Financial Aid at USC
How much aid do we award undergraduates?
You may know that USC has one of the most diverse and high-achieving undergraduate populations in the United States. Our students are leaders and innovators, scholars and athletes, artists and entrepreneurs, representing all 50 states and more than 130 countries around the world. What you may not know is that the majority of these students—approximately two-thirds—receive some form of financial aid.
Our admission process is need-blind. Ability to pay, or interest in financial aid, does not affect admission decisions.
We have a long tradition of meeting 100 percent of the USC-determined financial need for students who meet all deadlines and eligibility requirements.
By the Numbers:
Financial aid from all university sources.
Total financial aid disbursed in 2022-23.
Amount of financial aid disbursed from all sources for 2021-22 (including work-study and loans).
“I have been able to enjoy an undergraduate experience not many people of my background get to have — a world-class education.”
Who is eligible for financial aid at USC?
You might be surprised to learn who qualifies for and receives financial aid. More than two-thirds of our undergraduates receive some sort of financial aid, including need-based grants, merit scholarships, Federal Work-Study and loans.
Among the 2023 entering first-year class, approximately 21 percent received a USC merit-based scholarship.
USC enrolls more low-income students (as defined by Pell Grant eligibility) than most private research universities. In fall 2022, 22 percent of enrolled undergraduates received Pell Grants.
Most importantly, low-income and under-represented minority students at USC graduate at rates comparable to the overall undergraduate population.
Students and families can rest assured that USC maintains a strong investment in financial aid for undergraduate students. We continue to increase financial aid funding to meet the needs of the Trojan Family.
For an estimate of your financial aid eligibility, visit the USC Financial Aid Calculators.
Basic Requirements for Need-Based Financial Aid
All applicants to USC can apply for financial aid if they:
- Are a U.S. citizen, eligible non-citizen (such as permanent resident, refugee or asylee), or undocumented and meet certain criteria;
- Possess a valid Social Security number (if required); and
- Meet all published deadlines and submit any additional requested information in a timely manner. Applicants who miss published deadlines may be considered for reduced funds.
Although international students are not eligible to receive federal or USC need-based financial aid, they may be awarded merit scholarships and/or other departmental awards.
Additionally, international students may apply for some private loans with a qualified co-signer who is a U.S. citizen.
Please visit the International Student page for more information.
How Financial Aid Works
What Is Financial Need?
Your financial need is the difference between how much it costs to attend college (the Cost of Attendance or COA), and how much you and your family can contribute towards your education (the Expected Family Contribution or EFC). This is determined by analyzing your family’s financial information.
The Estimated Cost of Attendance
The Cost of Attendance is estimated for each academic year and includes amounts for USC tuition and fees, on- or off-campus housing, food, and allowances for the estimated costs of books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses (clothing, toiletries, entertainment and so forth).
How Your Financial Aid Eligibility is Determined
USC analyzes your family’s financial resources to determine how much you can reasonably afford to pay out of pocket, and how much financial aid you might qualify for.
As part of this analysis, you may be required to submit the following information:
- Your parents’ taxable and untaxed income.
- Family assets (money in bank accounts, stock funds, real estate, etc.).
- Any special circumstances your family has (such as a job loss or higher-than-average medical expenses).
- The number of children in your family.
- How many children are full-time undergraduates in college.
- How close your parents are to retirement age.
Calculating the Expected Family Contribution
All colleges use a need analysis called the Federal Methodology to determine the amount of federal student aid for which you may qualify.
USC also uses its own Institutional Methodology to determine the amount of university aid for which you may qualify.
Federal methodology: Your Student Aid Index (SAI) and other financial assistance are then subtracted from the COA.
Institutional Methodology: The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) includes a minimum Student Contribution (SC) plus an estimated Parent Contribution (PC).
- The minimum Student Contribution is the amount we expect students to contribute to their education through summer earnings or other savings.
- If your biological parents are divorced or not married, a noncustodial parent contribution may also be included in your estimated contribution.
Students must apply for financial aid every year. Your estimated contribution will be adjusted to reflect any changes in your family’s financial strength.
Your need-based loan and work-study eligibility can increase as you progress through your academic career.
If your Expected Family Contribution is relatively stable, the University Grant should remain about the same or increase as tuition increases.
USC’s Philosophy for Covering Your Financial Need
USC meets your USC determined financial need with available funds from federal, state and university sources.
To cover your cost of attendance:
- Your eligibility for federal or state aid, including loans and work-study, is applied first.
- The University Grant covers any remaining need.
- Outside scholarships meet any need as determined by the Federal Methodology.
Investing in Your Future
A college degree represents a significant investment, not just in a student’s education but in their future. But with the cost of higher education rising, college may seem out of reach or impractical for many.
The reality is that a college education may be more affordable than you imagined, even if your student chooses to attend a private university. Though tuition at a top-tier university may be more than that for a state college or university, students at private universities typically receive more aid in the form of scholarships and grants—funds that do not need to be repaid after graduation.
If you would like to learn more about financial aid and the financial aid process at USC, we encourage you to download our Investing In Your Future: Financial Aid and USC booklet.