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Fees and Refunds

Academic and Other Fees

Complete details about fees, payments, tax credits, loans, late charges, and related information may be found at the bursar's Web site, www.sc.edu/bursar. For the complete undergraduate fee schedule, visit www.sc.edu/bursar/studentfees.html. A list of estimated expenses for undergraduate students is available online at www.sc.edu/admissions/expenses.htm. Tuition and fees are approved by the Board of Trustees and subject to change at any time.

For information about non-academic fees, charges, and regulations, visit the Web sites below.

Any student who has failed to pay all required registration fees on or before the last date to change course schedules (as indicated in the University calendar) may be dropped from class rolls. Any student who fails to relieve any other indebtedness to the University or to any of its auxiliary agencies on the date such obligations become due may not be permitted to remain in University residence halls or be issued a transcript, diploma, or degree.

Checks, Money Orders, and Credit Cards

The University assesses a credit-card convenience fee for all students paying fees by credit card. If you decide to pay with a credit card, this nonrefundable fee will be added to your bill to cover the cost being charged to the University. Since the majority of students find VIP (Visual Information Processing on the Web at vip.sc.edu) a convenient way to pay, VIP will present you with an option to accept this fee or decline the transaction. If you decline, you must select another method of payment. Alternative methods include electronic checks and payment by check or money order through the mail.

Application Fees

Every new student will normally be charged a nonrefundable application fee of $40; exceptions to, or relief from, this charge may be made for certain special categories of admission. All applications must be accompanied by the application fee. This fee is for admission application only. A separate application fee is charged for space in University residence halls.

Matriculation Fee

A nonrefundable matriculation fee of $50 is assessed to all current degree-seeking students on a one-time basis. This fee is also assessed to entering (or re-entering) degree-seeking students. International students pay a $500 matriculation fee.

Examination Fees

$40 Scholastic Assessment Test. (SAT) May be taken once only.

$15 Challenge Examination. This test is used to establish undergraduate college credit without class attendance or to validate credits from a nonregionally accredited college. Per semester hour.

Legal Residency

The University of South Carolina is required by state law to determine the residence classification of applicants. The initial determination of one’s resident status is made at the time of admission. The determination made at that time, and any determination made thereafter, prevails for each subsequent semester until information becomes available that would impact the existing residency status and the determination is successfully challenged. The burden of proof rests with the students to show evidence as deemed necessary to establish and maintain their residency status.

Legal Residency Requirements for Fee and Tuition Purposes

Code of Laws Governing Residence

Rules regarding the establishment of legal residence for tuition and fee purposes for institutions of higher education are governed by Title 59, Chapter 112, of the 1976 South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended.


“Academic Session” is defined as a term or semester of enrollment.

“Continue to be Enrolled” is defined as continuous enrollment without an interruption that would require the student to pursue a formal process of readmission to the institution. Formal petitions or applications for change of degree level shall be considered readmissions.

“Dependent Person” is defined as one whose predominant source of income or support is from payments from a parent, spouse, or guardian and who qualifies as a dependent or exemption on the federal income tax return of the parent, spouse, or guardian. A dependent person is also one for whom payments are made, under court order, for child support and the cost of the dependent person’s college education. A dependent person’s residency is based upon the residency of the person upon whom they are dependent.

“Domicile” is defined as the true, fixed, principal residence and place of habitation. It shall indicate the place where a person intends to remain, or to where one expects to return upon leaving without establishing a new domicile in another state. For purposes of this section, one may have only one legal domicile. One is presumed to abandon automatically an old domicile upon establishing a new one. Housing provided on an academic session basis for students at institutions shall be presumed not to be a place of principal residence, as residency in such housing is by its nature temporary.

“Family’s Domicile in this State is Terminated” is defined as an employer-directed transfer of the person upon whom the student is dependent and is not construed to mean a voluntary change in domicile. Also included is a relocation of the person upon whom the student is dependant who is laid off through no fault of their own, e.g. plant closure, downsizing, etc., who accepts employment in another state prior to relocating.

