The 10 Best College Towns In South Carolina For 2020

Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our time ranking the best college towns in South Carolina.
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Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and South Carolina is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in South Carolina are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in South Carolina for 2020.

The 10 Best College Towns In South Carolina For 2020

  1. Clemson, SC (Photos | Homes)
  2. Aiken, SC (Photos | Homes)
  3. Gaffney, SC (Photos | Homes)
  4. Rock Hill, SC (Photos | Homes)
  5. Central, SC (Photos | Homes)
  6. Charleston, SC (Photos | Homes)
  7. Bluffton, SC (Photos | Homes)
  8. Conway, SC (Photos | Homes)
  9. Orangeburg, SC (Photos | Homes)
  10. Columbia, SC (Photos | Homes)

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in Clemson, Aiken and Gaffney - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Clemson ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Read on to find out more or for more on South Carolina check out:

The 10 Best College Towns In South Carolina For 2020

Clemson, SC
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 15,966
% Undergrad Pop.: 88.1% (1st best)
Median Rent: $923 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 439.5% (3rd best)
Crime Rank: 2nd best
More on Clemson: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Clemson is a city in Pickens and Anderson counties in the U.S. state of South Carolina. Clemson is home to Clemson University; in 2015, the Princeton Review cited the town of Clemson as ranking #1 in the United States for "town-and-gown" relations with its resident university. The population of the city was 13,905 at the 2010 census.

Clemson is part of the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, South Carolina Combined Statistical Area. Most of the city is in Pickens County, which is part of the Greenville-Mauldin-Easley Metropolitan Statistical Area. A small portion is in Anderson County, which is part of the Anderson Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Colleges: Clemson University

Aiken, SC
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 30,464
% Undergrad Pop.: 10.3% (11th best)
Median Rent: $875 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 528.3% (4th best)
Crime Rank: 10th best
More on Aiken: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Founded in 1835, the city of Aiken was named after William Aiken, the president of the South Carolina Railroad. The town is the county seat of Aiken County, South Carolina, United States, which was formed in 1871 from parts of Orangeburg, Lexington, Edgefield, and Barnwell counties. With Augusta, Georgia, it is one of the two largest cities of the Central Savannah River Area. It is part of the Augusta-Richmond County Metropolitan Statistical Area. Aiken is home to the University of South Carolina Aiken. The population was 30,296 at the 2013 census. Aiken was recognized with the All-America City Award in 1997 by the National Civic League.

Colleges: University of South Carolina-Aiken, Aiken School of Cosmetology and Barbering

Gaffney, SC
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 12,526
% Undergrad Pop.: 15.7% (5th best)
Median Rent: $621 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 681.1% (9th best)
Crime Rank: 5th best
More on Gaffney: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Gaffney is a town in and the seat of Cherokee County, South Carolina, United States, in the Upstate region of South Carolina. Gaffney is known as the "Peach Capital of South Carolina". The population was 12,539 at the 2010 census, with an estimated population of 12,597 in 2014. It is the principal city of the Gaffney, South Carolina, Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Cherokee County and which is further included in the greater Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, South Carolina Combined Statistical Area.

Colleges: Limestone College

Rock Hill, SC
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 71,903
% Undergrad Pop.: 6.5% (13th best)
Median Rent: $928 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 680.7% (8th best)
Crime Rank: 7th best
More on Rock Hill: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Rock Hill is the largest city in York County, South Carolina, United States and the fifth-largest city in the state. It is also the fourth-largest city of the Charlotte metropolitan area, behind Charlotte, Concord, and Gastonia. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 66,154. In 2016, the population had increased to 72,937.

Colleges: Winthrop University, York Technical College, Kenneth Shuler School of Cosmetology-Rock Hill

Central, SC
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 5,241
% Undergrad Pop.: 32.9% (3rd best)
Median Rent: $649 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 594.7% (5th best)
Crime Rank: 4th best
More on Central: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Central is a town in Pickens County, South Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 5,159, roughly 3,000 of which were considered permanent residents. Contrary to its name, it is not near the center of South Carolina. It received its name from its geographic location, being the halfway or central point between Atlanta and Charlotte along the former Atlanta and Richmond Air-Line Railway line. The primary campus of Southern Wesleyan University is located east of the downtown area.

