I Wasn’t Named a Scholarship Finalist…Now What?

USC will admit some of the first students of its class of 2026 today! Approximately 1,000 first-year students will be notified that they are admitted to USC and invited to interview for merit-based scholarships. The majority of applicants, however, will be notified that they are no longer in the running for these merit-based scholarships but are still being considered for admission to USC. This can raise many questions, and we’d like to help you sort through what it all means.  

Q: I wasn’t admitted during the scholarship round. Does that mean I’m not going to be admitted to USC?  
A: We admit a very small percentage of our class as scholarship finalists. Most students admitted to USC are admitted by April 1, and not being admitted at this point is not indicative of your likelihood of admission. Your application is still very much under consideration.  

Q: Why wasn’t I named a scholarship finalist?  
A: The process for selecting scholarship finalists was very competitive. Over 39,000 students applied by the scholarship deadline, and fewer than 3% were invited to interview. We use both quantitative and qualitative factors  to consider who to invite and there are simply a limited number of awards.  

Q: I was not named a scholarship finalist. Is this because I didn’t submit a test score (or because of my test score)? Can I change my testing plan at this point? 
A: We take many things into consideration when deciding who to invite for scholarship interviews. We do not disadvantage students who choose to apply test optional and, given the nature of our holistic review, decisions are based on a combination of factors. At this stage in our review process, we cannot change your testing plan.  

Q: Can I submit additional materials and have my application reconsidered for merit scholarships?  
A: Our decisions on who to admit during our merit scholarship process are final and cannot be appealed. You are still under consideration for admission to USC and will receive an admission decision by April 1.  

Q: If I am named a National Merit Finalist but wasn’t admitted during the scholarship round, do I still receive USC’s Presidential Scholarship?  
A: Yes, if you are ultimately admitted to USC as a first-year student, are named a National Merit Finalist, and selected USC as your first-choice school with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).  Finalists will receive the Presidential award notification after their name is confirmed on the official roster from NMSC in the spring. Finalists have until May 31 to notify NMSC of their first-choice college.  

Q: Am I still eligible for financial aid?  
A: Financial aid is need-based (rather than merit-based), and eligibility is separate from the merit scholarship process. Please apply for financial aid as soon as possible by submitting the FAFSA and CSS Profile if you have not done so already. You can learn more here.

Q: Are there any merit scholarships available to students who aren’t invited to interview?  
A: Yes, there are some still available! These scholarships tend to have smaller monetary values, but we know that every bit counts. Please review the list of scholarships here.     

Q: I applied to Thornton/Iovine & Young/Kaufman. Am I still eligible for major merit scholarships?  
A: Yes! Those departments integrate their scholarship selection into their admission process. These departments have already notified their applicants whether they will be moving forward in their admission process. If you were invited to audition or to interview for one of those programs, you are still being considered for a merit award*. Final decisions regarding merit awards will be released by early April. If you were not invited to audition or to interview and have chosen to keep your application in the pool, you will be considered for admission to your second-choice major or to begin at USC as a “Undecided Major.” 

*Music Industry and Music Composition applicants do not require an audition or interview, but they are still being considered for scholarships and admission to those programs at this point.


We wish you all the best of luck with the application process! 


All Your Transfer Application Deadline Questions Answered – Fall 2022

The transfer application deadline is around the corner. Have questions? We have answers! Check out the list of questions you might have about submitting your USC transfer application for Fall 2022.  

Due to technical issues with CommonApp, we have extended the transfer application deadline to 11:59pm Pacific Time on February 16“.

Q: I submitted my application on February 15 before midnight, but my confirmation email says I submitted on February 16. What’s going on?
A: The Common App timestamp is on Eastern Standard Time (EST), so depending on where you live, it may look like your application was submitted in the early morning hours on February 16. That’s okay! We still consider those applications to be on time. 

Q: My transcripts won’t arrive until after the deadline. Is that okay?
A: If your Common Application and any required department supplements (e.g., SlideRoom) are submitted by February 15, your application will be considered on time. If transcripts trickle in after the deadline that is okay, but be sure those are sent over as soon as possible!  

Q: When are my transcripts due? 
A: Ideally by February 15, but as long as you have at least requested to have your transcripts sent by February 15, we should receive them in plenty of time.  

Q: My transcripts were sent, but they haven’t shown up on my portal checklist. What do I do?  
A: If you have only recently requested your transcripts to be sent to USC, be sure to allow at least two weeks for processing.  If after a couple weeks the USC Applicant Portal still indicates that any of your transcripts are not yet received, please verify that your name on the item exactly matches your name as it appears on your Common Application.

Q: How do I request official transcripts? 
A: To be considered official, transcripts must be sent to USC directly from your schools. The specific process of requesting to have an official transcript sent will vary depending on your high school and college’s procedures, but your best bet is to start with your school’s Registrar Office. We prefer electronic transcripts, but mailed printed copies are also accepted. If your school requires an email address to send the transcript, please provide them with the uetrans@usc.edu email address. This address should only be used by school administrators to send an official transcript to USC. Transcripts emailed by students to the above address will not be considered official.    

