S.C. students staying in state for college

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The best and brightest students in South Carolina are staying right here and not leaving the state for college.

News 12's Meredith Taylor is on your side with how the lottery is behind their decisions.

Four years ago, Augusta native Nick Kelch decided to stay in South Carolina for college.

“I love SC, and I love the community where I’m from,” Nick says.

The now soon-to-be USC Aiken graduate admits it was because of money.

“I thought about it, they'll be paying me to get an education, I be, it won’t have to come out of my pocket very much for my own tuition, and I can go to a great university in SC,” says Nick.

Nick got one of 5 lottery-funded scholarships in the state--the Life Scholarship.

“So we have a lot of students getting that scholarship, I don't have hard numbers to stay in SC, but it certainly appears that way from the numbers,” says Deidre Martin, vice chancellor at USC Aiken.

According to a South Carolina Education Lottery spokesperson, some of the best and brightest high school graduates from the Palmetto State are choosing to go to colleges here because of lottery-funded scholarships.

“Without those scholarships numbers, it would be a harder choice for some people,” Martin says.

When the Education Lottery first began in South Carolina in 1998, so did the Life Scholarship.

300 students got it that year at USC Aiken, now more than 700 qualify.

The Hope started in 2002; just over 150 have it.

The top state scholarship, the Palmetto Fellows, first drew in 3 people to USC Aiken; but now, lottery funded, 37 people here get it.

“These are kids that could go anywhere because they're the top of the heap, have the best SATs, but to see that many stay here in SC and at USC Aiken is impressive,” says Martin.

Nick considered leaving, but is thankful for the people helping him stay in the place he loves.