Earning a college degree offers clear benefits, namely greater employability and a higher average income. Choosing the right college, however, can be a difficult process. By studying online, you can save money on housing and, if studying at a school out-of-state, even save on tuition. This page can help you find the best online colleges in South Carolina.
Higher Learning Initiatives in South Carolina
Strategic Plan for Higher Education in South Carolina
In 2001, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education decided to revise the strategic plan for higher education in South Carolina. Through a series of community meetings, the Commission developed a plan that would address the needs of public and private higher education institutions in the state. The plan focused on a number of strategic goals: expanding educational opportunities for South Carolina citizens, meeting the changing statewide workforce needs, positioning students to compete in a global economy, and creating a generation of public and private sector leaders. In order to do this, the Commission looked to “promote development of distance education courses and programs to reach students who may not have access to traditional educational programs.”
Increase Cooperation and Collaboration for Efficiency and Quality
One of the points the Commission addresses in their research is the effectiveness of collaborating with K-12 schools in preparing students for the college education experience. The Commission places particular emphasis on addressing the needs of “traditionally under-served populations including first generation college students, minorities, students from low-income families, and adult learners.” In the hopes of increasing traditionally under-served student enrollment, the Commission works with K-12 schools to develop programs and policies that encourage students to progress from two-year colleges or online colleges to four-year universities. In order to do this, the Commission develops distance education courses and schools that appeal to students who may not have the ability to attend traditional brick-and-mortar institutions.
Strategies to Help Evaluate the Quality of Postsecondary Educational Programs and Schools
To uphold the prestige of online schools in South Carolina, the Commission laid out a number of requirements and expectations of online and distance education schools. In particular, the Commission’s outline thoroughly details the differences between diploma mills and accredited online colleges. According to the Commission, “state law requires that the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education license private institutions that operate or solicit in South Carolina. Licensed institutions are required to meet a set of standards and provide accurate and useful information to prospective and current students.” These guidelines will help potential college students understand if the institution they are applying to is a respectable public or private university, college, or online college.
Popular Degree Programs in South Carolina
The best online colleges in South Carolina strive to keep up with changing local, national, and global economies. They introduce new programs and continue to update older offerings to provide students with degrees that are relevant.
- Oceanography: The percentage of South Carolina residents with an oceanography degree is higher than in other states. Not only does the state have access to the Atlantic Ocean, but it has a long history of fishing and other marine careers, and many schools in the state offer marine science programs.
- Business Management and Administration: Business degrees are also very common among South Carolina residents, just like in the rest of the country. Nearly every college and university offers business programs, reflecting the fact that well-paying jobs have been migrating to white-collar industries for the last few decades.
Paying for College in South Carolina
There are many factors to consider when choosing a college, and cost is one of them. Finding a cheap online college in South Carolina can help save you money while earning your degree, not only while you’re enrolled, but also later, when you’re paying back student loans. You might even be able to avoid loans altogether through scholarships, work-study programs, or alternate payment options.
As you can see from the table below, tuition for public colleges and universities in South Carolina is higher than the national average. Since these are averages, there are schools with lower and higher tuition rates, and these numbers do not reflect room and board, textbooks, and other costs.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2017-18
|Public Two Year||Public Four Year|
Source: College Board
Employment Outlook in South Carolina
South Carolina has a lower-than-average unemployment rate, which is good news for graduates who want to work in the state. However, the state’s mean wage is lower than the national average, partly because it offers a lower cost of living than the rest of the country. Of course, these are averages, so there are careers that pay less and careers that pay more, with those requiring a college degree generally offering higher pay, which makes studying and working in South Carolina a better prospect.
Accreditation for Colleges in South Carolina
Accreditation is the process by which colleges and universities are approved to grant degrees. An accredited college has been reviewed by a regional or national board, which has decided that the college maintains the standards needed to provide students with a worthwhile education. A college without accreditation doesn’t meet these standards, and degrees issued by these school are generally not recognized by employers or other universities if you try to transfer credits.
A college or university can be accredited by either a regional or national board. Public colleges are reviewed by regional boards, while private colleges and technical schools are reviewed by national boards. In South Carolina, a public college or university must be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. While researching online college courses in South Carolina, you may also see individual programs or degrees that have been accredited by professional organizations within that field. Known as programmatic accreditation, this shows that the department holds itself to even higher standards.
Scholarships for South Carolina Online College Students
Scholarships can help you pay for online college courses in South Carolina, and unlike student loans, they don’t need to be repaid. However, scholarships are competitive, vary in how much money they award, and are targeted at specific student populations.
