Once you’ve decided that you want to go to college, it can quickly become overwhelming to decide where to pursue your studies. While four-year colleges with bachelor’s degree programs are the most common path, attending one of the best community colleges in South Carolina is worth considering. These schools offer two-year associate degree programs, alongside other certificates and training.
Most community colleges in South Carolina are partnered with four-year universities. This allows students with associate degrees from community colleges to transfer their credits to bachelor’s degree programs at universities, saving students a significant amount of money.
South Carolina community colleges are a great option for those who want to jump into the workforce or pursue higher education. Below, we’ll go over everything you’ll need to know to choose the South Carolina community college you want to attend. We’ll also include a list of the best online community colleges in South Carolina for anyone interested in distance learning.
How Many Community Colleges Are in South Carolina?
There are 32 community colleges in South Carolina, according to US News & World Report. These community colleges offer many transfer programs that allow students to smoothly transition to universities for their bachelor’s degrees, after graduating from their associate degree programs.
How Many Community College Districts Are in South Carolina?
There are no community college districts in South Carolina. However, there is a South Carolina Technical College System that is composed of 16 colleges in the state. These member colleges offer a wide variety of programs in different fields.
What Is the Biggest Community College in South Carolina?
The biggest community college in South Carolina is Trident Technical College, according to the NCES. The institution is home to nearly 12,000 students, based on 2021 data.
What Are the Best Community Colleges in South Carolina?
|Aiken Technical College
|York Technical College
|Piedmont Technical College
|Denmark Technical College
|Trident Technical College
|Central Carolina Technical College
|Florence-Darlington Technical College
|Greenville Technical College
|Midlands Technical College
The Best Community Colleges in South Carolina: Explained
With so many community colleges in the state, it can be difficult to determine which community colleges in South Carolina is right for you. Below, we’ll list the top 10 schools in the area and delve into their stats to help you find the best fit for you.
Best Online Community Colleges in South Carolina
- Trident Technical College. This college offers over five fully-online programs to students who want to complete their education virtually. The disciplines cover homeland security, criminal justice, tourism and hospitality management, business technology, and art.
- Aiken Technical College. This school offers online, web-enhanced, and hybrid classes and a fully-online Associate of Arts. In addition to typical coursework, to encourage student and faculty discussion, students work on a collaborative project once a week.
- Midlands Technical College. Courses not taught in person are either offered online with pre-recorded lectures, virtually with live-streamed lectures, or hybrid with both online and in-person lectures.The school currently has five programs that are 100 percent online, which include a supervisory, criminal justice, payroll and accounting specialist, and billing and medical coding specialist certificates, alongside a Criminal Justice Associate Degree.
Best Online Associate Degrees
Other South Carolina Community College Rankings
According to the US News & World Report, there are 32 South Carolina community colleges, and each has its own strengths. Some are great for transfer students, some are renowned for a specific degree program like nursing, and others offer bachelor’s degrees. Below, we’ll discuss schools with these aforementioned strengths.
Best Community Colleges in South Carolina for Transfer
- Horry-Georgetown Technical College. HGTC allows students to easily transfer to a four-year university upon completion of their programs. Currently, the school has transfer agreements with 33 institutions, 16 of them being technical colleges, 13 of them being universities, and four of them being University of South Carolina’s two-year regional campuses.
- Aiken Technical School. ATC offers transfer programs for general education as well as University of Arts and University of Sciences associate degrees. Across its various transferable programs, Aiken has more than 85 courses that can transfer directly to a four-year college or university.
- Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College. OCtech boasts transferable AA and AS degrees in the University of Arts and Science. Of its nearly 20 program transfer options, some disciplines include business administration, criminal justice, food science, and teaching.
Best Community Colleges for Nursing in South Carolina
- Fortis College-Columbia. This program is ideal for those who are already licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and want to become registered nurses (RNs). Fortis allows LPNs and LVNs to transfer credits from their previous programs to their associate degree. Fortis also works with Denver College of Nursing, its sister school, to allow students to pursue the degree online.
- Denmark Technical College. Denmark offers multiple nursing programs in pre-medical, nurse aide assistant, and practical nursing. Pre-medical students can study in Denmark to learn a baseline level of skills to prepare them for further education or allow them to gain an entry-level job. Denmark’s 48-hour practical nursing program prepares students to take the National Council Licensure Examination for the Practical Nurse upon graduation.