“Full-Time Employment” is defined as employment that consists of at least thirty-seven and one-half hours a week on a single job in a full-time status. However, a person who works less than thirty-seven and one-half hours a week but receives or is entitled to receive full-time employee benefits shall be considered to be employed full-time if such status is verified by the employer. A person who meets the eligibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act must satisfy their prescribed employment specifications in order to qualify as having full-time employment.

“Guardian” is defined as one legally responsible for the care and management of the person or property of a minor child or one qualified to claim a dependent person based upon the five tests for dependency prescribed by the Internal Revenue Service, provided, however, that where circumstances indicate that such guardianship or custodianship was created primarily for the purpose of conferring South Carolina domicile for tuition and fee purposes on such child or dependent person, it shall not be given such effect.

“Immediately Prior” is defined as the period of time between the offer of admission and the first day of class of the term for which the offer was made, not to exceed one calendar year.

“Independent Person” is defined as one in his/her majority (eighteen years of age or older) or an emancipated minor whose predominant source of income is his/her own earnings or income from employment, investments, or payments from trusts, grants, scholarships, commercial loans, or payments made in accordance with court order. An independent person must provide more than half of his or her support during the twelve months immediately prior to the date that classes begin for the semester for which resident status is requested. An independent person cannot be claimed as a dependent or exemption on the federal tax return of his or her parent, spouse, or guardian for the year in which resident status is requested.

“Minor” is defined as a person who has not attained the age of eighteen years. An “emancipated minor” shall mean a minor whose parents have entirely surrendered the right to the care, custody, and earnings of such minor and are no longer under any legal obligation to support or maintain such minor.

“Nonresident Alien” is defined as a person who is not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. By virtue of their non-resident status “nonresident aliens” generally do not have the capacity to establish domicile in South Carolina.

“Parent” is defined as the father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, foster parent or parent of a legally adopted child.

“Reside” is defined as continuous and permanent physical presence within the state, provided that absences for short periods of time shall not affect the establishment of residence. Excluded are absences associated with requirements to complete a degree, absences for military training service, and like absences, provided South Carolina domicile is maintained.

”Resident” for tuition and fee purposes is defined as an independent person who has abandoned all prior domiciles and has been domiciled in South Carolina continuously for at least twelve months immediately preceding the first day of class of the term for which resident classification is sought and for whom there is an absence of domiciliary evidence in other states or countries, not withstanding other provisions of the statute.

“Spouse” is defined as the husband or wife of a married person in accordance with Title 20, Chapter 1, of the 1976 South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended.

“Temporary Absence” is defined as a break in enrollment during a fall or spring semester (or its equivalent) during which a student is not registered for class.

“Terminal Leave” is defined as a transition period following active employment and immediately preceding retirement (with a pension or annuity), during which the individual may use accumulated leave.

“United States Armed Forces” is defined as the United States Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard.

Citizens and Permanent Residents

Independent persons who have physically resided and been domiciled in South Carolina for twelve continuous months immediately preceding the date the classes begin for the semester for which resident status is claimed may qualify to pay in-state tuition and fees. The twelve-month residency period starts when the independent person establishes the intent to become a South Carolina resident per section entitled “Establishing the Requisite Intent to Become a South Carolina Domiciliary.” Absences from the state during the twelve-month period may affect the establishment of permanent residence for tuition and fee purposes.

The resident status of a dependent person is based on the resident status of the person who provides more than half of the dependent person’s support and claims or qualifies to claim the dependent person as a dependent for federal income tax purposes. Thus, the residence and domicile of a dependent person shall be presumed to be that of their parent, spouse, or guardian.

In the case of divorced or separated parents, the resident status of the dependent person may be based on the resident status of the parent who claims the dependent person as a dependent for tax purposes, based on the resident status of the parent who has legal custody or legal joint custody of the dependent person, or based on the resident status of the person who makes payments under a court order for child support and at least the cost of his/her college tuition and fees.

