University of South Carolina-Columbia In-State Rules

Rules and regulations for in-state residency vary by university, and so do the costs and benefits of earning residency.  Following you will find a synopsis of the major in-state requirements and a cost comparison between in-state and out-of-state tuition at the University of South Carolina.

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USC, USC-Columbia, U of SC, University of SC, South Carolina

USC-Columbia Tuition Overview:

$29,372 out-of-state tuition

$11,128 in-state tuition

$18,244 tuition savings/year

USC-Columbia Total Cost of Attendance:

$39,790 out-of-state residents

$21,546 in-state residents

$18,244 savings/year

USC-Columbia In-State Requirements:

A “common thread” to understand is that rules and regulations for the granting of residency vary not only by state but by each university within a state.  The dominating factor for the granting of in-state status at this university is legal residency in the state of South Carolina; out of all 50 states, in which one are you a legal resident? The answer must be South Carolina, and you must be able to prove it with hard evidence. Not only is proof of SC residency required, but you must have the ability to financially support yourself to a certain degree.

Another biggie and important factor to know is that you are not allowed to reside in the dorms at the university upon commencement of your domicile period; dorms are required for freshman, but there are some alternative options that would allow you to progress toward residency your first year in South Carolina.

In general, a good candidate for in-state tuition here is a person who:

  • Can sever all ties to other states
  • Can remain in South Carolina throughout the one-year domicile period with limited absences (including limited absences during academic breaks)
  • Willing and able to live off-campus, but the U of SC has a number of affordable housing options close to campus
  • Can work in South Carolina if financials require it
  • Able to get student loans as needed

USC-Columbia Out-Of-State Tuition vs. In-State Tuition

An annual tuition difference of $18,244 is substantial. That’s nearly 2 years of in-state tuition!  If USC is your school of choice and you are planning to stay in SC after graduation, then you should definitely consider seeking in-state residency.

USC Financial Aid:

A couple things you need to know about financial aid as it relates to earning in-state residency at USC-Columbia:

1) Any financial aid including grants and scholarships that require your being a tax dependent of somebody OR require you to be an out-of-state resident will in general disqualify you from establishing residency.  This means that by accepting such awards, you will be getting no closer to in-state tuition.

2) Your financial aid is re-assessed after earning in-state status and your Expected Family Contribution will be taken into consideration in light of the reduced tuition you will owe.

See article: Do Your FAFSA…You Will Thank Us Later

USC Grants:

In addition to the federal Pell Grant and FSEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) available to all students, there is a need-based grant for state residents their first undergraduate degree.  There may also be departmental grants available if you have declared a major.

USC Scholarships:

USC is considered one of the best values among public universities in part for their impressive financial aid.   As with many scholarships, there are eligibility requirements, including minimum GPA and ACT/SAT scores.  This university advises that for the consideration of scholarships a students must showcase SAT scores of at least 1200 (math and critical reading sections) or a comparable ACT score of 27 or higher, combined with exceptional high school grades.  Typically, about one-third of incoming freshmen receive a university-sponsored merit scholarship.

General University Awards (Merit Scholarships)

USC has an incredible array of university-sponsored scholarship opportunities for residents and nonresidents.  All nonresident awards include reduced tuition rates, with the most prestigious awards including in-state tuition rates.  Awards for nonresidents range from $500/year up to $15,000/year, and some require separate applications.

McNair Scholars Awards and Horseshoe Scholars Awards

These are two of the most prestigious nonresident awards available.  Selected McNair Scholars get $15,000/year for four years and Horseshoe Scholars get $11,000/year for four years.  Both qualify for in-state tuition rates.  These awards require submission of a “Top Scholars” application. Forty qualified students are invited to an interview weekend and for those that participate in the entire weekend, half will be named McNair Scholars and half will be named Horseshoe Scholars.

The university’s “Money Matters” booklet is a fantastic resource to learn about the different scholarships and other financial aid available.


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$29,040 out-of-state tuition/year

$10,758 in-state tuition/year

$18,282 potential savings/year

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