2022 Top Public Colleges and Universities in South Carolina

Public colleges and universities are often the most affordable option for students pursuing higher education, but it’s not just affordability that makes these institutions attractive. Public colleges and universities also rank highly among the best institutions in many states, South Carolina included.

Public colleges and universities receive state and federal funding. Although they generally have larger class sizes than private institutions, they also tend to offer a wide variety of academic programs, diverse student bodies, and prestigious research opportunities.

2022 Best Public Colleges and Universities in South Carolina

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Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

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Showing 30 schools

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    Avg Tuition per YearTuition is the price you pay to attend classes. Tuition varies by school, and does not include costs associated with room and board, books, school supplies, meal plans, or transportation.

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    #1

    Clemson University

    Clemson, SC

    Graduation Rate

    85%

    Enrollment

    26,406

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $14118

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $37110

    From its Clemson, South Carolina campus, Clemson University enrolls students in 305 programs. The institution's rigorous programs rank among the best in the nation. According to the school, the student-to-faculty ratio stands at 16-to-1. A total of 89% of students receive some form of financial aid. The public institution reports a graduation rate of 85%. Experiential learning opportunities help graduates on the job market. The school incorporates internships, research opportunities, and service learning. The school reports an 62% admission rate. Some programs waive the test score requirement for qualified applicants.

    #2

    University of South Carolina-Columbia

    Columbia, SC

    Graduation Rate

    78%

    Enrollment

    35,470

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $12288

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $33528

    University of South Carolina-Columbia, located in Columbia, South Carolina, operates as a public institution. Learners study with experts in many different fields. The college offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. Enrollees at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution reports that 94% of students receive financial aid and 44% take out loans. The public institution reports a 78% graduation rate. Prospective enrollees can expect an 68% admission rate. Applicants can reach out to the admission department to learn more about enrolling. University of South Carolina-Columbia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #3

    Citadel Military College of South Carolina

    Charleston, SC

    Graduation Rate

    71%

    Enrollment

    3,740

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $75

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $75

    Located in Charleston, South Carolina, Citadel Military College of South Carolina operates as a public institution. Learners take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The college offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. Data on the school's average cost per credit is unavailable. At the accredited institution, learners qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. According to the institution, 88% of students receive aid and 45% receive loans. Students earn their bachelor's degree from the school at a rate of 71%. The admission rate is 80%. The admissions office provides more information about application requirements and start dates. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #4

    Medical University of South Carolina

    Charleston, SC

    Graduation Rate

    Not Provided

    Enrollment

    3,083

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $15622

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $24508

    Medical University of South Carolina, located in Charleston, South Carolina, offers 61 programs for degree-seekers. The institution's programs offer a rigorous course of study. The school reports a 6-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The amount of aid students receive on average is not currently known. The graduation rate is unavailable at this time. The institution understands that hands-on experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. Degree-seekers participate in internships, research projects, and other forms of experiential learning. We do not currently have data on the school's admission rate. Some programs offer a waiver for standardized test scores.

    #5

    Lander University

    Greenwood, SC

    Graduation Rate

    49%

    Enrollment

    3,513

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $10700

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $20300

    A public institution located in Greenwood, South Carolina, Lander University enrolls students in several programs. The school's accredited programs prepare learners for the workforce. Learners benefit from the school's academic rigor and affordable tuition rate. The school's programs appear in national rankings. The school's cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Enrollees receive an average aid award of $8936, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $15541. Learners choose from academic and technical programs. Students complete fundamentals courses, technical classes, and general education requirements depending on their program. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #6

    College of Charleston

    Charleston, SC

    Graduation Rate

    66%

    Enrollment

    10,384

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $12518

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $32848

    A public institution located in Charleston, South Carolina, College of Charleston offers multiple programs. Students leave the school with experience and credentials that prepare them for the workforce. Degree-seekers benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. The school offers nationally ranked programs in diverse fields. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Students receive an average aid award of $9193, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $20351. Learners choose from academic and technical programs. The school offers foundational courses, technical classes, and general education courses in multiple majors. College of Charleston has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #7

    University of South Carolina-Upstate

    Spartanburg, SC

    Graduation Rate

    47%

    Enrollment

    6,038

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $11208

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $22710

    Located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, University of South Carolina-Upstate educates students as a public institution. The college offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. The institution's degree and certificate programs offer coursework that prepares students for advancement in their field. Applicants may qualify for test-optional admissions. The waiver makes it simpler to apply. Enrollees receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. The cost per credit is unknown. Learners at the accredited school qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #8

