New website helps plan, estimate cost of education in SC

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A new website is aimed at assisting students and families in calculating the cost of education in South Carolina.

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education launched GetSmartSC.com, featuring the Palmetto Calculator, in response to feedback from school counselors, parents, and students. They are designed to be one, easy-to-use place for students and families to find information and estimate the cost of education in South Carolina.

GetSmartSC.com and the Palmetto Calculator are going to change the way students and families make decisions about where to attend college,” CHE Vice Chairman Kenny Kirkland said. “They will have everything they need at their fingertips to estimate the cost of college and make data-driven decisions about the best financial path forward for them.”

The site pulls resources from all over the web into one comprehensive, easy-to-use tool for students and families to be able to find all of the college information they are looking for, without the hassle of endless searches.

The Palmetto Calculator allows students to compare the financial cost of different colleges and academic majors. The ability to input any state, federal or private scholarships may also help demonstrate that higher education can be more attainable than anticipated.

Those interested will be able to input the following information:

· College or university

· Academic degree program or major

· On-campus room and board option

· Meal plan

· Any scholarships received (federal, state, or private)

· Expected family contribution (based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA)

· Student loan details

After inputting these data points, students will see an expected total payout amount, amount paid in interest, and an estimated monthly payment. They will then be able to compare those amounts with similar majors offered at other institutions of higher education in the state and with the average starting salary associated with that degree field. Hopefully, these new tools will lead to better-informed students and a vibrant, well-prepared workforce for the state’s business community.

Jonathan Solomon, a College of Charleston student who had to finance his own education and attended Trident Technical College for the first two years, tested the new websites and said that he believes it will assist future students in navigating the higher education landscape. “Figuring out all of the steps it takes to go to college out of high school is a daunting experience,” he said. “What I like about this website is that it’s designed by students to help students. It really does help in a lot of ways because it tells the students exactly how much it is going to cost for college…I had to figure that out semester by semester.”

Visit www.GetSmartSC.com and the Palmetto Calculator to learn more and try out the new websites!

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