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The 15 Most Affordable Colleges in South Carolina in 2021

March 5, 2021 | Staff Writers

Cheapest Colleges in South Carolina
Degree Finder
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College degrees can be a critical component in the process of obtaining a satisfying career and high-paying employment. Earning an undergraduate college degree can provide many benefits:

  • Better job opportunities
  • A higher degree of economic stability
  • Networking opportunities after graduation

Furthermore, discipline and hard work needed to earn a college degree promote personal growth and an increase in self-esteem.

An undergraduate degree from a great South Carolina college or university can also prepare you for continuing education in your chosen field. Postgraduate Master’s or Ph.D. work will likely improve your ability to obtain an outstanding, well-paying job.

These days, savvy students are quite value-conscious. They are highly aware of rampant inflation in the cost of education over the last few decades. They are committed to keeping their college costs as low as possible. The average annual tuition in the United States for an undergraduate degree from a private college is over $30,000 per year. This is a formidable problem for many prospective students.

In addition, many students are busy balancing their college education with competing time constraints such as family obligations and extra-curricular employment. Incredibly expensive college costs are a big negative. So, without further ado:

Rank School Location
1Clinton Junior CollegeRock Hill, South Carolina
2Bob Jones UniversityGreenville, South Carolina
3Citadel Military College of South CarolinaCharleston, South Carolina
4Columbia International UniversityColumbia, South Carolina
5Francis Marion UniversityFlorence, South Carolina

The Top 15 Cheapest Colleges in South Carolina

1

Clinton Junior College

  • Rock Hill, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 43%

Clinton Junior College is a traditionally black school with a 100% acceptance rate. This is combined with an affordable overall cost. Furthermore, 100% of its undergraduates receive some type of financial aid. Moreover, 100% of its students graduate. Seventy-eight percent of the graduates report having a job with two years of graduating. Because of these value propositions, the college ranks first in our listing. It considers itself to be “A Beacon of Light for Today’s Scholars and Tomorrow’s Leaders”

School Overview

Average Cost: $16,210
Undergraduate Enrollment: 193
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2

Bob Jones University

  • Greenville, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 60%

Bob Jones is a conservative, private, Christian university. With an acceptance rate of 100% and a graduation rate of 66%, this university may be a good choice for you. Popular majors include business, nursing, and accounting. Another positive is that 100% of students receive aid. As a Christ-centered institution, students grow and learn to find themselves engaging with society as a whole from a Christian perspective.

School Overview

Average Cost: $13,664
Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,271
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3

Citadel Military College of South Carolina

  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 69%

Citadel is a public institution in Charleston. Known for its rigorous academics and offering over 20 major programs, the top majors at Citadel include business, political science, and government, and criminal justice and law enforcement administration. These fields serve its graduates quite well, with over 96% finding employment with 2 years of earning their degree. Citadel emphasizes principled leadership training for all admitted students.

School Overview

Average Cost: $6,396
Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,654
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4

Columbia International University

  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 74%

CIU, a small, private, Christian-based school, is not easy to get into, with a highly competitive acceptance rate of 33%.  Classes are small and led by faculty accomplished in scholarly and professional life. Quiet places on the beautiful campus provide ample time for reflection and personal growth. Popular majors include biblical studies, Liberal arts and humanities, and religious vocations. The university is quite generous with 100% of its undergraduates receive financial assistance.

School Overview

Average Cost: $18,136
Undergraduate Enrollment: 513
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5

Francis Marion University

  • Florence, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 41%

This is a small, public university located in the Northeastern part of the state and was founded in 1970. It was named after a revolutionary war officer named Francis Marion, also known as “The Swamp Fox. Heath-related coursework in nursing, biology, and psychology are among the most popular at FMU. With 100% of its students receiving aid, this could be a good school to consider.

School Overview

Average Cost: $11,796
Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,632
Graduate Enrollment: 516
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6

Southern Wesleyan University

  • Central, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 61%

Located near Greenville, SC, this small Christian university is fairly competitive, accepting 54% of its applicants. The Christ-centered close-knit student community is focused on transforming students’ lives. Undergraduates are likely to pursue degrees in business, human services, biology, and liberal arts and humanities. Because of its small enrollment, the student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Ninety-nine percent of undergraduates receive grant or scholarship aid at Southern Wesleyan.

School Overview

Average Cost: $16,578
Undergraduate Enrollment: 810
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7

Columbia College

  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 49%

Students at Columbia College, a small private institution, tend to work towards undergraduate degrees in the social sciences. These include criminal justice, homeland security and disaster management, and social work and youth services. The student body tends to be close-knit. Student-faculty interaction is a top attribute here. Fully 90% of its graduates report having meaningful employment with two years of graduation.

School Overview

Average Cost: $16,702
Undergraduate Enrollment: 765
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8

Winthrop University

  • Rock Hill, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 58%

Located in North-central South Carolina not far from the North Carolina border, Winthrop University is a public institution that is highly praised by its undergraduates. Business, biology, psychology, and kinesiology, and exercise science are the majors most chosen by the students here. Just over 2/3 of classes are currently taught online.  Over 90% of graduates are employed within 2 years of leaving school.

