I’m Not a QuestBridge Match – What Does This Mean?

This time of year can be stressful if you’re a high school senior. You’re trying to successfully balance schoolwork, your home life, and college applications. Some of you applied to USC through the QuestBridge National College Match process but have recently been notified that you were not selected in the match. Although not being matched with the college you wanted may be disappointing, you should be very proud of all the work that it took for you to apply through QuestBridge and share your story with the colleges you ranked! If you ranked USC as one of your colleges, rest assured that we took the time to thoroughly review your QuestBridge application; to get to know you, your story, and your accomplishments. However, this process is extremely competitive, and if you were not selected as a match, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t like your application – it just means that we have a very limited number of spots for QuestBridge matches.  

If you applied to USC through the QuestBridge College Match process and you completed all the USC Match Requirements (either the USC QuestBridge Writing Supplement or the Common Application), but did not match to a binding college, you’ll have three options: 

  1. For students applying to majors in Art and Design, Architecture, Music, Cinematic Arts, and Theatre – you may select for your application to be considered in our Regular Decision process. If you submit your application and supplemental materials by December 1st, you’ll be automatically considered for USC merit scholarships that are awarded through the USC Office of Admission. 
  2. For students applying to all other majors – you may select to have your application considered in our Early Action process (and for major merit scholarships) or in our Regular Decision process. If you select Early Action you will also be automatically considered for USC merit scholarships that are awarded through the USC Office of Admission. 
  3. For students who no longer want their application to be considered in our process you may withdraw your application to USC entirely. 

If you applied through the QuestBridge process and did NOT rank USC, you will have to take some additional steps to be considered for admission to USC.  You must submit: 

  1. All the materials for the Common Application (and SlideRoom application for applicants to majors that require a portfolio or audition). 
  1. An official high school transcript directly from your school. 
  1. Official SAT or ACT test scores (if you are choosing to include a test score). 
  1. A midyear report once your fall semester grades are available.  

The USC first-year regular decision deadline for submitting your application is January 15, the regular decision deadline for majors that require an audition or portfolio is December 1st, the same day as the QuestBridge College Match Day. Note, some academic departments only have a single December 1 deadline.  

A student who did not rank USC in the QuestBridge process will also have to submit the appropriate financial aid materials:   

  1. FAFSA (code: 001328) 
  1. CSS Profile (code: 4852) 
  1. USC 2020 Tax Information or Non-Filing Statement Form – Parents 
  1. USC Parent Income and Expense Form 

After you submit your application for admission, you will receive an email with instructions on how to set up your Applicant Portal. You can access the USC-specific forms and check on the status of your financial aid application on the USC FAST portal which is accessible through your USC Applicant Portal.  

Applicants who identify as undocumented should submit the following documents to begin their financial aid application: the CSS Profile, 2020 tax return, and a third-party letter confirming undocumented status. California residents will also be asked to complete the CSAC Dream Grant application requirements.  

The USC financial aid deadline for regular decision applicants is February 10th.  You must submit all of your financial aid materials by the deadline to ensure that you are fully considered for financial aid. At USC, we meet each student’s full demonstrated financial need – this means that your financial aid package will cover the full cost of attendance through loans, grants, and work study. In February 2020 we launched the Affordability Initiative which states that incoming first-year students from U.S. families with an annual income of $80,000 or less with typical assets will attend USC tuition free. Read more about the Affordability Initiative on our website.  

We understand that paying college application fees can get expensive.  If you feel that paying the application fee will be a financial hardship for you and your family, you can select the fee waiver payment option on the Common Application. Watch this video for instructions on how to use a fee waiver.  

All of this information can also be found on the QuestBridge website. If you find this process confusing or have questions about what you need to submit, please do not hesitate to contact your  USC admission counselor with any questions.  


If you are a QuestBridge Finalist and are ultimately admitted to USC through our Match, Early Action or Regular Decision process, we want to ensure that you feel supported and part of the USC community. Scholars come to USC from all across the country and bring their incredible achievements, talents, and experiences to campus where they have the opportunity to connect with other amazing Scholars through the USC QuestBridge Scholars group. All QuestBridge Finalists that are admitted to USC — either as a Match or through our regular decision process — are welcome to join the USC QuestBridge Scholars group. This group puts on a variety of events throughout the year to bring Scholars together. Events like a Welcome Back BBQ at the beginning of the school year, mixers, movie nights, mentoring opportunities, and study days during finals with free food!

