Undergraduate Prospective Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Though we are available to answer your questions directly, you may find that many of your questions are answered in the Frequently Asked Questions below.

Financial Aid Application

How do I apply for financial aid?

You will need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at fafsa.gov and either the CSS PROFILE at profileonline.collegeboard.com. For more information, please visit our Applying page.

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

Visit your Financial Aid Summary and Tasks (FAST) page to check your status.

How will I know if the Financial Aid Office has received the documents I sent?

If you submitted your documents using your FAST page, you will receive an email confirming that we have received them.

Does my financial aid application affect my admission to USC?

USC is need-blind in its admission process. Ability to pay, or a student's interest in financial aid, has no bearing on admission decisions.


Federal Direct Loans

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

For Direct Loan Entrance Counseling (new borrowers only): studentloans.gov

To access and sign your Master Promissory Note (Stafford and PLUS loans): studentloans.gov or 1-800-557-7394

To determine who is servicing your Federal Direct Loans and to access your personal account information: www.nslds.ed.gov or 1-800-4-FED-AID

For more information about loan consolidation under the Federal Direct Loan Program:
www.loanconsolidation.ed.gov or 1-800-557-7392

For more information about your previous federal loans, including FFEL program loans:
www.nslds.ed.gov or 1-800-4-FED-AID

Scholarships & Financial Aid

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

Any scholarships you receive will not be in addition to your need-based financial aid but will change the composition of your financial aid eligibility. In most cases, we allow outside scholarships to reduce the student loans or Federal Work-Study in your 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 your resources when determining your eligibility for financial aid. As a result, receipt of additional scholarship awards will most likely affect your eligibility for financial aid. Once your department notifies our office of a departmental award, we will revise your Financial Aid Summary and notify you of the revision.

If you are a recipient of an outside award not listed in your Financial Aid Summary, please send us a copy of your scholarship award notification so that we can adjust your financial aid package accordingly and notify you of the revision.

Most scholarships will replace some type of financial aid in your summary. If you would like to know how your scholarship will affect your 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.