Nonresident Aliens, Noncitizens, and Nonpermanent Residents

Except as otherwise specified in this section or as provided in section entitled “Exceptions,” independent noncitizens and nonpermanent residents of the United States will be assessed tuition and fees at the nonresident, out-of-state rate. Independent nonresident aliens, including refugees, asylees, and parolees, may be entitled to resident, in-state classification once they have been awarded permanent resident status by the U.S. Department of Justice and meet all the statutory residency requirements provided that all other domiciliary requirements are met. Time spent living in South Carolina immediately prior to the awarding of permanent resident status does not count toward the twelve month residency period. Certain nonresident aliens present in the United States in specified visa classification are eligible to receive in-state residency status for tuition and fee purposes as prescribed by the Commission on Higher Education. They are not, however, eligible to receive state sponsored tuition assistance/scholarships.

Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) serves as the primary resource for defining visa categories.

Establishing the Requisite Intent to Become a South Carolina Domiciliary

Resident status may not be acquired by an applicant or student while residing in South Carolina for the sole purpose of enrollment in an institution or for access to state-supported programs designed to serve South Carolina residents.

If a person asserts that his/her domicile has been established in this state, the individual has the burden of proof. Such persons should provide to the designated residency official of the institution to which they are applying any and all evidence the person believes satisfies the burden of proof. The residency official will consider any and all evidence provided concerning such claim of domicile, but will not necessarily regard any single item of evidence as conclusive evidence that domicile has been established.

For independent persons or the parent, spouse, or guardian of dependent persons, examples of intent to become a South Carolina resident may include, although any single indicator may not be conclusive, the following indicia:

1. statement of full-time employment;
2. possession of a valid South Carolina voter registration card;
3. designating South Carolina as state of legal residence on military record;
4. possession of a valid South Carolina driver’s license, or if a nondriver, a South Carolina identification card. Failure to obtain this within 90 days of the establishment of the intent to become a South Carolina resident will delay the beginning date of residency eligibility.
5. possession of a valid South Carolina vehicle registration card. Failure to obtain this within 45 days of the establishment of the intent to become a South Carolina resident will delay the beginning date of residency eligibility.
6. maintenance of domicile in South Carolina;
7. paying South Carolina income taxes as a resident during the past tax year, including income earned outside of South Carolina from the date South Carolina domicile was claimed;
8. ownership of principal residence in South Carolina; and
9. licensing for professional practice (if applicable) in South Carolina.

The absence of indicia in other states or countries is required before the student is eligible to pay in-state rates.

Maintaining Residence

A person’s temporary absence from the state does not necessarily constitute loss of South Carolina residence unless the person has acted inconsistently with the claim of continued South Carolina residence during the person’s absence from the state. The burden is on the person to show retention of South Carolina residence during the person’s absence from the state. Steps a person should take to retain South Carolina resident status for tuition and fee purposes include:

1. continuing to use a South Carolina permanent address on all records;
2. retaining South Carolina voter’s status;
3. maintaining South Carolina driver’s license;
4. maintaining South Carolina vehicle registration;
5. satisfying South Carolina resident income tax obligation. Individuals claiming permanent residence in South Carolina are liable for payment of income taxes on their total income from the date that they established South Carolina residence. This includes income earned in another state or country.

Active duty members of the United States Armed Forces and their dependents are eligible to pay in-state tuition and fees as long as they continuously claim South Carolina as their state of legal residence during their military service. Documentation will be required in all cases to support this claim. South Carolina residents who change their state of legal residence while in the military lose their South Carolina resident status for tuition and fee purposes.