    University of South Carolina Aiken

    Aiken, SC

    Graduation Rate

    41%

    Enrollment

    3,944

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $10398

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $20856

    University of South Carolina Aiken, which operates a campus in Aiken, South Carolina, often ranks as a top school. Students study with experts in many different fields. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help students reach a variety of career goals. Completing a program can take anywhere from a few months to seven years depending on degree or certificate type and whether the student chooses part-time or full-time enrollment. Some programs may let applicants apply without submitting test scores. A test score waiver makes it easier to apply. The admissions department can help applicants determine the next steps. Financial aid provides options for degree-seekers to pay for their education. University of South Carolina Aiken is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #9

    Winthrop University

    Rock Hill, SC

    Graduation Rate

    61%

    Enrollment

    5,576

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $15306

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $29636

    Located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Winthrop University often ranks among the best schools. Instructors bring expertise in their fields. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help learners reach a variety of career goals. Check the program website for specifics on the degree- or certificate-completion timeline. Some programs offer a waiver for standardized test scores. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to enroll. The admissions department provides additional resources on submitting an application. At the accredited institution, students also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. Winthrop University has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #10

    Aiken Technical College

    Graniteville, SC

    Graduation Rate

    26%

    Enrollment

    1,925

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4896

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $6408

    A public institution, Aiken Technical College grants degrees and certificates from its campus in Graniteville, South Carolina. Students learn from experts in multiple disciplines. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The school's cost per credit is unknown. Enrollees at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution reports that 99% of learners receive financial aid, while 18% take out loans. Learners graduate from the school at a rate of 26%. The school's admission rate is unavailable. Contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements. Aiken Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #11

    Francis Marion University

    Florence, SC

    Graduation Rate

    44%

    Enrollment

    4,148

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $10384

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $20768

    Francis Marion University enrolls students on its Florence, South Carolina campus as a public institution. Experts in diverse disciplines teach at the institution. The school's academic and technical programs prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The amount students pay per credit on average is currently unknown. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution reports that 99% of students receive aid, and 53% receive loans. The public institution reports a 44% graduation rate. The admission rate is 75% for hopeful students. Prospective applicants can contact the admissions office for more information about applying. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #12

    Spartanburg Community College

    Spartanburg, SC

    Graduation Rate

    28%

    Enrollment

    4,108

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5880

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9672

    From its campus in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Spartanburg Community College grants degrees and certificates as a top school. Students learn from experts in multiple disciplines. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help students reach a variety of career goals. Academic programs generally take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete depending on degree or certificate type. Some programs may let applicants apply without submitting test scores. A test score waiver makes it easier to apply. Admission advisors can provide more information on the application process. Degree-seekers also use financial aid to cover their educational costs. Spartanburg Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #13

    Coastal Carolina University

    Conway, SC

    Graduation Rate

    46%

    Enrollment

    10,118

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $11460

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $27214

    A public institution located in Conway, South Carolina, Coastal Carolina University offers a variety of programs. Enrollees earn an accredited degree that prepares them for the workforce. The institution offers affordable programs that do not sacrifice academic rigor. Students can enroll in nationally ranked programs. The cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution reports that students receive an average aid award of $ 9545, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $ 14716. Learners choose from academic and technical programs. Depending on their program, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Coastal Carolina University has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #14

    Greenville Technical College

    Greenville, SC

    Graduation Rate

    12%

    Enrollment

    10,536

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4824

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9048

    Greenville Technical College, located in Greenville, South Carolina, enrolls students in 107 programs. Students choose from rigorous, top-ranked programs at the school. The school provides a student-to-faculty ratio of 14-to-1. The institution reports that of its total enrollees, 95% receive financial aid. The school reports a graduation rate of 12%. Real-world experience helps candidates stand out on the job market. We do not currently have data on the school's admission rate. Some students qualify for test-optional admissions. Applicants can reach out to the admission department to learn more about enrolling.