Q: I go to a quarter-system school. Do I need to send my winter grades? 
A: We know your winter grades will not be ready by the time you submit your application. You should request to have your school send us an official transcript that includes your fall grades. When your winter grades are finalized, you can upload an unofficial winter transcript via the USC Applicant Portal. Be sure to also include a list of spring courses in progress!

Q: What is the required “Other” document I need to upload under Program Materials? I thought USC only wanted official transcripts.
: Official transcripts are still required and should be sent using the preferred platform for your school. The “Other” document is for applicants to report a list of their courses currently in progress. We are asking for this “Other” document since many schools do not include courses in progress on their official transcripts. To fulfill this requirement, simply upload a copy of your spring schedule or a word document that lists your spring term courses. Please be sure the document includes the school, term, course number, and course name as well as the number of units. For students attending a quarter-system school, you should also include courses you intend to take in the spring quarter. 

If you do not have any courses to report, please upload a document stating, “No courses in progress or planned.” 

Q: I did not graduate from high school. Do I still need to submit a high school transcript? 
A: Yes. Even if you left high school early, we still need a high school transcript with grades for the courses you did complete. We will also require a copy of your GED (or similar leaving certificate) with a statement of explanation. Please note that we do not prefer candidates who leave high school merely with the intention of starting college earlier.  

Q: What is the applicant portal and how do I access it?  
A: A couple of days after submitting your Common Application, you will receive an email with instructions to access your portal, so make sure to check your inbox! The subject of the email is “USC Admission Has Received Your Application – Set up your applicant portal today!” Your portal is where you can check the status of your application, including information about any missing items. You are welcome to check the status of your submitted application by logging in to the USC Applicant Portal. The portal is updated as we process materials and will display the most up-to-date status of your application. Letters of recommendation will not appear on your portal checklist.  

Q: Should I send a letter of recommendation?  
A: Letters are not required for the majority of transfer applicants. A small handful of departments will require a letter of recommendation in the transfer process, but for the most part, we do not need them.

Q: Do I have to submit my SAT/ACT scores if I have fewer than 30 units?
A: Though they are not required, transfer applicants for the 2022-2023 academic year who have completed fewer than 30 semester (or 45 quarter) units of coursework through the end of the spring term may also choose to submit SAT or ACT scores. SAT or ACT scores are not considered for students applying with more than 30 transferrable semester units. 

Q: I am an international* applicant, what are the extra materials I need to submit?  
A: We require a signed 
financial statement and proof of sufficient funds as part of your application. This can be uploaded after you submit your application via the applicant portal. Additionally, if English is not your native language, we require English language proficiency test scores, even if you are currently studying at an English-speaking school—more information on these requirements can be found on our website. 

* Undocumented or DACA students in the U.S.  are NOT required to submit the additional materials listed above.  

Q: I am an international applicant. Is it okay if my financial statement is submitted after the application deadline? 
A: Yes! In order to submit your financial statement, you need access to your portal which won’t become available until after your application is processed into our system. It is totally fine to submit your financial statement after the deadline, but don’t wait too long to do it as it is a required piece of the application for international students. 

Q: I am an international applicant and have taken an English class at my current school, can I waive the English proficiency requirement?
A: No. Coursework or time spent at an English-speaking university (including AP or IB classes/exam scores taken in high school) will not waive the English proficiency test score requirement. If you are an international applicant and your native language is not English, we require a test score to demonstrate English proficiency. A list of acceptable exams and expected scores can be found on our website under English Proficiency Criteria. Please note that there are at-home exams available.   

Q: When will I get a decision?  
A: All transfer applicants will hear one of two things from us by May 31: 

 An admission decision
A request for final spring grades 

Students who received a spring grade request may not receive a final admission decision until mid-July. We will do our best to release decisions as final spring grades are submitted, but this is not always possible. 

Q: I received an email about signing an Affirmation, how do I do this?  
A: You will need to login to your  USC Applicant Portaland navigate to the Application Affirmation section. This is an electronic signature acknowledging that everything in your application is truthful, correct and yours. This is required for all USC applicants. You can preview the affirmations here.  

Q: Paying the USC application fee is a financial hardship for me and my family. Can I have the Common Application fee waived?  
A: If paying the application fee would cause you a financial hardship, utilize the Common Application fee waiver option. You will find this option in the My Application section of the Common Application. School-specific fee waiver options can be found in the Program Materials section of the Common Application.  

Q: How do I log in to my FAST portal?  
A: FAST (Financial Aid Summary and Tasks) is a website where students can access their Financial Aid Summary and determine the current status of their application and aid. You will have access to your FAST portal a couple days after we receive your application. Please log in through the USC Applicant Portal.  

Q: I just submitted all my USC application materials. Now what do I do?
A: Nice job! Take a look at the steps below as a final check to your USC application.  

