South Carolina College Students Get Free Ride
With Lottery’s Scholarship Money
The state’s biggest college scholarship program just got a lot sweeter. About 21,000 students going to the state’s four-year colleges won’t have to pay for tuition under the lottery bill that Gov. Jim Hodges signed into law last month.
That law does not specify how much tuition the state will pay a four-year college if students qualify for an easier-to-earn LIFE Scholarship when they enter college in fall 2002. It says the state will cover the full cost of tuition and some fees for 30 credit hours at public colleges and up to $300 for books.
That money is in addition to what students may get in federal aid, such as the Pell Grant, Commission on Higher Education spokesman Charlie FitzSimons says. This year, the Pell Grants are a maximum of $3,300.
Hodges says an unlimited program for four-year college tuition wasn’t what he wanted most from the lottery spending. He wanted “a program that covers all the tuition at two-year colleges, and I’d like to cover as much of the tuition cost as possible for the four-year colleges,” he says.
Allowing students to combine the state lottery grants and federal Pell Grant wasn’t what Hodges wanted. “I didn’t want kids to double dip,” he says. “I preferred to broaden the numbers of students rather than have any that double dip.”
The new lottery law creates the free two-year program that Hodges sought, says FitzSimons and State Technical College Board spokesman Lawrence Ray.
Instead of a scholarship for students, schools get the money to provide the education. Two-year colleges can exclude students based on admissions requirements, FitzSimons says. “They are not required to provide every educational opportunity to everyone that shows up at the door,” he says. Technical colleges will enroll all students, and if they need remedial courses, those costs will be covered, Ray says.
Students who have a “B” average in those two-year and technical schools would get a full LIFE scholarship if they transfer to a four-year college.
LIFE scholarships now are $3,000 and require a “B” average and at least 1,100 on the SAT. The new lottery law requires students meet two of three criteria: “B” average, 1,100 SAT and ranking in the top 30 percent of their graduating class.
After the college freshman year, all B-average or better in-state students qualify for this scholarship, but they have to apply to get it. Parents and students will have to fill out a standard federal aid application used by colleges.
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