At USC, we have the largest chapter of QuestBridge Scholars of any university, which means that you will always have resources and a support system available to you. 

Fight On!

Written by:

Maria Rodriguez, Associate Director of Multicultural Recruitment – USC Office of Admission

Kelsey K. Bradshaw Carroll, Associate Director – USC Office of Admission

Isaiah Sneed, Senior Assistant Director – USC Office of Admission



December 1 Application Deadline Frequently Asked Questions for Fall 2023 Applicants 

December 1 is the final application deadline for all first-year applicants applying to programs requiring a portfolio or audition. That includes all majors in the following schools:  

Iovine and Young Academy 
Kaufman School of Dance 
Roski School of Art & Design 
School of Architecture 
School of Cinematic Arts 
School of Dramatic Arts 
Thornton School of Music 

It is also the final deadline for transfer applicants applying to BFA programs in the School of Cinematic Arts and School of Dramatic Arts; and to any major in the Thornton School of Music, the Iovine and Young Academy, and the Kaufman School of Dance.  

Prospective first-year and transfer students applying to these programs by the December 1 deadline will be considered for merit scholarships.  

You can read more information on USC’s Admission Dates and Deadlines.  

This post will address some common questions we are getting about the December 1 deadline! 

Q: I submitted my application on December 1 before midnight, but my confirmation email says I submitted on December 2. What’s going on?

A: The Common App timestamp is on Eastern Time, so depending on where you live, it may look like your application was submitted on December 2. That’s okay! We still consider applications received in the early morning of December 2 to be on time. 

Q: Do I need to submit anything extra to be considered for the Office of Admission scholarships?

A: Nope! Just submit all required application materials by December 1.  

There are some organizations at USC that offer additional scholarships you may be eligible for that require an extra application. Please review our full list of scholarships for more information.   
 
Note: USC is test optional for Fall 2023 undergraduate applicants. Applicants who indicate on the Common App that they do not wish to have their test scores considered are not required to submit test scores in order to be considered for a merit-based scholarship.  

Q: My second-choice major also requires a portfolio. Do I have to submit two SlideRoom portfolios?

A: Yes, even within the same school the portfolio requirements may differ so a separate SlideRoom application is required for each major. Please review application requirements for both your first- and second-choice majors, and feel free to contact your intended department directly with any portfolio or audition questions.  

Iovine and Young Academy – (213) 821-6140 | iovine-young@usc.edu
Kaufman School of Dance – (213) 740-9327 | uscdance@usc.edu
Roski School of Art & Design – (213) 740-2787 | roski@usc.edu
School of Architecture – (213) 740-2723 | uscarch@usc.edu
School of Cinematic Arts – (213) 740-8358 | admissions@cinema.usc.edu
School of Dramatic Arts – (213) 740-1286 | sdaugrad@usc.edu
Thornton School of Music – (213) 740-8986 | uscmusic@usc.edu

Q: My test scores, letter of recommendation and/or transcript won’t arrive until after the deadline. Is that okay?

A: If your Common Application and SlideRoom department supplements are submitted by December 1, your application will be considered on time. If school documents such as transcripts or letters of recommendation trickle in a little after the deadline, that is okay, but be sure those are sent as soon as possible! 

Q: My transcript and test scores were sent, but they haven’t shown up on my portal checklist. What do I do?

A:Please allow at least two weeks for processing. Even if your transcript* or test scores are showing up as downloaded or received by USC on your ordering platform, it will still take some time to add each document to an individual student’s file. It is also important to verify that your name on your transcript or test scores matches exactly as it appears on your Common Application.  

*High school transcripts will not appear on your portal checklist if you are applying as a first-year applicant. We have your self-reported grades on Common App which we can refer to until your official transcript is added to your file. If after a couple weeks we still don’t have an official transcript, we will let you know we are missing documents by sending you an email.  

Q: I am an international applicant. Is it okay if my financial statement is submitted after the application deadline?    

A: Yes, but don’t wait too long. 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 please upload it as soon as possible as it is a required piece of the application for international students, even if you are applying for merit scholarship consideration. Our website has more information about requirements for international applicants.    

