Grants / Work Opportunities / Satisfactory Academic Progress / Refunds and Financial Aid Veterans Benefits / Loans
The financial aid programs of the University of South Carolina make it possible for many students to attend the University who could not do so if left entirely to their own resources. Scholarships, grants, loans and part-time employment are available to qualified undergraduate students.
Eligibility for most types of aid except academic scholarships depends on the applicant's financial circumstances. The University uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine the amount and type of assistance each applicant is eligible to receive. We recommend that you complete the FAFSA via the Web at www.fafsa.ed.gov; however, paper applications may still be obtained from most high-school guidance offices or our Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships.
Academic Scholarships and Awards
The University of South Carolina offers over 500 scholarships each year to the entering freshman class. In order to be considered for one of these awards, a student needs to apply for admission to the University before November 1. Students who wish to be considered for the Carolina Scholars, McNair Scholars, and Alumni Scholars awards will need to complete the University Scholarship Application which is available from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as well as most high-school guidance offices in the state. The deadline to submit the completed University Scholarship Application to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions is December 1, 2003, both for South Carolina students and for out-of-state students.
Carolina Scholars and McNair Scholars
Each year 50 outstanding high-school seniors from South Carolina, and an additional 40 outstanding high-school seniors from across the nation are invited to participate in these prestigious scholarship competitions on the basis of their completion of the University Scholarship Application. Superior scholastic ability and achievement, leadership potential, and character are criteria for selection. Financial need is not a consideration. Typical candidates rank at the top of their class and present SAT scores above 1300. Candidate interviews are held, and from this group 20 South Carolina students are named Carolina Scholars and 20 out-of-state students are named McNair Scholars. Recipients of these prestigious awards receive stipends for four years of undergraduate study provided that they maintain at least a 3.00 grade point average (GPA). South Carolina students receive a stipend of $7,000 per year. Out-of-state students receive stipends of $12,000 per year. The 30 South Carolina finalists not named Carolina Scholars are offered the Carolina Scholars Finalist Scholarship valued at $4,000 per year. The 20 out-of-state finalists not named McNair Scholars are offered the McNair Scholars Finalist Scholarship valued at $8,000 per year. Finalist awards are renewable for four years of undergraduate study if the student maintains at least a 3.00 GPA. For more information about the Carolina Scholars and McNair Scholars programs, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
The Carolina Alumni Association awards nearly half a million dollars in scholarships each year to entering freshmen with outstanding academic records and backgrounds of leadership and service. Financial need is not a consideration. Successful candidates typically present SAT scores above 1300, rank in the top of their class, and achieve a GPA above 3.80. Recipients of these highly competitive awards receive a $3,500 per year scholarship which is renewable for four years of undergraduate study, provided that they maintain at least a 3.00 GPA. Nonresident Alumni Scholars also are entitled to pay reduced tuition. For more information, contact the Carolina Alumni Association.
Trustees' Endowment Scholars
The University annually selects 10 students with outstanding academic credentials as Trustees' Endowment Scholars. Recipients usually rank in the top 10 percent of their class and present SAT scores above 1300. For this award, consideration is also given to minority students and students with demonstrated financial need who meet these academic requirements. Awards to the Trustees' Endowment Scholars are $3,000 per year and are renewable for four years of undergraduate study if the student maintains at least a 3.00 GPA. Nonresident Trustees' Endowment Scholars also are entitled to pay reduced tuition. For more information, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
Valedictorian Scholarships are awarded annually to entering freshmen who are graduates of South Carolina public and private high schools and who are ranked first in their class at the time of their admission to the University, or upon high-school graduation. In addition, Valedictorian Scholars must present a minimum SAT score of 1100. Awards are for $3,000 per year and are renewable for four years of undergraduate study if the student maintains at least a 3.00 GPA. For more information, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
The University annually awards scholarships to National Merit Finalists, National Achievement Finalists, and National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholars. The competition for these awards begins with the PSAT/NMSQT, taken in the junior year of high school. The award is $6,000 per year and is renewable for up to three years as long as the student maintains a B average. To be eligible, National Merit Finalists must list the University of South Carolina as their first choice on the National Merit application. National Achievement Finalists must send a copy of the National Achievement Finalist certificate to the admissions office. The National Hispanic Recognition Program will send to the University the names of the scholars selected for that program.
Cooper Scholars Award (for out-of-state residents only)
Freshman recipients of the Cooper Scholars Award generally present scores above 1350 on the SAT and have excellent grades in high school. The amount awarded if $4,000 per year. Students must maintain at least a B average to continue receiving the award throughout four years of study. No scholarship application is necessary.
McKissick Scholars Award (for out-of-state residents only)
Freshman recipients of the McKissick Scholars award generally present scores above 1250 on the SAT and have excellent grades in high school. The amount awarded is $2,000 per year. Students must maintain at least a B average to continue receiving the award throughout four years of study. No scholarship application is necessary.