- Central Carolina Technical College. This school is ideal for those that want to achieve an Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) degree and work directly with patients upon graduation. The program has students work hands-on in clinical experiences, allowing them to work with real patients much more often than other programs, such as Fortis’ Denver online degree.
Best South Carolina Community Colleges That Offer Bachelor’s Degrees
- Greenville Technical College. This college is the first two-year institution in South Carolina to have an Applied Baccalaureate program. Its Bachelor in Applied Science in Advanced Manufacturing Technology degree, for example, combines Greenville’s two-year associate degree with two years of a bachelor’s degree.
- University of South Carolina—Lancaster. This community college within the University of South Carolina offers Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees in-person and online. USC’s associate degrees can lead to online bachelor’s degree completion through transfer programs. Some of the online bachelor’s degrees offered include an Associate of Arts and Associate of Science, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.
- University of South Carolina—Sumter. While USC’s Lancaster campus is excellent for those who want to complete their associate and bachelor’s degrees online, Sumter is the better option if you want to complete your studies in person, as you can do both degrees on the same campus. For most of its programs, you can then complete your related BS or BA on Sumter’s campus, but other, more specific degrees are offered on USC’s other campuses.
Best Associate Degrees
Best Community College Programs in South Carolina
South Carolina community colleges have a variety of academic programs for everyone, from those who just graduated high school to those already in their career that want to upskill. Some want to enter the workforce upon graduation and those use a community college degree as a stepping stone for further education. Below, we’ll discuss some of the best community college programs in South Carolina so you can determine what is the right fit for you.
Many schools in South Carolina offer programs within criminal justice that are perfect for those that want to either work in law, corrections, law enforcement, or Homeland Security, to name a few. There are some jobs in criminal justice available upon completion of an associate degree, but often graduates will go on to earn a bachelor’s degree if they want to work in criminology and other theory-based fields. Of the schools on our list, Denmark Technical College, Trident Technical College, and Midlands Technical College all offer criminal justice degrees.
Most of the best community colleges in South Carolina offers a degree program in education. Some schools on our list that have education programs are York Technical College, Central Carolina Technical College, and Midlands Technical College. The relevant degrees at those schools are listed as Associate in Applied Science major in Early Care and Education, Early Care and Education Associate Degree in Applied Science, and Associate Degree in Early Care and Education.
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The business programs that South Carolina’s community colleges typically offer are associate degrees. For example, York Technical College offers an Associate in Applied Science in Business Administration with Entrepreneurial Specialization, and Denmark Technical College offers an Associate Degree in Business Administration. You can enter the workforce upon completion of your associate degree, or transfer your credits to an affiliate university and study for two more years.
While SC is most well-known for the Medical University of South Carolina, the state also has excellent nursing community college programs. Most programs are associate degrees, which allow students to become Registered Nurses (RNs) upon completion of their studies. Some that pursue this degree have no prior career experience, while others that are Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) will complete an associate degree to become an RN for a higher salary.
York Technical College has an Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Technology degree, Piedmont Technical College has an Automotive Technology AAS, Florence-Darlington Technical College has an Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Technology, and Midlands Technical College has an Associate Degree in Automotive Technology. After this degree, you could easily be placed in a well-paying job without the need for further education.
South Carolina Community College Admission Requirements
South Carolina’s community college admission requirements are not as strict as those of baccalaureate and graduate universities. For a community college, students need to complete an online application, show proof of high school education or GED and have SAT or ACT test scores.
In addition, students have to provide proof of residency for the state they live in to calculate the appropriate tuition costs. It could be in the form of a driver’s license or any proof of identification showing you currently reside in the US. Lastly, you must submit all forms if you seek government financial aid, scholarships, or waived tuition programs.
South Carolina Community College GPA Requirements
Some community colleges in the US require a minimum GPA for student applicants, however, the community colleges mentioned in this list do not have minimum grade scores. This is because most community colleges have an open admission policy, meaning they accept everyone that meets their other academic criteria. Most community colleges that require a standardized test will waive the requirement if a student’s high school GPA is 3.0 or higher.
