Students at the state’s 16 technical colleges will be able to more easily transfer to the University of South Carolina under an agreement approved Thursday.
The program will go into effect next fall and could attract up to 500 students in the first year, officials said.
“There’s a wonderful Southern saying, ‘Y’all come!’ That’s what this is all about, ‘Y’all come!”’ university President Andrew Sorensen said at a news conference with South Carolina Technical College System President Barry Russell.
Both said they hoped the program will expand access for students from the Palmetto State, and also make a college education more affordable.
Typically, tuition at a technical college costs about $3,000 for two semesters compared with a full-time USC student that pays roughly $8,300 for a school year. Dormitory costs at the university’s main campus in Columbia and a typical meal plan add about $5,500 to the tab.
Technical schools do not have student housing, and students could live at home before transferring.
“They’ll save money on tuition and room and board as well,” Sorensen said.
The so-called “bridge” program builds on similar programs with Greenville Technical College and Midlands Technical College in Columbia.
Russell said providing students at the technical schools with the specific information about courses will help guide them in preparation for USC.
“It’s not always easy to transfer” certain course credits, Russell said.
Recent high school graduates who may be interested in transferring at some point will be given special counseling on what courses to take, available financial aid options and information on student housing in Columbia.
To be eligible for a transfer, students must complete 30 hours of general studies or earn an associate degree, and meet the university’s admissions criteria.
“If we are to succeed as institutions of higher learning, and if we are to prosper as a state, we must build bridges with one another,” Sorensen said.
The university president said the cold-hearted letters that only denied admission will now include a brochure “that lists all the other institutions and opportunities” under the bridge program.
And the technical college campuses will offer a course currently at USC dubbed “University 101,” which helps students adjust to going to school on a large campus.
Last year, nearly 235,000 students were enrolled at the state’s technical colleges.
There are 39,000 students on eight campuses that make up the University of South Carolina.
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