Frequently asked questions

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Financial Aid and Scholarships

What is the Gamecock Guarantee?

The Gamecock Guarantee is a need-based financial- and academic-support initiative to help make attendance at the university more affordable—and a South Carolina degree attainable—for academically qualified first-time freshmen who will be the first in their families to earn a college degree and are residents of South Carolina.

What financial support does the Gamecock Guarantee provide?

At minimum, the Gamecock Guarantee provides each participant an award of $2,500 per year for four continuous years of enrollment. If this award combined with the total of other grants and scholarships in the student's financial aid package does not meet the cost of undergraduate tuition and technology fee, the Gamecock Guarantee will increase its support to cover the difference. In other words, Gamecock Guarantee participants who retain eligibility and graduate in four years will not pay any tuition and technology fee from their own pockets. For students who enter graduate or professional school before exhausting their four years of eligibility, the Gamecock Guarantee is limited to $2,500 per year or $1,250 per semester.

How may the Gamecock Guarantee financial award be used?

The purpose of the annual $2,500 program award is to help offset the participants’ educational costs while attending the University of South Carolina. Many Gamecock Guarantee participants will find that their other awards cover or nearly cover their tuition and technology fees. If so, they can use the remaining $2,500 program award to pay for other college-related expenses such as course fees, equipment or lab fees, books and supplies, room, board or other miscellaneous expenses. Participants should diligently pursue and maintain their eligibility for other scholarships and grants. By doing so, the Gamecock Guarantee award can help to reduce or eliminate participants' needs for incurring educational debt.

How does the Gamecock Guarantee work with other financial aid awards?

Gamecock Guarantee students can receive any type of financial aid to meet their cost of attendance including room, board, books and transportation. According to their needs, Gamecock Guarantee participants will be awarded financial aid that may include scholarships for which they are eligible, grants, work-study and loans when they are necessary. All Gamecock Guarantee participants must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which in addition to establishing program eligibility, will allow them to be considered for other federal and state financial aid programs. It is the student's responsibility to pursue other opportunities for scholarships and grants.

In addition to the grant, what else do Gamecock Guarantee participants receive?

The goal of the Gamecock Guarantee is to ensure that University of South Carolina students from low-income, first-generation South Carolina families succeed in all facets of college life and earn their degrees. To that end, all Gamecock Guarantee recipients will be enrolled in either the University's Opportunity Scholars Program (OSP) [], the South Carolina Honors College [], the Capstone Scholars Program [] or another campus program that receives the approval of the director of TRIO Programs. Additionally, the Gamecock Guarantee program will coordinate student engagement in various campus services and programs that enrich the undergraduate experience.

Program components include:
  • OSP sections of general education courses offered at a reduced tuition rate for Gamecock Guarantee recipients in the Opportunity Scholars Program*
  • An extended orientation program prior to the beginning of classes in the first year for Gamecock Guarantee recipients in OSP*
  • Intensive and ongoing academic advising
  • Special sections of the nationally recognized University 101 program
  • Career exploration programs
  • Comprehensive academic support services
  • * Students enrolled in the South Carolina Honors College or the Capstone Scholars Program will participate in their respective programs and services
    What are the criteria for initial program eligibility?
    To be eligible a student must:
  • Be a resident of South Carolina
  • Apply for University admission on or before the December 1st priority application deadline
  • Be admitted to the University of South Carolina's Columbia campus
  • Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 1 and provide any required application documentation by March 15
  • Have a family taxable income for the most recently completed tax year that is not greater than 150% of the Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines.
  • Be a first-generation college student (neither parent has completed a four-year college degree)
  • Be eligible to receive a federal Pell Grant
  • Enroll as a first-time, full-time freshman for fall semester after being admitted to a program (admission must be within 5 years of high school graduation)
  • Be pursuing a bachelor's degree
  • No special application is required. The University will identify and notify eligible students.
    How do Gamecock Guarantee recipients continue in the program?

    To continue in the Gamecock Guarantee program, participants must submit the FAFSA by March 1 each year and submit all of the information needed to finalize the processing of that form by March 25. They must also remain Pell Grant eligible and maintain satisfactory academic progress for financial aid eligibility. The Gamecock Guarantee is renewable for up to three consecutive years following the freshman year. Students in the program are expected to participate in the programs and services offered to recipients to support their academic and financial success. Participants must notify the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships of any enrollment changes that occur and request a leave of absence from the program before any total break in enrollment will occur.