Special Circumstances and Appeals


In certain cases, students may wish to submit information about their special financial circumstances, or an appeal to request an adjustment to their financial aid eligibility.

How to Appeal

Submit your request, along with copies of appropriate supporting documentation as indicated, through the “Required Info and Forms” page of your FAST account. Make sure your USC ID number appears on each supporting document. You will be contacted if additional documentation is required.

Appeal Funding

Re-evaluation of your financial aid eligibility is subject to federal, state and university regulations, and is based on:

  • Availability of funds;
  • Timeliness of your original application for financial aid; and
  • Timeliness of your appeal and the nature of the change in circumstances.

Notification: We will notify you of our decision or if we require additional information.

Aid Adjustment

Changes to Federal Work-Study

Requesting to DECREASE Your Federal Work-Study Amount
In some cases, it may be possible to convert unused Federal Work-Study eligibility to Federal Direct PLUS or private loan eligibility.

If you would like to decrease your Federal Work-Study amount, submit a request. Explain why you are unable to use the full amount of your Federal Work-Study eligibility and state the amount you want to convert to loans.

Requesting to INCREASE Federal Work-Study
If you would like an increase to your Federal Work-Study amount, submit a request. Attach a memo from your employer supporting your request and include the additional amount you are requesting, your hourly rate, and the number of hours you work per week.

Decreasing or Increasing Your Loan Amounts

Requesting to DECREASE Your Loan Amounts
If an approved loan amount is more than you wish to borrow, submit a request to decrease the amount. Include the amount you wish to borrow for each semester that you are enrolled. Please note you must submit your request for a cancellation or reduction of your federal loans within 120 days of the date of disbursement.

Requesting to INCREASE Your Loan Amounts
You may submit a request to increase your loan amounts, provided that your financial aid package does not already include the maximum annual amounts for Federal Direct Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized Loans. Include the amount you wish to borrow for each semester that you are enrolled. Please note you must submit your requests for semester loan increases before the end of the semester.


Class Level or Enrollment Changes

If you enroll in a different number of units than originally planned, please submit a Financial Aid Supplement with your updated information.

If you need to change the semesters for which you have been awarded aid, you may submit a new Financial Aid Supplement.

Budget Increase

The estimated cost of attendance (budget) used to determine your financial aid eligibility includes an amount for tuition and mandatory fees, based on your enrollment plans, as well as average amounts for standard educational expenses such as room and board. Also included are books, supplies, local transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. For more information about the standard student budget, please visit the Graduates & Professionals Cost page.

If your actual school-related expenses are higher than your current budget, you may be eligible for a budget increase. Budget increases are considered on a case-by-case basis, subject to federal and university policy. If approved, budget increases are typically funded with PLUS loans or private financing.

Before submitting an appeal, we ask that you visit the Federal Student Aid website to view your current total loan debt and consider how this additional loan may affect your repayment amounts after graduation. Prior indebtedness may be considered in determining whether a budget increase will be approved.

Types of budget increases that can be considered are listed below. To request a budget increase, submit your appeal with the supporting documentation as indicated. To allow sufficient time for loan processing, appeals and all supporting documents should be submitted at least 30 days before the end of the term.

Type of Change Documentation

Books Exceeding The Amount Included
In Student Budget

  • Itemization of books required for courses.
  • Receipts to show amounts paid, or printouts from the Schedule of Classes website verifying cost.

Child care expense necessary for class attendance during your period of enrollment

  • Letter identifying child’s name and age as well as the name of the child-care provider and days/hours that child care is provided.
  • A copy of the contract verifying child care expenses.
  • A Student Income & Expense Form.
  • In some cases, we may request copies of cancelled checks or receipts to verify expenses.
Computer purchase and necessary computer software (one time and must be purchased no earlier than june 1 prior to the start of the academic year.
  • Itemization of expenses incurred or requested.
  • Receipts to show items purchased, or Internet printouts showing prices of items to be purchased.
Conferences required for your educational program
  • Itemization or expenses incurred or requested.
  • Memo from department chairperson verifying that attendance is required for the student’s class or educational program.
Course/lab fees not included in student budget
  • Itemization of expenses incurred or requested.
Course-related equipment and other expenses necessary for your educational program not included in the standard budget
  • Itemization or expenses incurred or requested.
  • Letter or memo from department chairperson or other authored person verifying that the  expense is necessary for your class or program and that the amount requested is an average and reasonable amount.
Disability-related expenses during the period of enrollment
  • Itemization or projected expenses not covered by insurance or other means.
  • Letter from the USC Office for Disability Services and Programs supporting the request.
Mandatory student/spouse/family health and dental insurance
  • Itemization of expenses incurred or requested.
  • Increase is limited to the cost of the USC Plan.
MD student rotations and interview expenses
  • Provide a written request indicating the dates of rotation, copies of cancelled checks or credit card statements for travel expenses, bearing the student’s name or hotel receipts.
  • Provide verification of all interview dates, and documentation showing exact dates, exact flight and exact hotel you intend to reserve. Alternatively, if you are driving, provide documentation of mileage as well as the name and location of the hospitals (20 maximum).
Exceptional dietary expenses:
Exceeding amount included in the standard budget
  • Itemization of expenses incurred or requested.
  • Documentation, such as doctor’s note or letter from DSP or Athletics, stating student has special dietary needs.
Medical/dental expenses incurred for student during the period of enrollment that are emergency in nature and are not covered by
  • List of expenses incurred.
  • Billing statement or invoice showing procedure, cost, amount covered by insurance and the amount you must pay.
  • For non-dental expenses, a letter from the student’s primary physician supporting the treatment.
USC parking permit
  • Itemization of expenses incurred or requested.
Rent exceeding the standard budget
($1,400 per month for graduate students)
  • Copy or lease or rental agreement in students name
  • Copies of two cancelled checks or money orders to verify payment of rent.
Professional licensing fees incurred during period of enrollment
  • Documentation of expenses.
Transportation expenses exceeding amount included in student budget
  • Itemization of expenses incurred during period of enrollment, including purpose of travel, number of times per week you travel, and documentation of the length of your commute.
Tuition exceeding amount included in student budget
  • Itemization of expenses incurred or requested.

Housing Changes

Your Financial Aid Summary indicates the housing status you reported when you applied for financial aid:

  • Living with parents or relatives.
  • Not living with parents or relatives.

If your housing plans change, submit an updated Financial Aid Supplement.

Please note: Your eligibility for aid will be reduced if your housing plans change from “not living with parents or relatives” to “living with parents or relatives.”

Your eligibility for aid may increase if your housing plans change from “living with parents or relatives” to “not living with parents or relatives.”

Please submit the following documentation to confirm this change in your housing plans:

Graduate Plus Loan Denial

If your application for a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is denied, you may appeal the decision or reapply with an endorser. For more information, contact the Federal Direct Loan Servicer at studentaid.gov or (800) 557-7394.

How to Submit Your Appeal
Follow the instructions on studentaid.gov. The Department of Education reviews all appeals of loan denials.