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! 


December 1 Application Deadline Frequently Asked Questions for Fall 2022 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 for Fall 2022. 

As a reminder, we do not offer Early Decision or Early Action at USC. December 1 is the deadline for first-year applicants to be considered for USC Merit Scholarships. It is also the final deadline for some programs in both the first-year and transfer process (see more information on USC’s Admission Dates and Deadlines.) Transfer applicants will be considered for the Transfer Merit Scholarship as long as they apply by February 15.  

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 Standard 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 2022 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: I submitted my Common Application at 11:59 PM on December 1, but my USC Supplement was submitted at 12:01 AM on December 2. Will my application still be considered for scholarship? 
A: Yes! The Common Application and USC Supplement must be submitted individually. Not all students realize this right away, so we do see this happen sometimes. Totally fine! We will consider your application on time for the scholarship deadline. 

Q: My test scores and transcript won’t arrive until after the deadline. Is that okay? 
A: If your Common Application, USC Supplement, and any required department supplements (e.g., SlideRoom) 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: If the USC Applicant Portal indicates that your test scores (if you chose to submit scores) or transcripts are not yet received, please verify that your name on the item 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. 

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 on 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.

Q: What application items need to be submitted by the application deadline? 
AFor your application to be considered on time, you will need to submit your Common Application, USC Supplement, and any supplemental materials required by your department (for example, a SlideRoom required 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: When will I get a decision? 
A: All first-year applicants will have an admission decision by April 1. Applicants who apply by December 1 will be notified in mid-February whether they have been selected to interview for a scholarship. Those that are not asked to interview are still being considered for admission, so they will not receive an admission decision at this time. 

Transfer applicants will receive an admission decision or a request for their spring grades by May 31.  

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 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: I used a different website when I registered for a virtual USC information session. Is this the same as the applicant portal? 
A: No, the USC Applicant Portal is separate from the Discover USC site. You will be able to create your USC applicant portal after you submit your Common Application. The USC applicant portal will be helpful to track the status of your USC application. 

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, they have 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! 

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. School-specific fee waiver options can be found in the USC supplement to 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. 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! Want to know what to do next? Take a look at the admission blog article Top 5 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.

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

Student Veterans at USC: A Proud Tradition of Support

My calling to advocate for student veterans began over eight years ago as I began my career in higher education. As a student veteran myself, I recognize what makes student veterans so different from their traditional college student counterparts. Aside from their life experience from military service, their unique set of non-traditional student characteristics includes distinct strengths that contribute to their academic success. For many transitioning veterans, repurposing their individual traits from military to student is key in finding academic success. For this reason, student veterans gravitate towards veteran-friendly environments where an institution’s core values and culture promote veteran services that will spawn academic success and a positive student experience. At USC, we understand these characteristics and transitional challenges, which is why we hold a proud tradition of serving our men and our women in uniform, and as an institution, our mission is to serve those who serve. As referenced in the message from Judge Widney Professor Gen. David H. Petraeus, “The University of Southern California is among the most supportive and welcoming universities in America for student veterans.”  

USC’s proud tradition of support began in 1914 while hosting a training school for U.S. Army officers, and since then, our partnership with the military has remained unbroken. USC has also hosted ROTC programs since 1940 with unwavering support and a commitment to producing the next generation of leaders. Among these leaders are highly decorated military and civilian leaders – including four-star generals, astronauts, Medal of Honor recipients, and officials in the highest levels of government service – who chose to attend USC before or after their military service.  

At USC, we aim to support and empower our student veterans by offering opportunities to engage in discussions on various subjects such as current events, employment issues, financial challenges, and family dynamics of service members, transitioning veterans, and military families. These opportunities position our student veterans to achieve academic success and prepare them to impact their communities. Additionally, USC is greatly enriched by our student-veteran population, who bring unique experiences, perspectives, and skills into our classrooms, student body, and community. Their diverse backgrounds, service history, and academic interests help foster the next generation of innovators, leaders, visionaries, and creators.  

