Loans

Loans

Many students and families borrow from federal and private loan programs to assist in financing a college education. Loans are considered a valuable resource in helping students attain their educational goals. Management and repayment of loans become the student’s and/or family’s responsibility once the student graduates.

Regardless of lender, loans must be repaid with interest and, in many cases, include additional fees to obtain (origination fees).  Do not take on more debt than you can handle. Borrow only what you need.

  • Pursuing a college degree, whether at the undergraduate or graduate level, represents a significant commitment of time and money. Besides tuition, you will need to ensure that you have enough to cover basic living expenses such as housing and food, in addition to personal expenses. If you borrow loans to cover these costs, your financial commitment may last well beyond graduation.

  • Students at USC enjoy all the resources of a large research university and the feel of a smaller liberal arts college. With small class sizes; world-class faculty who are leading experts in their fields; a diverse and inclusive campus community; a broad range of research opportunities; and all the cultural, professional and entertainment possibilities that Los Angeles has to offer, you will graduate well-prepared for the realities of the 21st century.

  • Once you have secured your student loans, information regarding them is tracked by the National Student Loan Data System, which serves as a central clearinghouse and is accessible via studentaid.gov. You can log in to the site using your FSA ID to review the loans you’ve borrowed, their account balances, repayment plans, and loan servicers. Your data is kept secure and is used only for the purposes of providing you information about your loans and maintaining the integrity of federal Title IV programs.

  • For insights into the value of student loans, and important tips and advice for borrowing wisely, we recommend viewing this Responsible Borrowing video, offered by Federal Student Aid.

Loan Options

  • USC participates in the Federal Direct Loan Program, which offers low-interest loans to undergraduate students and their parents. Loans are backed by the U.S. government. Your eligibility is determined by the financial information provided in your FAFSA and the cost of attendance at your college or university.

  • Direct Subsidized Loans: Based on financial need, as determined by the information in your FAFSA.
    Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Based on your cost of attendance, less other aid you receive.
    Direct Parent PLUS Loans: Credit-based, for parents of dependent students. Based on cost of attendance.
    *Private Financing: Credit-based, offered through banks and lending institutions.

    *Loan Disclosure: Federal student loans are required by law to provide a range of flexible repayment options, including, but not limited to, Income-Based Repayment and Income-Contingent Repayment plans, and loan forgiveness benefits, which other student loans are not required to provide. Federal Direct Loans are available to students regardless of income.

    Private student loans may not be included in Federal Direct Consolidation Loans and are not eligible for Federal Income-Based Repayment Plans or for Federal Economic Hardship Deferments.

  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Based on your cost of attendance, less other aid you receive.
    Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans: Credit-based, based on cost of attendance.
    *Private Financing: Credit-based, offered through banks and lending institutions.

    Health Professions Student Loans
    Loans for Disadvantaged Students
    Institutional Loans

    *Loan Disclosure: Federal student loans are required by law to provide a range of flexible repayment options, including, but not limited to, Income-Based Repayment and Income-Contingent Repayment plans, and loan forgiveness benefits, which other student loans are not required to provide. Federal Direct Loans are available to students regardless of income.

    Private student loans may not be included in Federal Direct Consolidation Loans and are not eligible for Federal Income-Based Repayment Plans or for Federal Economic Hardship Deferments.

     

     

     

Federal Direct Loans

Federal Direct Loans are available to most eligible borrowers who apply for financial aid.

  • You may be eligible for a Direct Loan if you:

    • Are enrolled at least half-time.
    • Are enrolled in the number of units indicated in your financial aid summary.
    • Maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward your degree objective.

    Read more about the SAP Policy for undergraduates or SAP Policy for graduate students.

  • Complete ALL six steps to receive your Direct Loan:

    Step 1. Complete and submit the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible, even if the priority date has already passed.

    Step 2. Log in to your FAST portal and complete the Federal Direct Subsidized and/or Subsidized Direct Loan Request form found in the “Document Library.”

    • Undergraduate students must wait to receive their financial aid summary before they submit the form.
    • Graduate students may complete the form at any time.

    The Financial Aid Office will email you confirmation once we process your loan and notify the Department of Education.

    You can check your financial aid status at any time by logging in to your FAST portal.

