.

Additional details about the program will be available on USC’s financial aid website.

What USC system chancellors say about the USC Commitment program:

"At USC Aiken, we recognize the immense potential of high-achieving students across our state and the importance of an affordable and accessible education in helping them capitalize on that potential. With this new system initiative, we are committed to ensuring that financial constraints do not stand in the way of academic and professional excellence. This is not only core to our mission, but also underscores our work to enhance the social and economic wellbeing of our graduates and the South Carolina communities where they’ve made their homes.”

— USC Beaufort Chancellor Al Panu

“The regional Palmetto College Campuses at USC Lancaster, USC Salkehatchie, USC Sumter, USC Union, and USC Palmetto College - Columbia are extremely pleased to participate in this new USC System initiative to bring a more affordable degree opportunity to students in the Top 10 percent of their high school classes across the state. The mission of our Palmetto College campuses is to provide accessible, affordable and flexible USC degrees in areas of South Carolina that are often underserved and underrepresented in higher education. Providing free tuition and fees to these academically talented students in the regions we serve will certainly lead to greater educational and workforce opportunities for the students and their families and have a positive economic impact on the communities that we serve across the Palmetto State.”