State: South Carolina

South Carolina State Guide

Choosing a school? You’ve got options.

Each spring, parents face one of the biggest decisions they can make for their child’s future: What school environment will their child spend about 1,000 hours in next year? Let’s dive in to School Choice in South Carolina.

Making that decision with confidence starts with knowing what options you have; you may have more school choices than you realize! Understanding these options can help you find a school where your child grows and learns to the best of their ability. South Carolina families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, homeschooling, and microschooling and mix-and-match learning.

Interested in learning more about South Carolina’s new scholarship program? Check out our deep dive blog on South Carolina’s Education Savings Account (ESA)!

South Carolina Traditional Public Schools

Most South Carolina families choose traditional public schools, which are operated by school districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by taxpayers. In South Carolina, about 73.6% of all K-12 students attend a traditional public school. Did you know that, on average, South Carolina spends $12,496 per public school student each year? You can search your school’s spending and that of nearby schools at Project Nickel.

In South Carolina, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies. “Open enrollment” refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. South Carolina parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option. As an example, Richland County School District One generally requires students to attend their zoned public school, but does allow for transfers in some cases, such as unique program offerings, childcare needs, and instances of hardship. In most cases, parents are in charge of transportation if they choose open enrollment in South Carolina. 

Open enrollment is an important way that parents can access more public school choices. You can learn more about open enrollment at “Public Schools Without Boundaries: A 50-State Ranking.”

In 2023, South Carolina passed a law to make public school enrollment easier for military families, asking school districts to provide more flexibility to families when it comes to residency documents. Find out more about public schools in your state at the South Carolina Department of Education. 

South Carolina Charter Schools

South Carolina families can choose from more than 80 charter schools, including several virtual charter schools. Like traditional public schools, charter schools are public, free, and typically have no requirements for entry. What distinguishes charter schools is that they have have extra freedom to innovate with learning methods and are accountable to authorizing bodies for results. In South Carolina, 5.8% of all K-12 students attend a public charter school. 

Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves. That might be providing a Spanish immersion program or offering a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum. At one South Carolina charter school we talked to, a guidance counselor even founded a Boys’ Leadership Academy program to encourage students to give back to the community. 

If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a lottery system (like drawing random names out of a hat!) is usually used to determine admittance. Charter school enrollment has been on the rise in South Carolina the last five years. At least four new charter schools opened in fall 2023, with 13 more approved to open.

Free transportation is available to some students who attend charter schools in South Carolina and live within the district where their charter school is located. Students with special needs and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) are eligible for transportation assistance.

You can learn more about your state’s charter options at the Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina.

South Carolina Magnet Schools

You can also choose from magnet schools! Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the performing arts. In South Carolina, 10% of all K-12 students attend a public magnet school.

Dr. Michael Lofton, founder of South Carolina’s Spring Hill High School, gave us this example of how a magnet school works: “As a class works through a math unit, a teacher at [a magnet school] will embed a project-based learning activity that relates to that class of students’ interests. That helps to hook the students into the math component. We find that by doing this, the kids study it deeper. No matter where they go to school, they’re going to take Algebra 2 before they graduate. Our program just has more project-based learning experiences that the kids get while they’re learning their curriculum. They really tend to delve a little bit deeper into study if they enjoy it more and it’s something that they want to relate to.” 

South Carolina has many magnet choices throughout the state, and these might be a good option if your child learns best by focusing in on a subject they are passionate about. For instance, districts with magnet choices include Fairfield County School District, Florence County School District Three, Pickens County School District, Lexington-Richland School District Five, Richland County School District One, and Richland School District Two. Meanwhile, Georgetown County School District is in the process of transforming five schools into magnet schools. A full directory of magnet schools and programs in the state can be found at the South Carolina Department of Education

South Carolina Private Schools

Families in South Carolina can also consider private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools may offer a unique curriculum, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition. South Carolina’s private schools come in all shapes and forms. 

There are more than 420 private schools across the state of South Carolina. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $7,869 for elementary schools and $7,921 for high schools.