    Step 3. Sign your Master Promissory Note (MPN) online at studentaid.gov.

    You will need the FSA ID issued to you by the Department of Education when you completed your FAFSA. If you have forgotten your FSA ID, you can retrieve it through studentaid.gov.

    You can check the status of your MPN by logging in to your FAST portal.

    You will not be required to complete a new MPN if you previously borrowed a Direct Loan at another school and your existing MPN is no more than 10 years old.

    Step 4. You must complete entrance loan counseling online at usc.igrad.com if you are:

    • A first-time undergraduate or graduate borrower at USC, or
    • A new graduate student who borrowed at USC as an undergraduate student.

    Step 5. First-time undergraduate borrowers must complete additional loan counseling. For a schedule of sessions, please refer to the Loan Counseling section.

     

  • Rates are fixed depending on the student’s enrollment status, the type of loan and the date of first disbursement.

    Undergraduate Subsidized Direct Loans
    First disbursed July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025: 6.53 percent
    First disbursed July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024: 5.49 percent

    Undergraduate Unsubsidized Direct Loans
    First disbursed July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025: 6.53 percent
    First disbursed July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024: 5.49 percent

    Graduate Unsubsidized Direct Loans
    First disbursed July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025: 8.08 percent
    First disbursed July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024: 7.05 percent

    Federal Origination Fees will be deducted from each disbursement:
    1.057 percent for all loans made on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2025.

  • Annual and Aggregate Limits for Direct Loans

    The amounts students may borrow annually are based on program of study, academic level and federal dependency status. Please note that Subsidized loans are limited by your financial need. Unsubsidized loans are limited by your Cost of Attendance, less other aid received. Once a student has reached aggregate maximum limits for Federal Direct Loans, USC may, in compliance with the Department of Education, refuse to originate federal loans or may reduce eligibility for federal loans on a case-by-case basis.

    Most USC programs use an academic calendar that consists of two terms. Eligible students in these programs regain annual loan limit eligibility after successfully completing two academic terms.

    If the parent is considered ineligible for the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan: The student may be able to borrow an additional Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, up to $4,000 or $5,000, depending on class level.

    The Financial Aid Office will cancel any additional Unsubsidized loan if the parent is subsequently approved for a PLUS loan in the same academic year.

    Base Amount Additional Unsubsidized Amount Additional Unsubsidized Amount
    All Students Dependent Undergraduates
    (Except students whose parents cannot borrow PLUS loans)
    Independent Undergraduate Students and Dependent Students Whose Parents Cannot Borrow PLUS Loans)
    First-Year Undergraduate $3,500 $2,000 $6,000
    Second-Year Undergraduate $4,500 $2,000 $6,000
    Third-Year and Beyond Undergraduate $5,500 $2,000 $7,000
    Graduate Preparatory (such as Postbaccalaureate Pre-Med) $5,500 n/a $7,000

    Certain graduate and professional programs of study use an academic calendar that consists of three terms. Eligible students in those programs regain eligibility for a new annual loan limit after three successfully completed terms. These programs include but are not limited to the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), Executive MBA (EMBA), Doctor of Medicine (MD), and Doctor of Dental Science (DDS).

    Graduate and Professional Students
    Graduate/Professional $20,500
    Master of Public Health, Master of Health Administration $33,000
    Pharmacy Students (PharmD) $33,000
    First-Year Medical Students (MD) $42,733
    Second- and Third-Year Medical Students (MD) $47,167
    Fourth-Year Medical Students (MD) $42,722
    First-, Second-, and Third-Year Dental Students (DDS) $47,167
    Fourth-Year Dental Students (DDS) $40,500
    International Dental Students (DDS) $47,167

    Graduating Seniors Attending One Semester

    If you have plans to graduate after attending a single semester this academic year, you will be eligible for only prorated amounts of Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans. The prorated amounts are based on the number of units you will attempt in your final semester.

    Enrollment Level/
    Number of Units
    Base Amount Additional Unsubsidized Amount Additional Unsubsidized Amount
    All Students Dependent Undergraduates
    (Except students whose parents cannot borrow PLUS loans)
    Independent Undergraduate Students and Dependent Students Whose Parents Cannot Borrow PLUS Loans)
    Half-Time (6 Units) $1,350 $500 $1,750
    Three-Quarter Time (9 Units) $2,062 $750 $1,875
    Full-Time (12 Units) $2,750 $1,000 $2,500

    Aggregate Loan Limits for Direct Loans

    The figures in the table below represent the total loan amounts students may borrow for their entire academic careers, based on academic level and federal dependency status.

