Return to: Undergraduate Education
Students at USC benefit from federal, state and university need-based financial aid programs administered by the Financial Aid Office and from scholarships administered by the Office of Admission and various academic departments. USC also offers an interest-free monthly payment plan, a tuition pre-payment plan, and participates in long-term student and parent educational loan programs.
Although international students are not eligible for need-based financial aid, they may be eligible for scholarships offered by their schools or departments. International students should contact their departments directly for information about existing opportunities. International students may also be eligible for private educational loans.
The Financial Aid Office may change these policies at any time to ensure continued compliance with changes in federal and state regulations governing student financial aid. As a result, students must refer to the current catalogue regulations. Unlike degree requirements, changes in regulations, policies and procedures are immediate and supersede those in any prior catalogue.
Application Procedures and Eligibility Requirements for Financial Aid
Detailed information, application procedures and deadlines for financial aid are available online at financialaid.usc.edu. To be eligible for federal, state and university need-based financial aid programs, students must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents or other eligible non-citizens; have a valid Social Security number; meet Selective Service registration requirements; have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent; meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements; and meet all other eligibility requirements. Students must also complete all application requirements by the relevant deadline(s). For most federal and state awards, a minimum of half-time enrollment is required. Full-time enrollment is required for most university awards. Enrollment status will be calculated based only on those courses that are required for, or that can be applied as an eligible elective credit toward, a student’s degree or certificate program. Students awarded a California Dream Grant are considered for limited university financial aid.
Scholarships awarded on the basis of academic achievement, leadership, service and talent are available through the Office of Admission, most academic departments at USC, alumni groups, and outside agencies and foundations. Some of these awards require a separate application. In some cases, financial need is also considered. For more information, visit usc.edu/scholarships.
The Financial Aid Office may award need-based University Grants to eligible students with demonstrated need who meet all financial aid application deadlines.
Federal Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) are available for students with exceptional financial need. The SEOG is awarded only to eligible students who meet all application deadlines.
Cal Grants A and B are administered by the California Student Aid Commission. All undergraduate aid applicants who are residents of California are required to apply. Cal Grant A provides funds for partial tuition and fees. Cal Grant B recipients receive a subsistence award the first year and receive a subsistence award and tuition award in subsequent years.
The Federal Work-Study program enables eligible students to earn funds through employment either on campus or with an approved off-campus employer. Only students who meet all application deadlines and federal eligibility requirements are considered for this program.
Federal Student and Parent Loans
Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans are also available to eligible students. Repayment begins six months after the borrower graduates, withdraws or ceases to be enrolled at least half time.*
Direct Parent PLUS Loans are available to parents of dependent** undergraduate students who meet the credit criteria established by the U.S. Department of Education. Payments may be deferred while the student is enrolled at least half time.*
*Enrollment status will be calculated based only on those courses that are required for, or that can be applied as an eligible elective credit toward, a student’s degree or certificate program.
**Undergraduate students considered dependent for the purpose of receiving federal financial aid
Private Financing Programs
Private financing programs are available to help students and parents meet the costs of education by providing long-term financing options. Students should exhaust all federal Title IV assistance available, including Federal Pell Grants, the Direct Loan and the Direct Parent PLUS Loan, before considering a private student loan program. The repayment terms of federal programs may be more favorable than the terms of private loan programs. Unlike private loan programs, 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. Direct Loans are available to students regardless of income.
For more information about student loan programs, visit financialaid.usc.edu/loans.
Financial Aid for Double Majors or Dual Degrees
Federal and state regulations governing the Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG Grants and the Cal Grant limit these awards to students who have not yet earned a baccalaureate or professional degree. Similarly, the university limits awards of the university need-based grant, Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Work-Study to students who have not yet earned their first bachelor’s degree.
