The Gamecock Guarantee promises that each eligible student’s undergraduate tuition and technology fee will be covered for four years, as long as the student continues to meet the program’s criteria. While all university students have access to programs and services that help bolster their academic achievement, students who qualify for Gamecock Guarantee will benefit from a coordinated network of offerings that can further enrich their undergraduate experiences.
At minimum, the Gamecock Guarantee provides each participant an award of $4,500. 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 the undergraduate tuition and technology fee, Gamecock Guarantee will increase its support to cover the difference. Please note that “the cost of the undergraduate tuition and technology fee” does not include costs for housing, meal plan, program fees, lab fees, or other fees that a student may be charged. However, many Gamecock Guarantee participants will find that the Gamecock Guarantee award combined with their other financial aid awards will drastically decrease the remaining balance that may need to be paid. 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. Every effort is made to reduce the need for Gamecock Guarantee students to incur debt if possible.
For more information about the impact of Gamecock Guarantee, view our Facts and Figures at a Glance.
No special application is required. The university will identify eligible students. Based on funding availability and academic program capacity, the university will invite a limited number of eligible students after April 1 of each year. General eligibility criteria for this program is listed below:
- applies for admission by Dec. 1
- is admitted to USC Columbia
- is a South Carolina resident
- enrolls as a first-time, full-time freshman student in the fall semester after being admitted to a program (admission must be within five years of high school graduation)
- pursues a bachelor’s degree
- is a first-generation college student (neither parent completed a four-year college degree)
- completes and submits the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and any additional documentation requested by the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships by April 1
- household's income for the most recently completed FAFSA is not greater than 150 percent of the Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines
- is eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant.
After becoming Gamecock Guarantee participants, students maintain their eligibility by:
- remaining eligible for a Federal Pell Grant or a USC Access Grant
- submitting the FASFA and any additional documentation requested by the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships by April 1 of each year
- enrolling as a full-time student with at least 12 credit hours per semester and completing at least 24 credit hours by the end of the academic year, to include summer enrollment if necessary
- making satisfactory academic progress for financial aid eligibility
- participating in the array of programs and services offered to ensure their success
- remaining enrolled as a full-time student at USC
- actively pursuing a bachelor's degree
- maintaining South Carolina residency status.
Frequently Asked Questions
At minimum, the Gamecock Guarantee provides each participant an award of $4,500 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 the 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 fees 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 $4,500 per year or $2,250 per semester.
The purpose of the annual $4,500 program award is to help offset the participant's educational costs while attending USC. Many Gamecock Guarantee participants will find that their other awards cover or nearly cover other fees that may be on their bill. If so, they can use the remaining $4,500 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' need for incurring educational debt.
Gamecock Guarantee students can receive any type of financial aid to meet their cost of attendance, including room, board, books, personal, and transportation expenses. 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, 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.
The goal of the Gamecock Guarantee is to ensure that USC first-generation students from South Carolina families with high financial need succeed in all facets of college life and earn their degrees. To that end, all Gamecock Guarantee participants will be enrolled in either the University's Opportunity Scholars Program, the South Carolina Honors College, or another campus program that receives the approval of the director of TRIO Programs. Please note that students have to meet certain criteria to be considered for and to be invited to join the South Carolina Honors College. 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 Carolina Core offered at a reduced tuition rate for Gamecock Guarantee participants in the Opportunity Scholars Program*
- an extended orientation program prior to the beginning of classes in the first year
- intensive and ongoing academic and financial aid 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 will participate in their respective programs and services.