To continue to support the transition and success of our veterans, USC continuously creates new programs and resources for our student-veterans, active service members, and ROTC students – including academic, financial, and wellness support. Here is a list of resources to address the needs of this student population.  

Departmental Support  
Since 2014, the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) has worked to support student veterans in all endeavors of campus life, including outreach and admission to graduation and job seeking. The center collaborates between multiple student affairs offices and administrative divisions and helps serve nearly 1,200 veterans who enroll in USC classes each semester. The VRC provides students with a variety of benefits:  

  • Study space with access to computers  
  • Opportunities to socialize with fellow student veterans  
  • Information about on-campus services  
  • Check-ins with a designated veteran certifying officer on campus  
  • Special programs, such as the advisement luncheons, offered at the beginning of the semester  
  • Professional advisement (resumes, cover letters, networking, and interviews) and a job recruitment fair  
  • Other perks like catered luncheons and complimentary tickets for sporting events!  

Clubs & Organizations  
Across campus, USC staff members in various academic and student affairs departments serve as direct contact points for student veterans to address any specific questions or requests they may have as they navigate their educational journey. This includes the Career Center, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL), Student Accessibility Services (OSAS), the Counseling Center, and more. Additionally, each Admission Counselor in the USC Office of Undergraduate Admission can answer general questions about the application and transfer credit processes. Admission Counselors are assigned to applicants based on their most recent post-secondary institution.  

To help student veterans establish relationships and build social and professional networks during their time at USC and after graduation, there are multiple students and alumni associations to join. The USC Veterans Association is a student organization composed of undergraduate and graduate students and keeps members informed of various opportunities and resources. On their active Facebook page, students can find out about upcoming social events and workshops, job openings, and research opportunities and apply for leadership positions within the group. The Marshall Military Veterans Association is a group for student veterans pursuing their MBA at the Marshall School of Business. To provide ongoing support for student veterans in their transition to USC, the USC Student Veterans Support Network mission is to help current and former students, staff, and faculty connect with students. Lastly, the USC Alumni Veterans Network is open to all USC alumni who are veterans and are interested in staying involved with the Trojan Family long after graduation.  

Financial Benefits  
In addition to their G.I. benefits, student veterans have access to the same scholarships and financial aid resources utilized by all USC students. USC’s Office of Financial Aid and the Veterans Certification Office work with military veterans to help them understand their educational benefits and provide assistance with financial aid and other funding. Check out this video that explains this process more in-depth.  

USC is proud to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which is open to post-9/11 GI Bill recipients and covers up to one-half of tuition and mandatory fees matched dollar for dollar by the V.A. The Schoen Family Scholarship Program for Veterans was established in 1986 by William J. Schoen, a former U.S. Marine and USC alumnus (’60, MBA’ 63), to provide additional funding for student veterans at USC. This scholarship is available to new and continuing students in the Marshall School of Business and the Viterbi School of Engineering who have served a minimum of three years of continuous, full-time, active duty in the previous ten years.  

Research & Practice  
With the desire to meet the needs of our student veterans on campus, the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR) is also committed to research, education, and outreach for all veterans and their families. The CIR conducts a wide range of research projects, provides training seminars to behavioral health providers and clinicians, and works with community partners to address the issues that face today’s veterans and military families.  

The University of Southern California has continued commitment and dedication to assisting veterans, service members, and qualified family members. USC is committed to providing the tools to successfully assist student veterans in navigating and integrating into the college environment while creating a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable campus environment for veterans.

With this said, please take the time to review the resources below. Should you have any questions regarding the number of resources available or questions regarding admissions and the application process, please feel free to email me, Eric Mejia, at emejia17@usc.edu 

For further information on USC’s Veteran Resource Center, check the FAQ’s – USC Veterans Resource Center.  

Semper Fidelis and Fight On! 
Written by Eric Mejia, Assistant Director