In South Carolina, if your child has a disability and you believe the assigned public school does not meet his or her needs, you can apply to the Exceptional Needs Children Fund and may be able to receive a scholarship toward private school. Additionally, the state offers a refundable educational credit program where parents may receive a tax credit for learning expenses for special needs students.

Starting 2024, low-income families can apply to receive up to $6,000 of flexible education funding for private school tuition and other approved expenses through a new scholarship program. You can learn if you are eligible to apply in our full explainer.

Learn more at the South Carolina Catholic School Directory and Private School Review: South Carolina.

South Carolina Online Learning

Whether your child wants to accelerate his or her learning or needs a quieter environment in which to focus, you may be interested in giving virtual school a try.

South Carolina offers several free, full-time online learning options for students, like South Carolina Virtual Charter SchoolSouth Carolina Connections AcademySC Whitmore School, the South Carolina Preparatory AcademyOdyssey Online Learning, and Cyber Academy of South Carolina. For 2023-2024, a new virtual school is opening: Heron Virtual Academy of South Carolina, which will specialize in serving high-risk highschoolers and students with special learning needs.

In addition, public, private, and homeschooled students in grades 6-12 in South Carolina can enroll in tuition-free online classes through the state virtual school, Virtual SC. VirtualSC recommends taking a maximum of four classes at a time, and families should work with their school to arrange their schedule and sign up. Some schools partner with VirtualSC to offer a blended learning experience via Virtual Learning Labs where students take online courses in a lab setting with a course facilitator. 

Also, some South Carolina districts offer their own online programming. Examples of this include Pickens County Virtual AcademyGreenville Public Schools’ Virtual Program, and Horry County School Virtual.

To read more about online learning in South Carolina, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.

South Carolina Homeschooling

South Carolina families can also choose to homeschool, which allows for high levels of customized learning and flexibility. Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home and is permitted in all 50 states. 

In South Carolina, 3.7% of all K-12 students are homeschooled. If you are homeschooling under a homeschool statute, an application must be submitted to the board of trustees prior to starting. It is recommended that you formally withdraw from your public school so your student is not marked truant. 

The state requires homeschooling parents to teach specific subjects (like reading, math, and science) and also requires annual standardized tests for students using the homeschool statute. If your child is an athlete, note that homeschooled students in South Carolina may still be eligible to participate in sports or activities at local public schools.

You can learn more at the South Carolina Department of Education’s Homeschooling page, Home School Legal Defense Association – South Carolina, the South Carolina Home Educators Association, the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools, Hometown Homeschool Association of South Carolina, and the Grow & Learn on Weekdays (GLOW).

South Carolina Microschools and Mix-and-Match Learning

Today, many South Carolina families are blending school options to come up with creative ways to personalize education. Microschools are one of these ways. A microschool refers to students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Microschools can take a variety of shapes and legal forms, from homeschoolers coming together at an enrichment center to a private school committed to small classrooms. What microschools share in common is a commitment to small-group learning and close-knit relationships, along with an emphasis on children as individual learners. 

Here are real examples of microschools and related resources in your state:  

In Charleston, Classeteria is a growing learning where homeschoolers come together for enrichment classes and hands-on projects. 

Ignite Learning Center in Greenville offers a two-day class model supporting homeschoolers, un-schoolers, and other families looking for non-traditional education.

Hart Academy is a cottage school in Charleston founded by a former public school teacher inspired by the idea of hybrid homeschooling. 

The Success Center in Goose Creek offers tutoring services and microschool learning for K-12 students.

Peace of Mind microschool in Columbia offers individualized, small group work that blends online learning and hands-on lessons. 

A Home For School offers a student-centered approach for homeschoolers and students in accredited virtual schools, where diversity is celebrated and each child’s unique culture is honored.

Mariner Learning Collaborative is a non-profit learning center for ages 10 to 19 that combines homeschooling with classes, workshops, and tutoring taught by staff, parents, and community volunteers.

Launched in 2024, South Carolina’s new Education Scholarship Trust Fund Program makes private school, tutoring, and other personalized learning expenses a more affordable choice for economically disadvantaged children.

Remember, microschooling is more a mentality than a specific legal distinction in most cases. Often, a family participates in a microschool while legally homeschooling, or being enrolled in a private or online school. 