Palmetto Fellows Scholarships
Palmetto Fellows Scholarships are awarded to South Carolina high-school students with exemplary academic credentials. The competition for these awards begins when students take the PSAT in their junior year of high school. The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education selects Palmetto Fellows based on criteria which include class rank, extracurricular activities, leadership ability, and school recommendations. Palmetto Fellows may receive up to a $6,700 per year scholarship from the state as long as their total gift aid package, including scholarships, does not exceed the resident, on-campus cost of attendance figure. Palmetto Fellows Scholarships are renewable for four years of undergraduate study if the student meets continued eligibility criteria established by the Commission on Higher Education.
South Carolina Legislative Incentives for Future Excellence Scholarship (LIFE)
The South Carolina Legislative Incentives for Future Excellence Scholarship (LIFE) was established by the General Assembly during the 1998 legislative session. To be eligible for a LIFE Scholarship, you must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen under state residency statutes, be a South Carolina resident, and have graduated from a high school located in South Carolina or from a high school outside of South Carolina while a dependent of a parent or legal guardian who is a legal resident. You must enroll as a degree-seeking student at an eligible institution within the state. At the time of enrollment you must have no felony, alcohol, or drug convictions. If you have been judged delinquent or have been convicted or pled guilty or nolo contendere to an alcohol or drug misdemeanor offense, you are ineligible for one calendar year from the date of your conviction. You may not be in default or owe a refund on any federal or state financial aid program and receive this scholarship.
If you are a first-time entering freshman, you must meet two of the following criteria: a 3.00 high-school cumulative grade point average (GPA) on a 4.00 scale, a score of 1100 on the SAT or an equivalent ACT score of 24, and/or rank in the top 30 percent of your graduating class.
If a currently enrolled student, you must have earned a cumulative 3.00 USC GPA at the end of the academic year. You must also have earned a minimum of 30 credit hours, or the annual equivalent at all institutions attended, for the previous academic year if completing your first year; 60 credit hours must have been earned if completing your second year; and 90 credit hours must have been earned if completing your third year.You must also meet all other eligibility criteria.
You may receive the LIFE scholarship for not more than eight semesters based on your initial college enrollment. Funds from this program may not be used for remedial courses or continuing education classes. If you are receiving South Carolina's Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, you are not eligible for a LIFE Scholarship. LIFE Scholarships are currently valued at $5,000 per year.
Please note that the LIFE Scholarship statutes and regulations are subject to change by the S.C. Legislature.
South Carolina HOPE Scholarship
The South Carolina HOPE Scholarship was established by the General Assembly in 2001, and funds were appropriated in 2002. The program authorizes funding for scholarships of $2,650 to resident students who graduate from a South Carolina high school with a 3.00 cumulative grade point average but who are not eligible to receive the LIFE Scholarship or the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship. It may be awarded for no more than two semesters, during the freshman year of attendance only. Additional eligibility criteria are the same as those for the LIFE Scholarship.
University Scholars awards are made on the basis of academic excellence. Financial need is not a consideration. Recipients usually rank in the top 10 percent of their class and present SAT scores above 1300. Awards are for $1,500 per year and are renewable for four years of undergraduate study if the student maintains at least a 3.00 GPA. Nonresident University Scholars also are entitled to pay reduced tuition. For more information, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
Alumni Legacy Scholars
The Carolina Alumni Association awards Alumni Legacy Scholarships to eligible entering freshmen with outstanding academic records who have at least one parent, grandparent, or legal guardian who is a graduate of the University and holds current membership in the Alumni Association. South Carolina residents must present a minimum SAT score of 1100 and a minimum 3.00 weighted core course GPA from their high school. Nonresidents must present a minimum SAT score of 1180 and a minimum 3.00 weighted core course GPA from their high school. Financial need is not a consideration and recipients may attend any of the USC campuses. Eligible students who wish to be considered for this award will need to complete the Alumni Legacy Scholars application which is available from the Carolina Alumni Association. Awards are available on a first-come first-serve basis in the amount of $500 per year and are renewable for four years of undergraduate study if the student maintains at least a 3.00 GPA. Nonresident Alumni Legacy Scholars also are entitled to pay reduced tuition. For more information, contact the Carolina Alumni Association.
The University awards to worthy students a number of scholarships provided by individual and corporate donors. The stipulations and amount of these awards vary according to the wishes of the donor and/or the amount of income earned from an endowed account. There is no application for general scholarships; students are automatically considered for all scholarships for which they are eligible. Admission acceptance to the University by January 1 is recommended for freshmen who would like to be considered for these awards.