School Overview

Average Cost: $7,903
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,311
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9

University of South Carolina – Upstate

  • Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 68%

This public university was founded in 1967 because of a perceived shortage of nursing graduates. Even today, nursing remains the school’s top undergraduate major at USC-Upstate. Business, liberal arts, and psychology are popular courses of study as well. The school has a beautiful campus. Because of its location in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the are abundant recreational possibilities in the vicinity. About 97% of students receive financial aid while in attendance here. Over 90% of the student base is confident that they will be employed in their field of interest after graduation.

School Overview

Average Cost: $15,528
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,739
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10

Lander University

  • Greenwood, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 42%

Lander is a small, public university in the western part of South Carolina. It has competitive admissions, accepting only 43% of applicants to the undergraduate student body. Students studying here prefer business, nursing, and kinesiology as their top degree programs. Students work hard here but at the same time find that the student body is quite friendly. The campus is centrally located, only 5 minutes away from downtown Greenville.

School Overview

Average Cost: $14,929
Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,764
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11

Converse College

  • Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 54%

This small, private, women’s college is known for close personal attention and boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1. Because of that, students receive a hands-on, personalized education experience. Psychology is the top major here. Other popular programs are biology, arts, and rehabilitation therapy. Ninety-nine percent of students obtain some form of aid while studying at Converse.

School Overview

Average Cost: $19,058
Undergraduate Enrollment: 842
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12

University of South Carolina Aiken

  • Aiken, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 42%

USC-Aiken is nationally known as one of the top public colleges in the South. that was founded in 1961. The average class size of 15 students ensures that personal attention is a priority here. Career development is an important component of undergraduate education here. Students live on-campus in spacious apartments instead of traditional dormitories. Business is the top undergraduate program of study and is facilitated by The School of Business Administration. Other popular majors include nursing, biology, and psychology.

School Overview

Average Cost: $15,048
Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,671
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13

Coastal Carolina University

  • Conway, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 41%

Located in the Myrtle Beach area, Coastal Carolina is a dynamic, mid-sized public institution. Almost all (99%) of admitted students receive grants or scholarships. The university offers more than 80 undergraduate major options. Popular majors include business, communications, and marine biology, and oceanography. CCU is also known for a growing internship program for its undergraduates. In addition, proximity to the coast provides fabulous recreational opportunities.

School Overview

Average Cost: $16,386
Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,941
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14

Claflin University

  • Orangeburg, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 57%

Claflin is a private, Christian, historically black institution. It was founded in 1869 by Lee Claflin, a forward-thinking Methodist layman from Boston. Criminal justice and safety studies, psychology, communications, and organizational behavior studies are among the popular majors pursued by undergraduates here. Personal attention with professors is a hallmark of the education style here, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. Claflin graduates go on to earn an average starting salary of $25,300.

School Overview

Average Cost: $19,208
Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,984
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15

Charleston Southern University

  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Graduation Rate: 35%

Charleston Southern University is a private, Christian university in the historically significant city of Charleston.  The school’s vision is to be a Christian university nationally recognized for integrating faith in learning, leading and serving. Important to value-seeking applicants, 100% of admitted students receive financial aid. The most sought-after degree programs include nursing, psychology, business, and biology.

School Overview

Average Cost: $17,013
Undergraduate Enrollment: 2729
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Your Search for Educational Value in South Carolina

Congratulations on your decision to pursue a college degree in South Carolina! If you are looking for the best combination of value and educational excellence, this ranking is certain to help with your search. As you can see, we look at the full gamut of undergraduate school types, ranging from elite private colleges to large public universities, spiritual-based versus secular schools, rural- to urban-based campuses, all of which are based in South Carolina.

We know that finding the best value for your undergraduate degree is quite a task. As a result, we work diligently to develop rankings of the best schools offering undergraduate programs. These rankings are constructed based on specific criteria that are most appealing to value-conscious students.

Description of Ranking Methodology

Our college ranking is summarized as follows: Specific rank is based on an equal (50% each) weighting of two normalized factors considered to be of the highest importance: Annual net cost to attend the school and undergraduate graduation rate.  Net cost figures are calculated as the average annual cost of attendance minus the average amount of aid received. It represents the boiled-down, true value of attending college. The graduation rate is the percentage of undergraduate students that actually finish their undergraduate program and have earned their degree. Its importance lies in the fact that the students achieve what they set out to do. Additionally, it reflects the fact that all other aspects, such as social and demographic concerns, rank sufficiently high that students remain at the school until their degree is awarded.

Net cost information (average total cost after average aid received) was gathered from Niche. Enrollment is for total undergraduate numbers as gathered from Google. Other school facts were also gathered from Google.

If you represent one of the listed schools and notice an error please contact us so that we can make an update.

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