Guidance Counselors

Frequently Asked Questions

Several financing options exist to help you pay your USC expenses. Please browse below to explre additional information, links, and resources.

Financial Aid Application

How should students apply for financial aid?

Students will need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at and the CSS/PROFILE at For more information, please visit our Applying page.

How will students know if they need to submit any additional documents to the Financial Aid Office for my financial aid application?

Students should visit FAST to check their status.

How will students and/or parents know if the Financial Aid Office has received the documents they sent?

If documents were submitted using Financial Aid Summary and Tasks (FAST), students will receive an e-mail confirming that we have received them.



Federal Direct Loans

How do I contact the Direct Loan Program or find additional information?

To receive an FSA ID required to sign the FAFSA or Master Promissory Note (MPN):

For Direct Loan Entrance Counseling (new student borrowers only):

To access and sign a Master Promissory Note (Direct (Stafford) and PLUS loans): or 1-800-557-7394

To determine who is servicing your or your student’s Federal Direct Loans and to access personal account information: or 1-800-4-FED-AID

For more information about loan consolidation under the Federal Direct Loan Program: or 1-800-557-7392

For more information about previous federal loans, including FFEL program loans: or 1-800-4-FED-AID


Scholarships and Financial Aid

How will scholarships affect the other types of (need-based) aid my student may receive?

Any scholarships received will not be in addition to need-based financial aid but will change the composition of financial aid eligibility. In most cases, we allow outside scholarships to reduce student loans or Federal Work-Study in a financial aid package.

Each situation must be reviewed in light of availability of funds, state and federal regulations, and the university's financial aid policies. Federal regulations require that we consider all of a student’s and family’s resources when determining eligibility for financial aid. As a result, receipt of additional scholarship awards will most likely affect eligibility for financial aid. Once an academic department notifies our office of a departmental award, we will revise the Financial Aid Summary and notify the student of the revision.

If students receive outside award not listed in the Financial Aid Summary, they should send us a copy of the scholarship award notification so that we can adjust the financial aid package accordingly and notify them of the revision.

Most scholarships will replace some type of financial aid in your summary. If you would like to know how a scholarship will affect your student’s financial aid eligibility, please contact our office.


Financial Aid Statistics

How much financial aid does USC award to undergraduates?

Financial aid from all university sources exceeds $300 million.

Over $540 million in financial aid was awarded from all sources for 2015-16 (including work-study and loans).

The total of gift aid to undergraduates from all sources (university, federal, state, other) is more than $380 million, which represents approximately 70 percent of all aid awarded.

Need-based university grant funding has increased by more than 55 percent (over $64 million) since 2009, an annual growth of 7.8 percent. During this same period, tuition increased at an annual growth rate of 4.2 percent.

A major goal of the current fundraising campaign is to raise over one billion dollars in endowment funds to provide additional scholarships and grants for USC students.

How many of USC’s undergraduates receive financial aid?

Nearly two-thirds of USC undergraduates receive some sort of financial aid, including need-based grants, merit scholarships, Federal Work-Study and loans. Among the fall 2016 entering first-year class, nearly two-thirds received some form of financial assistance, with approximately 21 percent receiving a USC merit-based scholarship.

USC enrolls more than 4,000 low-income undergraduate students (as defined by Pell Grant eligibility), more than most private research universities. In fall 2016, 21 percent of enrolled undergraduates received Pell Grants. Most importantly, low-income students at USC graduate at rates comparable to the overall undergraduate population.

Student Debt

How does the student loan debt of USC’s undergraduates compare to graduates nationally?

Statistics regarding student loan debt and default rates vary, which makes direct comparisons difficult.

Student Debt

Approximately 47 percent of currently enrolled USC undergraduates borrow from any loan program (including federal, parent, and/or private loans).

Approximately 40 percent of the graduates of the Class of 2016 (who entered USC as first-time students) borrowed from federal student loan programs (includes Federal Direct Student Loan and Federal Perkins Loan, but excludes parent and/or private loans). The average cumulative amount borrowed by these students was $22,539, virtually unchanged from the Class of 2015.

Approximately 9 percent of current USC undergraduate families borrow from the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan program; fewer than 4 percent access private loan funding.

The Institute for College Access and Success estimates that about 70 percent of all college seniors who graduated in 2015 had student loan debt, with an average of $30,100 per borrower, an increase of 4 percent from the prior year. USC’s average for the class of 2015 was $23,502. The national average includes public and private non-profit institutions. For students at private non-profit schools such as USC, it is estimated that 74 percent of students borrowed an average of $32,600.

Cohort Default Rate

The US Department of Education issues official cohort default rates for participating schools. The cohort default rate is the percentage of a school’s federal student loan borrowers who enter repayment within the cohort fiscal year and default within the cohort default period. This default rate may affect a school's participation in various student aid programs.

USC's three-year official cohort default rate for fiscal year 2012-13 is 1.7 percent.

For all institutions, the three-year official cohort default rate for fiscal year 2012-13 is 11.3 percent. For all public institutions, the cohort default rate is 11.3 percent, and for all private non-profit institutions the cohort default rate is 7.0 percent.