Private education in SC more available than you might think

April 27, 2018

Ellen Weaver

Former President & CEO

Private schools are a vital part of a healthy education ecosystem that provides parents with the various options they need to find the right education fit for their student.

Palmetto Promise recently partnered with EdChoice to conduct a survey of South Carolina’s private school sector. With the vast majority of these schools operating independently, it’s a big undertaking to get meaningful data that gives both parents and policymakers a better grasp of the size and scope of this education option. That’s why we’re here to do the legwork!

A few key takeaways:

  • There are approximately 350 private schools in South Carolina.
  • 79% of private schools serve students with special needs.
  • 57% provide some form of financial assistance to students.
  • The median cost of combined tuition and fees is $5,210/year.
  • Private schools that responded to the survey have at least 7,730 open seats, with a projected estimate closer to 20,000 open seats for K–12 students.
  • Nearly 100% of all K-12 students live within a 30-minute drive of at least one private school.
  • More than two-thirds of private school leaders are familiar with the Exceptional SC tax credit scholarship and refundable parental tax credit programs.
  • Half of the state’s private schools are familiar with Education Scholarship Accounts (ESA) and around 60% would be interested in participating in a program like the Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Accounts program (S.622) that is currently before the South Carolina legislature.

Bottom line: private education may be more accessible to the average South Carolina family than you might think and can play a critical role in addressing our state’s many education challenges. And through the power of life-transforming programs like Exceptional SC and South Carolina’s proposed ESA program, this option could be even more available for students who need it most.

Here at Palmetto Promise, our driving passion is to ensure that every child in South Carolina has the opportunity of an education that equips them to reach their full potential—including private school, if that is the right environment for them.

Next week, we plan to testify before the South Carolina Senate about how Education Scholarship Accounts (ESA) are changing the lives of students in states around us. You can join us by letting your Senator know what you think.

You can also find schools in your area with our handy searchable database at My SC Education.