Graduates of 34 districts can get college costs slashed by $2,000

COLUMBIA — Legislators are offering high school graduates of 34 school districts the chance to get a technical degree for free, potentially catapulting thousands of young people to a good-paying job — without mountains of college debt — while providing employers with trained workers.    

The South Carolina Promise scholarship, approved as part of the state budget, covers up to $2,000 per person this school year.  

While the state’s 16 technical colleges charge full-time students more than twice that amount in tuition and required fees, the scholarship is designed to supplement other financial aid. Students must first apply for a federal Pell Grant and state lottery-supported scholarships. The Promise will fill any gap, plus contribute up to $300 for books.

“I hope it gives promise for a promising future for those who would otherwise not be financially able to get a higher education,” said Sen. Karl Allen, D-Greenville, who advocated for the program. “It opens up a whole new world of opportunity.”

It’s not yet clear how many students statewide are benefiting this semester. About 7,600 students graduated in the spring from the 34 poor school districts. 

But the offer isn’t limited to the Class of 2018. It extends to anyone who’s earned a diploma or GED while living in the eligible districts over the past six years and doesn’t already have a bachelor’s degree.

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