- Palmetto Fellows Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Academically talented high school students graduating from South Carolina public or private schools, who will attend a four-year institution in the state may apply.
Amount: Up to $7,500 per year
- LIFE Scholarship
Who Can Apply: South Carolina residents with a high school degree who are attending an eligible South Carolina college for the first time can apply.
Amount: Up to $5,000
- SC HOPE Scholarship
Who Can Apply: South Carolina residents with a high school degree who maintained at least a B average in high school, and have not received a LIFE, Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, or Lottery Tuition Assistance may apply.
Amount: Up to $2,800
- SC Need-Based Grant
Who Can Apply: South Carolina residents with a high school diploma who submitted their FAFSA and can demonstrate financial need may apply; applicants cannot already be repaying student loans.
Amount: Up to $2,500 annually
- SC Lottery Tuition Assistance Program
Who Can Apply: South Carolina residents who are attending a two-year college within the state can apply. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required, but the program is neither need- nor merit-based.
Amount: Up to $1,140
- South Carolina National Guard College Assistance Program
Who Can Apply: Members of the South Carolina Armor or Air National Guard are eligible. The maximum amounts awarded vary by the branch in which the student serves.
Amount: Up to $9,000 per year
- Cancer for College Carolinas Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students who have or will graduate from a high school in either North or South Carolina and who have personally been diagnosed with cancer can apply.
Amount: Up to $5,000
- Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Academically talented South Carolina resident high school students who intend to study wildlife or environmental science related fields at an accredited institution in the state may apply.
Amount: Up to $5,000
- Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship
Who Can Apply: High achieving women attending one of more than 200 institutions in South Carolina or several other southern states and who demonstrate financial need are eligible.
- SCPA Foundations Scholarships and Internships
Who Can Apply: Student journalists who attend a South Carolina college or are state residents attending an out-of-state school can apply. Rising juniors, seniors, and recent graduates are eligible.
Resources for Students in South Carolina
- South Carolina Commission on Higher Education: The CHE is the state government body that oversees colleges and universities in South Carolina. Its website contains a wealth of valuable information for students who are enrolled or considering studying in the state. This includes information on financial aid and scholarships, as well as state standards and guidelines.
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid: Submitting the FAFSA should be one of the first steps you take when applying to colleges. Through FAFSA you can qualify for student loans and other financial aid opportunities from the federal government. States, individual colleges, and some scholarship-granting organizations also use FAFSA to determine if you qualify for additional aid.
- South Carolina State Website: The state’s official website contains a wealth of information about living, working, and studying in South Carolina. Among other things, you can find information on colleges and technical schools, financial aid, how to establish residency, and housing and employment.
- South Carolina Information Highway: SCIWAY’s website contains links to and information about programs, foundations, and other projects related to the state. You can use this as a starting point for connecting to organizations that may help you to better understand topics of study or research during your college experience.
- Open Educational Resources at the University of South Carolina: Public universities work together to improve their communities, which is why the University of South Carolina library offers a variety of online resources that can be accessed by anyone.
Online Schools in South Carolina
- Graduation Rate: 48%
- Average Net Price: $16,422
Citadel Military College of South Carolina
- Graduation Rate: 66%
- Average Net Price: $16,966
Columbia International University
- Graduation Rate: 69%
- Average Net Price: $18,356
- Graduation Rate: 44%
- Average Net Price: $19,018
Coastal Carolina University
- Graduation Rate: 47%
- Average Net Price: $15,545
- Graduation Rate: 46%
- Average Net Price: $17,972
Charleston Southern University
- Graduation Rate: 38%
- Average Net Price: $18,178
- Graduation Rate: 40%
- Average Net Price: $14,077
- Graduation Rate: 42%
- Average Net Price: $22,175
- Graduation Rate: 40%
- Average Net Price: $19,434
North Greenville University
- Graduation Rate: 54%
- Average Net Price: $21,101
University of South Carolina-Columbia
- Graduation Rate: 72%
- Average Net Price: $18,083
Spartanburg Methodist College
- Graduation Rate: N/A
- Average Net Price: N/A
Southern Wesleyan University
- Graduation Rate: 56%
- Average Net Price: $16,958
University of South Carolina-Beaufort
- Graduation Rate: 23%
- Average Net Price: $16,633
University of South Carolina-Upstate
- Graduation Rate: 38%
- Average Net Price: $16,067