Q: What is the applicant portal and how do I access it?

A: A day or two 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 materials are processed into our system. 

Be sure you can receive emails from us, and please read your emails! If you set up your Common App account using an email address you never check, it means you will be missing out on important information from USC. If you have used your school’s email address, please be sure your school email system does not block messages from outside the school. Similarly, be sure your email account has space to receive new messages.  

Q: What application items need to be submitted by the application deadline?

A: For your application to be considered on time, you will need to submit your Common Application and SlideRoom portfolio(s) by December 1. If transcripts, letters of recommendation, or test scores come in after the deadline, that is okay! Just be sure they are on their way. 

Q: When will I know if I am invited to a live audition/interview?

A: Students applying to majors that require a live audition (or interview) will be emailed between mid-December and mid-January, depending on the major to which you have applied. You will either be invited to audition/interview with your intended department, or you will be informed you are no longer being considered for those programs. Students not selected may choose to withdraw their application at that time, or they can remain in the applicant pool to be considered for their second-choice or the Undecided/Exploratory major. 

Q: When will I get a final decision?

A: All first-year applicants will have an admission and merit scholarship decision by April 1.  

Transfer applicants will receive an admission decision or a request for their spring grades by May 31.  If spring grades are requested, you may not have a final decision until mid-July.  

Q: I received an email about signing an Affirmation, how do I do this?

A:You will need to login to your USC Applicant Portal and 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: If I decide to report my SAT/ACT scores, do you require the official test score report?

A: Yes, eventually* we need an official report. In the meantime, you can upload an unofficial copy of your SAT and/or ACT scores through the USC Applicant Portal.  Please be sure the unofficial copy includes scores from all sections for each sitting you are submitting (superscores on their own will not fulfill the requirement). It should also have identifying information such as your name and birthdate, address, or school listed on the report.  

*Note, all students who ultimately enroll at USC and chose to have their scores considered must submit an official score report directly through the testing agency. 
  
USC SAT code number: 4852 
USC ACT code number: 0470  

Q: I am not going to submit official test scores, but my portal notes that the SAT/ACT score report is missing. What is happening?

A: This data comes from the SAT/ACT question on the Common Application. If you indicated that you would like to consider your official test scores, we will wait for the score report in order to complete your file. If you are no longer interested in submitting your test scores, and we have not already received your scores, you can update your testing plan in the Applicant Portal.    

Q: My recommender submitted their letter of recommendation on my behalf, why don’t I see this as a checklist item on my USC Applicant Portal?

A: Your USC Applicant Portal checklist will not list letters of recommendation as items. Rest assured, if a recommender has submitted a letter on your behalf, it has been added to your file.    

Q: I have additional letters of recommendation I want to add. How do I do this?

A: Additional letters are not required nor expected for admission to the university. We don’t want your voice to get lost amidst a sea of letters from other people. If you truly feel your application would be incomplete without this extra perspective, recommenders may email their letters to the appropriate USC admission counselor and should include your full name and birthdate or reference ID (found in your applicant portal) in order to match them to the correct application. Please note that quality is more important than quantity! 

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 financial hardship, utilize the Common Application fee waiver option.  

First-Year Applicants will find this option in the Profile section of the Common Application. You can watch the video below about how to do this!  

Transfer Applicants will find this option in the “My Application” section of the Common Application.  

Additionally, USC also offers school-specific fee waiver options which can be found in the USC Questions section of both the first-year and transfer application. These school-specific waivers are intended for US Veterans/Active Military/Reserves and their dependents, NAI Scholars, and children of USC employees.  

Q: I paid the application feel on Common App. Does this mean my application is submitted?

A: Not yet. After you pay the application fee you’ll need to go back into Common App to “Review and Submit” your application.

Q: How do I log in to my Financial Aid Summary and Tasks (FAST) portal?

A: FAST is a website where students can access their Financial Aid Summary and determine the current status of their application for need-based financial aid. You will have access to your FAST portal a couple days after we receive your application. You will find a link to FAST in your USC Applicant Portal. 

Q: Should I submit my financial aid application before I get an admission decision?  

