Best Community Colleges in South Carolina
South Carolina is a great place for students to attend community college and prepare for careers in high-growth industries like biotech and aerospace.
South Carolina is a place filled with charm, natural beauty, and plenty of activities to keep its residents busy. Students who attend community college in South Carolina also have abundant opportunities to get a quality education and prepare for jobs in high-demand fields. The state houses almost 60 higher education institutions, including:
- 10 comprehensive teaching institutions
- 3 research universities
- 4 two-year regional campuses for the University of South Carolina
- 16 technical and community colleges
- 25 private institutions
The state's mild climate and strong workforce also attract many companies. For example, South Carolina is home to company headquarters for major automotive industry companies, including Michelin and the Schaeffler Group. The state also houses thriving industries in aerospace, clean energy, biotechnology, and logistics.
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Why Study in South Carolina?
South Carolina houses dozens of educational institutions, including public and private four-year institutions and a thriving network of technical and community colleges. There are more than 160,000 students enrolled in community colleges throughout the state.
Technical and community colleges participate in the readySC program, which trains students for specific jobs based on the needs of local employers. These partnerships mean that students who attend community college in South Carolina get job-related training, which can help them find work after graduation.
U.S. News & World Report ranks South Carolina's economy 18th in the nation overall. The state ranks 19th for employment, 11th for growth, and 28th overall for the business environment.
More than 1,200 international companies operate in the state, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce. The state also partners with companies to train students in its technical college system to prepare them for in-demand jobs.
Cost of Living
South Carolina may be an attractive place for college students because its cost of living is lower than the national average. Both housing and transportation rank lower than average when compared to the rest of the U.S. Total housing costs depend on the place a person lives, but the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in South Carolina — as of 2021 — was $852, which was about $200 less than the national average. However, healthcare and utility costs may be relatively high.
Cultural and Community Offerings
South Carolina houses nine cultural districts spread throughout the state. Each is home to galleries, music venues, museums, and public art, along with many restaurants and public spaces.
The Lowcountry (the eastern part of the state) boasts delicious Southern food, including barbecue, grits, oysters, and crab. The area also includes many museums and small towns to explore.
South Carolina is centrally located along the southeastern coast. The weather in South Carolina depends on the region. The Lowcountry is flat, making way to the coastline where temperatures are mild most of the year. The Blue Ridge Mountains are upstate to the west, where temperatures can get colder in the winter and hot and humid in the summer. Summer temperatures can top 90 degrees, and in the winter it can get below freezing at night.
Top Degree Programs in South Carolina
Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
South Carolina Employment Outlook
U.S. News & World Report ranks South Carolina in the top half of states for business environment and potential economic growth. As of October 2021, the state had a population of about 5.1 million people, with 2.4 million in the labor force. Additionally, according to U.S. Census estimates from July 2021, the median household income in South Carolina was $53,199. The state has worked hard to attract companies in several high-growth industries, including:
- Automotive manufacturing and innovation
- Aerospace and aviation
- Advanced manufacturing in biopharmaceuticals, medicine, and aerospace parts
- Clean energy, including wind and solar
- Logistics for major companies like Target, Walgreens, and Walmart
3 Jobs in Demand South Carolina
Industrial Engineering Technicians
Similar to electrical engineering technologists, these professionals work with industrial engineers to solve common manufacturing layout and production issues. Manufacturing is among the largest industries in South Carolina, and the readySC program at local technical colleges can provide the necessary training to succeed in these positions.
Computer Network Support Specialists
Computer network support specialists help companies manage their information technology (IT) infrastructures. Virtually every industry needs IT support specialists. Most computer specialist positions require at least an associate degree to get started, which students can earn at a community college in South Carolina.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technicians assist healthcare providers in conducting diagnostic exams. They provide patient instructions and prepare patients for tests in MRI machines. South Carolina requires radiology technicians to hold an associate degree and pass a certification exam.
Popular Career Paths in South Carolina
Best Accredited Community Colleges in South Carolina
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Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in South Carolina
Are community colleges worth it?
Community colleges and technical colleges in South Carolina are a great way to get an education that can prepare students for lucrative and in-demand jobs. Community colleges prepare students for these positions by helping learners develop relevant skills and knowledge.
Associate degree-holders can also go on to pursue a bachelor's degree. Attending a community college is an affordable way to complete the general education classes required by a bachelor's program.
Online community college programs provide the same level of education as on-campus programs, but with added flexibility, allowing students to continue working or taking care of other responsibilities while getting a degree.
Does South Carolina have good community colleges?
South Carolina houses several technical and community colleges spread throughout the state. The network of public, two-year programs partners closely with the state's four-year colleges to help students get the education they need to pursue a bachelor's degree or get a job in a high-demand field.
South Carolina's Department of Commerce also operates a statewide program called readySC. State officials connect businesses with community and technical colleges to develop curricula that prepare students for jobs at local companies. Since it started in 1961, the program has trained more than 300,000 people in South Carolina.
How much does it cost to go to community college in South Carolina?
Some of the best community colleges in South Carolina announced they would offer free tuition to qualifying students in an effort to help students enroll even after the financial challenges imposed by the pandemic. Spartanburg Community College was the first to announce the free tuition option and hopes to continue offering it to some students beyond the 2021-2022 school year.
Other schools, including Clinton College and Central Carolina Community College, also announced free tuition programs for qualifying students in 2021-2022. These programs may continue in future years. In November 2021, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster said he would like to use $17 million in leftover relief money from COVID-19 grants to offer free technical college degrees to students.
In-state students who don't qualify for free tuition typically pay around $6,000 in tuition per year to attend community college in South Carolina. Out-of-state students can expect to pay about twice as much. Those costs don't include additional fees like room and board.
What is the cheapest community college in South Carolina?
Some residents of South Carolina can qualify for tuition-free college. However, students who do not qualify for a free tuition program can enroll at schools -- including Spartanburg Community College and Aiken Technical College -- where tuition is less than $200 per credit.
Additionally, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education provides resources to help students understand student loan options and find grants and scholarships to fund their education.
Is South Carolina a good place to live and study?
South Carolina is a great place to pursue a degree and a beautiful place to live. The state offers lots to do and contains ample natural beauty, including coastlines, beaches, and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
South Carolina also ranks high in terms of its business environment and growth. Students who graduate with a degree from a South Carolina community college can pursue job opportunities in a variety of high-growth industries with some of the world's leading companies.
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