The availability of financial aid funds is never sufficient to cover the entire costs of all students. So, we have established a priority deadline of April 1 each year. To be considered for priority aid, a complete file is needed. A complete file consists of a FAFSA for the correct year. This includes satisfying all requirements for the awarding process. During this priority awarding period, campus-based awards are exhausted.
Title IV Federal Financial Aid Eligibility Requirements
Student eligibility for Title IV aid involves more than filling out a FAFSA. Students must meet certain criteria, both general and program-specific, to be eligible to receive financial aid.
- Must be accepted into a degree-granting program or approved certificate program at USC
- Must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, and if required, provide documentation to verify their status
- Must have a valid Social Security Number (unless the student is from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau)
- Must register with the Selective Service (if required)
- Must have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) Certificate or pass an exam approved by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Must not have a drug conviction for an offense that occurred while receiving federal student aid (such as grants, loans or work-study)
- If convicted of possessing or selling drugs after submitting the FAFSA, the student must immediately notify the Office of Student Financial Aid Services. Financial aid eligibility will be lost, and the student will be required to pay back all aid received after the conviction.
- Must not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal student loan.
- Must not borrow in excess of annual or aggregate Title IV loan limits
- Must maintain satisfactory academic progress
- Students who have been previously incarcerated, or are currently incarcerated, or who might be incarcerated during their current term of attendance, must identify themselves to the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships to determine their financial aid eligibility.
- Students who receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) containing a C Flag, must review the SAR to determine what eligibility issue has been identified for them or their parent(s). Additional information regarding the steps that must be taken to resolve the issue(s) can be found in the specific comments on the SAR. Students with an active C Flag will not be awarded financial aid until the issue is resolved.
Your estimated student cost budget is composed of various costs associated with your attendance for an academic year. It includes direct and indirect costs to the university such as tuition, fees, room and board. The budget also provides additional allowances for books and supplies, personal expenses and transportation to campus. We understand that costs for each student are different, but the standardization is necessary to ensure timely processing of aid and equitable treatment of all financial aid applicants. If you feel that your expenses are significantly greater than what is allowed, you may request to speak with a counselor to determine how we can best assist you.
After you complete the FAFSA, an index number is assigned to you for the financial aid office to use to determine how much financial aid you may receive. This number is called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is calculated using a federal formula by the U.S. Department of Education. The determination of the expected family contribution is mandated by federal law and is applied uniformly among all aid applicants. In the calculation of the EFC, your family’s income, assets, number in the household, benefits and number of family members in college are all taken into consideration. We encourage you not to be alarmed by the number because the EFC is not what your family can expect to pay for your college expenses.
When we receive your FAFSA report with an EFC, you will be assigned the appropriate student cost budget to determine your financial need. Your financial need is the difference between your student cost budget and your EFC. Once the need has been determined, our office will construct an aid package.
The financial aid office estimates all sources of assistance, even assistance other than what our office offers. This includes consideration of the LIFE scholarship for undergraduate students. Because LIFE scholarships are not final until we receive all admissions or registrar information, official early award notification of the LIFE scholarship is unlikely. Pell grant determinations are also included in this process.
Students are evaluated for campus-based awards and state assistance. The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, the State Need-Based Grant, and Federal Work-Study are all programs that contain limited funding. Awarding in each of the programs will occur until funds are no longer available.
Federal Direct Loan eligibility is determined last. The base amount of subsidized and unsubsidized loans is awarded according to annual and aggregate limit maximums. Our office automatically offers the base amount of eligibility for students to accept or decline on the Financial Aid Dashboard.
Any remaining need can be met by applying for additional loans such as the Parent or Graduate PLUS loan or private loans. An additional application is needed for each of these loans before we award them.
When we have completed your award package, you will receive an email to your preferred email address to notify you about your awards. You may view the status of your awards on the Financial Aid Dashboard.
Students can only receive aid for the semester(s) in which they attend. These semesters may include fall, spring, and/or summer. After tuition and fees are calculated for each student each semester, the financial aid that the student has received will be automatically applied towards the student's bill. If additional aid remains after the student's bill has been paid, the Bursar's Office will disburse or issue a refund by check to the student or they will direct deposit the funds into the student's preferred checking account.
If you are expecting a refund from a Parent PLUS loan, the refund will go to the parent unless specified on the Parent PLUS application. If the address for the parent is incorrect, the parent may submit a signed, written statement to our office to the attention of the PLUS Program Coordinator with the student’s name and ID and the correct address.