With 72 colleges and universities in South Carolina serving 168,412 full time students, there are a range of recognized state and private campuses, as well as many prestigious and accredited online programs.
Although South Carolina’s higher education profile has endured some struggles, setbacks, and low-rankers in recent years, the state has many excellent resources championing for affordable, attainable, and high-quality higher education for its residents.
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South Carolina’s Online Education Profile
In South Carolina, 22.1% of students are enrolled in distance courses, which falls just below the national average of 25.8%.
Many of South Carolina’s most prestigious and popular universities and colleges offer online programs, including the University of South Carolina and Clemson University. In fact, Clemson’s online graduate education program was ranked No.10 in the country by U.S. News & World Report in its recent rankings.
Overview of South Carolina’s Higher Education Profile
|Number/Percentage||South Carolina||National Average|
|Number of Title IV 4-year colleges||46||56|
|Number of Title IV 2-year colleges||29||33|
|Percentage of students enrolled in distance education||22.1%||25.8%|
|Postsecondary education spending per full-time student||$4,836||$6,954|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree||8.9%||8.1%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree||16.5%||18.5%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher||9.3%||11.2%|
Average Cost of College Tuition & Fees in South Carolina
|Number/Percentage||South Carolina||National Average|
|Average in-state tuition & fees – public 4-year||$11,791||$8,778|
|Average in-state tuition & fees – private 4-year||$23,167||$27,951|
|Average in-state tuition & fees – public 2-year||$4,219||$3,038|
|Average in-state tuition & fees – private 2-year||$13,799||$3,038|
Best Online Colleges in South Carolina
Choosing the right college is important. Particularly if you’ll be attending online classes in SC, you will want to ensure that you select a recognized college that will put you on the path to employment.
It’s crucial to do your due diligence by selecting one of many online degrees is SC that is accredited nationally, within the state, and within your field, if required.
As you start to dig in, take a look through our list of the best online colleges in SC.
South Carolina’s Higher Education Outlook
While South Carolina has plenty of renowned colleges and universities, the state doesn’t have the best reputation when it’s measured against the education outlook in other states.
In the 2016 National Report Card conducted by Education Week, South Carolina finishes 37th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with with an overall score of 70.6 out of 100 points and a grade of C-minus. In the area of adult outcomes, based on postsecondary educational attainment and workforce indicators, the state earned a C-minus and ranks 40th in the nation.
In another study conducted by U.S. News & World Report, South Carolina ranked last in education. Although the report found South Carolina to have a high four-year college graduation rate, it also reports that the state struggles to measure up when it comes to low reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exams, high tuition and fees at public colleges, and low two-year college graduation rates.
Higher Education Initiatives in South Carolina
In addition to recent struggles in education, President Trump’s reported $1.15 trillion budget blueprint set to slash funding from the Department of Education has South Carolina educators worried, as Trump’s blueprint would stand to eliminate funding for teacher and principal preparation and recruitment in South Carolina. However, state Legislature has been making attempts to chip away at the education problem in South Carolina for some time. In fact, in 2015, the Legislature fired and replaced the entire board at South Carolina State University, due to mounting debt and financial mismanagement, as well as problems stemmed from falling enrollment without corresponding cuts.
Recently, the state has stepped in to save a historically black college in one of South Carolina’s poorest areas, Denmark college, by offering local high school graduates free tuition. Gov. Henry McMaster signed a law that puts the state Technical College System directly in charge of the college until November of 2018.
Although the education outlook has been somewhat tumultuous within South Carolina, there are many organizations that are contributing solutions and valuable resources towards higher education within the state.
Resources for South Carolina
- Southern Regional Education Board: SREB Is the interstate commission in which South Carolina is a member. The board works with member states to improve public education at every level, and help policymakers make informed decisions by providing independent, accurate data and recommendations.
- South Carolina Humanities: This is a statewide nonprofit council that has been serving South Carolina for more than 40 years, and oversees the state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Council funds, promotes, and coordinates exhibits, documentaries, discussion forums, research, planning, workshops, and lectures that pertain to humanities.
- South Carolina Department of Education – Adult Education: The office of adult education assists adults in becoming literate and obtaining the knowledge and skills necessary for employment and self-sufficiency, as well as completing a secondary-school education.
- South Carolina’s Technical College System: Comprised of 16 colleges located strategically across the state and two internationally-renowned statewide programs: readySC™ and Apprenticeship Carolina™, the SC Technical College System is dedicated to furthering economic and workforce development in South Carolina. By making a high-quality higher education accessible, affordable, and relevant to the people of South Carolina, the SC Technical College System is preparing our state’s workforce for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow.
- South Carolina State Library Agency: The South Carolina State Library is responsible for public library development, library service for state institutions, service for the blind and physically handicapped, and library service to state government agencies, serving the people of South Carolina and supporting state government and libraries by providing opportunities for learning in a changing environment.
- South Carolina Tuition Grants Commission: The SC Tuition Grants Program is administered by the SC Higher Education Tuition Grants Commission through an annual appropriation by the State General Assembly. The program’s purpose is to provide need-based grant assistance to eligible South Carolina students obtaining an initial undergraduate degree who are attending a South Carolina campus or online school on a full time basis.
