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Aren’t independent schools FULL and EXPENSIVE?

Interior of abandoned building

The South Carolina ESA is worth $6,000 per year for tuition and books with up to $750 in additional funds for transportation. Isn’t that woefully inadequate? Isn’t private (independent) school tuition north of $20,000? What about available seats? Aren’t most private schools running at capacity?

EdChoice conducted a survey of South Carolina private schools in 2018 to get at some of these questions. 

Here is what they found:

  • The median cost of combined tuition and fees was $5,210 per year. The average was $6,071.
  • • 57 percent of private schools provide some form of financial assistance to students.
  • • Private schools in South Carolina have at least 7,730 open seats with a projected estimate closer to 20,000 open seats for K–12 students.
  • • Half of the state’s private schools are already familiar with education savings accounts (ESAs) and 64 percent would or probably would participate in a general ESA program
  • • 79 percent of private schools serve students with special needs
  • • Nearly 100% of all K-12 students live within a 30-minute drive of at least one private school.

The preponderance of independent schools in South Carolina are faith-based. The schools are ministries supported and subsidized by a local church or a church denomination. Details vary by school, but the ability to pay is normally only a part of the equation.

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