Students who are planning to double major or pursue a dual degree should carefully plan their academic course work with their academic adviser to ensure that they remain eligible for federal, state and university financial aid. The best approach is to make sure you complete the requirements for both degrees or majors simultaneously in the same semester. Once the requirements for one major/degree have been satisfied, a student will only be eligible for limited financial aid (Federal Work-Study and Direct Loans).
Financial Aid for a Second Bachelor’s Degree
Students who are pursuing their second bachelor’s degree are eligible for a limited number of financial aid programs, specifically Direct Loans. Parents of dependent* students may also borrow Direct Parent PLUS Loans.
*Undergraduate students considered dependent for the purpose of receiving federal financial aid
Financial Aid for Enrollment in a Progressive Degree Program
Progressive degree students are classified as undergraduate students up to and including the semester they complete 144 units, until their bachelor’s degree is conferred, or until they receive a research or teaching assistant award, whichever comes first. Transfer units and all units completed at USC, including both undergraduate- and graduate-level course work, will be counted toward the 144-unit limit. Transfer course work not being applied as either subject-specific requirements or free electives toward the bachelor’s degree may increase the 144-unit threshold, which determines when a student transitions from undergraduate status to graduate status.
While classified as undergraduates, students are assessed the undergraduate tuition rate, and their enrollment status and financial aid eligibility are determined by undergraduate standards. Undergraduate-level progressive degree students maintain their eligibility for Federal Pell Grants, Federal SEOG Grants, Cal Grants, Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, Direct Parent PLUS Loans and any applicable eligibility for USC Merit Scholarships or USC University Grants, as long as they are enrolled in courses that are required for, or that can be applied as an eligible elective credit toward, their undergraduate degree. The Registrar’s Office determines when a student has completed his or her bachelor’s degree and manages the process of posting degrees to a student’s record. The Financial Aid Office relies on the Registrar’s determination of the applicability of a course to a degree program and the completion of the bachelor’s degree.
Once the bachelor’s degree is conferred or the student has completed 144 units, a progressive degree student can no longer be considered an undergraduate for financial aid purposes. At that time, progressive degree students will be reclassified as graduate students. Additionally, students who receive a research or teaching assistant award before completing 144 units or receiving their bachelor’s degree are classified as graduate students and are not eligible to receive undergraduate financial aid.
While classified as graduate students, progressive degree students are assessed the graduate tuition rate, and their enrollment status and financial aid eligibility are determined by graduate standards. Graduate students are not eligible for federal, state or university need-based grants. Graduate-level progressive degree students are eligible to borrow Direct Unsubsidized Loans, up to the maximum yearly amounts established for graduate students, and Direct Graduate PLUS Loans.
Financial Aid for Limited Status Enrollment
Students not admitted to a degree-seeking program who enroll as limited-status students are not eligible for federal, state or university financial aid. Refer to the Financial Aid for Graduate Students section. Students who have completed their degree or certificate programs, but continue to enroll, will be considered limited-status students and are thereby ineligible for financial aid.
Financial Aid Consortium Agreements
Students admitted to a degree-seeking program at USC who enroll at least half-time at another eligible “host” institution in courses applicable to their USC degree may have those courses considered in USC’s determination of their eligibility for limited federal financial aid. The student’s total USC and/or non-USC enrollment must be at least half-time and a Financial Aid Consortium Agreement must be completed prior to the semester or semesters the student enrolls at the host institution. Financial Aid Consortium Agreements are contingent upon the host school agreeing to participate.
Financial Aid Consortium Agreements are not available for students participating in the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program. For more information, visit financialaid.usc.edu/general/special-programs/consortium-agreements.html.
Financial Aid for Students Enrolled in Preparatory Course Work
Students enrolled at least half-time in undergraduate courses required for admission to a degree program may be eligible for limited Direct Loan program funds. At this time, the only such program that USC offers is the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program. For more information, visit financialaid.usc.edu/general/special-programs/postbaccalaureate-premedical-program.html.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy
Purpose of Satisfactory Academic Progress Regulations
To be eligible for federal, state and university aid, students are required by the U.S. Department of Education (34 CFR 668.34) to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress toward their degree objectives. USC has established this SAP policy to ensure student success and accountability and to promote timely advancement toward degree objectives.