    #15

    Tri-County Technical College

    Pendleton, SC

    Graduation Rate

    32%

    Enrollment

    5,582

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5600

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10016

    A public institution located in Pendleton, South Carolina, Tri-County Technical College educates students through multiple programs. The school offers accredited programs that prepare learners for the workforce. Learners benefit from the school's academic rigor and affordable tuition rate. Multiple programs at the school appear in national rankings. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Students attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Students receive $7342 in aid on average, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $8603. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the institution. The school offers foundational courses, technical classes, and general education courses in multiple majors. Tri-County Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #16

    Trident Technical College

    Charleston, SC

    Graduation Rate

    18%

    Enrollment

    11,650

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5024

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8571

    Trident Technical College, located in Charleston, South Carolina, welcomes students with 101 program options. Students enjoy rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. The school boasts a 20-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The school reports that 94% of students take advantage of financial aid. Learners graduate from the school at a rate of 18%. Experiential learning opportunities help graduates on the job market. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Some programs no longer require test scores for admission. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates.

    #17

    Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College

    Orangeburg, SC

    Graduation Rate

    23%

    Enrollment

    2,257

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5544

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7320

    Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College, which is often listed among the best schools, operates from its main campus in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Instructors draw on their expertise in diverse fields. With academic and technical tracks, the school's programs help students meet their professional goals. Typical time for program completion ranges from a few months to seven years depending on the type of degree or certificate offered. Some programs provide a test-optional admission option. Applicants may find it easier to enroll without a test score requirement. The admissions staff can provide more information on the process. Degree-seekers also use financial aid to cover their educational costs. Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #18

    Central Carolina Technical College

    Sumter, SC

    Graduation Rate

    18%

    Enrollment

    2,885

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $6354

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8776

    Central Carolina Technical College, located in Sumter, South Carolina, offers 56 programs for students. Learners benefit from rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. According to the school, the student-to-faculty ratio stands at 14-to-1. The school reports that 95% of students take advantage of financial aid. The school reports a graduation rate of 18%. Experiential learning opportunities help graduates on the job market. The institution's admission rate is currently unknown. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates.

    #19

    York Technical College

    Rock Hill, SC

    Graduation Rate

    25%

    Enrollment

    4,178

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4776

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9720

    Located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, York Technical College awards degrees and certificates as a public institution. Enrollees take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The college offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce. The amount students pay per credit on average is currently unknown. Enrollees at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution reports that 93% of students receive financial aid and 21% take out loans. The public institution reports a 25% graduation rate. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. The admission department can provide more information about application requirements and start dates. York Technical College holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #20

    Northeastern Technical College

    Cheraw, SC

    Graduation Rate

    27%

    Enrollment

    1,465

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4460

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7222

    Located in Cheraw, South Carolina, Northeastern Technical College educates students as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the college helps learners reach their educational goals. Students strengthen their knowledge of the field by completing coursework. Applicants may qualify for a test score waiver. Applicants may find it easier to enroll without a test score requirement. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. Data on the school's average cost per credit is currently unavailable. Learners at the accredited school qualify for federal student aid programs. Northeastern Technical College has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #21

    Horry-Georgetown Technical College

    Conway, SC

    Graduation Rate

    24%

    Enrollment

    6,409

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5088

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8352

    Horry-Georgetown Technical College, a public organization located in Conway, South Carolina, offers multiple programs. Students leave the school with credentials that prepare them for the workplace. The institution's affordable programs provide a rigorous course of study. Several of the school's programs appear in national rankings. Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. The school reports that students receive an average aid award of $7487, making the average tuition cost after aid $4753. Learners at the institution choose from academic and technical programs. Depending on their major, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Horry-Georgetown Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #22

    Florence-Darlington Technical College

    Florence, SC

    Graduation Rate

    17%

    Enrollment

    3,315

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4870

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $6742

    Located in Florence, South Carolina, Florence-Darlington Technical College enrolls students as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their educational goals. Students prepare for a successful career by completing degree- or certificate-specific coursework. Some programs offer a waiver for standardized test scores. A waiver makes it easier to enroll. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit on average is currently unknown. Learners at this accredited school also qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Florence-Darlington Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #23

    Technical College of the Lowcountry

    Beaufort, SC

    Graduation Rate

    11%

    Enrollment

    2,119

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5400

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10680

    Technical College of the Lowcountry, a public institution in Beaufort, South Carolina, enrolls learners in multiple programs. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their professional goals. The institution's degree and certificate programs offer coursework that prepares students for advancement in their field. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit test scores. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to enroll. Learners benefit from support services like tutoring and career counseling. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Learners at this accredited school also qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Technical College of the Lowcountry holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #24