Federal Pell Grant
The Federal Pell Grant is the largest federally funded student financial aid grant program. It serves as the foundation upon which all other undergraduate aid is awarded. Typically, it is available only to undergraduate students who have not earned a baccalaureate degree. Federal Pell Grant eligibility is determined according to federal law and is based on the financial information you and your family provided on your FAFSA.
You are notified of your possible eligibility to receive a Federal Pell Grant via the Student Aid Report (SAR). The financial aid office will receive this information directly from the federal processor and determine the amount of your Federal Pell Grant. You should carefully review the information on your SAR and, if it is correct, keep it for your records. If you discover mistakes, follow the instructions and submit corrections as soon as possible.
If you or your family experiences a major change in your financial situation after your Pell Grant eligibility has been determined, you should notify the financial aid office immediately. A counselor will be able to determine if you qualify for an adjustment of your Pell Grant award and/or other financial aid.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
The FSEOG is a grant that does not need to be repaid. The financial aid office awards USC's limited allocation of FSEOG funds. Recipients must be undergraduates who have not already earned a baccalaureate degree and who demonstrate exceptional financial need. FSEOG recipients must be eligible to receive a Pell Grant and have the lowest EFC's from among those students being considered for an award.
Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS)
The SDS program provides scholarship grants to full-time medical and certain other health professions students. You must demonstrate exceptional financial need and come from a disadvantaged educational or economic background. No repayment is required, and receipt of this award does not require a service commitment. The amount of the award varies depending upon available funding and the number of eligible applicants.
You must have submitted parental data on the FAFSA in order to be considered for this program.
State Need-Based Grant Program (SNBG)
The South Carolina Need-Based Grant is a state-funded grant for undergraduates attending public and independent colleges and universities within South Carolina. Recipients may not have already earned a baccalaureate degree. To be considered, you must be a South Carolina resident, be admitted or currently enrolled with a minimum GPA of 2.00, complete the FAFSA, demonstrate financial need, be of good moral character, and have no felony and/or alcohol or drug convictions for a period of one year. Additionally, to renew a state grant award, you must maintain an annual 2.00 GPA and complete 24 semester hours during the fall and spring semesters. Awards are made for the entire academic year (fall and spring semesters) only. The State Need-Based Grant does not need to be repaid.
Federal Work-Study Program. The Federal Work-Study Program provides part-time employment for needy students to meet their educational expenses. To be eligible for employment under this federal program, a student must be enrolled or fully accepted for admission to the University.
Students who are enrolled at least half-time work an average of 10 to 20 hours per week. During vacation periods it is sometimes possible to work up to 40 hours per week. Pay rates vary with the job assignment.
Other Employment. The Student Employment Office, located in the Career Center, is a source of information about part-time job opportunities in the city of Columbia. Interested students may contact the Student Employment Office. Many students also locate employment in one of the academic departments of the University.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
All students receiving federal financial aid must adhere to the University's policy on satisfactory progress. The intent of this policy is to ensure that students who are receiving federal financial aid for their education are making measurable progress toward completion of a degree in a reasonable period of time.
The University Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee has approved the following standards defining satisfactory progress for students receiving federal student aid at USC Columbia.
Undergraduate students are considered to be making satisfactory progress if they:
1. are admitted and enrolled as degree-seeking students;
2. meet the University standards for continued enrollment as specified in the University of South Carolina Undergraduate Studies Bulletin;
3. complete requirements for a degree within a reasonable length of time as specified below:
a. The total number of semesters of full-time enrollment (12 or more semester hours attempted) at any post-secondary institution does not exceed 12 semesters for a four-year degree.
b. The total number of semesters of part-time enrollment (less than 12 semester hours attempted) does not exceed the equivalent of 12 full-time semesters for a four-year degree.
4. earn no fewer than 24 semester hours of undergraduate credit per academic year if enrolled as a full-time student. The academic year for satisfactory academic progress is composed of the fall, spring, and summer terms; (Part-time students must earn no fewer than 12 semester hours of undergraduate credit per full-time equivalent semester if enrolled as a part-time student.)
5. maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.00 after attempting 60 hours of either USC or other school (transfer) course work.
Under these standards, students will be ineligible to receive federal financial aid funds if any of the following occurs:
1. The total number of semesters of enrollment as a full-time student (12 or more semester hours attempted) exceeds 12 full-time semesters for a four-year degree, or the total number of semesters of enrollment as a part-time student (less than 12 semesters hours attempted) exceeds the equivalent of 12 full-time semesters for a four-year degree. These limits include all work done at any post-secondary institution, whether or not financial aid was received.
2. The total number of earned hours falls below the prescribed number based upon enrollment in undergraduate or graduate study.
3. The yearly cumulative grade point deficit (GPD) is 24 or greater and results in the student's ineligibility for continued enrollment. (See "Academic Regulations" for an explanation of the grade point deficit system.)