A: Yes! If you are applying for a portfolio-based program by December 1, you will be automatically considered for merit-based scholarships, but need-based aid has a separate process. You should submit the FAFSA and CSS Profile by February 10, 2023 if you are a first-year applicant or by March 2, 2023 as a transfer applicant. This will allow you to receive your need-based aid summary soon after you receive an admission decision. USC is need-blind, meaning we do not consider financial need when making admission decisions.   

Q: I just submitted all my USC application materials. Now what do I do?

A: Nice job! Want to know what to do next? Take a look at the admission blog article Top Things to Do After Applying to USC” as a final check to your USC application. 

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. 

For any questions about SlideRoom or the audition process, you can reach out to your intended department directly:  

Iovine and Young Academy – (213) 821-6140 | iovine-young@usc.edu
Kaufman School of Dance – (213) 740-9327 | uscdance@usc.edu  
Roski School of Art & Design – (213) 740-2787 | roski@usc.edu  
School of Architecture – (213) 740-2723 | uscarch@usc.edu  
School of Cinematic Arts – (213) 740-8358 | admissions@cinema.usc.edu
School of Dramatic Arts – (213) 740-1286 | sdaugrad@usc.edu
Thornton School of Music – (213) 740-8986 | uscmusic@usc.edu

You can also follow @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!



Early Action Application Deadline FAQ for Fall 2023 First-Year Applicants 

The first application deadline is around the corner. Have questions? We have answers! Check out the list of questions you might have about submitting your USC application in the Early Action round for Fall 2023.  

November 1 is the Early Action deadline for first-year applicants and it also serves as the deadline to be considered for USC Merit Scholarships for most majors.  

If you are applying to the Iovine and Young Academy or to majors in the schools of Architecture, Art & Design, Cinematic Arts, Dance, Dramatic Arts, or Music you have until December 1 to apply and be considered for Merit Scholarships as those schools do not participate in Early Action. Transfer applicants will be considered for the Transfer Merit Scholarship, as long as they apply by February 15. Some programs have a December 1 deadline for transfers. We will post a separate FAQ for the December 1 deadline in a few weeks. 

See more information on USC’s Admission Dates and Deadlines on our website.  

Q: I submitted my application on November 1 before midnight, but my confirmation email says I submitted it on November 2. What’s going on?

A: The Common App timestamp is on Eastern Time, so depending on where you live, it may look like your application was submitted on November 2. That’s okay! We still consider applications received in the early morning of November 2 to be on time.

Q: Do I need to submit anything extra to be considered for the Office of Admission Merit Scholarships?

A: Nope! Just apply under the Early Action decision plan and submit by November 1. If you are applying to a major requiring a portfolio or audition, you will apply Regular Decision and have until December 1.  

There are some organizations at USC that offer additional scholarships you may be eligible for that require an extra application. Please review our full list of  scholarships for more information.   

We also have need-based financial aid available which does require a separate application process. Please visit the Financial Aid website for more information.

*Note: USC is test optional for Fall 2023 undergraduate applicants. Applicants who indicate on the Common App that they do not wish to have their test scores considered are not  required to submit test scores in order to be considered for a merit-based scholarship.  

Q: Why can’t I find my intended major in the list of majors on Common App? 

A: Portfolio-based programs are not available in Early Action. Students selecting majors in the programs below must apply by December 1 using the Regular Decision plan. These programs do not participate in the Early Action admission plan. As such, applicants to these programs will still be considered for USC Merit Scholarships as part of the portfolio and audition process. 

USC School of Architecture
USC School of Cinematic Arts
USC Kaufman School of Dance
USC School of Dramatic Arts
USC Roski School of Art and Design
USC Iovine and Young Academy
USC Thornton School of Music

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 (and Spam folder)! 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 materials are processed into our system, not when they are received.

Q: Which application items need to be submitted by the application deadline?

A: For your application to be considered on time, you will need to submit your Common Application and any supplemental materials required by your department (for example, a required SlideRoom portfolio) by the deadline. If transcripts, letters of recommendation, or test scores come in after the deadline, that is okay! Just be sure they are on their way.  

Q: My test scores and/or transcript 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 the deadline, your application will be considered on time. If school documents such as transcripts or letters of recommendation trickle in a little after the deadline, that is okay, but be sure those are sent as soon as possible!  

Q: My transcript was sent, but it hasn’t shown up on my portal checklist. What do I do?