College Savings Plans
A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. All 50 states have at least one of the two types of 529 plans available.
South Carolina’s 529 college savings plan is called Future Scholar, and is available on a direct basis only to those who meet certain criteria, such as being a resident of South Carolina or an employee of the state of South Carolina, at the time of program enrollment.
South Carolina’s 529 has no minimum contribution, and will accept contributions until account balances within the beneficiary’s plan reach $426,000. It also has no income or age limits and can be used towards South Carolina online colleges as well.
The biggest draw is that residents who contribute receive an “unlimited” state income tax deduction – meaning taxpayers can deduct any amount they contribute to a SC 529 plan, as long as they have income to deduct.
Educational Nonprofit Organizations in South Carolina
In South Carolina, several nonprofit organizations exist to improve higher education within the state, with the intent to build and improve communities, improve educational standards, and help families move towards their higher education goals. These organizations are designed to improve the experiences of students attending colleges on campus or online in SC, through the support of community-enhancing initiatives and funding, either based on need or on merit.
Here are a few of South Carolina’s nonprofit organizations:
- The South Carolina Higher Education Foundation: A nonprofit organization that champions for higher education and the development and support of programs that benefit higher education statewide. This organization frequently partners with the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education.
- IT-ology: A Columbia-based nonprofit collaboration of businesses, academic institutions, and organizations, educating and connecting those who are seeking a career in IT, focusing on higher education programs and professional and career development workshops and conferences.
- South Carolina Association for Education Technology: SCAET is a nonprofit association with a purpose to promote the innovative, intelligent, and responsible use of technology in education. The Association’s goals are realized through the hosting of several programs and projects, including its annual educational technology conference, SC EdTech.
Accrediting Bodies in South Carolina
It’s important to attend an accredited college or university in order to ensure an institution meets or exceeds the minimum standards of quality. Accrediting bodies exist both nationally and regionally, and help to determine criteria for important for universities to meet, as well as ensure all those deemed as accredited are meeting such criteria.
For students, seeking an accredited institution will help to ensure that you enroll at a school that will provide a quality education and prepare you properly for your career field. It’s particularly valuable to research accredited programs when you’re looking at online schools in SC, as both lesser-known programs and renowned institutions alike can offer online courses.
There are several recognized accrediting bodies within brick and mortar and online schools in SC – some that accredit nationally, and some that accredited regionally.
Regionally accredited institutions can be academics- or career-oriented, non-profit or for-profit state-owned or private institutions.
Nationally accredited schools can also be academics- or career-oriented for-profit or non -profit institutions of higher learning with programs in business, health science, nursing, computer science, or liberal arts. Both regional and national accreditations are recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDoE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges: SACSCOC is a regional body for the accreditation of higher education institutions in the southern states. Accreditation by the Commission on Colleges signifies that an institution has a purpose appropriate to higher education and has resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain that purpose. Many online colleges in SC are accredited by this organization.
- Distance Education & Training Council: DETC has a mission to promote sound educational standards and ethical business practices within the correspondence field. Both the U. S. Department of Education and CHEA recognize this accrediting commission, and it has emerged as a leader in global distance learning. If you are looking at online colleges in SC, you’ll want to look for this accreditation.
- The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business: AACSB-International is the premier accrediting agency for business school programs. Less than one-third of U.S. business school programs and less than 5% of programs worldwide hold this accreditation; it is held by Winthrop University in South Carolina for their baccalaureate in business administration and master of business administration degree programs.
Job Outlook for South Carolina
Late 2016 brought reports of job growth in South Carolina; according to research from economists at a recent University of South Carolina Darla Moose School of Business conference, jobs in South Carolina are up an estimated 2.6%.
The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce states in its recent Job Outlook Report from June 2016, that seventy percent (70%) of the growth in occupations in South Carolina between 2014 and 2024 will require up to a high school diploma/GED, and t percent (30%) will require formal training beyond high school.
Education remains incredibly important in future job prospects. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, those with a bachelor’s degree will earn $25,405 more per year than those with less than a high school diploma in South Carolina.
Below, we’ve outlined South Carolina’s top-ranking industries and largest employers in the state.
Top Industries in South Carolina
|Trade, Transportation, & Utilities||Includes wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, and utilities.|
|Government||Includes any jobs within the formal government and public services sector.|
|Professional & Business Services||Includes management of companies and enterprises, those in the professional, scientific, and technical sectors of services, such as: legal advice and representation; accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll services; architectural, engineering, and specialized design services; computer services; consulting services; research services; advertising services; photographic services; translation and interpretation services; veterinary services; and other professional, scientific, and technical services, and administrative and support roles.|
Top Employers in South Carolina
|Top Employers||Number of Employees|
|Government of South Carolina||356,800|
|Greenville Memorial Hospital||16,000|
|The Medical University of South Carolina||12,000|
South Carolina by the Numbers
- State: $39,465
- US average: $29,979
- State: $47,238
- US average: $55,775
- State: $209.7 billion
- US: $18.57 trillion