Frequently Asked Questions

We are available to answer your questions directly. However many questions can be answered by simply looking at our list of Frequently Asked Questions below.

Parent Access To Student Records

How do I access my student’s Financial Aid Summary?

Access to student records is governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that protects the privacy of student records. Only your student may grant you access to his or her records.

Your student’s online Financial Aid Summary and Tasks page includes a Parent Invite feature that will allow you to view his or her Financial Aid Summary. Your student will need to click on the Parent Invite button and enter your e-mail address. An e-mail will be sent to you with an access code. You will be able to view the Financial Aid Summary tab for as long as the access code remains active. Codes typically expire after 7 days.

You should be aware that you will see ONLY the Financial Aid Summary and will not be able to view the information provided on the other tabs of your student’s FAST page.

How do I access online forms?

Online forms also include a Parent Invite feature. When your student invites you to complete a form, the system will e-mail you a randomly generated PIN number. To complete the form online, authenticate your access to it with your student’s USC ID, his or her date of birth and the randomly generated PIN number. Each form will include specific instructions for completing it.

If you are filling out the online tax form, you will need your completed tax return. This return must contain the same information that has been or will be provided to the federal government. You should not submit estimated or preliminary tax information.

How long is the PIN valid?

The PIN remains valid for seven (7) days from the last Parent Invite. If you do not complete and submit the form within seven days, the invitation and the PIN will expire. If your PIN has expired, your student must submit another Parent Invite for you to complete that form.

Can I use my FAFSA or CSS PROFILE PIN to access online forms?

No. You must use the PIN generated by the parent invitation for that form.

If I lose my PIN, can I retrieve it somehow?

Have your student complete another Parent Invite for the form. If the PIN number has not yet expired, the system will retrieve it. If your PIN has expired, a new PIN number will be generated.

If I am not comfortable entering my tax information into an online form, can I submit a paper version or copies of requested information?

You can, but please be aware that submitting paper forms will delay processing. The online process is secure and will allow the Financial Aid Office to process your student’s award as quickly as possible. Your information is not stored or viewable online. It is automatically transferred to our Student Information System.

Can I receive a copy of the information I entered on this form?

No. For security purposes, we do not store your information. Please make note of all the information you have entered before you click on the Submit button, as you will not be able to access this information once you have logged out.

How do I correct my information if I made a mistake on an online form?

Please resubmit the form. You may be able to use the same PIN number if the last Parent Invite was sent within the last seven days. If it has been more than seven days and the last Parent Invite has expired, please have your student submit a new one for that form.

Why am I being asked to upload my actual tax forms if I submitted my tax information online?

To comply with federal verification guidelines, you may be selected to provide a complete copy of the student’s and/or parent’s income tax return (1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ). This tax return must contain the same information that has been or will be provided to the federal government.

Please do not submit estimated or preliminary tax returns. Tax returns should be signed.

How soon will I be notified if I need to submit additional supporting documents?

Your student will be informed via e-mail if additional documents are needed to further process his or her financial aid application. Please submit these documents as soon as possible by visiting Financial Aid Summary and Tasks (FAST) and following the instructions provided.

Please note that according to USC's policy regarding the falsification of financial aid information, the student will be held responsible for the integrity of any financial aid information submitted either by him or her or on his/her behalf. If the university determines that a student or parent has provided falsified information, or has submitted forged documents or signatures, the Financial Aid Office may restrict the distribution of any further aid and the student may be subject to disciplinary sanctions as described in the Student Conduct Code (11.80).



Financial Aid Application

How should my student apply for financial aid?

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

How will my student know if he or she needs to submit any additional documents to the Financial Aid Office for my financial aid application?

Students should visit their FAST page to check their status.

How will I or my student know if the Financial Aid Office has received the documents I/we sent?

If documents were submitted using the Financial Aid Summary and Tasks (FAST) page, your student 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.