If you’re wondering about the minimum GPA you’re required to keep to graduate from community college, it’s best to maintain a 2.0 GPA. At Central Carolina Community College, each student is required to sustain at least a 2.0 GPA or else they will be placed on academic probation.
Residency Requirements for Community Colleges in South Carolina
Residency requirements for community colleges in South Carolina vary. Tuition rates for community colleges are broken up by county as well as the state. For example, at Trident Technical College, residents living in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester are charged $206 per credit hour. By contrast, those that live outside of those counties but still reside in South Carolina pay $227 per credit, while out-of-state students are required to pay $374 per credit hour.
If you wish to be considered for in-state tuition, you have to provide proof of your residency in accordance with South Carolina law. To be eligible for in-state tuition at Trident Technical College, for example, a student must have lived in South Carolina for 12 consecutive months.
South Carolina Community College Age Requirements
Most schools, like Denmark and Trident Technical College, have an age requirement of 18 years old to enter community college in South Carolina. This is because most students complete high school at the age of 18, and a high school diploma is an admission requirement to community college.
Additionally, many trades require students to operate dangerous equipment and having minor students can be a liability. Some schools will make an exception and admit 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by the time they begin school. This age requirement is standard across associate degrees as well as those who wish to take certificate programs.
South Carolina Community College Admission Requirements: A Summary
- 18 years of age
- Online application form
- ACT/SAT/ Accuplacer test scores
- High school diploma or GED
- Academic transcripts
- FAFSA form
Why Study in South Carolina?
You should study in South Carolina if you want to experience life in the American South. This state has nice weather and an ideal geographical location. There are also many tourist areas throughout the state and many just beyond the state’s borders. Moreover, you should study in South Carolina if you live in the state so that you can get reduced tuition prices for more affordable education. Below, we’ll discuss these benefits in more detail.
Pleasant to Live in
The geography and climate of South Carolina are wonderful. Winters are very mild, with temperatures rarely dropping below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and spring tends to arrive in late February. Sure, August does get sweltering, but luckily air conditioning abounds in every building. Since the state borders the coast, you can go to schools near the water and have weekend getaways at the beach.
Plentiful Tourist Areas
Hand-in-hand with nice weather, there are also many tourist destinations that attract people to the state. Charleston, for example, is a popular city for tourism and nightlife. If you ever get tired of beachgoing, hiking, and watching the sunset over marshes, there are plentiful art and film festivals, galleries, theaters, and historical monuments sprinkled throughout the state.
Many Notable Universities
If you’re going to a community college in South Carolina, you will have great options if you want to continue studying for a bachelor’s degree. The state is home to University of South Carolina, which is a reputable school. Other popular options for a baccalaureate degree and beyond include College of Charleston or Medical University of South Carolina.
South Carolina Employment Outlook for Community College Students
The South Carolina employment outlook for community college students is promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that those with an associate degree earn $963 per week, which comes out to about $50,000 annually. Associate degrees make it possible to obtain many of the top occupational openings for 2022, which include registered nurses with 3,509 openings, maintenance and repair workers with 1,539 openings, and secretaries and administrative assistants with 1,244 openings.
5 In-Demand South Carolina Jobs
There are many in-demand South Carolina jobs for those who graduate from community college and want to stay in the state. You can work in fields like public health, administration, education, business, and more. Below, we’ll discuss five high-paying jobs with promising outlooks you can get with a degree from one of the best community colleges in South Carolina.
What Community Colleges in South Carolina Have Dorms?
The community colleges in South Carolina that have dorms are Spartanburg Methodist College, Clinton Junior College, University of South Carolina’s Palmetto Colleges, and Denmark Technical College. These community living spaces offer the convenience of being close to classes, eliminating the need for extensive transportation. However, dormitories are often expensive compared to the amount of space you would get in a normal apartment, and many dorms require students to share a bedroom with another roommate.
South Carolina Community Colleges With Dorms
- Clinton Junior College
- Denmark Technical College
- Spartanburg Methodist College
- University of South Carolina—Palmetto Colleges
What Community Colleges Offer Winter Intersession in South Carolina?
A handful of community colleges offer winter intersessions in South Carolina, a few of them are Midlands Technical College, Trident Technical College, and York Technical College. All three schools call their intersessions “Wintermesters,” and involve intensive four-week classes running from mid-December to early January. York Technical College hosts their Wintermesters online only.
