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Financial Aid and Scholarships


Scholarship Policies

Scholarships at the University of South Carolina Columbia generally fall into two categories: general university scholarships and departmental scholarships.

General University Scholarships

General University Scholarships are awarded by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to incoming freshmen who will enhance the academic profile and diversity of their class and the University. Selection is made on the basis of their weighted core grade point average and standardized test scores as defined in University Policy No. ADM 9.58.  Lieber Scholarships are awarded solely on the basis of students’ designations by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) as National Merit Finalists. To be awarded, such students should list the University of South Carolina as their institution of choice to NMSC. Students listed as National Hispanic Recognition Program scholars may also receive Lieber Scholarships.

  • Recipients must be admitted to a University of South Carolina degree seeking program of study.
  • Financial need is not a criterion for selection
  • Recipients may receive only one General University Scholarship with the following exceptions: Lieber Scholars Award, Presidential Scholars Awards, and USC STEM Supplement. 
  • Recipients may receive a State of South Carolina funded scholarship in addition to their General University Scholarship pursuant to state regulations governing their scholarship programs. State of South Carolina funded scholarships are restricted to residents who are United States citizens or verified legal permanent residents at the time of high school graduation.
  • Students who are legal residents of the state of South Carolina are eligible to be considered for general university scholarships.
  • Students who are not legal residents of the state of South Carolina and who are lawfully present in the United States are eligible to be considered for general university scholarships provided that funds are available.
  • Students who are not legal residents of the state of South Carolina and who are lawfully present in the United States but do not live in the state of South Carolina will be classified as non-residents for tuition purposes and may receive a scholarship that includes tuition reduction, if eligible.
  • Students who are not legal residents of the state of South Carolina and who live in the state of South Carolina (i.e. cannot receive SC State Scholarships) but entered the United States with an appropriate visa that qualifies the student to pay tuition at in-state rates will be considered for general university scholarships.

Eligibility

  1. Scholarship eligibility is limited to the completion of a regular four-year undergraduate course of study unless granted special approval to use the award during a summer term. Scholarship funds are available for fall and spring semesters only. The duration of scholarship eligibility is for continuous undergraduate enrollment over 8 semesters, typically four years if a student does not attend summer school on the USC Columbia campus. Eligibility begins in the fall semester immediately following the recipient’s being awarded and may not be used during the summer term immediately following high school graduation. If, after initial matriculation or the initial term of an award, the recipient is unable to enroll for a subsequent semester, the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships must receive a General University Award Deferment/Leave of Absence request prior to the beginning of the requested semester(s) of absence in order to avoid termination of the scholarships for future semesters.

  2. General University Awards are granted to first-time, first-year freshmen only. Some scholarships may take citizenship status into consideration. The Scholarship award is valid only for the term offered as indicated in the award offer letter. It cannot be deferred or transferred to another term of entry without prior written permission of the Director of Admissions.

  3. Recipients who graduate before their eligibility is exhausted may utilize any remaining eligibility for graduate study at the University provided they matriculate into their graduate program in the semester immediately following their baccalaureate graduation or the next available entry point for their given program of study.

  4. Students transitioning to a graduate or professional level program before scholarship eligibility is exhausted are subject to applicable tuition rates at the graduate or professional level. In these situations, only the cash value of the scholarship award will be applied to the student’s account, not the total value of the initial undergraduate tuition reduction. Eligible students may also qualify for reduced tuition at the graduate or professional level. Program examples include, but are not limited to, students transitioning into South Carolina College of Pharmacy during the junior year or for students enrolling in USC School of Medicine coursework prior to earning a bachelor’s degree. Students should check with their graduate/professional programs to see if a reduced tuition rate is available for students receiving Admissions-based scholarships.

  5. Recipients of certain awards may be required to return a signed Scholarship Agreement before the reply date stipulated in the award notification. The official agreement will be included with the original offer letter. In general, signed agreements are only required for Stamps, Carolina, McNair, Hamilton, Horseshoe, Trustees and Alumni Scholar awards.

  6. The University Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee reserves the right to adjust or cancel an award at any time because of changes in a recipient’s enrollment, academic status, or upon learning of any irregularities in the recipient’s initial or ongoing eligibility.