Download the School Choice Snapshot for South Carolina

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What is School Choice

How can it empower parents and help kids achieve their dreams?

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Choosing the Right School

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

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Search for Schools Near Me

School Type
Traditional public schools do not charge tuition. They are managed by school districts and do not require students to pass tests to enroll.
Public charter schools do not charge tuition. They are usually managed by nonprofit organizations and do not require students to pass tests to enroll.
Public magnet schools do not charge tuition. They are managed by school districts and focus on themes, such as math, science, technology, and the arts.
Private schools charge tuition, but scholarships are often available via state programs or by individual schools. Private schools are privately managed and can be faith-based or secular.
Grade Levels

Microschooling and Mix-and-Match Learning

How can it empower parents and help kids achieve their dreams?

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7 Step Guide

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

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Landmarks Across America Shine for School Choice Week 2024!

Did you witness the magic of National School Choice Week 2024? Starting January 21st, close to three dozen landmarks and notable buildings from Alaska to New York lit up in dazzling shades of yellow and red and created a vibrant celebration of K-12 education opportunities!


JL Tower in Anchorage, Alaska

January 21-27, 2024



Junction Bridge in Little Rock, Arkansas

January 26, 2024

Little Rock

Main Street Bridge in Little Rock, Arkansas

January 26, 2024

Little Rock

Union Plaza in Little Rock, Arkansas

January 21-27, 2024

Little Rock


“M” at Box Springs Mountain in Moreno Valley, California

January 26, 2024

Moreno Valley

Union Station in Los Angeles, California

January 21-27, 2024

Los Angeles


Las Olas Centre in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

January 21-27, 2024

Fort Lauderdale

Platt Street Bridge in Tampa, Florida

January 22, 2024


Kennedy Blvd Bridge in Tampa, Florida

January 22, 2024


Old City Hall in Tampa, Florida

January 22, 2024



One Atlantic Center in Atlanta, Georgia

January 22, 2024



Aloha Tower in Honolulu, Hawaii

January 21-27, 2024



8th and Main Tower in Boise, Idaho

January 21-27, 2024



The Wrigley Building in Chicago, Illinois

January 25, 2024


Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois

January 21, 2024



AES Building in Indianapolis, Indiana

January 21, 2024



Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

January 21-27, 2024

Baton Rouge

State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

January 21-27, 2024

Baton Rouge

The Governors Mansion in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

January 21-27, 2024

Baton Rouge


Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota

January 26, 2024



Waldo Water Tower in Kansas City, Missouri

January 21-27, 2024

Kansas City


Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in Omaha, Nebraska

January 23, 2024


New York

Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York

January 24, 2024


North Carolina

550 South Tryon Tower in Charlotte, North Carolina

January 27, 2024



Dublin Link Bridge in Dublin, Ohio

January 26, 2024


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio

January 21-27, 2024



Choctaw Casino and Resort in Durant, Oklahoma

January 21-27, 2024


SkyDance Bridge in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

January 25, 2024

Oklahoma City


Salem Convention Center in Salem, Oregon

January 20, 2024



The Symphony House Condo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

January 26, 2024


Koppers Building in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

January 24, 2024


Gulf Tower in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

January 24, 2024


South Carolina

Governor’s Mansion in Columbia, South Carolina

January 21-27, 2024



Columbia Town Center in Seattle, Washington

January 23, 2024



Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center in Laramie, Wyoming

January 23, 2024 


If you know of a building in your community that would light up for National School Choice Week, please reach out to our team! Send us an email.

For journalists covering the Week, more information and resources to enhance your coverage on a variety of platforms can be found on our media resources page. For families interested in discovering more about the different school choice options available in their home state please visit your state page for a detailed roadmap.

National School Choice Week (NSCW) informs, inspires, and empowers parents to discover the K-12 education options available for their children, including traditional public, charter, magnet, online, private, and homeschooling.

Every January, tens of thousands of schools, organizations, and individuals plan unique events and activities to shine a positive spotlight on effective education options in their communities.  The Week is a project of the nonpartisan, nonpolitical National School Choice Awareness Foundation.