Tuition and Financial Aid FAQs

Tuition, Billing, and Financial Aid

What is the estimated total tuition?

The current tuition rate is $1,928 per credit.* This rate does not include the costs of textbooks, materials or fees. Graduation requires completion of a minimum of 38 credits, and the total minimum tuition for students enrolling for the 2018–19 academic year is estimated at $73,264. 

Are there additional fees on top of tuition? (Lab fees, program fees, etc.)

Fees for required residencies are not covered by tuition. Each student must attend two residencies, and fees will be charged in the semester in which each residency takes place. Fees will be set annually and will include room and board but not travel expenses to and from USC.

The Integrative Practices Residential fee is currently estimated at $1,250, and the Professional Practices Residential fee is currently estimated at $1,500. Fees may be subject to change.

How much is the residential fee and what does it include?

The Integrative Practices Residential fee is $1250. It covers lodging, materials, transportation for academic sessions, and most meals.

How much is the commitment deposit and am I able to use financial aid to pay my deposit?

The commitment deposit is $250 and is paid when a student has been accepted. Financial aid packages are not available at this stage of the application process.

Will I be able to view my award package before submitting the deposit?

The commitment deposit is required prior to moving forward with acceptance to the university.

What is the process if I’m eligible for a refund?

You can request a refund in “my USC Portal”. The funds will be deposited via the same form of payment. 

Who can I contact for billing and payment questions?

You may contact the Cashier’s Office for assistance with student account and billing, receipt of payments for tuition, and processing refunds for credit balances. 

Are there scholarships available?

A limited number of departmental awards are available on a merit basis. Departmental awards should not be anticipated as a significant source of funding.

Are there any school-specific supplemental financial aid forms I need to complete?

You must complete the Enrollment and Housing form and the Direct Unsubsidized Loan Request form located in the Document Library in the Financial Aid Summary and Tasks (FAST) system.

What are the minimum number of units required to receive federal student aid?

Students must be enrolled at least 4 units per term in order to be eligible to receive federal student aid. 

Once admitted, how long will it take to receive my FA award package?

Once USC has all the required documents for graduate students (FAFSA and Financial Aid Supplement form), financial aid awards may take 5-10 business days to process. Students with a summer start date will be prioritized over those with a fall start date. Generally, eligible graduate students are typically eligible to receive up to $10,250 per semester in the Direct Unsubsidized Loan. If additional funding is required, students can apply for a Direct Graduate PLUS loan (which is a credit-based loan) on StudentLoans.gov to cover the rest of the cost of attendance. 

How will I receive my financial aid award letter?

Upon admission to a USC online program, you should submit the Intent to Enroll and Graduate Admissions Certification forms. The Financial Aid Office will review your financial aid application after you have submitted your enrollment decision and will send an email notification to review your financial aid award offer via your USC email account. You will also receive login information for access to your student portal, MyUSC.

How do I accept my student loans?

You can review, accept or decline your financial aid award offer through the FAST system.

Am I required to accept the full amount that I am offered on my award letter?

No, you can choose to accept all, part or none of your financial aid award.

Does my Direct Loan eligibility cover the entire cost of the program?

Assuming you are eligible for both the Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you may borrow for tuition and fees in full. USC also allows students to borrow for certain indirect costs, in addition to tuition and fees.

How soon will loans disburse to my student account?

Federal student loans do not disburse earlier than 10 days prior to the start of classes.

Can I use loans to cover additional personal expenses?

The total cost of attendance (COA) for the academic year includes tuition, fees and living expenses. If you have eligibility for additional loan funds based on your COA, you are able to use those resources to cover expenses such as books, materials, supplies, living, meals, etc.

Can I use student aid to cover residential expenses?

If you have eligibility for additional loan funds/refund, you are able to use those resources to cover residential expenses.

Who can I contact at USC for financial aid questions?

Contact the Student Financial Services department.

FAFSA

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the application the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) uses to determine if you are eligible to receive federal student aid to fund your undergraduate and graduate programs.

Where can I find the FAFSA application?

The FAFSA can be found on the DOE Federal Student Aid (FSA) website. The FAFSA is a free application. You will not be asked to pay.

What is the university FAFSA school code?

USC’s FAFSA school code is 001328.