South Carolina Community Colleges With Winter Intersession
- Midlands Technical College
- Trident Technical College
- York Technical College
What Community Colleges in South Carolina Have Summer Classes?
Numerous community colleges in South Carolina have summer classes. Some include Spartanburg Community College, Midlands Technical College, Technical College of the Lowcountry, TriCounty Technical College, and Trident Technical College. Most schools also offer multiple summer programs, some being a “Maymester” only during the month of May, and a Summer I or Summer II programs, each taking half of the remainder of summer break.
South Carolina Community Colleges With Summer Classes
- Midlands Technical College
- Spartanburg Community College
- Technical College of the Lowcountry
- TriCounty Technical College
- Trident Technical College
How to Apply to Community College in South Carolina
You can apply to a community college in South Carolina by filling out an online application form on the school’s website. After completing your application, you’ll need to provide supplemental materials. These usually include academic transcripts from high school, standardized test scores from the SAT or ACT, application fees, and maybe even a placement test.
South Carolina Community College Application Steps
- Fill out the online application form on the school’s website
- Pay the application fee
- Submit a FAFSA form
- Submit official transcripts
- Send in SAT or ACT test scores
Cost of Community Colleges in South Carolina
The cost of community colleges in South Carolina is $4,916 for in-state tuition and $10,206 for out-of-state tuition. Tuition costs will differ depending on the individual program, as they are usually calculated by how many credit hours are taken, and each degree has a different number of credits required for graduation. The typical cost per credit for schools on our list was between $200 and $300 for students residing in the school’s county.
Are Community Colleges Ever Free in South Carolina?
Yes, community colleges are occasionally free in South Carolina for qualifying applicants. You can obtain tuition waivers through scholarship grants or even financial aid through programs like FAFSA. In 2021, Governor Henry McMaster issued a workforce scholarship of $17 million that was distributed across community colleges in the state. Until the funds are used up, the scholarship will waive tuition for some 15,000 students in South Carolina.
Which Community Colleges Are Free in South Carolina?
There are a number of community colleges that are free in South Carolina right now, through Fall 2022 at least, though that is subject to change thereafter. Through the governor’s Workforce Scholarships for the Future pilot program, all community colleges like Aiken Technical College, Piedmont Technical College, Greenville Technical College, and Midlands Technical College will be tuition-free, requiring students to only pay for things like their textbooks.
Who Qualifies for Free Community College in South Carolina?
In order to qualify for a free community college in South Carolina, you must be enrolled in programs related to high-demand fields such as medicine, manufacturing and construction, tourism or hospitality, education, and more. Additionally, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old and a high school graduate, and either be employed, do 100 hours of volunteer work at a charitable organization, or complete a financial literacy class at your community college.
How to Apply for Free Community College in South Carolina
- Be at least 18 and a high school graduate
- Complete your application
- Provide proof of residency
- Submit all standardized test scores and transcripts
Scholarships for Community Colleges in South Carolina
There are a number of scholarships for community colleges in South Carolina through the Commission on Higher Education, such as the LIFE Scholarship, the South Carolina HOPE Scholarship, and the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship. The best scholarship to apply for at the moment, though, is the SC Workforce Scholarships for the Future, which is completely waiving tuition for qualifying students through at least the Fall 2022 semester.
In general, to qualify for a typical scholarship, high school seniors need to have met a certain GPA and be in good academic standing with their school. Scholarships will often require students to submit impressive, standardized test scores, such as at least a 27 on the ACT or 1200 on the SAT. In addition to being a US citizen and having a clean criminal record, viable applicants will not be able to acquire more than one of the state’s scholarships at the same time.
How to Get a Scholarship for Community Colleges in South Carolina
- Be a high school senior applying to community college
- Have good academic standing and a minimum GPA
- Provide impressive SAT or ACT scores
- Be a US citizen
- Don’t have a criminal record
South Carolina Community College Scholarships List
- SC Workforce Scholarships for the Future | Amount: Full scholarship. This scholarship is offered at all technical colleges in South Carolina. Students enrolled in qualifying programs have tuition waived through at least the fall 2022 semester.
