CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Coastal Carolina University is offering free tuition to qualifying students starting in 2024.

The new initiative, “Coastal Commitment,” guarantees admission and free tuition to South Carolina students who graduate in the top 10% of their high school class and whose families have an annual income of less than $80,000.

The initiative kicks off with students coming into the new academic year in the fall of 2024. CCU launched the program in October, saying it shows their commitment to South Carolinians.

“We started looking at the needs of students, the cost of higher education and how we can make coastal more attainable, and then we decided to add in the family income component in the free tuition,” CCU official Amanda Craddock said.

For nearly the past 10 years, CCU has had a top 10% guarantee for South Carolina residents.

“We were the first public institution to do one across the state,” Craddock said. “And it’s been very successful.”

More than 350 South Carolina residents who finished in the top 10% in their high school class are enrolled at CCU.

Through the program, Craddock said they were able to look at where the pain points were for paying for college.

“That’s why the income threshold is there, allowing students to be able to sort of, take that burden off by being able to go away to college and not have to worry about how they’re going to pay for it,” she said. “That’s one of our commitments, to get as many South Carolina residents to come through Coastal Carolina University with their degrees as we can.”

The initiative combines existing federal and state aid as well as donor and other institutional scholarships. CCU estimates funding $1 million to support it.

In addition to the free tuition, qualifying students will also receive an invitation to join the HTC Honors College without having to submit a separate application.

“Our application is open, students can go in right now for fall 2024 and they would work on their application,” Craddock said. “Then they would go through the application process as any other student would. Once they’re admitted to the university, then we start working with them on the financial aid portion.”

CCU is working on a website for students to find all the information they need, which they hope to have up and running by the end of the year.

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Gracie is a multimedia journalist at News 13 and is from Cleveland, Ohio. Gracie joined the team in June 2023 after graduating from the University of Alabama in May. Follow Gracie on Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, & read more of her work here.