What Is Required From Parents in the Financial Aid Process?

While we remain committed to fully funding 100 percent of the USC-determined financial need for students who meet all deadlines and requirements, we expect families to play a leading role in financing a student’s education. Parents are encouraged to review all financial aid materials they or their children may receive from USC, and discuss the various options with their students. We understand that each family’s financial circumstances are unique, and we can help you understand what might work best for your situation.

Throughout the application process, parents should:

Be aware of the application deadlines and submit any requested information as soon as possible. Both the FAFSA and the CSS Profile will ask you to provide details about your family’s finances so that we can determine how much federal and university aid your student may be eligible for. Please visit the Dates and Deadlines page for details.

Provide tax return information or other documentation within 10 days of USC’s request. Most information can now be submitted online for the fastest processing.

If you are applying for a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan, be sure to check your email for updates from If you are approved for a PLUS loan, you will be notified by email when your Master Promissory Note is ready to be signed online.

Keep in mind that while parents are important partners in the financial aid process, all notifications and requests for information will be sent directly to the student by email.

Managing the Family Contribution

The following options are available to cover the balance of your student's Cost of Attendance (after any financial aid is posted to his or her account). Payment can be made 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 an interest-free line of credit for tuition, fees, university housing and other student expenses. The plan is billed in five monthly installments per semester. The application fee is $50. For more information, visit the Student Financial Services website.

With the USC Pre-payment Plan, which allows participants 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 loans for all or part of this amount. If you borrow loans, we recommend you borrow enough to cover the entire academic year. Occasionally, we use the parent email address listed on the FAFSA or CSS Profile to communicate directly with parents.

Federal Loans

If you choose to take out loans for all or part of the family contribution, start with the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan, which features a low fixed interest rate, requires no collateral and does not impose an early repayment penalty.

If (and only if) the parents are declined for the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan, a student may borrow an additional Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan to cover part of the family contribution.

Private Financing

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, visit the Private Financing section of this website.

Special Circumstances

If your family experiences any unforeseen changes to income or expenses, and you would like to request a re-evaluation of your financial aid summary, visit Special Circumstances and Appeals.