  7. Students receiving a General University Award (scholarships awarded to incoming freshmen by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions) may receive only one such award. Exceptions to this limitation are students who are awarded the USC STEM Supplement, Presidential Scholars award, or the Lieber Scholars award. An eligible student may receive a Palmetto Fellows or LIFE Scholarship in addition to a General University Award pursuant to state regulations governing these scholarship programs.

  8. Recipients of the USC STEM Supplement scholarship must remain in an eligible STEM major as specified by the SC Commission on Higher Education for the entire freshman year. If the student changes to a non-STEM major, the scholarship is immediately forfeited without notice. A listing of approved STEM majors can be found at sc.edu/financialaid. The USC STEM Supplement scholarship is awarded for the freshman year only and is not subject to renewal.

Enrollment

  1. Recipients must enroll as full-time students, as defined by the Office of the Registrar, on the Columbia campus during the regular fall and spring semesters.

  2. Scholarships awarded by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions are not transferrable between the various university campuses unless specifically provided for in the scholarship’s terms of agreement.

  3. Recipients participating in the National Student Exchange Program or USC sponsored exchange program (i.e., academic credit is granted and fees are paid through USC) may use their scholarship award during their exchange program for a maximum of one academic year provided the course work to be undertaken in the exchange program has been approved in advance by the appropriate dean and credit will be granted toward the recipient’s degree.

  4. Recipients participating in a non-USC sponsored exchange program (i.e., fees are paid to the host institution rather than USC) may use their scholarship award during their exchange program for a maximum of one academic year to assist with the cost of attendance associated with the exchange program provided that the following condition is met:  the course work to be undertaken in the exchange program has been approved in advance by the appropriate dean and credit will be granted toward the recipient’s degree.

  5. Recipients who do not meet the requirements in 3 or 4 may be granted up to a one year leave for study abroad and have their scholarship award reinstated upon re-entry to the university provided all eligibility criteria continue to be met and provided that a General University Award Deferment/Leave of Absence Request Form is submitted to the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships prior to the beginning of the requested semester(s) of leave.

Use of General University Scholarship During the Summer

  1. Students must meet annual renewal criteria at the end of the Spring semester prior to the Summer of enrollment.

  2. Students must be enrolled in at least 12 hours at USC- Columbia during Summer Semester.

  3. Students should be enrolled in degree programs designed to be completed in three years or on a track that will allow for accelerated degree completion, and should consult with their academic advisor and the Office of Financial Aid to carefully consider if utilizing their scholarship in Summer is in their best interest.

  4. Students must request application of their merit awards for summer (“opt in”) from the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships according to procedures and deadlines established by that office.

  5. Non-resident students that meet renewal criteria at the end of Spring semester will continue to receive the tuition rate associated with their scholarships during eligible summers, regardless of whether or not they opt in to their scholarship awards during the summer, until the maximum number of scholarship award terms have been reached.  Therefore, non-resident students should carefully consider whether or not to opt in for a scholarship award during summer, as fall/spring tuition reductions are only available in conjunction with remaining award eligibility. Once non-resident students have utilized the maximum number of terms of their institutional awards, they are no longer eligible to receive the associated tuition rate and will be charged the full non-resident tuition rate.

  6. Institutional awards can be utilized for a maximum of eight terms of enrollment, including summer terms.  Eligibility for summer awards begins after the first fall and spring semesters have been completed.

  7. Students awarded summer scholarships must acknowledge through an established university process that acceptance of a summer award disbursement will count against the maximum terms of eligibility and may not lead to early graduation.

Retention

  1. General University scholarships are continued for recipients who maintain the required cumulative 3.0 USC system GPA.

  2. Recipients’ GPA’s are checked annually following the spring semester. Students who fall below the required GPA are sent a suspension letter and must attend summer school at USC-Columbia or one of the regional campuses in order to regain, by the end of the summer, the 3.0 USC system GPA needed to retain their scholarships.

  3. Recipients who have a pending grade change or incomplete grade that once finalized would result in meeting renewal requirements must provide documentation to the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships before the beginning of the subsequent fall semester or risk losing their scholarship. Documentation must include a letter from the instructor, the academic advisor, or the dean in addition to a letter from the student explaining the circumstances. The grade change or incomplete grade must be updated by the university registrar by the end of the fall semester to satisfy retention responsibilities.

