Report: SC colleges among the least affordable for needy families

A new study ranks South Carolina's public colleges as some of the nation's least affordable for needy students.

The Institute for College Access and Success called the findings “striking” in releasing its state-by-state breakdown of the financial burden for getting a public education.

Nationwide, the study found the neediest families commit an average of 77 percent of their total income to cover costs at a four-year school and 50 percent at a two-year school.

But in South Carolina, families that earn $30,000 or less have to spend 104 percent of their total income to cover the average net price of going to a four-year school, and 52 percent of their total income for a two-year school.

“College prices alone don’t tell you whether they’re affordable for a given family,” said Debbie Cochrane, the report’s co-author. “The net price of college may be lowest for the lowest income families, but a family living on $30,000 per year cannot realistically devote more than half of its income to college and still cover basic necessities.”

The study defines the “net price” of an education as the cost of books, transportation, and living expenses, as well as tuition and fees, minus any state or federal aid, or college grants and scholarships.