College is expensive, and in South Carolina, it seems that the cost of a four-year degree just keeps increasing.  Recent tuition increases have made the already high cost of a university education even more pricey for the average South Carolina student.

There are many reasons why any student would be lucky to attend college in South Carolina.  In addition to the incredible weather and scenery, South Carolina boasts a top-notch educational system, with a variety of private and public higher educational institutions to choose from for an undergraduate or graduate education.  South Carolina is home to famed schools such as The Citadel, the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, and the College of Charleston, as well as numerous other incredible schools. But as with colleges and universities across the country, the cost of attending these institutions continues to rise.

Average Cost of Attending College in South Carolina

Attending a private college or university in South Carolina can be incredibly expensive.  Furman University in Greenville, for example, charges $45,000 for in-state tuition; the average borrower attending Furman has $32,000 in debt.  Wofford College in Spartanburg charges $37,000 per year in tuition, while Presbyterian College in Clinton charges $33,000 for tuition.  Columbia College’s tuition tops out at $28,000, while Charleston Southern University charges $23,000 in tuition.  While these schools are pricey, students attending them do not necessarily have the highest levels of debt.  That dubious honor goes to Francis Macon University, where the average borrower has $40,000 in debt, and the public Coastal Carolina University, where the average borrower has $35,000 in debt.   As a rule, private schools have far higher tuition and resulted in greater debt per borrower in South Carolina.

South Carolina Colleges Are Getting Dawg Gone Expensive! Find out why and what to do about it when you have a student wanting to go to one.

Even state schools are getting pricier in South Carolina.  In 2015, the University of South Carolina’s trustees voted to raise tuition by 2.9 percent, beginning in fall 2016.  For in-state students, that meant that tuition went up to $11,482 for the 2016-2017 school year.  For out-of-state students, tuition increased to $30,298 for the same time frame. The College of Charleston approved a similar tuition increase of 3.25 percent, while Coastal Carolina University increased tuition by 3.03 percent and The Citadel increased tuition by a 2.4 percent.

Contributing Factors to Cost Increase

Support for higher education in South Carolina has decreased since the Great Recession of 2007-2008.  Previously, the state contributed over 20 percent of the University of South Carolina’s budget.  Currently, that number is around 10 percent.  With less money from the state, public colleges and universities are left with no choice but to increase tuition and look for other funding sources. Moreover, the South Carolina legislature has failed to introduce a state specific consolidation opportunity program for residents, unlike other state legislatures. Lack of public funding for higher education is one of the biggest driving forces behind rising college tuition costs.


Beyond the state’s decreased contribution to higher education, there are many other factors that lead to tuition increases.  Many colleges and universities have embarked on much-needed capital improvement campaigns to modernize their buildings, making sure that their dorms, classrooms, and offices have the necessary wiring and other technology to support internet access and other necessities of modern college life.  Colleges and universities also strive to remain competitive and may expend significant funds on campus upgrades such as state-of-the-art gym facilities and more comfortable dormitories and other buildings.  Each of these expenditures can lead to the need for a tuition increase — which can ultimately impact students’ needs to go into debt.

Additional Expenses To Consider

There is also the reality of the relatively high cost of living in South Carolina.   Depending on where you are in the state, the housing can be expensive, particularly in Charleston and coastal areas.  This can make it far more expensive to attend college in certain cities or locations.  After all, if you have to pay $1500 in rent each month to live in Charleston or in a beach community as opposed to $800 to live in a town inland, it will require you to take on a lot more debt.


Getting a college degree is an investment in your future, and a prerequisite for many jobs — yet the cost of getting an education has increased exponentially in recent years, including here in South Carolina.  There are multiple factors impacting the ever-rising tuition costs in South Carolina, but one thing is for certain: for families looking to send their kids to school in the state, the best option is to start saving as early as possible, and to research all options for financial aid, scholarships, and grants to minimize the amount of debt that they or their kids will have to take on to get their degree.

Do your kids aspire to go to college in South Carolina?