USC Upstate Announces Spartanburg Promise Scholarship Program

An aerial view of USC Upstate's campus.

The University of South Carolina Upstate will provide up to 90 recent high school graduates from Spartanburg County a chance to earn their bachelor’s degrees debt-free.

USC Upstate recently announced the pilot of its Spartanburg Promise Scholarship Program, which aims to help cover full cost of tuition for recipients during the four years they pursue their undergraduate degrees at the university.

“We are so excited about this opportunity, which demonstrates USC Upstate’s commitment to postsecondary attainment in Spartanburg County and reducing student debt throughout our region and state,” said USC Upstate Chancellor Bennie L. Harris, Ph.D. “Our objective is simple: help the county retain its most talented individuals by encouraging them to learn, then eventually live and work in this community.”

Under the program, scholarship recipients must have graduated from one of the county’s nine public high schools. They must also have earned a South Carolina Legislative Incentive for Future Excellence (LIFE) Scholarship. LIFE Scholars receive $5,000 their freshman year if they attend a public college or university in the Palmetto State.

The current cost of tuition at USC Upstate is about $12,000 per year. Promise Scholars will receive their funds after all other scholarships and grants have been applied to their tuition. The university will encourage candidates not to take out any student loans.

“I commend USC Upstate for taking these bold steps to remove college cost barriers,” said Dr. Russell Booker, executive director of the Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM). “Doing so will allow us to further enhance Spartanburg’s economic vitality and overall quality of life by boosting college attainment rates. We look forward to our continued partnership with USC Upstate as they advance this work.”

The inaugural Promise Scholars cohort is funded by up to $2.5 million from USC Upstate’s budget. As a public institution in South Carolina, the university is empowered to invest up to 4 percent of its annual budget in scholarships. USC Upstate intends to raise additional funding that would allow the program to extend beyond its pilot year.

While the program is designed to provide opportunities for at least 10 graduates from each of the county’s nine public high schools, a short turnaround time for the initial cohort meant that certain schools were not able to submit 10 recommendations. This enabled other schools to provide the names of more than 10 students. In subsequent years, USC Upstate hopes to have an equal distribution across all of the local schools involved in the program. Promise Scholarships are not based on a student’s major.

“We are excited to have this opportunity to provide Promise Scholarships to some of the best students from Spartanburg County,” said Donette Stewart, vice chancellor for enrollment services and director of admissions at USC Upstate. “We know these students will do great things at this university while they enjoy the Upstate experience.”

USC Upstate will host a reception to celebrate the program’s launch at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 6, in the Olin B. Sansbury, Jr. Campus Life Center Ballroom. If you are a member of the media and you would like to attend the event, please contact Trevor Anderson at 864-503-7419 or [email protected].