The following guidelines provide academic progress criteria for all undergraduate students receiving financial aid at USC. The guidelines are based on reasonable expectations of academic progress toward a degree and should not be a hindrance to any student in good academic standing.
Programs Subject to Financial Aid SAP Policy
|Federal and State Programs
|Federal Pell Grant
|Direct Parent PLUS Loans
|California State Cal Grant
Programs Not Subject to Financial Aid SAP Policy
|USC and Outside Programs+
|USC Merit Scholarships
||USC Alumni Scholarships
|USC Topping Scholarships
||USC Departmental Awards
||USC Employee Tuition Assistance Benefits
|Sponsored Agency Awards (Including Department of Defense and Veterans Awards)
||Outside Agency Scholarships
+Recipients of these awards should contact the awarding agencies/departments for rules regarding award retention.
Definition of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
At USC, to be eligible for financial aid, as identified above, you must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress as defined by the following three criteria:
- Meeting a minimum cumulative grade point average requirement (GPA)
- Earning a minimum number of units for credit each semester to ensure timely progress toward degree completion (Pace of Progression)
- Completing the degree objective within a maximum number of semesters enrolled and a maximum number of units attempted (Maximum Time-Frame Allowance)
Students who do not meet one or more of the above criteria will be considered to be SAP ineligible or in a financial aid SAP Warning Period as described below. The following explains each of the three SAP evaluation criteria; SAP Ineligibility, Warning and Probation Periods; and the SAP Appeals Process in detail.
Grade Point Average Requirement
To maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress, undergraduate students must meet a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0. Refer to Tables 3 and 4 below to understand how specific grades and course types affect students’ cumulative grade point averages.
Impact of Grades on Cumulative GPA Calculation
||Counted in Grade Point Average
|A, B, C, D, F (+/-)
|CR — Credit, P — Pass, IP — In Progress
|NC — No Credit, NP — No Pass
|IN — Incomplete
|IX — Expired Incomplete
|W — Withdrawal
|UW — Unofficial Withdrawal
|V — Audit
|MG — Missing Grade
Impact of Course Type on Cumulative GPA Calculation
||Counted in Grade Point Average
|Remedial course work (course numbers below 100)
|Repeated course work (previous passing grade)
|Repeated course work (previous failing grade)
||Yes (both grades counted)
|Transfer course work (pre- and post-matriculation)
Students enrolled in progressive degree programs who are currently classified as undergraduate students (see the Financial Aid for Enrollment in a Progressive Degree Program section above) must also maintain a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.0.
For more information about grading policy, please visit the USC Department of Grades on the Registrar’s Website at usc.edu/grades.
Pace of Progression Requirement
To maintain satisfactory progress, undergraduate students must complete a minimum number of units each semester (Pace) to ensure completion of the degree within the maximum time frame. Full-time undergraduate students are encouraged to attempt at least 16 units per semester to ensure that degree objectives can be reached within the maximum time frame allowed. A lower number of units per semester is permitted if required by academic advisement.
Pace of Progression is calculated by dividing the cumulative number of credits the student has successfully completed by the cumulative number of credits the student has attempted.
To be eligible to receive federal, state and institutional financial assistance, a student is required to successfully complete a minimum of 67 percent of all attempted credits.