Effect of Change of Residency

Notwithstanding other provisions of this section, any dependent person of a legal resident of this state who has been domiciled with his/her family in South Carolina for a period of not less than three years and whose family’s domicile in this state is terminated immediately prior to his/her enrollment may enroll at the in-state rate. A student must continue to be enrolled and registered for classes (excluding summers) in order to maintain eligibility to pay in-state rates in subsequent semesters. Transfers within or between South Carolina colleges and universities of a student seeking a certificate, diploma, associate, baccalaureate, or graduate level degree does not constitute a break in enrollment.

If a dependent or independent person has been domiciled in South Carolina for less than three years, eligibility for in-state rates shall end on the last day of the academic session during which domicile is lost. Application of this provision shall be at the discretion of the institution involved.

Effect of Marriage

In ascertaining domicile of a married person, irrespective of gender, such a review shall be determined just as for an unmarried person by reference to all relevant evidence of domiciliary intent.

If a nonresident marries a South Carolina resident, the nonresident does not automatically acquire South Carolina resident status. The nonresident may acquire South Carolina resident status if the South Carolina resident is an independent person and the nonresident is a dependent of the South Carolina resident.

Marriage to a person domiciled outside South Carolina shall not be solely the reason for precluding a person from establishing or maintaining domicile in South Carolina and subsequently becoming eligible or continuing to be eligible for residency.

No person shall be deemed solely by reason of marriage to a person domiciled in South Carolina to have established or maintained domicile in South Carolina and consequently to be eligible for or to retain eligibility for South Carolina residency.


Persons in the following categories qualify to pay in-state tuition and fees without having to establish a permanent home in the state for twelve months. Persons who qualify under any of these categories must meet the conditions of the specific category on or before the first day of class of the term for which payment of in-state tuition and fees is requested.

Military Personnel and Their Dependents. Members of the United States Armed Forces who are permanently assigned in South Carolina on active duty and their dependents are eligible to pay in-state tuition and fees. When such personnel are transferred from the state, their dependents may continue to pay in-state tuition and fees for an additional twelve months. Such persons (and their dependents) may also be eligible to pay in-state tuition and fees for a period of twelve months after their discharge from the military, provided they have demonstrated an intent to establish a permanent home in South Carolina and they have resided in South Carolina for a period of at least twelve months immediately preceding their discharge. Military personnel who are not stationed in South Carolina and/or former military personnel who intend to establish South Carolina residency must fulfill the twelve month “physical presence” requirement for them or their dependents to qualify to pay in-state tuition and fees.

Faculty and Administrative Employees with Full-Time Employment and Their Dependents. Full-time faculty and administrative employees of South Carolina state-supported colleges and universities and their dependents are eligible to pay in-state tuition and fees.

Residents with Full-Time Employment and their Dependents. Persons who reside, are domiciled, and are full-time employed in the state and who continue to work full-time until they meet the twelve-month requirement and their dependents are eligible to pay in-state tuition and fees, provided that they have taken steps to establish a permanent home in the state. Steps an independent person must take to establish residency in South Carolina are listed above in the section entitled “Establishing the Requisite Intent to Become a South Carolina Domiciliary."

Retired Persons and their Dependents. Retired persons who are receiving a pension or annuity who reside in South Carolina and have been domiciled in South Carolina as prescribed in the statute for less than a year may be eligible for in-state rates if they maintain residence and domicile in this state. Persons on terminal leave who have established residency in South Carolina may be eligible for in-state rates even if domiciled in the state for less than one year if they present documentary evidence from their employer showing they are on terminal leave. The evidence should show beginning and ending dates for the terminal leave period and that the person will receive a pension or annuity when he/she retires.

South Carolina residents who wish to participate in the Contract for Services Program sponsored by the Southern Regional Education Board must have continuously resided in the state for other than educational purposes for at least two years immediately preceding application for consideration and must meet all residency requirements during this two-year period.

Application for Change of Resident Status

Persons applying for a change of resident classification must complete a residency application and provide supporting documentation at least four to six weeks prior to the start of classes for the semester for which status is requested.

