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USC begins fall semester, welcomes largest class ever

students walk on the USC horseshoe

The University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus began classes Thursday (Aug. 24) and announced that it is welcoming its largest class in the school’s history, with more students hailing from South Carolina than ever before.

According to preliminary figures, 7,344 new freshmen are enrolled for the Fall 2023 semester, which is an increase of about 12 percent compared with last fall. Of those, 53 percent are South Carolina residents and 1,725 — nearly 24 percent — are underrepresented minority students, an increase of 12 percent over last year.

Overall student enrollment has also marked a historic high, exceeding 36,300 students. The previous high of 35,590 students was recorded in Fall 2022, and this is the first time USC’s overall enrollment surpasses 36,000 students.

USC staff have spent months preparing for a larger student body, including adding thousands of new parking spaces, more transportation shuttles for navigating campus, increasing dining and residential capacity with the opening of Campus Village, and hiring new faculty and instructors. 

“The record size of the freshman class is a strong vote of confidence in USC’s reputation and success by students and their families,” said USC President Michael Amiridis. “As we maintain our focus on access and affordability, we are especially pleased by the great increase in the number of South Carolinians in this class.”

Additional details about the new class include:

  • More South Carolina freshmen are enrolled than ever before. Of the new freshmen, 3,928 are South Carolina residents, an increase of 17 percent from last year. Students also come from each of the state’s 46 counties.
  • In total, approximately 9,200 new undergraduates will start their academic journey at USC this year. That includes new freshmen, transfer students and international exchange students.
  • More than 9,400 students moved into university-sponsored housing during the past week.
    The university received a record number of enrollment applications for fall 2023, totaling more than 46,675.

“This increase in South Carolina students reflects our commitment as the state’s flagship university to serve the state’s families. Moreover, we are excited to welcome all our very talented students back to campus as they bring tremendous energy and excitement to Columbia and surrounding communities,” said USC Board Chair Thad Westbrook.

USC also is making access and affordability a priority for students and families. Tuition at the Columbia campus, as well as the university’s seven other system institutions, was held steady this fall for a historic fifth year in a row. Earlier this month, the university announced that all South Carolina students who are ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class will be guaranteed admission to the Columbia campus starting with the Fall 2024 application cycle, which opened Aug. 1.

“The university’s outstanding reputation for providing a high-quality education and an exceptional student experience is widely known and in high demand, as evidenced by our record number of applications and largest freshman class in our history,” said Scott Verzyl, vice president for enrollment management and dean of undergraduate admissions. “The University of South Carolina continues to be a top destination of choice for residents of South Carolina and students across the country.”