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Office of Undergraduate Admissions


Top Scholars FAQ

What are the Top Scholar awards at the University of South Carolina?

Top Scholars are the university's most distinguished merit award winners. There are five Top Scholar awards: Carolina, Hamilton, Horseshoe, McNair, and Stamps. In-state applicants may be awarded the Carolina, Hamilton, or Stamps scholarships. Out-of-state applicants may be awarded the Horseshoe, McNair, or Stamps scholarships.

How much is each award worth?
  • Carolina: $15,000 per year. The four-year value is $60,000.
  • Hamilton: $10,000 per year. The four-year value is $40,000.
  • Horseshoe: $11,000 per year + tuition reduction. The four-year value is more than $119,000.
  • McNair: $15,000 per year + tuition reduction. The four-year value is more than $135,000.
  • Stamps (In-State): Up to $20,000 per year + $10,000 enrichment fund. The four-year value is up to $90,000.
  • Stamps (Out-Of-State): Up to $20,000 per year + $10,000 enrichment fund + tuition reduction. The four-year value is more than $167,000.
Aside from the monetary benefit, what other benefits does being a Top Scholar provide?

Top Scholars enjoy a number of benefits as well as special programs from the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships. Selection as a Top Scholar guarantees automatic admission into the South Carolina Honors College.

Top Scholars are also provided a laptop computer, preferred parking, an upperclassman Scholar Buddy, and personalized advisement. Some examples of programming for Top Scholars are a First-Year Scholar retreat and ropes course, holistic drop-in hours, and fall and spring dinners. A full list of benefits can be found here.

What are the average SAT scores, ACT scores, and GPAs of incoming Top Scholars?

On average, our In-State Top Scholars have an SAT score of 1507, ACT score of 33, and weighted GPA of 4.83. The averages for our Out-of-State Top Scholars are an SAT score of 1545, ACT score of 34, and weighted GPA of 4.80.

How do I apply for the Top Scholars Awards?

Students must first complete the general application for freshman admission to the University of South Carolina. Once they have submitted their general application, students may be invited to apply for the South Carolina Honors College based on qualifying test scores.

The application for Top Scholar Awards is the same as the South Carolina Honors College application. Students are highly encouraged to apply for general admission by October 15, but the deadline for the Honors College/Top Scholars application is November 15.

What else is required to apply for the Honors College/Top Scholars?

Students applying to the Honors College must submit the Honors College/Top Scholars application. They must also submit two letters of recommendation and official SAT or ACT scores sent directly from College Board or ACT. We also highly encourage you to submit a copy of your resume, but it is optional.

Are transfer applicants or international students eligible for the Top Scholar awards?

No. Only first-year students who are either permanent residents or citizens of the United States are eligible for the Top Scholar awards.

After I submit my application, what are the next steps in the Top Scholar selection process?

The top 20 percent of applicants are reviewed by a committee of more than 30 faculty members from a variety of disciplines across campus. Using a holistic review process, the review committee looks for evidence of academic achievement, leadership potential, a commitment to serving others, intellectual curiosity, high school course rigor, genuine interest in the university, and letters of recommendation.

When will I be notified if I am a Top Scholar Candidate?

Applicants are notified in late January if they are selected as Top Scholar Candidates. The top 50 in-state applicants and top 45 out-of-state applicants will be invited to a mandatory interview weekend in order to move forward in the selection process.

This year's in-state interview weekend is February 24-26, 2018. The out-of-state interview weekend is March 3-5, 2018.

I have a conflict with the scheduled Top Scholar Weekend. Can you reschedule for me?

Candidates must attend the interview weekend to move forward in the selection process. If you cannot attend, your spot will be offered to the next deserving candidate in line.

Where can I find information on the credit I will receive for my AP or IB courses?

A full list of credit received for AP and IB exams can be found here.