    University of South Carolina Beaufort

    Bluffton, SC

    Graduation Rate

    34%

    Enrollment

    2,006

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $10344

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $21390

    University of South Carolina Beaufort, located in Bluffton, South Carolina, enrolls students as a public institution. Enrollees study with experts in many different fields. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for a successful career. Data on the school's average cost per credit is currently unavailable. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution reports that 95% of students receive aid, and 61% receive loans. Degree-seekers graduate from the school at a rate of 34%. The admission rate is 67% for incoming students. Prospective students can contact an admission advisor to learn more about applying. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #25

    Williamsburg Technical College

    Kingstree, SC

    Graduation Rate

    16%

    Enrollment

    635

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4608

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8400

    From its campus in Kingstree, South Carolina, Williamsburg Technical College enrolls students in programs as a public institution. The school offers programs that prepare learners for the workforce. Degree-seekers benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Multiple programs at the school appear in national rankings. The cost per credit is unknown. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Students receive an average aid award of $6192, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $7700. Learners choose from academic and technical majors at the school. Depending on their major, learners complete fundamentals courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #26

    Piedmont Technical College

    Greenwood, SC

    Graduation Rate

    24%

    Enrollment

    4,712

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5070

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $6348

    Piedmont Technical College, a public organization located in Greenwood, South Carolina, offers multiple programs. The school's accredited programs prepare learners for the workforce. The institution's affordable programs provide a rigorous course of study. Multiple programs at the school appear in national rankings. The amount students pay per credit on average is currently unknown. Students attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Enrollees receive an average aid award of $7771, making the average tuition cost after aid $11626. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. Depending on their major, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Piedmont Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #27

    Midlands Technical College

    West Columbia, SC

    Graduation Rate

    12%

    Enrollment

    8,794

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5640

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $13536

    Located in West Columbia, South Carolina, Midlands Technical College grants college degrees as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their professional goals. The institution's degree and certificate programs offer coursework that prepares students for advancement in their field. Some programs may offer test-optional admission policies. Test-optional policies make it easier to apply. Learners benefit from support services, which include tutoring and career counseling. Data on the school's average cost per credit is currently unavailable. Learners attending the accredited school also qualify for federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Midlands Technical College has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #28

    University of South Carolina-Sumter

    Sumter, SC

    Graduation Rate

    30%

    Enrollment

    1,387

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7158

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $17838

    From its campus in Sumter, South Carolina, University of South Carolina-Sumter offers academic programs as a public institution. The school offers programs that prepare learners for the workforce. The institution offers academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. The school offers nationally ranked programs in diverse fields. The school's cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The school reports that students receive an average aid award of $7257, making the average tuition cost after aid $9949. The school offers both academic and technical programs. Depending on their major, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. University of South Carolina-Sumter holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #29

    South Carolina State University

    Orangeburg, SC

    Graduation Rate

    30%

    Enrollment

    2,339

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $9528

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $20218

    Located in Orangeburg, South Carolina, South Carolina State University educates college students as a public institution. The school offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. During a bachelor's degree, undergraduates take lower-division and upper-division coursework. Students also take general education coursework during their bachelor's degree. Upper-division courses emphasize advanced concepts in the major. Learners receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. Learners at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. South Carolina State University has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #30

    University of South Carolina-Lancaster

    Lancaster, SC

    Graduation Rate

    22%

    Enrollment

    1,810

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7158

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $17838

    University of South Carolina-Lancaster, located in Lancaster, South Carolina, operates as a public institution. Learners study with experts in many different fields. Students who complete a technical or academic program may enter the workforce. The cost per credit is unknown. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution reports that 97% of learners receive financial aid, while 19% take out loans. The school reports a 22% graduation rate. The admission rate is 75%. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates. University of South Carolina-Lancaster holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    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

    Pros

    • Check Circle
      Lower average tuition and room and board rates
    • Check Circle
      More programs and courses available to choose from
    • Check Circle
      More campus diversity and a wider variety of entertainment options
    • Check Circle
      More facilities, extracurricular offerings, and student organizations
    • Check Circle
      More accessible admission requirements
    • Check Circle
      Reciprocity agreements with other states

    Cons

    • X Circle
      Larger class sizes and less personalized support from teachers and administrators
    • X Circle
      Schools may not have the prestige of private schools
    • X Circle
      Classes may be less specialized and more generic
    • X Circle
      Scholarships may not be available to students without financial need
    • X Circle
      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.