Undergraduate Admission Blog

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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.

      • Aparna says:

        Hello Brittany,

        My daughter is a spring admit to USC and a national merit finalist. Will she still be eligible for the half tuition scholarship and if yes(which we hope) when will we get the notification for it. She had USC as her irst choice college originally.

  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.

  7. Frank says:

    Hello- If a student receives a Presidential Scholarship and is also a National Merit finalist and has listed USC as their 1st choice school are the 2 awards possible to combine?

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hi, Frank! Students are not able to combine those two scholarships.

    • Hillary Higgins says:

      Hi Frank, Those two awards cannot be combined. If you have further questions, please contact our Office of Financial Aid at 213-740-4444.

  8. S Cohen says:


    It seems that most kids who interviewed for trustee or presidential scholarships received notification on their portal yesterday evening. A day later still nothing in my daughter’s portal. She was up for trustee. Are the results coming out in waves ? From Trustee to “not even getting a courtesy notification” seems strange. And stressful.

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Sorry for the delay. There was a glitch in the portal, but all students who interviewed for scholarships should have received a notification by now.

  9. Renata says:

    Hi. I recently received an acceptance letter for USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. I understand that they have a separate set of scholarships available for admitted students. When should I expect to be notified whether or not I qualify for those specific scholarships? In addition, will we be receiving a financial aid package in the mail? I’m just wondering, as one didn’t arrive with the acceptance letter. Thanks!!!

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hi, Renata–congratulations on your admission! Notification of department scholarships come in a variety of ways/at different times, so keep an eye on your portal and your mail box. Financial aid packages will be rolling out this week, but you should check your FAST portal to make sure all necessary documents have been received.

    • Hillary Higgins says:

      Hi Renata, Financial Aid summaries are separate from admission decisions. Check your USC FAST report for a financial aid update.

  10. Cecilia says:

    My son was so excited to receive his acceptance package from USC. We now need to see if it is financially feasible to send him there. He is a National Merit Scholarship Finalist and he listed USC as his first choice. Does this mean he is definitely guaranteed 1/2 tuition scholarship? If so, where would we see this or do we have to notify USC of his status?

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hi Cecilia–congratulations! Yes, if he listed USC as his first choice, he is guaranteed a 1/2 tuition scholarship. We will be notified by National Merit, so there’s nothing he needs to do.

  11. Aparna says:

    Hello Brittany,

    My daughter is a spring admit to USC and a national merit finalist. Will she still be eligible for the half tuition scholarship and if yes(which we hope she gets) when will we get the notification for it. She had USC as her first choice college originally.

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hi, Aparna–yes, she is still guaranteed the half tuition scholarship. We receive notifications from National Merit Scholarship on a rolling basis, but if she already has USC listed as her first choice, it should come to us soon.

  12. Hannah says:

    Hi, I am a national merit finalist but have not yet received an award because I haven’t yet listed usc as my first choice with the nmsc. I have received university scholarships and grants on my usc portal. Will receiving a half tuition national merit award reduce the aid I have already received through scholarships and grants? Also, is the national merit award as well as scholarship and grant awards renewable for four years?

  13. Donna says:

    Hi, I received my acceptance letter but no information on whether I received scholarship. Was scholarship information meant to be released at the same time as the admission decision? Or will I be informed later on if I got any type of scholarship? Thank you.

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hi, Donna–scholarship information is still rolling out over the next couple of weeks.

  14. Fah says:

    I have read a few articles that some students received results of whether they received the smaller merit scholarships such as the Dean scholarship. I have not heard anything about whether I got rejected or accepted for their scholarships. When will be the latest that I can get notification of these scholarships?

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hi, Fah! Our departments send scholarship notifications in a variety of ways throughout early April. There is not a specific deadline, but all information will be provided at least a couple of weeks before the May 1st decision date.

  15. Christopher Perez says:

    I’m a Presidential Scholar. If I wanted to dorm at McCarthy, would I get priority, or would it be based on the time I finished my housing application?


  16. Kavita says:

    If a student gets selected for a merit scholarship but still is unable to pay other expenses like room and board so will he get financial aid

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hi, Kavita! Yes, our Office of Financial Aid evaluates all students who apply for aid (regardless of whether they have received a merit scholarship) in order to provide them with financial assistance.

  17. Melissa says:

    If a student got selected for a merit scholarship but the cost of attending USC is still much higher than other schools, and the amount of scholarship is a critical factor for student to make a decision on which school to choose, is it still possible now to request increased amount of scholarship with submission of updated achievements?

    Thank you.

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hi, Melissa—while students can always appeal a financial aid award, our merit scholarship decisions are final.

      • Melissa says:

        The merit scholarship the student currently gets is renewable, total 4 years. If the decision is final now for new student, then whether second year student can get more merit scholarship? Thanks.

  18. Jade says:

    Are transfer students eligible for the trustee scholarship?

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Hi Jade–in terms of admission scholarships, transfer students are only eligible for the Transfer Merit Scholarship. This is a scholarship that covers 1/4 of tuition.

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