Pace of Progression ≥ 67% = SAP eligible for Pace
Review Tables 5 and 6 below to understand how grades and course types will affect students’ Pace of Progression calculation:
Impact of Grades on Pace of Progression and Maximum Time-Frame Allowance
||Pace of Progression
||Counted Toward Maximum Time Frame
|A, B, C, D (+/-)
|CR, P, IP
|F, UW, IX
|NC, NP, W, MG, IN
Impact of Course Types on Pace of Progression and Maximum Time-Frame Allowance
||Pace of Progression
||Counted Toward Maximum Time Frame
|All Undergraduate and Graduate Course Work Taken for a Letter Grade
|Undergraduate and graduate course work (course numbers 100 and above)
|Remedial course work (course numbers below 100)
|Repeated course work (previous passing grade)
|Not Counted in the GPA
|Repeated course work (previous failing grade)
|Transfer course work (pre- and post-matriculation)
Maximum Time-Frame Allowance
To demonstrate Satisfactory Academic Progress, students must complete their degree objective within a specified amount of time. The time frame will depend on the student’s enrollment status and educational objective. Tables 5 and 6 above show how different grades and course types will be counted against the Maximum Time-Frame Allowance.
Maximum Units and Semesters
Undergraduate students in single-degree, four-year programs requiring 128 units are eligible for financial aid for a maximum of 144 total attempted units or a maximum of nine SAP semesters, whichever comes first. The allowances will be increased as necessary for single-degree programs requiring more than 128 units. For example, students pursuing a five-year, single-degree program, such as the Bachelor of Architecture, will be eligible to receive financial aid for a maximum of 176 attempted units or 11 SAP semesters.
Each semester in which a student attempts 6 to 11 units is counted as a one-half (0.5) SAP semester. Each semester in which a student attempts 12 or more units is counted as a full (1.0) SAP semester. Semesters in which a student attempts fewer than 6 units are not counted as SAP semesters.
Special Financial Aid Considerations for Students Completing Double Majors or Dual Degrees
Students pursuing a double major or dual degree programs are subject to the same Maximum Time Frame Allowance requirements as students pursuing a single major or degree. Students may appeal for allowance past the Maximum Time Frame, not to exceed 150 percent of the time frame to complete one undergraduate degree.
How Satisfactory Academic Progress is Monitored
The Financial Aid Office monitors the Grade Point Average (GPA) requirement, Pace of Progression and the Maximum Time-Frame Allowance.
When Satisfactory Academic Progress is Monitored
Satisfactory Academic Progress is monitored for all undergraduate financial aid applicants at the end of each enrolled semester after grades have been made official by the Registrar.
Potential Delay of Disbursements Due to Monitoring of Satisfactory Academic Progress
Financial aid may not be disbursed to a student’s account until SAP has been evaluated. The Financial Aid Office cannot complete the SAP evaluation until prior semester grades have been officially posted by the Office of Academic Records and Registrar. An otherwise eligible student who is in a SAP Warning or SAP Probation Period may experience a delayed financial aid disbursement if grades are not made official before the beginning of the subsequent semester. No exceptions can be made to this process.
Notification of Satisfactory Academic Progress Status
Students who have met Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements will not receive a SAP notification. The Financial Aid Office will notify any student who does not meet SAP requirements via the student’s USC email address. Students who are notified that they do not meet the SAP requirements for financial aid should consult their academic advisers.
Failure to Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress
Exceeding the Maximum Time-Frame Allowance and Academic Disqualiﬁcation
Students who have reached the Maximum Time-Frame Allowance are ineligible for further financial aid without an approved, written SAP Appeal. Students who are academically disqualified from the university are ineligible for further financial aid. There is no financial aid SAP Warning Period in either of these instances.
Failing GPA and Pace of Progression Requirements
Students who do not meet the Pace of Progression or GPA requirements are placed on a one-time, one-semester financial aid SAP Warning Period.
Financial Aid SAP Warning Period
Students who do not meet the Pace of Progression requirement or who are on academic probation for GPA will be placed on a one-time, one-semester financial aid SAP Warning Period. Students may continue to receive financial aid while in this one-semester warning period without a written appeal. Students who are placed on a financial aid SAP Warning Period are encouraged to seek both academic and financial aid advisement. By the end of the financial aid one-semester warning period, the student must meet all Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.