A: High school transcripts will not appear on your portal checklist if you are applying as a first-year applicant. We have your self-reported grades on Common App which we can refer to until your official transcript is added to your file. If after a couple weeks we still don’t have an official transcript we will let you know we are missing documents by sending you an email. Be sure you can receive emails from us, and please read your emails! If you set up your Common App account using an email address you never check, it means you will be missing out on important information from USC. If you have used your school’s email address, please be sure your school email system does not block messages from outside the school. Similarly, be sure your email account has space to receive new messages. 

Q: My test scores were sent, but they haven’t shown up on my portal checklist. What do I do?  

A:If theUSC Applicant Portal indicates that your test scores (if you chose to submit them) are not yet received, please verify that your name on the score report matches exactly your name as it appears on your Common Application. If you have only recently requested your scores to be sent to USC, be sure to allow at least two weeks for processing. In the meantime, you can upload a PDF of your score report. Please be sure it includes your name and an identifying piece of information such as your school or address. We also need dates and all section scores from each exam listed on the PDF or screenshot. 

Q: I am an international applicant. Is it okay if my financial statement is submitted after the application deadline?  

A: Yes, but don’t wait too long. 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 please upload it as soon as possible as it is a required piece of the application for international students, even if you are applying for merit scholarship consideration. Our website has more information about requirements for international applicants.  

Q: When will I receive a decision?  

A: Applicants selecting Early Action will be notified of their admission or deferral to Regular Decision in mid- to late January 2023. By mid-February we will notify the students who were admitted Early Action if they were selected as scholarship finalists. By April 1, students who were selected as scholarship finalists will know their scholarship decision. Students who were deferred to the Regular Decision round will have an admission decision by April 1. 

Q: I received an email about signing an Affirmation, how do I do this?  

A: You will need to login to your USC Applicant Portal and 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: If I decide to report my SAT/ACT scores, do you require the official test score report?  

A: You can send us your official score report or (in the meantime), upload an unofficial copy of your SAT and/or ACT scores through the USC Applicant Portal.   

*Note: all students who ultimately enroll at USC, and chose to have their scores considered, must submit an official score report directly through the testing agency.

USC SAT code number: 4852 
USC ACT code number: 0470  

Q: I am not going to submit official test scores, but my portal notes that the SAT/ACT score report is missing. What is happening?  

A: This data comes from the SAT/ACT question on the Common Application. If you indicated that you would like to consider your official test scores, we will wait for the score report in order to review your file. If you are no longer interested in submitting your test scores, and we have not already received your scores, you can update your testing plan in the Applicant Portal.    

Q: My recommender submitted their letter of recommendation on my behalf, why don’t I see this as a checklist item on my USC Applicant Portal?  

A: Your USC Applicant Portal checklist will not list letters of recommendation as items. Rest assured, if a recommender has submitted a letter on your behalf, it has been added to your file.     

Q: I have additional letters of recommendation I want to add. How do I do this?  

A: Additional letters are not required for admission to the University, but you can submit them for consideration. Recommenders may email their letters to the appropriate USC admission counselor and should include your full name and birthdate or reference ID (found in your applicant portal) in order to match them to the correct application. Please note that quality is more important than quantity! We really only need one letter. 

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.  

First-Year Applicants will find this option in the Profile section of the Common Application. You can watch the video below about how to do this!

Q: How do I log in to my Financial Aid portal?  

A: Financial Aid Summary and Tasks (FAST) is a website where students can access their Financial Aid Summary and determine the current status of their application and need-based 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: Should I submit my financial aid application before I get an admission decision?  

A: Yes! If you are applying Early Action, you will be automatically considered for merit-based scholarships, but need-based aid has a separate process. You should submit the FAFSA and CSS Profile by January 9, 2023 in order to have your need-based aid summary soon after you receive an admission decision. USC is need-blind, meaning we do not consider financial need when making admission decisions. 

Q: I just submitted all my USC application materials. Now what do I do?

A: Nice job! Want to know what to do next? Take a look at the admission blog article Top Things to Do After Applying to USC” as a final check to your USC application. 

Q: I have more questions. Who can I talk to?  

A: If you have any questions, we invite you to askUSC or check out our Early Action FAQ on the website. Applicants can also call the Admission Contact Center at (213) 740-1111 or send them an email.  

You can also follow @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!