Do I need my parents’ tax information to complete the FAFSA if I live on my own?

If you are applying for graduate school, you do not need your parents’ information to complete the FAFSA. If you are applying for an undergraduate program, you will need to check out the dependency requirements to determine what additional forms may be required.

When should I complete the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is available every October for the upcoming academic year. If you are planning to use federal student aid, you should complete your FAFSA while applying for admission.

What constitutes an academic year for federal student aid?

An academic year is the year for which financial aid is used to fund your education. Generally, this is the 12-month period that begins on July 1 of one year and ends on June 30 of the following year.

What federal student aid is available to graduate students?

The types of federal student aid graduate students are eligible to apply for include the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan. Learn more about types of federal financial aid on the DOE FSA website.

Will I need to fill out the FAFSA each year?

Yes, you need to fill out the FAFSA for each award year in which you plan on applying for federal student aid.

Why am I not eligible for the Pell Grant or Federal Subsidized Loan?

The DOE awards Federal Pell Grants and Subsidized Loans to eligible undergraduate students who have not yet completed their bachelor’s degrees and who demonstrate financial need. The department does not evaluate need or income for loans at the graduate/professional level. Therefore, graduate students are not eligible for the Federal Pell Grant or the Direct Subsidized Loan.

Direct Unsubsidized Loan

What criteria are used to determine eligibility for federal student aid?

In order to apply for federal student aid, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Be registered with Selective Service if you’re male (must register between the ages of 18–25)
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an eligible degree program
  • Be enrolled at least half time in an eligible program
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress
  • Not currently be in default on previous student loans borrowed through FSA
  • Not have exceeded the maximum aggregate loan limit

The Direct Unsubsidized Loan is not based on need or income.

You can learn more about federal student aid eligibility criteria on the DOE FSA website.

What if I am currently in default or have defaulted on a prior federal student loan?

Review your loan history in the National Student Loan Data System and contact your lender for details on how to clear the default. Students in default are not eligible for additional federal loans until the default is cleared.

What is the aggregate loan limit?

The total amount that you may borrow for undergraduate and graduate study. Learn more about aggregate loan amounts on the DOE FSA website.

How do I find out if I am near my aggregate loan limit?

You may go to the National Student Loan Data System to view your federal student loans borrowing history.

What is the difference between a Direct Unsubsidized Loan and a Direct Subsidized Loan?

Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need. The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on subsidized loans while students are enrolled in their undergraduate programs. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan is available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need. The unsubsidized loan begins accruing interest as soon as funds are disbursed. Learn more about the difference between unsubsidized and subsidized loans on the DOE FSA website.

How much am I eligible for in the Direct Unsubsidized Loan?

Most graduate-level students are potentially eligible to receive up to $20,500 per academic year in the Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Learn more about graduate annual loan limits on the DOE FSA website.

How do I apply for the Direct Unsubsidized Loan?

To apply for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, you must first complete and submit the FAFSA. Your school will use the information from your FAFSA to determine how much student aid you are eligible to receive.

What is the current Direct Unsubsidized Loan interest rate?

The interest rate for the Direct Unsubsidized Loan is determined at the beginning of each academic year and is available on the DOE site.

Are there any additional loan fees?

There is a loan origination fee that is a percentage of the total loan amount. The loan origination fee is deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive. Learn more about the loan origination fee on the DOE FSA site.

Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

What is the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?

The Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is a federal loan that graduate or professional degree students can use to help pay education expenses. Learn about Direct PLUS Loans on the DOE FSA site.

What are the eligibility criteria to apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?

In order to apply for a Direct PLUS Loan, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Be registered with Selective Service if you’re male (must register between the ages of 18–25)
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an eligible degree program
  • Be enrolled at least half time in an eligible program
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress
  • Not currently be in default on previous student loans borrowed through FSA
  • Not have exceeded the maximum aggregate loan limit
  • Not have an adverse credit history

The Graduate PLUS Loan is based on credit history.

Does the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan affect my aggregate loan limit?

No. Only Direct Subsidized/Direct Unsubsidized Loans (formerly referred to as Stafford loans) and federal loans made through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program count toward your aggregate loan limit.

What are the credit criteria to receive the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?

