Thousands of students who attend South Carolina’s technical colleges will soon have an easier time transferring to Clemson University and the University of South Carolina in a move that may save students thousands of dollars in tuition costs.
Clemson and USC announced an agreement with the SC Technical College System to streamline the process for tech college graduates to enroll as juniors at either university.
Details of the plan are still being worked out, but the intent is for students who graduate with an associate’s degree from a transfer-oriented major at any of the state’s 16 tech college campuses to be able to enroll at Clemson or USC to finish a four-year degree, said Kelly Steinhilper, SC Tech System spokeswoman.
Graduates would need an agreed-upon cumulative grade point average to be eligible, she said.
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Clemson, USC and the tech colleges will begin to coordinate how students are advised while in the tech system to ensure that all of the 60 credits taken in an associate degree program will transfer to USC or Clemson, allowing the student to enter as a junior, she said.
The agreement will save students and families money by allowing students to attend lower-tuition tech colleges and then transfer to Clemson or USC to complete a bachelor’s degree, said James Williamson, president of the tech college system.
The agreement, when in place, could save state students more than $10,000 in tuition costs by attending a technical school for the first two years.
Tuition costs to attend Clemson for a state resident are $13,446 for 2014-2015.
It costs $11,158 for an S.C. student to attend USC this school year.
But it costs less than half that to attend Greenville Tech at $5,060 a year, based on two semesters of 15 credit hours each.
Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College, said he was pleased that the universities will provide an affordable pathway for students interested in pursuing bachelor’s degrees.
“These students now can be assured that the first two years completed in the supportive environment of Greenville Technical College and other South Carolina technical colleges will lead them directly to the final two years on the four-year campus,” Miller said.
In a statement, Clemson President James Clements said Clemson welcomed the opportunity to provide additional options for state students to get a four-year degree.
“In addition to increasing access to a Clemson degree, the agreement gives us another tool to help meet the workforce needs of our state, particularly in science and engineering fields,” Clements said.
Harris Pastides, USC president, said the agreement would promoted the economic well-being of the state by offering more flexible models for college access.