Graduate and Professional Education

Financial Aid for Graduate Students

Graduate students at USC benefit from federal financial aid programs administered by the Financial Aid Office and from scholarships, fellowships and assistantships administered by the Graduate School and various academic departments. In support of the university’s commitment to diversity, fellowships are available for students from groups now under-represented in doctoral study. Several federal agencies and private foundations offer support for students engaged in research in specific fields of study. In addition, many corporations provide fellowships or tuition reimbursements for their employees. USC also offers an interest-free monthly payment plan and participates in long-term loan programs. Students may apply for one or more kinds of aid, depending on eligibility.

Although international students cannot receive federal financial aid, they may be eligible for some scholarships, fellowships and graduate assistantships 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 some private educational loans.

Financial Support through Graduate Fellowships and Assistantships

Prospective and continuing students seeking financial support will find opportunities to fund their graduate study through individual schools and departments and through the Graduate School. In general, fellowships and graduate assistantships are offered only to students pursuing the Ph.D. degree.

Acceptance of Offers of Financial Assistance

USC subscribes to the following resolution of the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States regarding deadlines and acceptance of offers for graduate scholars, fellows, trainees and assistantships.

Acceptance of an offer of financial assistance (such as graduate scholarship, fellowship, traineeship or assistantship) for the next academic year by an actual or prospective graduate student completes an agreement that both the student and the university are expected to honor. In those instances in which the student accepts the offer before April 15, and subsequently desires to withdraw, the student may submit in writing a resignation of the appointment at any time through April 15. An acceptance given or left in force after April 15, however, commits the student to not accept another offer without first obtaining written release from the institution to which a commitment has been made. Similarly, an offer by an institution after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of the written release from any previously accepted offer.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are awarded each year by departments of the university to Ph.D. students on the basis of scholastic accomplishment, academic promise and competence. They fall under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Procedures and practices can be found in The Graduate Assistant Handbook on the Graduate School Website. Only students in good academic standing with GPAs of 3.0, acceptable TOEFL scores, and who are regularly enrolled in USC graduate degree programs are eligible for appointment as graduate assistants and may be offered a semester-by-semester appointment up to a maximum of one year at a time. All graduate assistants are under direct and assigned supervision of regular faculty members and report regularly on the conduct and performance of their responsibilities to the supervising faculty. These awards include positions as teaching assistants, research assistants and assistant lecturers. Assistant lecturers may be appointed only with the approval of the vice provost for graduate programs. The Graduate Assistant Handbook can be found at

Application Procedures and Eligibility Requirements for Federal Financial Aid

Detailed information, application procedures and deadlines for federal financial aid are available online at To be eligible for federal 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; enroll at least half-time; meet Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements; and meet all other eligibility requirements. Students must also complete all application requirements by the relevant deadline. With certain exceptions, as noted below, students must be enrolled in a degree-seeking program or eligible certificate program at USC to be eligible for federal financial aid.

Federal Work-Study

The Federal Work-Study program enables eligible students to earn funds through employment either on campus or with an approved off-campus employer. Only full-time (eight or more units) students with high financial need who meet all application deadlines are considered for this program.

Federal Loans

Subsidized* and Unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans are available to eligible students. The Health Professions Student Loan, Loans for Disadvantaged Students and Primary Care Loan programs provide loans to students in the health professions. Federal Perkins Loans may be awarded to eligible students who meet all application deadlines. For details about federal loan programs and application requirements, visit

*Recent changes in federal law will prohibit graduate and professional students from receiving Subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans for enrollment periods beginning on or after July 1, 2012.

Private Financing Programs

Private financing programs are available to help students meet the costs of education by providing long-term financing options. Students should exhaust all federal Title IV assistance available, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan and Federal 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.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant

The TEACH Grant is available for students in the Masters of Arts, Teaching (MAT) program. It is awarded to students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families.

Financial Aid for Enrollment in a Progressive Degree Program

In most cases, students admitted to a progressive degree program will be classified as undergraduate students for financial aid and registration purposes during the first eight semesters of college enrollment, regardless of whether they enroll in undergraduate or graduate courses. Beginning in the ninth semester, students will be considered graduate students for financial aid and registration purposes and are ineligible for undergraduate financial aid. Students are immediately classified as graduate students and are ineligible for undergraduate financial aid once all undergraduate degree requirements have been completed or the undergraduate degree is posted, even if they have completed fewer than eight semesters. For this reason, financial aid applicants may wish to schedule their courses such that undergraduate degree requirements are not completed prior to the eighth semester and the exhaustion of their undergraduate financial aid eligibility. Students who receive a research assistant or a teaching assistant award before completing eight semesters will be classified as graduate students and will be ineligible to receive undergraduate financial aid.

Financial Aid for Enrollment in a Certificate Program

Students enrolled at least half-time in a graduate certificate program may be eligible for the Federal Direct Stafford Loan and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan if the program has been determined to be eligible for federal financial aid. Contact your academic department or the Financial Aid Office for information about whether your program qualifies for financial aid.

Financial Aid for Limited Status Enrollment

Students not admitted to a degree-seeking program or eligible certificate program at USC who enroll as limited-status students are not eligible for federal financial aid, unless they meet one of the exceptions noted in the Consortium Agreements and preparatory course work sections.

Financial Aid Consortium Agreements

Students admitted to degree-seeking or eligible certificate programs at USC who enroll at another eligible institution in courses applicable to their USC degrees or certificates 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. Contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.

Visiting students enrolled at USC as limited-status students may be eligible for limited federal financial aid through a Financial Aid Consortium Agreement if: 1) they are admitted to a degree-seeking or eligible certificate program at their home school; 2) their USC courses apply to their degree or certificate; and 3) the student’s total USC and/or non-USC enrollment is at least half-time. Contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.

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 Federal Direct Stafford Loan funds. For more information, contact the Financial Aid Office.

Withdrawal Implications for Recipients of Financial Aid

For complete information, see here.

Financial Aid Policy Regarding Falsification of Financial Aid Information

For the complete policy, see here.