Failure to Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress
As stated above, students who have exceeded the Maximum Time-Frame Allowance and those who are academically disqualified are ineligible to receive financial aid.
Students who do not meet the minimum requirements by the end of the one-semester warning period for GPA and Pace of Progression violations will no longer be considered to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress and will become ineligible for financial aid without an approved, written SAP Appeal.
Students in their one-semester SAP Warning Period who receive grades of D, W, UW, IN, F, IX, MG, NC, NP and V will no longer be considered to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress and will become ineligible for financial aid without an approved, written SAP Appeal.
The one-semester financial aid SAP Warning is only available to students one time throughout their degree program. Students who regain eligibility by meeting SAP standards at the end of the warning period and subsequently fall below the standard will be considered ineligible for financial aid without another SAP Warning Period.
Regaining Financial Aid Eligibility
Regaining Financial Aid Eligibility with a Grade Change or Academic Improvement
Students who have been placed on a Financial Aid SAP Warning due to insufficient GPA or Pace of Progression can be reinstated by a grade change or by successfully completing sufficient units or bringing up their GPA to meet the accepted standards by the end of their warning period. The student must notify the Financial Aid Office in writing once the requirements have been met.
Regaining Financial Aid Eligibility with a SAP Appeal for Maximum Time Frame
Students who need additional time to complete their degrees must meet with their academic adviser to complete a SAP Appeal Form. Students must also update their expected graduation date with the Degree Progress Office. The Financial Aid Office may increase the maximum time frame for students who have changed majors, are adding a major, or have experienced a one-time extenuating circumstance such as illness or injury that has since been resolved. However, the Financial Aid Office will not approve any appeal when the additional time required for completing the degree objective(s) extends beyond 150 percent of one undergraduate degree. In addition, the Financial Aid Office will make no adjustments for declared minors.
Regaining Financial Aid Eligibility with a SAP Appeal for GPA or Pace of Progression
Students may also appeal the determination that they are not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress GPA and Pace of Progression requirements. The following can be considered: extended illness; one-time extenuating circumstances that have since been resolved; and enrollment limitations due to academic advisement.
SAP Appeal Form and Letter
The student and the academic adviser must submit an Undergraduate Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form with complete supporting documentation to the Financial Aid Office. The SAP Appeal Form must contain the specific academic plan for the student that the adviser has approved. For the appeal to be approved, the academic plan must lead to graduation within 150 percent of the published degree time. The student must also provide a written appeal letter that includes the following information/explanation: (a) What caused the work at USC to fall below acceptable standards? Students should think carefully and provide a specific explanation. (b) How have those conflicts been resolved? (c) How will the student maintain good academic standards and progress toward the degree if the appeal is granted?
Limitations on Approvals for SAP Appeals
The Financial Aid Office will never increase the Maximum Time-Frame Allowance past 150 percent of the published degree requirements for one undergraduate degree.
The Financial Aid Office will make no adjustments for students who declare minors. Minors must be completed within the same time frame as the student’s major program(s) of study.
Students who are on SAP Probation (see below) as a result of an approved appeal will not receive funding for more than one undergraduate degree program. For these students, no exceptions will be made to maximum semesters or units to support the addition of a second major or a minor program of study.
Academic Disqualiﬁcation and Activity Restrictions That Prevent Registration
Students who are academically disqualified or otherwise prevented from registering for future semesters may submit SAP Appeals. However, those appeals will not be evaluated until the activity restrictions have been resolved.
Notiﬁcation of SAP Appeal Decisions
SAP Appeals will be evaluated and the Financial Aid Office will notify the student of the decision via email at the student’s USC email address.
Financial Aid SAP Probation Period
Appeals for insufficient Pace of Progression and/or GPA are approved through the use of a semester-by-semester SAP Contract. Students placed on a SAP Contract are eligible for financial aid on a probationary basis, strictly according to the terms of the contract. While students are on SAP Probation, the Financial Aid Office will review their academic progress each semester to ensure they have met the specific terms of their contracts.