    Dependency and Program of Study Subsidized Direct Loan Maximum Subsidized and
    Unsubsidized Direct Loan
    Dependent Undergraduates $23,000 $31,000
    Independent Undergraduates $23,000 $57,500
    Graduate/Professional Students $65,500 $138,500
    Certain Health Profession Students
    (MD, DDS, MHA, MPH)
    $65,500 $224,000

     

Direct Parent PLUS Loans

Families looking for long-term financing may wish to consider the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan to finance their child’s education.

  • These loans are available only to parent borrowers wishing to fund all or part of their eligible student’s undergraduate studies. It is not based on the student’s financial need. No collateral is required, but a credit check is performed. Applicants’ credit history must be free of seriously adverse items, such as collection accounts, charge-offs and bankruptcy. Please review the credit requirements on the Federal Student Aid website.

    Students must meet the following requirements:

    • Considered a dependent for the purposes of receiving federal need-based aid.
    • Enrolled at least half-time (6 units) in undergraduate status.
    • Enrolled in the number of units indicated in their financial aid summary.
    • Submit all documents required by the Financial Aid Office.
    • Maintain satisfactory academic progress.

    Parents and students must meet the following requirements:

    • Parents and students must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens.
    • The parent must be the biological or adoptive parent, or stepparent, of the student.
  • Step 1: Have your student complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online.

    Step 2: Apply for the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan on studentaid.gov. The Financial Aid Office will email you confirmation once we process your Parent PLUS Loan.

    The Federal Direct Loan Servicer will perform a credit check. Credit is checked once every 180 days for those with multiple applications. Parents who do not meet the criteria can apply with an endorser (co-signer) who does.

    Step 3: After the Department of Education has approved your loan, sign your Master Promissory Note (MPN) on studentaid.gov. Parents will not be required to complete a new MPN if:

    • They previously borrowed a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan for you at another school.
    • The existing MPN for a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan is not more than 10 years old.
    • Your parent was approved for that loan without an endorser.

    Parent PLUS loans are generally disbursed in two equal parts, one at the beginning of each semester.

  • Fixed at 9.08 percent for loans first disbursed between July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025

    Fixed at 8.05 percent for loans first disbursed between July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024.

    Federal Origination Fee will be deducted from each disbursement:

    4.228 percent for all loans made on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2025.

  •  

    • You do not need to submit your tax returns to the Financial Aid Office.
    • You can borrow up to the USC estimated cost of attendance, including tuition, mandatory fees, housing and dining, books and supplies, and even transportation, less other aid received.
    • Either parent may apply for the loan, or both parents may apply for separate Federal Direct Parent PLUS loans.
    • Fixed interest rate.
    • No prepayment penalty.
    • No required income-to-debt ratio.
    • Credit checks are less strict than those for private student loans.
    • Parents who do not meet the credit requirements may apply with an endorser (co-signer).
    • Parents can postpone payments up to 60 months while the student is in school.
    • Payment flexibility: Income-sensitive, graduated and extended payment options.
    • Accrued interest capitalizes once at repayment.
    • Federally insured against death and disability.
  • The parent’s credit must be free of the following adverse items:

    • Currently 90 days or more delinquent on repayment on any debt.
    • Debt placed in collection or written off within the past two years.
    • Evidence of a bankruptcy, default, discharge, foreclosure, tax lien, repossession, wage garnishment, or write-off of a debt during the past five years.
    • Collection accounts or charge-offs with a balance greater than $2,085.

    If the parent’s application is denied due to an adverse credit history, they may still participate in the PLUS loan program through an approved appeal or approved endorser (co-borrower) application. Borrowers approved with endorsers or appeals will need to complete PLUS Counseling online. More information regarding PLUS Loan Credit appeals, endorser applications, and PLUS Counseling can be found on studentaid.gov.

Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

Graduate and professional students looking for long-term financing may wish to consider the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan to finance their education.