  1. Set up your USC Applicant Portal 
    A day or two after you apply, you’ll get an email confirming that you submitted your application. The subject line will read “USC Admission Has Received Your Application – Set Up Your Applicant Portal Today!”  Once you open this email, it will have the PIN you’ll need to set up your USC portal. From there you can check on the status of your materials and, eventually, see your admission decision.  
  2. Be patient as we process your materials 
    If you’ve submitted your Common Application by the deadline, your application is considered on time – even if materials like transcripts, recommendation letters, or test scores arrive a little later. We receive thousands of documents that we need to process which includes transcripts, letters of recommendations, and test scores.  It takes us about two to three weeks to process documents during our busy season, so please give us some time. There may be additional delays if documents lack proper identifying information. For example, if the name on your transcripts does not exactly match the name on your application. 

    A green check mark will only appear on your USC Applicant Portal next to items we have processed which means that we may have already received those materials, but they just have not been added to our system yet. * 

    *Please note that the USC Applicant Portal checklist will not list letters of recommendation or SlideRoom as items. First-year applicants may also notice that transcripts are not listed either.   
  3. Sign the Applicant Affirmation and Notice of Potential Audit 
    Your application will not be complete until you electronically sign the Application Affirmation form, which can be accessed through your USC Applicant Portal. The notification that the form is ready to be signed will come a couple of days after you submit your application.
  4. Finally, don’t fret about the timestamp on your Common Application
    If your Common Application is submitted by 11:59pm in your time zone on the deadline, your application will be considered on time. The Common App timestamp is on East Coast time, so depending on where you live, it may look like your application submitted after the deadline.   

Bonus step, breathe 
Take a deep breath, relax and congratulate yourself on a job well done! You did all that you could, submitted all the required materials and now all you have to do is wait. Give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy some time to yourself!

Q: I have more questions. Who can I talk to?  
A: If you have any questions, or wish to email the Office of Admission, we invite you to askUSC. Applicants can also call the Admission Contact Center at (213) 740-1111. 

You can also contact your Admission Counselor. Find out who your counselor is by visiting: https://admission.usc.edu/find-your-counselor/  

Follow USC Admission on social media (@USCAdmission on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube) We will post application tips and reminders, as well as answer any final questions you may have.   

Good Luck and Fight On! 

Tips For Your USC Transfer Application

Amid reading applications and recommending scholarships for the incoming first-year class, my colleagues and I are also receiving emails with application questions, particularly from transfer applicants. Understandably so, as the deadline is coming up on February 15! If you haven’t done so already, I would remind you to sign up for the Virtual Transfer Information Sessions. There are just a few sessions remaining before the deadline, so hurry up and register! 

For those of you who are unable to attend the sessions, I thought it might be a good idea to highlight some helpful tips: 

  1. Submit your application through The Common Application and make sure you are completing the transfer application (rather than the first year).
  2. Submit ALL transcripts. We need both an official high school transcript (with noted graduation date) and all official college transcripts. If you left high school without graduating, we still need your high school transcript listing the courses you completed, and we also need a copy of your GED or similar leaving certificate. If you’ve attended numerous colleges, make sure you submit ALL transcripts. This still applies even if you only took one course or a course that you don’t think will transfer. It will serve you better in our process to provide all this information up front.
  3. Letter(s) of recommendation, unless required by your major, are not necessary. We do not receive (nor do we expect) them from the majority of transfer applicants.
  4. Make sure you are aware if your major requires additional application materials, such as short responses to prompts or an arts portfolio. Click here for a detailed overview.
  5. Your digital signature on our Application Affirmations will be needed.  You will sign these affirmations in your applicant portal which becomes available after your application has been processed. It is fine if the affirmations are signed after the deadline.
  6. When highlighting your activities on your application, focus on your most recent involvement. Think about all things you have been involved in such as: student organizations, volunteering, research, internships, job experiences, family responsibilities, hobbies, summer programs, etc. Sending a separate resume outside of the activities list in Common App is not required.  
  7. If you are attending a quarter-system school, be sure to upload your winter grades and spring schedule as soon as they are finalized (we know that this will likely be after the application deadline). If you have already submitted official fall grades, you may upload unofficial winter grades in your USC applicant portal. 
  8. If you are an international student, make sure you also submit the financial statement* and, if English is not your native language, an English language proficiency exam. English coursework or AP/IB exam grades cannot waive this requirement—we must receive a proficiency exam score. Click here for more information on these additional requirements for international applicants.
*The financial statement will only become available after your application is submitted and processed. Once you activate your USC applicant portal, you will be able to upload your financial statement there. It is fine if your financial statement is uploaded after the deadline, but do not wait too long to submit it. The financial statement is required prior to receiving an admission decision.  

I’ve also received plenty of emails asking if students need to submit school reports. You will be happy to know that they are NOT required. These include teacher evaluation forms, college or school reports, or grade reports. Again, the only exception would be if your major requires you to submit a letter of recommendation.

Finally, we understand that this process can be confusing at times. If you have further questions, we are always happy to help! Please feel free to contact your territory manager or refer to our USC Transfer Brochure as this document will answer most, if not all, of your questions. 

Good Luck & Fight On! 

Written by:  

Dylan Goodwill,  Assistant Director – USC Office of Undergraduate Admission