Types of Aid
Scholarships, fellowships and other sources of aid are awarded primarily by individual academic departments, so please check with your department for more information.
The USC Financial Aid Office will determine your financial need and process your Financial Aid Summary, which will consist mostly of federal loans. In addition, USC participates in a variety of private loan programs for students.
Scholarships, Fellowships and Assistantships
Grants and scholarships and fellowships are types of financial aid that do not have to be repaid.
Sources of scholarships, assistantships and fellowships:
Your academic department or professional school.
Some departments provide their scholarships in the form of a monthly stipend that is paid directly to the student receiving the award. Stipend payments are made monthly according to the stipend schedule.
USC Financial Aid Office (administers federal aid programs, including Federal Work-Study awards; coordinates departmental scholarships and stipends).
The Graduate School (administers fellowship programs and provides information about non-university funding sources).
Federal agencies and private foundations (support for students engaged in specific fields of study).Corporations (fellowships or tuition reimbursement for employees).
Graduate assistantships are awarded by academic departments on the basis of scholastic accomplishment, academic promise and competence. Appointments are for a maximum of one year at a time, and confer both tuition credit and a stipend.
To receive tuition credit, you must be registered for at least six (6) graduate units for credit in a full-time course. Assistantships usually require 20 hours of work per week under the supervision of USC faculty. There are three types of positions:
Students are assigned specific duties that assist the teaching staff of the university, but do not serve as the instructors of record. These positions help develop research and teaching skills. Contact your academic department to apply.
Students teach in the Freshman Writing Program, language programs in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the American Language Institute (ALI) and other programs approved by the Director of Graduate and Professional Programs. Assistant lecturers may serve as instructors of record. Contact your academic department to apply.
Students assist the faculty in research-related tasks that can further the students’ own research interests. Contact your academic department to apply.
Fellowships and scholarships are awarded to graduate students on a competitive basis by USC schools and departments, as well as by outside agencies. Awards consist of tuition credit and/or stipends. Most Ph.D. students at USC are fully supported by fellowships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships or a combination of these funding sources.
Endowed USC Fellowships
Several endowed fellowships are administered by The Graduate School. Some require candidates to be nominated by their department; others are awarded to students who apply. For more information, visit the Graduate School website.
For detailed listings of graduate fellowships awarded by entities outside USC, for study and research in the United States and abroad, and for underrepresented students, click here.
Federal Work-Study & Other Employment
Federal Work-Study provides part-time job opportunities for graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study. Most of these jobs are on campus, but some opportunities are also available with local nonprofit agencies. Please visit studentaid.ed.gov/types/work-study for more information.
You must demonstrate financial need, meet all application deadlines, be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen and enroll for the number of units upon which your Financial Aid Summary was based (undergraduates) or take at least 8 units for credit each semester (graduate and professional school students).
You will not be able to use your work-study award to pay your university bill. The bill is due before the semester begins, but you must earn your work-study funds over the course of the semester.
Please note: Work-study is offered to on-campus students only. Students in online graduate programs are not eligible for work-study.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized (Stafford) Loans
Graduate students may borrow up to a maximum of $20,500 per academic year at a fixed interest rate, regardless of financial need. (Certain health professions may be eligible for a higher amount.)
Please visit studentaid.gov or for more details about the program and its benefits.
Managing the Student Contribution
The following options are available to cover the balance of your cost of attendance (after any financial aid is posted to your account). You can pay in several ways:
From savings or current income. (Pay the USC Cashier’s Office directly.)
With the USC Payment Plan, which enables students to establish a line of credit for tuition, fees, university housing and other student expenses. The plan is billed in five monthly installments per semester. There is an application fee of $50. For more information, visit the Student Financial Services website.
With the USC Pre-payment Plan, which allows you to prepay up to five years of full-time tuition and mandatory fees for students who have been admitted to the university. For more information, visit the Student Financial Services website.
With additional loans for all or part of the amount. If you do apply for loans, you should apply for the amount you will need for the entire academic year.
Graduate and Professional Student Federal PLUS Loan
If you choose to borrow a loan for all or part of the family contribution, your first source is the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. It has a low, fixed interest rate. Repayment begins after the loan has been fully disbursed; however, you may defer payment while you are enrolled at least half-time. There is no prepayment penalty. For application information, click here.
In most cases, students who use private financing to cover all or part of the family contribution will need to apply with a credit-worthy co-borrower. Doing so may substantially reduce interest and fees on a private loan. For more information about private loans, see the Private Financing section of this website.