  • Graduate students must meet the following eligibility requirements:

    • Enroll at least half-time:
      • Graduate students must register for four (4) or more units.
      • Doctoral students must register for three (3) or more units or be enrolled in a course considered full-time by the registrar (thesis/dissertation).
    • Enroll for the number of units indicated in your financial aid summary.
    • Submit all documents required by the Financial Aid Office.
    • Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
    • Maintain loan eligibility.
    • Borrow the maximum amount for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan.
    • Meet established federal credit criteria or apply with a credit-worthy endorser (co-borrower).
  • Be sure you have exhausted your full Federal Direct Loan eligibility before applying. (See Qualification above.)

    Step 1: Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for need-based aid.

    Step 2: Submit the Financial Aid Supplement for the appropriate year (available in your FAST portal) to the Financial Aid Office.

    Step 3: Apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan on studentaid.gov. The Department of Education will notify us electronically once you have completed the process.

    IMPORTANT: USC processes a separate Grad PLUS Loan for each enrolled term. You will need to submit a separate application for each term you are enrolled. We will email you confirmation once the Financial Aid Office processes your Direct Graduate PLUS Loan.

    The Direct Loan Servicer will then perform a credit check. Credit is checked once every 180 days for those with multiple applications.

    Step 4: If your application is approved, sign your Master Promissory note (MPN) on studentaid.gov.

    You will not be required to complete a new MPN if all of the following are true:

    • You previously borrowed a Graduate PLUS Loan at another school.
    • Your existing MPN is not more than 10 years old.
    • Your previous loans were approved without an endorser.

    Step 5: If you are a first-time borrower of Direct and Direct Graduate PLUS Loans at USC, complete entrance loan counseling at iGrad.

  • The student’s credit report must be free of the following adverse items:

    • Currently 90 days or more delinquent on repayment of any debt.
    • Debt placed in collection or charged off (written off) within the past two years.
    • Evidence of a bankruptcy, default, discharge, foreclosure, tax lien, repossession, wage garnishment, or write-off of a debt during the past five years.
    • Collection accounts or charge-offs with a balance greater than $2,085.

    If your application for a Graduate PLUS Loan is denied due to an adverse credit history, you may still participate in the PLUS loan program through an approved appeal or approved endorser (co-borrower) application.

    Borrowers approved with endorsers or appeals will need to complete PLUS Counseling. More information about appeals, endorser applications, and PLUS Counseling can be found on studentaid.gov.

    • Borrow up to the USC estimated cost of attendance: tuition, mandatory fees, housing and dining, books and supplies, and even transportation, less other aid received.
    • Fixed interest rate.
    • No prepayment penalty.
    • No income-to-debt ratio.
    • Credit check is less strict than that for private student loans.
    • Students who do not meet the credit requirements may apply with an endorser (co-signer).
    • Postpone payments up to 60 months while you are in school at least half-time.
    • Payment flexibility: Income-based, graduated and extended payment options.
    • Accrued interest capitalizes once at repayment.
    • You may reduce the cost of borrowing by making payments while in school.
    • Federally insured against death and total disability.
  • Interest Rate

    Fixed at 9.08 percent for loans first disbursed between July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025

    Fixed at 8.05 percent for loans first disbursed between July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024

    A Federal Origination Fee will be deducted from each disbursement:

    4.228 percent for all loans made on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2025.

Private Financing

Private financing programs are unsecured educational loans made by private financial institutions such as a banks or credit unions. These loans must be repaid with interest. Interest rates, origination and repayment fees for private loan programs are based on the credit-worthiness of the borrower and/or co-borrower.

Undergraduates will typically need to apply with a credit-worthy co-borrower. Graduate students can apply on their own but may receive better rates by applying with a credit-worthy co-borrower.

Rules for repayment and deferment vary by lender. Check with your lender for more information.

    1. If you did not apply for federal need-based financial aid, submit a Financial Aid Supplement online through your FAST portal for the appropriate academic year.
    2. Review your and your co-borrower’s credit reports to ensure accuracy.
    3. Apply online with the lender of your choice.

    The lender must approve the student’s (and co-borrower’s) credit and receive the signed promissory note and all necessary documentation before they can contact USC to certify the loan. USC will then promptly process the request.

    Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification Form

    The federal government now requires students applying for private loans to complete and sign a Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification form. Your lender will send this form to you as part of the application process.

    Submit the form directly to your lender. You will be asked to provide your estimated cost of attendance and estimated financial aid eligibility. If you applied for financial aid, you can obtain this information from your financial aid summary. Students who have not applied for aid should refer to the undergraduate cost of attendance or graduate cost of attendance for the necessary information.

  • Private education loans vary by lender. You should compare loan terms and conditions and choose the one that best fits your situation.

    You can compare private loans from multiple lenders using the ELM Select tool, which displays a neutral list (in random order) of private lenders that USC students have borrowed from within the past three years. USC does not prefer, recommend, promote, endorse or suggest any of these lenders.

    You are not required to use any of the lenders listed on ELM Select. USC will process loans from any eligible lender the student chooses. USC may not deny or otherwise impede the borrower’s choice of a lender or cause unnecessary delay in loan certification for those borrowers who choose a lender not listed on ELM Select.

    Here are several questions you should consider when choosing a private loan:

    • What is the interest rate? Is it fixed or variable?
    • What fees must be paid and when are they due?
    • What are the repayment terms? Is there a grace period? Are there deferment or forbearance options?
    • What will my monthly payment be?
    • Do I need to be admitted to a degree or certificate program?
    • Do I need to be enrolled at least half-time?
    • Is there a satisfactory academic progress requirement?
    • Can the loan be applied to past periods of enrollment? If so:
      • Is there a timeframe that students must apply within if they are still enrolled at USC?
      • What timeframe do students need to apply within if they have withdrawn or graduated from USC?

    In addition, each of the following states offers an alternative loan program specifically for its residents. If you are a resident of one of these states, be sure to review the alternative loan information by clicking on the name of the state in the table below or calling the number provided.

    States Telephone Number
    Alaska (800) 441-2962
    Connecticut (800) 935-2275
    Iowa (800) 243-7552
    Maine (800) 228-3734
    Massachusetts (800) 266-0243
    Minnesota (800) 657-3866
    North Dakota (800) 472-2166
    New Jersey (800) 792-8670
    Rhode Island (800) 758-7562

     

  • The repayment terms of federal loan programs may be more favorable than the terms of private loan programs. Prior to applying for private financing, students should exhaust all Federal Title IV assistance available, including Federal Pell Grants, the Direct Loan, the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan and the Direct Parent PLUS Loan.

    Federal student loans are required by law to provide a range of flexible repayment options, including but not limited to Income-Based Repayment and Income-Contingent Repayment plans, as well as loan forgiveness benefits, which other student loans are not required to provide. Federal Direct Loans are available to students regardless of income.

    Private student loans may not be included in Federal Direct Consolidation Loans and are not eligible for Federal Income-Based Repayment Plans or for Federal Economic Hardship Deferments.

Loan Repayment: Federal Loans

  • Your student loan is real money. You have to pay it back, so borrow wisely.

    When you accept a loan, you accept legal and financial responsibilities that last until the loan is repaid. Loans must be repaid with interest, which begins to accrue when you:

    • Receive your initial loan disbursement; or
    • Cease to be enrolled in school at least half-time.

    Establish good credit by repaying your student loan. Paying your student loan on time affords you the chance to build a solid credit history that will help define the course of your life. On the other hand, defaulting on your loan can have serious, long-term consequences.

    When you accept a student loan, you agree to:

    • Repay your loan, including accrued interest and fees, whether or not you complete your education, complete the program within the regular time frame, obtain employment or are satisfied with your education.
    • Complete exit counseling before you leave school or drop below half-time enrollment.
    • Notify the current holder of your loan within 10 days if you change your name, address or phone number, drop below half-time status, withdraw from school or transfer or change your graduation date.
    • Direct all correspondence to the current holder or servicer of your loan.
    • Make monthly payments on your loan after leaving school, unless you are granted a deferment or forbearance.
    • Notify the current holder of your loan of anything that might affect your eligibility for an existing deferment.