The SAP Contract
The SAP Contract is a written agreement between the student, the academic adviser and the Financial Aid Office in which the student commits to following a specific academic plan that leads to graduation. Reinstated eligibility through a contract may alter the type and amount of financial aid for which a student is eligible. Terms of the SAP Contract may be stricter than the standard SAP regulations cited in this section. Acceptance of the approved SAP Contract supersedes all other SAP regulations. Any deviation by the student from the terms of the contract results in the forfeiture of future financial aid eligibility.
Submitting SAP Appeals after Failing SAP Probation
Students on SAP Probation as a result of an approved appeal who fail to meet the terms of their accepted SAP Contracts may submit a subsequent SAP Appeal. However, these appeals are granted on an exception basis. Students will be required to document specifically the exceptional circumstances that caused them to fail their SAP Contract and how those problems have been resolved.
Financial Aid Application and SAP Appeal Deadlines
A student appealing his or her Satisfactory Academic Progress status must meet all financial aid application deadlines and other eligibility requirements.
Students should not submit SAP Appeals for GPA or Pace of Progression deficiencies when they are in a Financial Aid SAP Warning period. These preemptive appeals are unnecessary and will be withdrawn. Rather, students should wait until they have been notified by the Financial Aid Office that they are ineligible for financial aid due to an SAP deficiency. SAP Appeals for Maximum Time Frame Allowance may be submitted at any time, but students should first ensure that the Degree Progress Office has updated their expected graduation term.
An SAP Appeal must be submitted before the end of the semester for which the aid is sought. Financial aid cannot be reinstated retroactively for a past semester. As with any type of financial aid appeal, Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals are funded on a funds-available basis.
Withdrawal Implications for Recipients of Financial Aid
During the Drop/Add Period
During the university’s published drop/add period, students who drop or reduce their enrollment may be eligible for a 100 percent refund of tuition for classes dropped.
Financial aid recipients must immediately notify the Financial Aid Office in writing when a drop from one or more classes during the drop/add period results in an enrollment status different from the enrollment status on which their current financial aid eligibility was based. The same applies if one or more classes are cancelled.
The Financial Aid Office will review the student’s new enrollment and, if appropriate, revise the student’s eligibility based on the new enrollment status.
If a financial aid recipient drops from all classes or drops to less than half-time status during the drop/add period, all financial aid awards must be returned to their respective programs. Students who drop from all classes or drop to less than half-time status during the drop/add period are considered never to have established eligibility for financial aid. If the student was given financial aid funds for other expenses, he or she will be expected to return those funds to the university.
After the Drop/Add Period
Students who are recipients of Title IV federal student aid are also covered by federal Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4) regulations. Title IV federal student aid is awarded to a student under the assumption that the student will attend for the entire period for which the assistance is provided and thereby “earn” the award. When a student ceases academic attendance prior to the end of that period, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of federal funds that the student was originally scheduled to receive.
If a Title IV recipient withdraws from all classes on or before the session is 60 percent complete, based on their last date of attendance, federal policy requires that any “unearned” Title IV federal student aid be returned to the U.S. Treasury, even if the student is not entitled to a refund of tuition.
A student is required to immediately notify the Registrar when he or she stops attending classes. If the student fails to notify the Registrar’s Office, it is possible that the 50 percent point in the term will be used to determine the student’s last date of attendance, in accordance with federal regulations. If a student withdraws from all classes*, the Financial Aid Office will determine if that student’s period of attendance resulted in the earning of all federal student aid awarded for that term. If it is determined that not all the scheduled federal aid has in fact been earned, then the Financial Aid Office will calculate the amount to be returned to the federal student aid programs. The Financial Aid Office will bill the student via his or her university account for the amount to be returned. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the Cashier’s Office to settle the bill.