The burden of proof rests with those persons applying for a change of resident classification who must show required evidence to document the change in resident status.

All requests for refunds are limited to the current academic year for which the refund is requested. Refunds may be requested any time during the academic year in which the applicable term occurs. Residency applications must be completed before the end of the academic year for which a refund is requested. The academic year begins with the fall term and ends with the last summer session.

Incorrect classification

Persons incorrectly classified as residents are subject to reclassification and to payment of all nonresident tuition and fees not paid. If incorrect classification results from false or concealed facts, such persons may be charged tuition and fees past due and unpaid at the out-of-state rate. The violator may also be subject to administrative, civil, and financial penalties. Until these charges are paid, such persons will not be allowed to receive transcripts or graduate from the University.

Residents whose resident status changes are responsible for notifying the residency official of the institution attended of such changes.

Inquiries and Appeals

Inquiries regarding residency requirements and determinations should be directed to the Legal Residency Office, University Of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, 803-777-4060.

Any person, following a decision on his or her resident classification, may appeal the decision to the University Committee on Legal Residence. The committee, however, is bound by the same laws and regulations as the residency officials, so its purpose is only to review the facts and details of any case brought before it to evaluate the correctness of the decision may by residency officials. Neither the committee nor residency officials may waive the provisions of the law or regulations.

Persons who appeal residency decisions must provide a letter to the Legal Residency Office informing the office that they want to appeal the decision made by the residency official. The letter must also include a summary of the person’s situation and a statement which specifies the residency provision under which the person feels he or she qualifies to pay in-state fees. The director of legal residency will then schedule a hearing as soon as possible for the committee to hear the appeal.

The residency requirements are subject to change without notification.

Free Tuition

Certain exemptions from tuition fees have been established under South Carolina Law. Relevant sections of the code are reproduced below.

1. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-111-20 (Law Co-op. Supp. 1993)

A. A child of a wartime veteran, upon application to and approval by the South Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs, may be admitted to any state-supported college, university, or post high school technical education institution free of tuition so long as his work and conduct are satisfactory to the governing body of the institution, if the veteran was a resident of this state at the time of entry into service and during service or has been a resident of this state for at least one year and still resides in this state or, if the veteran is deceased, resided in this state for one year before his death, and provided the veteran served honorably in a branch of the military service of the United States during a war period, as those periods are defined by Section 101 of Title 38 of the United States Code and:

1. was killed in action
2. died from other causes while in the service
3. died of disease or disability resulting from service
4. was a prisoner of war as defined by Congress or Presidential proclamation during such war period
5. is permanently and totally disabled, as determined by the Veterans Administration from any cause
6. has been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor
7. is missing in action, or
8. the applicant is the child of a deceased veteran who qualified under item (4) and (5).

B. The provisions of this section apply to a child of a veteran who meets the residency requirements of Chapter 112 of this title, is 26 years of age or younger, and is pursuing any type of undergraduate degree.

2. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-111-110 (Law Co-op. 1976) No tuition shall be charged for a period of four school years by any state-supported college or university or any state-supported vocational or technical school for children of firemen, both regularly employed and members of volunteer organized units, organized rescue squad members, members of the Civil Air Patrol, law enforcement officers or correction officers, including reserve and auxiliary units of counties or municipalities, who become totally disabled or are killed in line of duty on or after July 1, 1964.

3. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-111-10 (Law Co-op. 1976) The first-place winner of the essay contest sponsored by the Governor's Committee on the Employment of the Physically Handicapped, provided that he is qualified and in financial need, may receive a four-year scholarship. This scholarship may be cancelled if the recipient fails to maintain general scholastic and conduct standards established by the University.

4. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-111-320 (Law Co-op Supp. 1984) Legal residents of South Carolina who have attained the age of sixty (60) and meet admission and other standards deemed appropriate by the University may attend classes for credit or noncredit purposes on a space available basis without the required payment of tuition if these persons do not receive compensation as full-time employees.