    As a student borrower, you have the right to:

    • Receive a copy of your promissory note either before or at the time the loan is made.
    • Receive a disclosure statement before repayment on your loan begins, including information about interest rates, fees, loan balance and the size and number of payments.
    • A grace period after you leave school or drop below half-time enrollment and before your loan payments begins (if applicable).
    • Prepay all or part of your loans without a prepayment penalty.
    • Consolidate your loans, if applicable.
    • Apply for loan forgiveness, if eligible.
    • Receive written notice if your loan is sold to a new holder.
    • Apply for deferment of your loan payments for certain specified periods, as long as you’re eligible.
    • Request forbearance from the holder of your loan if you are unable to make payments and do not qualify for deferment. You must qualify according to the loan holder’s requirements.
    • Loan cancellation under certain circumstances.
    • Receive proof when your loan is paid in full.

    Although every effort is made to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information, this content is subject to change due to alterations in federal, state, university or lender policy or procedure. The USC Financial Aid Office cannot be held liable for the consequences of such changes in policy or procedure. The most current information can be found by contacting your lender or servicer.

    Medical, Law, Dental and Pharmacy Students

    More information about loan options for professional students can be found at the following sites.

    Keck School of Medicine of USC

    USC Gould School of Law Tuition and Financial Aid

    School of Dentistry of USC: Paying for Dental School

    USC Mann School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: Tuition, Financial Aid and Scholarships

  • Your loan is real money with real consequences.

    The 10-year repayment period begins six months after you graduate, withdraw or drop below half-time enrollment. To reduce the cost of borrowing, consider making interest-only payments while you are in school. There is no penalty for early repayment.

    Several options are available for repayment of your student loan, allowing you to choose the one that best meets your financial needs. You are allowed to change repayment plans at least once a year. More information can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

     

  • To learn more about managing your student loans and finances after graduation, we encourage you to take advantage of these resources:

    • iGrad: This free online platform empowers students and their families to make sound financial decisions, now and in the future. Sign up for an account at usc.igrad.com.
    • Federal Student Aid: This site will help you determine which repayment plans you may be eligible for and allow you to view estimates for monthly payments and/or the total cost over the life of the loan.
    • Student Loan Repayment: This section of the Federal Student Aid website will help you manage your student loan repayments.
    • Repayment: What to Expect: Presented by Federal Student Aid and available on YouTube, this video will help you prepare for student loan repayment.

     

  • On-time repayment of your student loan is critical. It is also a great way to develop a good credit history, which follows you throughout your lifetime.

    Delinquent payments are reported to a national credit agency and will damage your credit report and your future ability to borrow.

    Your lender or guarantor can provide you with options if you are having difficulty making payments.

    For more information regarding loan default and reestablishing financial aid eligibility please visit studentaid.gov.

    Consequences of Default

    • Suspension of university services.
    • Loss of eligibility for any additional federal, state and university financial aid.
    • Loss of the option to make monthly payments. The full amount of your loan becomes immediately due and payable.
    • Adverse credit history.
    • Tax-offset and wage garnishment.
    • Loan acceleration.
    • Write-off or collection agency action, which can lead to an increased loan payoff amount.
    • Late fees and collection costs.
    • Litigation, which can lead to an increased loan payoff amount.
    • Suspension of professional licenses.
    • Increased payment amounts.
    • Loss of deferment and forbearance options.

    Preventing Defaults

    Be proactive! It is crucial that you contact your lender immediately if you are having difficulty making payments.

  • HPSL, LDS and institutional loans: Contact USC Student Financial Services Office at (213) 740-4077 or sfs.usc.edu.

    Federal Direct or Graduate PLUS Loans: Contact your lender or visit studentaid.gov.

    Other (Private) Loan Programs

    If you have borrowed from one or more of the non-federal, private financing programs, more information about those loans can be obtained from your lender or on your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Loan Counseling

  • First-time borrowers of Direct Loans and Direct Graduate PLUS Loans at USC are required to complete entrance loan counseling before loan funds can be disbursed. This is required by federal regulation and university policy, even if you previously borrowed loans at another college or university. To complete entrance counseling online:

    1. Visit iGrad.
    2. Select “Start Course.”
    3. Log in to your iGrad account using your USC NetID.

    The process should take about 30 minutes. Once your session is successfully completed, your information will be transmitted to USC within two to three business days.

    Completing entrance counseling well before the start of the semester will ensure that you receive your funds in time to pay tuition and fees by the settlement deadline.