*Note to students in modular programs: In a modular program, one or more of the student’s enrolled courses do not span the length of the entire semester. Students in modular courses who withdraw from one or more courses, but are still registered for future courses within the term, will be required to confirm their future enrollment plans. For students who fail to confirm or fail to re-enroll, the Financial Aid Office will determine what portion of your financial aid has been earned based on your latest date of attendance. Refunds to the U.S. Treasury may be required. Students who have earned grades in early modular courses, but withdraw or fail to re-enroll for later courses, are still subject to these rules.
Additional Responsibilities of Students Who Withdraw
Any time a student withdraws from one or more courses, the student should consider the potential effect on his or her Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) status. See here for more information about SAP requirements.
Whenever a student’s enrollment drops to less than half time or the student withdraws completely, or if a student takes a leave of absence, he or she must notify the lender, holder or servicer of any loans. Student borrowers of federal or university loans must also satisfy exit loan counseling requirements at studentloans.gov.
It is also the student’s responsibility upon withdrawal from all classes to notify the Student Financial Services Office, the Housing Services Office, the Transportation Services Office and/or the USCard Office, if the student has charges from these offices on his or her student account. Students who have withdrawn from studies may be entitled to a prorated cancellation of charges from these offices.
Leave of Absence
Financial aid recipients considering a leave of absence should be aware of the financial aid implications. Although obtaining an approved leave of absence from their programs does allow students to re-enroll in the university without formal re-admission, it does not allow them to avoid Return to Title IV calculations or defer their loan repayment. The university reports student enrollment to the National Student Clearinghouse throughout the academic year. Lenders and federal loan service agencies subsequently query this database to determine if a student has maintained continuous half-time or greater enrollment.
Student Loan Repayment
If students are on a leave of absence from the university, their lender or federal loan service agency will move their loan from an “in-school” status to a grace or repayment status as required. While on a leave of absence, students may be able to postpone repayment by obtaining a deferment or forbearance from their loan servicer(s) as a result of unemployment or economic hardship. Students should contact their loan servicer(s) for more information about loan repayment. Students may review their federal loan history and determine their loan service agencies by visiting the Federal Student Aid Website at studentaid.gov. Once they re-enroll on a half-time or greater basis, they may be able to request deferment for “in-school” status.
Tuition Refund Insurance Plan
To complement its own refund policy, the university makes available to students Tuition Refund Insurance, an insurance policy designed to protect the investment students and their families make in education. The Financial Aid Office strongly encourages all financial aid recipients to take advantage of this plan. If a student formally withdraws from all classes after the end of the drop/add period and he or she is covered by Tuition Refund Insurance, the student may receive:
- A credit to his or her student account equal to 100 percent of charges for tuition and mandatory fees, if the withdrawal is the result of documented personal illness or accident; or
- A credit to his or her student account equal to 60 percent of the charges for tuition and mandatory fees, if the withdrawal is the result of a documented mental/nervous disorder.
The Tuition Refund Insurance credit will be applied first to any outstanding charges on the student’s university account, including any charges resulting from the return of Title IV federal student aid. Recipients of university and/or federal financial aid will then receive a cash refund equal to the amount of cash payments made to the account plus any loan payments still on the account (after all returns of Title IV aid have been made in accordance with federal policies, if applicable). The remainder of the insurance credit will be used to repay university financial aid grant or scholarship programs.
Brochures about Tuition Refund Insurance requirements and claim forms are available in the Cashier’s Office and the Registrar’s Office. All questions about the insurance plan should be directed to these offices.
Notes on Federal Policy
Title IV Federal Student Aid
Students are considered recipients of Title IV federal student aid if they have received funds from one or more of the following programs to meet educational expenses for the semester in question: Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Direct Loans (Subsidized or Unsubsidized), or Direct Graduate or Parent PLUS Loans.