  4. Recipients who do not attain the required USC system GPA will have their scholarship terminated. Appeals regarding scholarship termination are considered on a limited basis for certain extenuating circumstances. For more information, please refer to the OSFAS Scholarship Appeal Policy.

  5. Scholarships are awarded for full-time enrollment, and it is expected that each semester’s completed hours will reflect full-time progress toward the recipient’s degree. Failure to complete any fall or spring semester as a full-time student may result in scholarship termination.

  6. Recipients who lose their General University Award for whatever reason may qualify for departmental or need-based scholarships.

  7. Lieber Scholarship/National Merit recipients who fall below the required GPA may continue to receive a minimum $500 per year scholarship.

  8. The university takes matters of personal citizenship and community behavior very seriously. Suspension from the university for conduct-related or administrated reasons may result in scholarship termination.

Financial

  1. Scholarship awards will be available during the registration and fee payment process at the beginning of the semester, including the summer term provided the student receives special approval to use an award for the summer term. Approval must be granted for each summer term in which the student intends to use the award. Otherwise the annual award amount will be divided equally between the fall and spring terms. The award cannot be used during the summer term immediately following high school graduation.

  2. Non-resident recipients receiving at least a $500 scholarship may be entitled to pay reduced tuition rate. The reduced tuition rate will begin with the fall semester of the recipient’s freshman year. It will remain in place for all of the subsequent enrollment periods, including summer sessions, through the summer following the final spring semester of eligibility, as long as the recipient maintains eligibility for the scholarship. The value of the tuition reduction is not reimbursable to the student under any circumstance.

  3. If a non-resident student receives multiple scholarships across university departments that provide two different levels of tuition reduction, the student will pay the tuition rate that gives the most financial benefit. He will not receive the monetary value of both tuition reductions. The cash awards (not inclusive of monetary value of tuition reduction) can be combined.

  4. Non-resident students approved through Academic Common Market to pay at in-state tuition rates will receive the cash value of their scholarship only, not the value of the tuition reduction.

  5. Tuition rates are determined annually. New rates are published in the summer before each fall semester.

  6. The combined value of all General University Awards received by an individual may not exceed the official, resident, on-campus cost of attendance budget. This budget is determined annually by the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships.

  7. Any refund generated for a General University Award recipient who withdraws from the university will be returned to the account from which the award originated.

  8. Scholarship funds received in excess of required tuition and fees may be considered taxable income under the Tax Reform Act of 1986. It is the responsibility of the scholarship recipient to monitor the tax implications of their scholarship award. The university does not provide scholarship recipients with an IRS Form 1099. An IRS 1098T with the appropriate information will be provided by the university Bursar’s Office. Students who have not furnished a SSN or TAX ID number at the point of matriculation will be required to do so in order to comply with Federal reporting requirements.


Departmental Scholarships

Departmental Scholarships are awarded by various academic and administrative units throughout the University. Recipient selection will be made at the discretion of the awarding unit and in accordance with guidelines that may have been specified by the donor of the specific fund.

  • Recipients may include incoming freshmen, currently enrolled students, and transfer students.
  • Recipients should be admitted or currently enrolled in a degree seeking program of study and in good standing.
  • While they may be renewed, these scholarship awards are made annually.
  • Financial need is not a criterion for selection except as designated by the donor of a specific fund.
  • In order to receive the tuition reduction benefit for Departmental Scholarship recipients, incoming freshmen must be approved by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as meeting the criteria for current General University Scholarships.  These criteria are reviewed each academic year. A 2.5 high school GPA exception has been granted by the University Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee to a few academic departments.
  • Currently enrolled students must have a minimum USC System grade point average (GPA) of 3.00; and incoming transfer students must have a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA from their previous institution(s). Exceptions to these qualifications have been granted by the University Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee to a few departments.

The University Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee encourages that the administration of Departmental Scholarship generally follow the policies and procedures outlined for General University Scholarships.

Departmental scholarships and fellowships are also awarded to incoming and continuing graduate and professional students according to the terms of the scholarship fund agreement from which the award is being made and in accordance with the policies and procedures of the awarding unit.

A listing of active departmental scholarships is maintained on the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships webpage, under the scholarship tab. The information that is provided therein is updated as it is provided by the individual departments. Requests for additional information should be made to the appropriate department.

Approved by the University Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee — 12/1979, 02/2017
Updated for Clarification — 01/2007, 01/2010, 04/2016