     

    Additional Requirements for First-Time Undergraduate Borrowers

    In addition to completing online entrance counseling, first-time undergraduate borrowers must also complete the Cash Course, a series of webinars provided through iGrad, to serve as a starting point to managing your finances, including your financial aid. Please look for an email in the first weeks of class for more information.

    Although graduate and professional students are not required to complete the Cash Course, we believe you will find the course helpful in managing your investment in education, and we encourage all graduate students to participate.

  • Student loan borrowers are required to complete Exit Loan Counseling the semester they plan to graduate, as well as any time they take a leave of absence or drop to less than half-time status.

    Federal Loan Counseling Requirement

    To complete the exit loan counseling online:

    1. Visit iGrad.
    2. Select “Start Course.”
    3. Log in to your iGrad account using your USC NetID.

    The process should take about 30 minutes. Once you have successfully completed your session, your information will be transmitted to USC within two to three business days.

    Health Professions Student Loans, Loans for Disadvantaged Students or Institutional Loan Borrowers

    Students are required to complete an additional exit interview online. Please visit the Student Financial Services web page for more information. A Loan Hold will be placed on your account until the exit interview has been completed. Exit counseling information for HPSL/LDS loans will be available online through the loan servicer ECSI.

Student Loan Advisory

  • All borrowers should be aware of the following:

    • Borrowing a loan is a way to use your future income to meet today’s needs. Every dollar borrowed will be repaid with interest out of your future income.
    • Borrow only what you need. Students are not required to borrow the full amount offered in their financial aid summary.
    • Before spending ask yourself:
      • Does this meet a basic need?
      • Is this greatly enhancing my quality of life?
      • Is this an investment in my future?
    • Investigate other sources of financial aid that do not need to be repaid, such as scholarships and Federal Work-Study.
    • To reduce total debt, students can try to make some interest payments on Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Federal Direct PLUS Loans while they are at USC or covered by a grace period. Or, just borrow less.
    • Inform the loan servicer when changing your name or address, or if they withdraw from USC or graduate.
    • Establish good credit by wisely managing loan repayments. Make all payments on time (consider setting up automatic payments from your checking account) and keep copies of all documents and correspondence.
    • Reduce the cost of the investment in education by focusing on needs instead of wants. Wherever possible, students should eliminate those expenditures that do not meet life’s necessities.

     

    Loan History

    To review your financial aid history and to better understand your federal student loan indebtedness, log in to studentaid.gov. You will need your name, date of birth, Social Security number and FSA ID to access your confidential record.

    If you have borrowed from one or more of the non-federal private financing programs, more information about those loans can be obtained from your lender or on your credit report at annual credit report.

     

    AB 721 Disclosure of Student Loan Data

    California Assembly Bill No. 721 requires colleges and universities in California to disclose the following information concerning graduates and student loan debt:

    Number of students who started as first-time students at USC and received a bachelor’s degree between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021: 3,592
    Number and percentage of undergraduates who borrowed at any time while enrolled at USC through any student loan program (such as Institutional Loans, Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and private loans): 1,148 / 32%
    • Total principal borrowed for loans described above:
    $31,470,124
    • Average cumulative principal borrowed (total borrowed divided by number of students receiving loans):
    $27,413
    Number and percentage of undergraduates who borrowed while enrolled at USC through any federal student loan program (excluding Institutional Loans, state and private loans): 1,100 / 31%
    • Total principal borrowed for loans described above:
    $20,618,400
    • Average cumulative principal borrowed (total borrowed divided by number of students receiving loans):
    $18,744

Need Help?

Contact the Department of Education’s Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) Applicant Services at (800) 848-0978 or visit them at cod.ed.gov.

This service is available to borrowers who have experienced difficulties with the studentaid.gov website or need assistance with:

  • Parent and Graduate PLUS Credit Application Appeals
  • Parent and Graduate PLUS Endorser Applications
  • Master Promissory Notes (MPN)
  • Entrance or Exit Counseling

Ombudsman

An ombudsman is an independent, neutral official authorized to investigate and resolve disputes between individuals and public agencies or authorities. The Federal Student Aid (FSA) Ombudsman acts on the behalf of loan borrowers to conduct informal, impartial investigations into complaints against loan agencies, servicers and companies. They will recommend solutions, but they do not have the authority to reverse decisions. They will also work to institute changes that will prevent future problems for other student loan borrowers. This free service is provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Ombudsman will research your complaint and determine if you have been treated fairly. If your student loan complaint is justified, they will work with you and the office, agency, or company involved. They will also contact other offices within the U.S. Department of Education, your private lender, your loan guaranty agency, and the servicing agency or firm collecting your loan.

