Undergraduate Admission Blog

Follow the Official USC Undergraduate Admission Blog for information, advice, and a behind-the-scenes look at our process

February 8, 2018

FAQs on Scholarship Decisions

A couple of weeks ago, USC sent out notifications about our merit scholarship decisions.  We know that students and parents might have some questions about our process and possibilities moving forward, so I would like to take this opportunity to explain our decision-making process a bit more, answer some frequently asked questions, and discuss the next steps in your application process. 


Is there a reason I wasn’t selected as a scholarship finalist? 

This year, we received approximately 39,000 applications by the scholarship deadline and were able to invite only 3% of those students to continue in our interview process.  Scholarship decisions are not made by algorithms; we do not simply take the students with the highest GPAs and test scores.  We in the Office of Admission, along with our colleagues in the academic departments, read applications thoroughly and take into account each facet in order to make our decisions.  Sometimes students worry that they should have changed something about their application or wonder if there was a specific reason they did not become a scholarship finalist.  The truth of the matter is that we receive many outstanding applications that are deserving of recognition–we simply do not have enough scholarships for all of them. 


Is it still possible to get a scholarship? 

Frequently, students wants to know if there is still a possibility of receiving a scholarship further on down the road.  There are some smaller scholarships still on the table (you can learn more here), but we do encourage all families to apply for financial aid by our February 13th deadline.  USC is a need-blind institution, which means there is no disadvantage if you apply for financial aid.  If you are concerned about financing your college education, now is also a good time to begin applying to outside scholarships that will travel with you to whichever school you attend. College Board’s Big Future site is a good place to start, and your college counselor can likely provide you with resources as well.  If you have further questions about financial aid at USC, I encourage you to check last week’s blog about financing your education as well as our financial aid website. 


If I don’t get a scholarship, do I have less of a chance of being admitted to USC? 

At this point in the process, no students have been denied–the only decisions we have made so far pertain to scholarships.  We are now looking at the applicant pool as a whole so we can craft our first-year class, and we will be admitting the majority of our students a couple of months from now.   Because we are still considering your application for admission, please send a copy of your midyear grades through your portal (you do not need to self-report them, however, if your school has already sent us an official copy).   


We know the college application process involves a lot of work and a lot of waiting.  We appreciate your patience as we continue to consider your application and encourage you to contact us with any lingering questions. Best of luck and Fight On!    


  1. Aparna says:

    Does this notification list include scholarships for National Merit semifinalist/finalists also?

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hi, Aparna! The notifications we sent out were for USC admission scholarships only. National Merit semi-finalists will be notified of their status by that organization, and finalists are guaranteed a half tuition scholarship if they are admitted to USC and list the university as their first choice school by the deadline.

  2. Kim says:

    For National Merit finalists, what is the USC deadline for listing USC as a student’s first-choice school?

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hello, Kim! The deadline is May 31st. If a student wants to live in the McCarthy Honors College, however, we recommend doing it as soon as they are certain they will be attending USC (our housing priority is first come first serve).

      • Aparna says:

        Thanks Brittany.
        Does USC have only a single admission decision date(April 1) or the decisions are released on a rolling basis.

        • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

          Hi, Aparna! We do not have rolling admission at USC. We have a scholarship notification in late January and an admission notification in late March.

  3. Mahon says:

    Is it possible to be awarded smaller scholarships along with the National Merit Finalist half tuition scholarship? About how many of the smaller scholarships are still available after the initial merit finalist notifications?

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hello, Mahon! It is possible to receive additional scholarships as a National Merit Finalist. Our smaller scholarships come from a wide variety sources and change each year, so we do not have a set number available.

  4. Michael says:

    Do you guys accept pennfoster high school diplomas online

  5. Julie says:

    Were the scholarship letters mailed or emailed?

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hi, Julie–we did mail letters to the students being invited to campus to continue in our scholarship process. All applicants, however, received a letter in the USC portal informing them of their scholarship decision.

  6. Vandery says:

    I had an interview for Trustee scholarship last month. When will I be notified?

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hi, Vandery! We will release scholarship decisions about the same time as we release our regular admission decisions, so you will hear by the end of the month.

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