SC State hopes new summer efforts will reduce lines as students start Fall 2023 Semester

Almira Kabuendi, an incoming freshman from Conyers, Georgia, speaks with Dr. Lisa J. Sparks, executive director of SC State’s First-Year Experience Program, at Bulldog Ready. SC State also altered start dates to curb traffic jams on move-in days and give freshmen more time to get oriented.

ORANGEBURG, S.C. – With the start of the 2023-24 academic year just a month away, South Carolina State University has taken several steps this summer to mitigate the fall arrival bottleneck.

With the exception of having an SC State identification card made, a student can complete everything needed for fall enrollment and housing online. Students who have not completed the process are urged to do so immediately.

“This effort to change our entire process will really move us to a new situation where it’s easy and smooth to come to SC State,” said Dr. Gerald Smalls, vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer. “It doesn’t have to be a difficult path.”

SC State has been rapidly growing in recent years, resulting in a housing crunch. Last year, about 1,100 first-time freshmen and transfer students enrolled representing SC State’s largest class in 15 years. Big numbers are expected again this fall.

SC State classes will begin Thursday, Aug. 17, and campus leaders are urging students to complete all their financial aid and housing needs as soon as possible to avoid problems as the semester gets underway.

This summer’s initiatives have included:

  • Seven “Bulldog Ready” sessions on campus for incoming freshmen and transfer students to complete the enrollment process with in-person assistance.
  • Bulldog Express,” an online process that allowed returning students to register for classes, complete financial aid applications, validate their accounts and apply for housing.
  • Emailing students proposed payment plans, which they can accept online, resulting in account validation and housing approval.
  • Changing start dates for the semester, including move-in dates and the start of classes to curb traffic jams and give freshmen more time to get oriented.

University officials urge all students to regularly check their email accounts for notifications regarding financial aid, proposed payment plans and tentative housing assignments.

“Then once you get here, you can go directly to your housing when you come to move in,” Smalls said. “If you work that up front and have everything in place, this transition will be as smooth as you could ever have.”

While lines on arrival days may be inevitable, Smalls said crowds should be greatly reduced this fall because of the large number of freshmen who completed the process through Bulldog Ready and upperclassmen who took advantage of Bulldog Express over the summer.

Tyron Clinton, director of SC State’s Student Success and Retention Programs, said nearly 900 incoming students attended the session, and the majority were able to complete their enrollment and housing processes.

In the past, arriving students had to check in at Smith Hammond Middleton Memorial Center and have their accounts validated before they could check into residence halls. That resulted in long waits for students and their family members.

Similarly, once students were cleared financially and allowed to head to their residence halls, they found another logjam as they moved in.

“So we tried to strategically create arrival schedules so that when they come, everyone can be served without delays and long lines,” said Dr. Tamara Jeffries-Jackson, SC State vice president for student affairs. “That will help with traffic, as well as bottlenecking when people are getting out of their cars and unloading as they move into the residence halls.”

Freshmen move-in dates

Rather than moving in all at once, freshmen will arrive over two days a full week before classes begin depending on which hall they have been assigned:

  • Traditional residential halls, check-in Wednesday, Aug. 9.
    o Truth and Williams Halls, 9-11 a.m.
    o Earle Hall, 11-1 p.m.
    o Battiste and Mitchell Halls, 1-3 p.m.
    o Parent information sessions will take place in MLK Auditorium from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. and 2-3 p.m.
  • Hugine Suites, Thursday, Aug. 10, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
    o Parent information sessions will take place in MLK Auditorium from 1-2 p.m.

“Freshmen are hearing from housing now. Housing is sending emails to notify them of which residence hall they have been assigned,” Jeffries-Jackson said. “Housing is working through assignments and making sure everyone is where they should be.”

Each student will be asked to sign a contract before the room is confirmed.

Returning students urged to act now

Returning students will move to campus Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 14-15. Jeffries-Jackson said returning students who requested housing should be hearing from the Housing office regarding tentative placement this week.

“Our Housing staff is trying their very best to place them in their preferred residence hall or complex, but that may not always work out given the numbers,” she said.

Jeffries-Jackson emphasized that housing assignments are tentative until a student’s account has been validated.

Because the expected enrollment is beyond the university’s capacity to house students on campus and in complexes leased by the SC State Real Estate Foundation, the university has started a waitlist for upperclassmen housing.

So, Jeffries-Jackson urges returning students to complete their Fall Semester enrollment and housing applications as soon as possible if they have not already.

SC State expects to serve about 3,000 students this fall. The university has 2,291 beds available, Smalls said, and about 70% of students request housing each year. The remainder commute from locations within driving distance of the campus or take classes remotely through SC State Online.

Along with residences on the campus proper, the SC State Real Estate Foundation leases the following off-campus locations:

  • University Village
  • Campus Corner
  • Rhames Campus Suites (Frederick Street)
  • Rutledge Ensuites (Lovell Street)
  • Russell Street Inn
  • University Corner (Dorchester Street)
  • Chestnut Inn (Chestnut Street)

More housing in the queue

SC State is amid renovation projects for Rowe and Nix Halls and the Queens Village complex, all of which have been offline for several years. Officials had hoped all three projects could be concluded before fall, but all have been delayed. Smalls expects them to be finished in time for the Spring 2024 Semester, adding about 100 beds to the university’s housing capacity.

That timing is essential because SC State will begin renovations to Sojourner Truth Hall in December, taking about 150 beds offline. The state has awarded the university $10 million to renovate the towering residence hall. The university has been able to house students only on the 51-year-old tower’s lower floors in recent years because the upper floors are inaccessible to firetrucks.

The renovation will allow the university to retrofit Truth Hall with fire-suppression sprinkler systems and complete other upgrades. The goal is to complete the project before the Fall 2024 Semester, giving the university 384 beds.

Both Jeffries-Jackson and Smalls emphasized that SC State is exploring ways to add more housing on the campus, as well as partnerships with private contractors that could result in more off-campus housing.

Students and parents with questions for the Office of Residence Life and Housing should email or call 803-533-3675, 8013-516-4792 or 803-516-4510.

Questions regarding financial aid should be directed to (803) 536-7067. Reach Student Financial Services at Reach Enrollment Management at or 803-516-4803.

Media Contact

Sam Watson
Director of University Relations
South Carolina State University
803-747-1223 (Cell)

About South Carolina State University

Founded in 1896 as a land grant institution with a mission of providing service to the citizens of the state, South Carolina State University has evolved from a small teachers’ college into a major University center of learning and research. Located in Orangeburg, S.C., South Carolina State offers more than 50 different fields of study on the undergraduate and graduate levels. South Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools.

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Sam Watson
Director of University Relations | | 803-533-3603 (Desk) | 803-747-1223 (Cell)