Gamecock Guarantee covers tuition for state's neediest students
A University of South Carolina program that covers tuition for its neediest in-state students is making college dreams a reality for more than 200 undergraduates in the program.
Established as the Gamecock Guarantee, the program is the only need-based scholarship plan of its kind in South Carolina. Two classes have been admitted since fall 2008. The program guarantees students from the state's lowest-income families who meet the entrance requirements of the University will have their tuition and technology fees covered for four years of study.
"The Gamecock Guarantee is helping to remove the financial barriers that have kept many South Carolina students from being able to attend the University of South Carolina," said Scott Verzyl, assistant vice provost for enrollment management. "The program enables students to earn a high-quality education and a degree from the state's premiere research university regardless of their financial circumstance."
A total of 211 students have enrolled at Carolina because of Gamecock Guarantee, which places students in one of three programs to ensure their academic success and adjustment to college life. The programs include the Opportunity Scholars Program, Capstone Scholars Program, and the South Carolina Honors College.
Jordan Addison, a freshman and a graduate from Stratford High School in Goose Creek, said the Gamecock Guarantee has lifted financial burdens and allowed her to be a successful member of the campus community.
"When I think about the Gamecock Guarantee and the support that the Opportunity Scholars Program has provided for my first semester at USC, I feel blessed," Addison said. "I have been brought into a community of loving and caring professors, advisers, and fellow students. There is a sense of community and a common bond that have been created by all involved in this program. More than anything, I am thrilled that, because of this program, I do not have to add any financial or emotional burdens to my mother. I have not had to ask her once to help me out financially with anything regarding paying for school. It is such a relief to know that because of this program, I can continue my dream of being at the University of South Carolina and continue to make my mom proud by accomplishing all that she has ALWAYS told me that I could."
Addison wasted no time in becoming involved in campus life: she is a member of Freshman Council and a University Ambassador.
To be eligible for the Gamecock Guarantee, a student must be accepted to the University of South Carolina Columbia as a first-time, full-time freshman for fall semester, be a first-generation college student (neither parent earned a four-year degree), and qualify for a Pell Grant and complete a federal financial-aid form (FAFSA) with a family income no greater than 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines, or approximately $33,000 for a family of four.
The amount of financial help that students receive through the Gamecock Guarantee, so that tuition and technology fees are covered, varies depending on other scholarships and grants each student may have earned. Regardless, all students receive a $2,500 award through the Gamecock Guarantee, which can be applied to expenses such as books or supplies if tuition and technology fee costs have been met by other scholarships and grants.
"Our goal is to limit or eliminate altogether educational debt for Gamecock Guarantee students and their families and create a college-going culture for all citizens of South Carolina," Verzyl said.
South Carolina Honors College student Chadwick Devlin, a sophomore from Pendleton, sees the Gamecock Guarantee as the foundation for his future success as a lawyer.
"Without the Gamecock Guarantee and the financial resources it provides, I would not be able to reach my greatest potential," said Devlin, a peer mentor who is majoring in criminology and criminal justice. "This program exemplifies how the University of South Carolina cares for the future. It is only moral that an individual should not be barred from higher education due to their financial circumstance."
Verzyl said the University wants to raise awareness of the Gamecock Guarantee and increase donor support for it.
"An educated citizenry is vital to the health and economic future of South Carolina," he said. "The Gamecock Guarantee is critical to making a quality education at the University of South Carolina available to the state's neediest students. Gamecock Guarantee was created with internal funding, but it is external funding from donors that will be the key to growing the program and helping more students."
To be eligible for the Gamecock Guarantee program in fall 2010, students must apply to the University of South Carolina by Dec. 1 and complete a federal financial aid form by Feb. 28.
To learn more about Gamecock Guarantee, go to www.sc.edu/guarantee or contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at 803-777-7700. To give financial support to Gamecock Guarantee, call the Office of Development at 803-777-4488.
"The University of South Carolina must be both accessible and affordable to meet the higher-education needs of South Carolina," Verzyl said. "The Gamecock Guarantee is the cornerstone for realizing that, and it is our promise of a brighter future for South Carolina's neediest students."