Colleges: Southern Wesleyan University

Charleston, SC
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 133,762
% Undergrad Pop.: 10.8% (9th best)
Median Rent: $1,208 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 413.3% (2nd best)
Crime Rank: 3rd best
More on Charleston: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Charleston is the oldest and largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina, the county seat of Charleston County, and the principal city in the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city lies just south of the geographical midpoint of South Carolina's coastline and is located on Charleston Harbor, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean formed by the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers. Charleston had an estimated population of 134,385 in 2016. The estimated population of the Charleston metropolitan area, comprising Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties, was 761,155 residents in 2016, the third-largest in the state and the 78th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States.

Colleges: Trident Technical College, College of Charleston, Charleston Southern University

Bluffton, SC
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 18,835
% Undergrad Pop.: 6.2% (14th best)
Median Rent: $1,571 (17th best)
Unemployment Rate: 311.9% (1st best)
Crime Rank: 1st best
More on Bluffton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Bluffton is a Lowcountry town in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. It is primarily located around U.S. Route 278, between Hilton Head Island and Interstate 95. The town's original one square mile area, now known as Old Town, is situated on a bluff along the May River. The population was counted by the 2010 census at 12,893. Bluffton is the fastest growing municipality in South Carolina with a population over 2,500, growing 882.7% between the 2000 and 2010 census. Bluffton is the fifth largest municipality in South Carolina by land area. The town is a primary city within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area. Bluffton is known for its eclectic Old Town district and natural views of the May River. It has been called "the last true coastal village of the South."

Colleges: University of South Carolina-Beaufort

Conway, SC
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 22,661
% Undergrad Pop.: 19.4% (4th best)
Median Rent: $765 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1034.1% (15th best)
Crime Rank: 6th best
More on Conway: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Conway is a city in Horry County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 16,317 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Horry County and is part of the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area. It is the home of Coastal Carolina University.

Colleges: Coastal Carolina University, Horry-Georgetown Technical College, Miller-Motte Technical College-Conway

Orangeburg, SC
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 13,120
% Undergrad Pop.: 36.3% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $689 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1256.9% (16th best)
Crime Rank: 14th best
More on Orangeburg: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Orangeburg, also known as The Garden City, is the principal city in and the county seat of Orangeburg County, South Carolina, United States. The population of the city was 13,964 according to the 2010 United States census. The city is located 37 miles southeast of Columbia, on the north fork of the Edisto River in the Piedmont area.

Colleges: South Carolina State University, Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College, Claflin University

Columbia, SC
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 133,352
% Undergrad Pop.: 15.5% (6th best)
Median Rent: $910 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 739.5% (10th best)
Crime Rank: 11th best
More on Columbia: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Columbia is the capital and second largest city of the U.S. state of South Carolina, with a population estimate of 134,309 as of 2016. The city serves as the county seat of Richland County, and a portion of the city extends into neighboring Lexington County. It is the center of the Columbia metropolitan statistical area, which had a population of 767,598 as of the 2010 United States Census, growing to 817,488 by July 1, 2016, according to 2015 U.S. Census estimates. The name Columbia is a poetic term used for the United States, originating from the name of Christopher Columbus.

Colleges: University of South Carolina-Columbia, Benedict College, Columbia College

How'd we figure out the best college towns in South Carolina?

To crunch our data on South Carolina's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 15 places in South Carolina with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In South Carolina For 2020".

And it looks like Clemson placed Summa Cum Laude.

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in South Carolina, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

For more reading, check out:

15 Best College Towns In South Carolina

Rank City Population
1 Clemson, SC 15966
2 Aiken, SC 30464
3 Gaffney, SC 12526
4 Rock Hill, SC 71903
5 Central, SC 5241
6 Charleston, SC 133762
7 Bluffton, SC 18835
8 Conway, SC 22661
9 Orangeburg, SC 13120
10 Columbia, SC 133352
11 Clinton, SC 8508
12 Hartsville, SC 7658
13 Greenwood, SC 23230
14 Anderson, SC 27129
15 Newberry, SC 10289

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?