4. The cumulative GPA falls below 2.00 after attempting 60 credit hours of either USC or transfer credit work.
In other words, students who accumulate a yearly or cumulative GPD that subjects them to suspension, who have been enrolled for more than the equivalent of 12 full-time semesters for a four-year degree program, who do not maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.00 after attempting 60 credit hours, or who do not earn the minimum number of semester hours required will become ineligible to receive federal financial aid funds except as indicated below. This determination applies without regard to any financial aid award letter that may have been sent or received prior to the time the determination is made.
Students who fail to meet the minimum credit hour requirement will be granted the equivalent of one academic year to regain eligibility. Students will retain their eligibility for federal aid during this probationary year. Students who fail to regain eligibility after the probationary year will lose eligibility for federal aid. The student will, however, be afforded the opportunity to appeal if there are mitigating circumstances (see below). Students will be afforded the probationary year only one time.
Students who are ruled ineligible for financial aid may appeal this determination under specifically prescribed conditions. Deadlines for receipt of appeals are 20 days prior to the end of the semester for which aid is requested. Information concerning the appeal process is available in the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships.
The Satisfactory Academic Progress policy standards will not automatically apply to any hours forgiven under the University of South Carolina Academic Forgiveness Program. However, a student who has been granted academic forgiveness under the policy must provide sufficient documentation of the forgiveness to the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships.
Financial aid funds covered by these standards
Federal Pell Grants
Federal Work-Study Program
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
Federal Perkins Loans
Federal Stafford Loans, subsidized and unsubsidized
Nursing Student Loans and Scholarships
Health Professions Loans, Scholarships, and Grants
Some select private loans (as determined by the lender)
South Carolina LIFE Scholarship
South Carolina Need-Based Grants
Other federal or state programs as required
Refunds and Financial Aid
The official University policy and procedure concerning refunding of University tuition and fees which result from withdrawal or reduction in hours is contained in the "Fees and Refunds" section of this bulletin. Students who withdraw or reduce hours may be eligible to receive a refund as provided by the official University policy; however, recipients of financial aid generally do not receive the refund.
When students who are recipients of federal financial aid withdraw from all classes, they are only entitled to retain a percentage of the federal financial aid received that is proportional to the time they remained enrolled. If, for example, a student withdraws after completing 30 percent of the semester or summer term, they can only retain 30 percent of the federal financial aid they received. The balance, 70 percent, must be returned to the financial aid programs. The Office of the Bursar performs this calculation and students are notified by mail of the outcome.
When funds are applied back to the federal financial aid programs, loan funds are always returned first, thereby reducing the student's repayment obligation. If funds remain after repaying federal loans, they are then repaid to the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) programs. After all federal funds are repaid, state-sponsored grant programs then receive any remaining payments.
For more detailed information, including an example of a refund calculation, contact the Office of Financial Services, Room 207, Petigru.
The following policies and procedures are of primary concern to veterans, servicepersons, members of guard and reserve units, and other eligible persons who receive VA educational benefits while enrolled at the University.
Please note: Academic standards of progress and attendance are covered under school standards of progress as specified by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, License Division, and are required by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Certification by the University VA certifying official in the Office of Veterans Services is required for eligible students who wish to receive VA educational benefit checks. Students must initiate their own requests for enrollment certification. The certifying official will transmit certifications and other forms to the VA only for those students who have made such requests and have completed the necessary paperwork.
Normally, the VA requires that eligible students must have completed full University admissions requirements and matriculation into degree-seeking status before they may receive VA educational benefits. However, those students admitted as "Provisional," "Military Special," or "Transient," or students enrolling for prerequisite courses required for admission into a professional degree program or school may request VA certification if they provide appropriate documentation. Any VA students in these categories should contact the University Office of Veterans Services for details. In these and all other admissions categories, only the federal VA has the final authority to award or to deny military educational benefits.
Undergraduate veterans or servicepersons should contact Brenda Johnson in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions (803-777-7700) for consideration of receiving college credit for military schools.
Students can best ensure receipt of benefits by informing the school VA office of their intent to register for classes and by supplying the number of credit hours for which they will enroll each semester. Eligible VA students may request certification on an annual basis and should recertify for each new academic year at least 45 days prior to the first day of class of their next semester. However, pursuant to federal law, servicepersons, and VA students who are enrolled for less than one-half time must request certification on a semester-by-semester basis.
Normally, VA payments are authorized only for those courses which are required by the academic department for the student's current degree program. All students receiving educational benefit checks from the VA are responsible for notifying the Office of Veterans Services of any changes in their degree programs and/or course loads during a semester, to include drop/add, withdrawal, changing from credit to audit status, invoking the Pass-Fail option in a course, or enrolling in any distance education course, independent study, internship, or practicum.
Appropriate forms and benefits-related information are available at the Office of Veterans Services. Each student request will be handled individually according to their VA benefit program and enrollment status at the University.