Students walking through Penland Courtyard

HOPE Scholarship

Financial Aid

The SC HOPE Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship created for eligible students attending a four-year SC institution who do not qualify for the LIFE or Palmetto Fellows Scholarship. The program was established under the SC Education Lottery Act approved by the General Assembly in 2001. The scholarship is awarded during the freshman year of attendance only. Funding for the program is dependent upon the annual proceeds generated by the SC Education Lottery.

You may access further, more detailed information on the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education website at

You may also contact the Scholarship Program Coordinator in the USC Aiken Office of Financial Aid if you have further questions or if you need additional information.

Please be aware that the information provided here is subject to change by the SC Legislature or the SC Commission on Higher Education. 

Eligibility Requirements

First-time entering freshmen must meet the following requirements to qualify for the SC HOPE Scholarship:

  • Graduate from high school with a 3.0 cumulative grade point ratio on the SC Uniform Grading Policy (UGP). No other grading policy will be allowed to qualify for the scholarship.
    • The grade point average must be reported to two decimal places (minimum) and cannot be rounded.
    • The GPA must be calculated after official completion of courses required for graduation.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident that meets the definition of an eligible non-citizen under state residency statutes.
  • Must be a South Carolina resident at the time of high school graduation and at the time of college enrollment.
  • Must be one of the following:
    • a member of a class graduating from a high school located in South Carolina; or
    • a home school student who has successfully completed a high school home school program in SC in the manner required by law;* or
    • a student graduating from a preparatory high school outside of SC while a dependent of a parent or guardian who is a legal resident of SC and has custody of the dependent according to State Statute, Section 59-149-50A.
  • Must be admitted, enrolled full-time, and classified as a degree-seeking undergraduate student in an eligible institution in SC. (A USC Aiken student must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 USCA credit hours per semester.)
  • Must affirm that he or she has never been convicted of any felonies and has not been convicted of a second or subsequent alcohol or drug-related misdemeanor offense within the 12 months prior to the period of the award by submitting a signed affidavit to the financial aid office of the institution at which the student is enrolled.
  • Must not be in default or owe a refund or repayment on any Federal or State financial aid; and
  • Must not be eligible for or be a recipient of a LIFE Scholarship or a Palmetto Fellows Scholarship.

* Parents of home schooled students are encouraged to carefully investigate the requirements of the law before graduation. Contact the SC Commission on Higher Education at 803-737-2260 if you have questions or concerns about the home school association with which you are affiliated.

Transfer Students:
A student who transfers from one institution to an eligible institution during the freshman year of attendance is eligible to receive the SC HOPE Scholarship if the student met all eligibility requirements at the beginning of the academic year.

Terms of Eligibility

Students are eligible to receive the SC Hope Scholarship for no more than two terms during the first year of attendance only. The maximum number of terms of availability is based on the student's initial college enrollment. For example, if a student enrolls in college for the first time in Fall 2014, the last term of eligibility will be Spring 2015. If a student enrolls in Spring 2015, the last term of eligibility will be Fall 2015.

A student who initially enrolls mid-year and receives the HOPE Scholarship during the Spring semester and then qualifies for the LIFE Scholarship at the end of the Summer term will not be eligible to also receive HOPE for the Fall semester. If the student does not meet the requirements for the LIFE Scholarship, the student may receive the HOPE Scholarship for the Fall semester.

Award Information

Eligible students attending a SC four-year public or private institution will receive up to $2,800 during the first year of attendance only. This amount includes a $300 book allowance.

Note: The HOPE Scholarship in combination with all other scholarships and grants may not exceed the cost-of-attendance as defined in Title IV regulations.

Dropping a Class or Withdrawing

If you are receiving the HOPE Scholarship or any other financial aid, dropping a class or withdrawing may affect your refund. Depending upon the type(s) of financial aid awards involved, the timing of the withdrawal, the amount of the refund, and other factors, the financial aid recipient might receive a portion of the total refund amount or none of the refund amount.  Under certain circumstances, the financial aid recipient who withdraws or drops classes will be required to repay financial aid funds received. 

A student who is considering withdrawing or dropping a class should consult a Financial Aid Administrator before taking this action.