- Legislative Incentive for Future Excellence (LIFE) Scholarship | Amount: Varies, but doesn’t exceed 5,000. This merit-based scholarship is open to students pursuing a four-year degree at a public or independent school, a two-year degree, or a technical degree for the first time. If you’re completing a two-year degree, you’re not able to get the LIFE Scholarship Enhancement, which is an extra $2,500 at maximum.
- Palmetto Fellows Scholarship | Amount: $6,700-$7,500. This South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, merit-based scholarship is for high school seniors pursuing a four or two-year degree. Recipients can use the scholarship across eight semesters and can even use it during summer sessions.
Other South Carolina Community College Financial Aid Options
Aside from scholarships, other South Carolina community college financial aid options can ease the financial burden of your educational program. Other methods of financial assistance include federal and state grants, student loans, and work-study options. Below, we’ll discuss these in more detail.
Students applying for admission in South Carolina’s technical and community college system are eligible for federal pell grants, a form of financial aid that does not have to be repaid. After reviewing your FAFSA form, an assessment is made based on your financial status and the cost of your future degree, and a grant amount is calculated accordingly.
South Carolina Grants
South Carolina provides this need-based grant program to students who would otherwise struggle to pay tuition and its associated costs. Full-time students can receive up to $2,500 when enrolled full-time, and part-time students can get up to $1,250, annually.
You can either take loans out through the federal government or through private banking companies. Taking out loans should be a last resort, as the burden of the loans plus interest will likely hang over you for more than 10 years. If you do need to take out loans, get them through the federal government, as there is a possibility they can be forgiven and canceled later.
Another way of paying for college is through the Federal Work-Study program. Within this program, you would work a part-time job related to your studies. Your earnings from your work would then go towards your tuition costs.
The Best Financial Aid for Your Situation
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What Are the Financial Aid Requirements for Community Colleges in South Carolina?
The financial aid requirements for community colleges in South Carolina include being a graduating senior intending on pursuing further education. Prospective recipients need to have a good GPA and respectable academic standing at their high school. Students will also need to file a FAFSA form to see if they qualify for federal assistance.
Once a student receives financial aid, they often need to keep their college GPA above a 2.0 to 3.0, maintain a clean criminal record, and be a part-time or full-time student.
South Carolina Financial Aid Requirements: Overview
- FAFSA form
- A resident of South Carolina
- Enrolled part-time or full-time
- Keep college GPA above a certain level
- Have a clean criminal record
Should You Attend Community College in South Carolina?
Yes, you should attend a community college in South Carolina, especially if you are a resident of the state or of a school’s county. Through a community college program, you can either get a certificate or a two-year associate degree that will prepare you for entry-level jobs in your desired field. Many of the popular programs at community colleges, like nursing and manufacturing, are in fields that have a high demand for workers, making job placement upon graduation very likely.
You could also use that affordable, two-year associate degree by transferring those credits to a bachelor’s program at a university in the state. Now is also the perfect time to go to community college because, through the SC Workforce Scholarships for the Future pilot program, you might be able to have your tuition completely waived at least through the fall 2022 semester.
South Carolina Community College Rankings: Methodology
Our ranking of South Carolina community colleges is based mainly on the graduation rate. If graduation rate statistics were not available, we used data on student-to-faculty ratios to rank the remaining schools. These figures, sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), best reflect a student’s chances of getting the education and help they need to succeed.
Best Accelerated Degrees
Best South Carolina Community Colleges FAQ
Americans living in South Carolina get free college currently at a community college through the SC Workforce Scholarships for the Future pilot program, making tuition free at least through the Fall of 2022. There are also other federal and private merit and need-based scholarship options that can provide financial assistance.
No, it is not hard to get into a community college in South Carolina. Almost all community colleges in this state have open admissions policies, meaning that there is no minimum GPA requirement. Most schools simply require academic transcripts and any standardized test scores of their applicants, and applicants are often automatically enrolled thereafter.
You will get more hands-on training from community college instructors than from university instructors because community colleges have smaller class sizes.
Yes, there are some community colleges that offer bachelor’s degrees. However, this is uncommon as most community colleges partner with four-year universities, allowing the community college associate degree credits to be transferred to the latter school’s programs. In doing so, students are able to save money going to community college their first two years for their associate degree, and halve the time spent at a four-year university.
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