Period of Enrollment
At USC, the periods of enrollment are generally measured using the session(s) in which the student enrolled on a semester basis, starting on the first day of classes and ending on the final day of examinations for a given term. For purposes of Title IV federal student aid, any scheduled break of five or more days will not be included in the measurement of the enrollment period. For programs offered in modules (sessions that do not span the entire length of the semester), breaks of more than five days between modules will not be included in the measurement of the enrollment period.
Measurement of Earned Title IV Federal Student Aid
When a student withdraws from all classes or withdraws from one or more classes while attending a modular program, the Financial Aid Office will calculate the percentage of earned Title IV federal student aid using the date of withdrawal. The earnings calculation is based on the number of days of enrollment, up to and including the day of withdrawal, divided by the total number of days in the enrollment period. In most cases, when a total withdrawal is determined to occur on or before the 60 percent point in a semester, some federal aid will need to be returned.
Return of Title IV Federal Student Aid
To satisfy federal regulation, returns to Title IV financial aid programs must be made in the following order:
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans
- Direct Subsidized Loans
- Direct PLUS Loans
- Federal Pell Grants
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG)
- Other Title IV federal programs
Financial Aid Policy Regarding Falsiﬁcation of Financial Aid Information
The types of information covered by this policy include all documents and information submitted to apply for and/or receive need-based financial aid, scholarships and private financing funds. These documents and information include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Student Aid Report (SAR)
- CSS Financial Aid/Profile Application and CSS Noncustodial Parent Profile Application
- Financial Aid Supplement
- Student and parent federal income tax forms and other income documentation
- Documentation of U.S. citizenship or eligible non-citizen status
- Documentation of housing/living arrangements
- Academic documents relating to high school diploma or college course work
- Loan applications, promissory notes and related documentation
- Specific program applications
- Federal Work-Study time sheets
- Any university financial aid forms and related documentation
- Any written, electronic or verbal statements sent to or made to a university employee regarding the student’s financial aid application or other financially related documents
The integrity of the documents and the honesty of the information presented through them are critical to the financial aid process. Students should be aware that they will be held responsible for the integrity of any financial aid information submitted either by them or on their behalf.
If the university determines that a student or parent has provided falsified information, or has submitted forged documents or signatures, the following steps may be taken without prior notification to the student or parent:
- An incident report will be filed with USC’s Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, following procedures outlined in the University Student Conduct Code. See here. Pending resolution of the complaint, the Financial Aid Office may restrict the distribution of any further aid to the accused student.
- If the Financial Aid Office or the student conduct review process finds that a violation has occurred, the consequences may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The student will be required to make full restitution of any and all federal, state, private and/or university scholarship, grant, loan or work funds to which he or she was not entitled.
- Until full restitution is made, all federal, state and university funds will be withheld from the student, including all funds disbursed in past or in current terms.
- No arrangements will be made with the Cashier’s Office or Collections Office on the student’s behalf to settle their account. The student will be responsible for all charges incurred on the student’s account because of the loss of federal, state or institutional financial aid funds.
- If the student is determined to be ineligible for financial aid because of a basic eligibility criterion, no further federal, state or university funds will be provided to the student in any future terms of enrollment at the university.
- The student may be ineligible for future participation in some or all financial aid programs for a minimum of one year or longer. In some cases, the student will not be eligible to receive funds from that program in any future terms of enrollment at the university.
- The student will not receive funds to replace those lost because he or she is considered ineligible due to dishonesty.
- In addition to any consequences directly related to the student’s financial aid, the student may be assigned disciplinary sanctions as described in the Student Conduct Code (11.80).
- As required by federal and state law, the USC Financial Aid Office will report any infraction to the appropriate office or agency. These include, but are not limited to, the U.S. Department of Education Office of the Inspector General, state agencies or other entities that may take whatever action is required by federal and state law. In this report, the Financial Aid Office will describe in detail the incident, the response from the Financial Aid Office and any additional actions taken by or pending with the university.