One of the eligibility requirements to receive a Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is that you must not have an adverse credit history. A credit check is performed to determine whether a Graduate PLUS Loan applicant meets this requirement. A list of what constitutes "adverse credit history" can be found on this DOE FSA one-sheeter.

How much can I borrow from the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?

If approved for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you can borrow up to the cost of attendance as determined by the school/program.

When can I apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?

You can apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan within 180 days prior to the start of your program or once you are enrolled.

How do I apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?

In order to apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you must first complete the FAFSA. Once you have completed the FAFSA, you can apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan by completing the credit application at the DOE FSA website. Also, complete the Graduate PLUS Loan Agreement Master Promissory Note.

What are my options if I'm denied the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?

If you are denied the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you may reapply with an endorser or follow instructions on the DOE FSA website to appeal the denial.

What is the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan current interest rate?

The interest rate for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is determined at the beginning of each academic year. The updated rate can be found on the DOE FSA website.

Loan Repayment

Do I have to pay my student loans back while I’m in school?

You are not required to pay on your student loans while you are in school as long as you are enrolled at least half time. Your unsubsidized loan will go into repayment six months after you graduate, take a leave of absence or fall below half-time status.

When do I have to pay back my loan?

After you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time enrollment, you will have a six-month grace period before you are required to begin repayment. During this period, you'll receive repayment information from your loan servicer, and you will be notified of your first payment due date. Payments are usually due monthly. You are not required to pay while in school; however, if you choose to, there is no penalty to prepay. Learn more about repayment timelines on the DOE FSA website.

What are the repayment plan options and how do I select one?

The DOE offers multiple options for repayment. You may visit the DOE website for more information on loan repayment plans.

Is there a repayment calculator or estimator that I can use?

Yes, there is a repayment calculator on the DOE website.

Can I consolidate my graduate loans and my undergraduate loans?

A Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to consolidate (combine) multiple federal education loans into one loan including both graduate and undergraduate loans. The result is a single monthly payment instead of multiple payments. Learn more about loan consolidation on the DOE FSA website.

Are there any loan forgiveness options available?

Please review the DOE website for more information on federal loan forgiveness programs.

Military Education Benefits

How do I apply for military education benefits?

To begin the process of applying for eligible military education benefits, visit the Veterans Affairs website.

What else do I need in addition to my Education Benefits Application?

Visit Vets.gov to complete the Education Benefits Application, which generates a request for the Certificate of Eligibility (COE). The COE is mailed to you within 6-8 weeks from submitting the application. Students must also complete USC’s Application for Semester Entitlement (ASE) form each semester after class registration. The USC Veterans Certification Office will not certify students without a recent request on file.

What is the difference between active and nonactive duty?

Active duty describes someone who is in the military full time and is not currently eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program. Nonactive duty is someone who is not currently serving or no longer serving in any capacity of military service of the United States and is eligible for the program at 100 percent per the COE.

What are the eligibility factors for the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

You are potentially eligible for this VA-administered program if you have at least 90 days of aggregate active duty service after September 10, 2001, and are still on active duty, or if you are an honorably discharged veteran or were discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. Learn more about the Post-9/11 GI Bill on the VA website.

What is the national maximum per academic year for private schools?

The Post 9/11 GI Bill payment rates are determined at the beginning of each military academic year on August 1st. The 2018-2019 tuition and fee payments can be found on the Education and Training page of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. 

What is the current Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA)?

The Post 9/11 GI Bill payment rates are determined at the beginning of each military academic year on August 1st. The 2018-2019 MHA rate can be found on the Post-9/11 GI Bill page of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

What is the Yellow Ribbon Program?

The Yellow Ribbon Program allows degree-granting private colleges and universities in the United States to voluntarily enter into an agreement with the VA to fund tuition expenses that exceed the annual maximum cap for the resident tuition and fees at public institutions. Veterans who are utilizing Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and who are entitled to 100 percent of their benefit may be eligible. To participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, you must be using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at 100 percent eligibility, not be on active duty and not be a military spouse. There are a limited number of Yellow Ribbon awards available. Additional information on the program can be found at the VA website.

Who can I contact for questions about using Military Education Benefits at USC?

Visit the USC Veterans Certification Office under the Office of Academic Records and Registrar for information on military education benefits and programs.