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Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Top Scholars FAQ

Top Scholars are the university's most distinguished merit award winners. There are five Top Scholar awards: Carolina, 1801, Horseshoe, McNair and Stamps. In-state applicants may be awarded the Carolina, 1801 or Stamps scholarships. Out-of-state applicants may be awarded the Horseshoe, McNair or Stamps scholarships.

  • Carolina: $15,000 per year + $10,000 enrichment stipend. The four-year value is $70,000.
  • 1801: $10,000 per year. The four-year value is $40,000.
  • Horseshoe: $11,000 per year + tuition reduction. The four-year value is more than $128,000.
  • McNair: $22,000 per year + tuition reduction + $12,000 enrichment stipend. The four-year value is more than $184,000.
  • Stamps (In-State): Up to $20,000 per year + $10,000 enrichment fund. The four-year value is up to $90,000.
  • Stamps (Out-Of-State): Up to $21,240 per year + tuition reduction + $10,000 enrichment stipend. The four-year value is more than $191,000.

Top Scholars enjoy a number of benefits as well as special programs from the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships. Selection as a Top Scholar guarantees automatic admission into the South Carolina Honors College.

Top Scholars are also given preferred parking, an upperclassman Scholar Buddy, and personalized advisement. Some examples of programming for Top Scholars are a First-Year Scholar retreat and ropes course, holistic drop-in hours, and fall and spring dinners.

On average, our In-State Top Scholars have an SAT score of 1507, ACT score of 33 and weighted GPA of 4.83. The averages for our Out-of-State Top Scholars are an SAT score of 1545, ACT score of 34 and weighted GPA of 4.80.

Students must first complete the general application for freshman admission to the University of South Carolina. Once they have submitted their general application, students may be invited to apply for the South Carolina Honors College based on qualifying test scores.

The application for Top Scholar Awards is the same as the South Carolina Honors College application. Students are highly encouraged to apply for general admission by October 15, but the deadline for the Honors College/Top Scholars application is November 15.

Students applying to the Honors College must submit the Honors College/Top Scholars application. They must also submit two letters of recommendation and self-report SAT or ACT scores. We also highly encourage you to submit a copy of your resume, but it is optional.

No. Only first-year students who are either permanent residents or citizens of the United States are eligible for the Top Scholar awards.

The top 20 percent of applicants are reviewed by a committee of more than 30 faculty members from a variety of disciplines across campus. Using a holistic review process, the review committee looks for evidence of academic achievement, leadership potential, a commitment to serving others, intellectual curiosity, high school course rigor, genuine interest in the university and letters of recommendation.

Applicants are notified in late January if they are selected as Top Scholar Candidates. The top 50 in-state applicants and top 45 out-of-state applicants will be invited to a mandatory interview weekend in order to move forward in the selection process.

This year's in-state interview weekend is February 22-24, 2020. The out-of-state interview weekend is February 29 - March 2, 2020.

Candidates must attend the interview weekend to move forward in the selection process. If you cannot attend, your spot will be offered to the next deserving candidate in line.

Consult our equivalency table for a full list of credit received for Cambridge International A Levels, AP and IB exams.

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