Exploring South Carolina’s Private Education Sector
By Drew Catt, Michael Shaw
Exploring South Carolina’s Private Education Sector is the ninth entry in the School Survey Series. This brief synthesizes information about South Carolina’s private schools from a survey conducted by EdChoice. These survey data, which include South Carolina private schools’ open seats, tuition and fees, regulatory concerns and interest in school choice programs, paint a clearer picture of the state’s private school landscape.
In this report, you will learn:
South Carolina private schools have open seats, and the majority serve students with special needs and provide financial assistance to low-income families.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. Seventy-nine percent of private schools serve students with special needs, and 57 percent of private schools provide some form of financial assistance to students.
Many South Carolina private school leaders are familiar with education savings accounts (ESAs), and most would consider participating in such a program.Half of the state’s private schools are already familiar with ESAs. Sixty-four percent would or probably would participate in a general ESA program, and 58 percent would or probably would participate in the proposed Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Accounts program that is currently before the legislature.
About one-third of South Carolina private school leaders still don’t know about tax-credit scholarships.South Carolina launched its tax-credit scholarship in 2014. More than two-thirds of private schools are familiar with tax-credit scholarships, but 32 percent said they were either “not too familiar” or “not at all familiar” with such programs. Thirty percent of schools that are not currently participating in the state’s tax-credit scholarship program would consider participating.
South Carolina private school leaders are wary of the regulations school choice programs might bring.Private schools’ biggest regulatory concerns include curriculum and instruction, admission and enrollment, teacher certification and licensure as well as paperwork and reporting. School choice program regulations that affect these areas give South Carolina private school leaders pause and could affect whether they participate in those programs.