4 Benefits to Staying In S.C. for College

by   |   kallweil@bju.edu   |  

Leaving for college is scary enough, and there’s plenty going on in the world right now to make the anxiety worse. You may be wondering if you should even go to college, much less go somewhere several states away. When I left for college at BJU (even though that was admittedly many years ago now), I was thankful I was only going a little over an hour away. May I say, there are perks to staying in state for college.

Financial Benefits

The most attractive perk to staying in state may be the scholarships and grants available to students in addition to the financial aid offered by BJU. South Carolina offers three scholarships and one grant to students who stay in in state for college.

The best way to have your scholarship and grant questions answered is to contact the financial aid office of your prospective school. BJU’s financial aid office recently did a financial aid Q&A during a Virtual College Up Close session. Here, director of student aid Susan Young and financial aid advisor Diana O’Bryan give advice on seeking financial aid, including in-state grants and scholarships.

Young says the best advice she can give students is “do well in school and submit your FAFSA (for the South Carolina Tuition Grant) by June 30.” If you have questions, you may email the financial aid office at finaid@bju.edu.

HOPE Scholarship

The HOPE Scholarship can be up to $2,800 and is for first-year full-time students attending eligible four-year institutions (of which BJU is one). If you receive the HOPE Scholarship and then earn 30 credit hours and a 3.0 LIFE GPA during your first year, you will be eligible for the LIFE Scholarship for your second year. For more information, visit BJU’s financial aid website.

LIFE Scholarship

The LIFE Scholarship is based on academic merit and awards up to $5,000 each academic year. Students who enroll in approved programs in health, science or math may also qualify for a LIFE Scholarship Enhancement of up to an additional $2,500. To find out if your program qualifies and to learn more, visit the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education’s website.

BJU also offers three academic excellence scholarships of $4,500, $6,500 and up to $10,000. When combined with a LIFE Scholarship, a large portion of your tuition bill can be covered. Eligibility requirements are available on BJU’s financial aid website.

Palmetto Fellows Scholarship

The Palmetto Fellows Scholarship awards up to $6,700 to freshmen and up to $7,500 per year to sophomores, juniors and seniors. This scholarship, like the LIFE Scholarship, is based on academic merit. In addition to being a South Carolina resident, eligible applicants must be in the top 6% of their class as well as meet SAT (or ACT) and GPA minimums. Young advises, “This is a need-based grant so students must submit a FAFSA no later than June 30 each year to qualify.”

Students who are eligible for the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship are also eligible for the BJU Fellows Scholarship. Qualifying students pay $0 in tuition. Learn more on BJU’s financial aid website.

South Carolina Tuition Grant

If you were to look into the price of attending a state university, you would notice the in-state tuition is much cheaper than the out-of-state tuition. The state of South Carolina helps to offset the tuition of in-state students at those institutions and has decided to provide a similar grant to eligible students wishing to attend participating independent institutions such as BJU. This grant varies in amount, but last year’s average was about $3,100. More information is also available on BJU’s financial aid website.

Future Scholar 529 Plan

Though you are not required to live in South Carolina to open a Future Scholar 529 Plan, you do receive extra tax benefits if you do. This plan allows anyone — a parent, grandparent, family friend — to open a tax-free college savings account for a child. The child then may use the savings at any college they choose, in state or otherwise. Other benefits include flexibility of funds if the child decides not to go to college, a variety of investment strategies, and the ability to transfer funds to another beneficiary if needed. For more information, visit the Future Scholar website.

Travel Savings

Another perk for staying in state for college is that you’re closer to home. This is a perk I enjoyed often. When you want to go home for the weekend because you’re craving your mom’s cooking, you can. Also, when you have a big game or are in a performance, your family can come cheer you on.

Because you’re closer to home, you’ll save time. Instead of spending half or more of the first day of your short fall break in the airport, you’ll be home in time for supper. And definitely no driving all day and half the night.

You’ll save travel money by staying in state for college, too. Instead of spending money on plane or train tickets or multiple tanks full of gas, you’ll only need to fill up before leaving school — and maybe not even that.

Hint: You can also save on laundry and take those loads home with you on the weekend. I may be speaking from experience.

Continued Service

Another plus to being close to home is that you can continue the ministries you’re already involved in. During my junior and senior years, I led the Sunday school toddler class at my home church. I was thankful I could continue that through the school year because it provided a constant face to the little ones who needed consistency at that stage. Maybe you have a ministry you’re already involved in at your home church that is disrupted when the school year starts. Staying in state for college allows you to continue that ministry.

The same goes for ministries within the community. Do you volunteer with a homeless shelter? A women’s shelter or children’s home? You can continue if you stay in South Carolina for school.

If you want ideas on how to get involved in your local church, read this article by Dr. Alan Benson.

Connections to Internship and Career Opportunities

Often a college in your state will have connections to businesses and organizations near your home. Natalie Smith from BJU’s Career Services says, “Colleges will have more local employer connections for job and internship opportunities, and those will primarily be the employers that recruit on the campus.”

Take advantage of those connections through events such as job fairs and other resources available through your school’s career center. Then learn the art of networking. Recruiters often hire someone they have already met. According to Smith, “Businesses typically have more local business contacts than national, so the network for jobs and internships is typically stronger the closer you are to the college.”

Consider where you want to be located once you graduate. “If the student desires to obtain future employment in their home state, it will be easier for them to make connections and secure employment there if they attend college in state,” Smith says. “Students entering professional fields that require licensing or certification will likely obtain their first credentials in the state where they were trained. For example, BJU education students obtain teacher certification for the state of South Carolina. They can apply for certification in other states, but it adds another hoop to jump through when seeking employment outside of the state.”

Staying in state for college has never sounded more appealing. If you’re looking for a conservative Christian liberal arts university, BJU might be your school. Schedule a virtual visit or register for a Virtual College Up Close session today. You might be surprised.

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