If your complaint is not justified, they will explain to you how the determination was reached.

For more information, please visit the Student Aid website or call (800) 433-3243.

Federal Student Aid Publications

The U.S. Department of Education publishes several guides to understanding the Federal Direct Loan process and borrower’s rights and responsibilities. You can visit their Federal Student Aid Resources website to review important information.

Code of Conduct

  • Compliance

    The following memorializes the USC Office of Financial Aid Code of Conduct and Business Practices for Relationships with Lenders (Code of Conduct) that should apply in our relationships with any lending institution that is an actual or potential lender to USC students and parents. This Code of Conduct applies to all managers and employees in the University Park Financial Aid Office and all financial aid managers and employees in the professional schools (Financial Aid Employees).

    1. No Payments to Financial Aid Officers and Employees: Financial Aid Employees may not accept anything of more than nominal value (less than $50.00 per year or an isolated lunch or dinner) from any lending institution. This standard also applies to gifts, meals and other business courtesies.

    2. No Significant Equity Interests: Financial Aid Employees may not hold a significant public or private equity interest (e.g., stocks, stock options, warrants or other ownership interests) in any lending institution that is on the university’s lender list. A “significant” interest does not include any mutual funds or other equity interests that are managed by a third party or investments representing less than 1 percent of the total equity of a publicly traded entity.

    3. Service on an Advisory Board Requires Approval: Financial Aid Employees may not serve on the advisory board of any lending institution without obtaining prior written approval from the Provost or his/her designee. Financial Aid Employees may not receive any reimbursement or other compensation for serving on an approved lending institution advisory board. Lending institutions shall not pay for any travel, food or lodging expenses incurred as a result of service on an advisory board.

    4. No Remuneration to the University: Financial Aid Employees may not accept or receive anything of value from a lending institution on behalf of or as a representative of USC, in exchange for any advantage or consideration given to the lending institution. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, revenue sharing arrangements, scholarships, reimbursement for printing costs or services, equipment offered at less than fair market value and staffing assistance.

    5. No Offer of Funds for Private Loans: Financial Aid Employees shall not request or accept from any lender any offer of funds to be used for private education loans (as defined in section 140 of the Truth in Lending Act), including funds for an opportunity pool loan, to students in exchange for the university providing concessions or promises regarding providing the lender with a specific number of loans made, insured or guaranteed; a specified loan volume of such loans; or a preferred lender arrangement for such loans. An “opportunity pool loan” is defined as a private education loan made by a lender to a student (or the student’s family) that involves a payment by the institution to the lender for extending credit to the student.

    6. Lender Lists Must Serve Students and Parents: Lender lists must be based solely on the best interests of the students or parents, who may use the list without regard to the financial interests of the university.

    7. Lender List Disclosure: USC will clearly disclose the process and criteria used to select those lending institutions that appear on its lender lists and related brochures or websites. Students must be told that they have the right and ability to select the lending institution of their choice, regardless of the lender lists. Lenders shall be listed based on a randomized program. The lender lists shall be reviewed annually.

    8. Directing Borrowers to Lenders: Financial Aid Employees may not direct borrowers to particular lenders or refuse or delay loan certifications based on the borrowers lender choice.

    9. Prohibition on Call Centers: Financial Aid Employees may not retain or otherwise engage any lending institution to staff call centers to respond to financial aid inquiries by USC parents or staff.

    10. Transparency in Employment: Employees of lending institutions must clearly identify that they are employed by a lending institution when interacting with USC students and parents. Employees of lending institutions are not permitted to identify themselves as USC employees to USC students and parents.

    11. Entrance/Exit Counseling: Financial Aid Employees will not engage any lending institution to provide entrance or exit counseling to USC students.

    The Provost or his/her designee will review this Code of Conduct and may update or revise it at his/her discretion to ensure that it remains current and consistent with university policy and regulatory requirements.

    Date: March 24, 2016