Undergraduate Admission Blog

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February 1, 2018

Financial Aid at USC

Congrats, you have submitted your application for admission!

But now it’s time to start thinking about the Financial Aid process. In this blog, we’ll go over the process in detail and highlight some of the resources that will help you get everything in on time.



Undergraduate financial aid includes grants, merit scholarships, loans and Federal Work-Study. The amount and types of aid students receive can be based on a student’s and family’s financial need (need-based) or provided without regard to need.

Need-based financial aid may come from the federal government, the state or USC directly. Some funds, such as grants, scholarships and Federal Work-Study, do not need to be repaid. Loans, however, do need to be repaid after graduation, so students and families who choose to borrow should plan accordingly.

Here are a few of the top items we discuss with families during this time of year.

Begin your Financial Aid Application:

There is a myth that a student should wait until they have received their admission decision to begin the financial aid application. That can’t be further from the truth here at USC! We are a need-blind institution, which means the admission and financial aid process are completely separate from each other. We request that a student submit the FAFSA and CSS Profile prior to February 13, 2018 (for first-year applicants) or March 2, 2018 (for transfer applicants). The main purpose for our deadline is to ensure we have enough time to review your application and create an Award Summary prior to the May 1st commitment deadline. We understand how big of an investment attending USC is and we want to ensure your family has enough time to review the Award Summary and call our office with any questions.

So if you haven’t started your application, here is where you begin:

 Step 1: Complete the CSS PROFILE application online

  • Report 2016 parent and student income on your PROFILE
  • USC’s School Code is 4852

Step 2: Complete the 2018-2019 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online

  • Report 2016 parent and student income on your PROFILE
  • USC’s Federal School Code is 001328

Step 3: Cal Grant (California residents only)

  • Have the school you are currently attending submit your certified GPA verification form to the Cal Grant Program, no later than March 2, 2018.

Step 4: Provide Additional Documents or Information Requested

  • Once we receive your FAFSA and CSS PROFILE, we may ask for additional information. An email will be generated to the student and we will list the items needed on your FAST page. I highly encourage you to submit all documents online via our document upload process within 10 business days of our request.

Step 5: Report special circumstances you would like us to consider, such as a job loss, reduction in salary, or higher-than-average, out-of-pocket medical or dental expenses. You can inform us in one of two ways:

  • If you haven’t submitted the CSS PROFILE, list special circumstances on the free writing sections of the PROFILE (located closer to the end of the form).
  • If you have submitted the CSS PROFILE, write a letter detailing the circumstances and upload the letter via your FAST page.

What is my FAST page and how do I access it?

Your FAST page, is your Financial Aid Summary and Tasks page. It is your personalized portal that connects you to your financial aid application.

You can:

  • Complete tasks to either receive your Award Summary or receive funding at the beginning of each semester.
  • View your Financial Aid Summary once it has been created.

You should access your FAST page. Note, the username and password is only for the student, there is not a guest account for parents. However, you can send an invite to your parent(s) to submit necessary documents. They will receive an email with a PIN that allows them to access the necessary form.

When you log in, be sure to select the 2018 – 2019 Academic Year:

Once you select the year, the landing page will take you to your ‘Application Status’ tab. Here is where you can view if your application is under review.

As shown in the screen shot below, Tommy Trojan needs to submit additional documents to complete his application. Tommy can view the documents needed by simply clicking on ‘Required Info & Forms’.

Another web browser will open, be sure to turn off your ‘pop up blocker’. This is where you will be able to view the documents needed to complete your application. If you need additional instructions, be sure to click on the ‘i’ icon to the right of the document. Doing so will give you detailed instructions on how to submit the document.

Be sure to check out the video tutorials on our website to receive step-by-step instructions on how to upload documents.

What happens after I submit my FAFSA, CSS PROFILE and additional documents?

Now the waiting begins! Our office continues to review all financial aid applications and we await the decision from the Admission Office. Once we are notified that a student has been admitted, the Award Summary will be released to the student’s FAST page shortly thereafter.

You will then receive an email from the Financial Aid Office informing you that your Award Summary is available on your FAST page. Once you log in, click on the ‘Financial Aid Summary’ tab to view your summary. You can also print out a PDF copy by clicking the print icon in the right hand corner.

Here is quick snap shot of what an Award Summary looks like:


What is the Net Price Calculator?

I typically get the question, “Is there a way for me to get an estimate of how much I will be expected to pay for one year?” The answer is “yes!” it’s called the Net Price Calculator. If you are asking this question, I encourage you to visit our Net Price Calculator at financialaid.usc.edu/npc to help you better understand the cost of a USC education and determine if you might qualify for need-based financial aid. Keep in mind that these calculations are generally based on prior-year figures and may be based on limited information.

I hope all of this information has been helpful! We completely understand that this process is a bit daunting and overwhelming. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! We can be reached Monday-Friday, from 9:00am – 5:00pm (PST) at 213-740-4444. If sending an email is more up your alley, you can reach us at financialaid.usc.edu/contact.

Fight On!

BY: Jessica Medina, Associate Director of Financial Aid


  1. Clelia Paone says:

    Hi! I submitted my FASFA already but is the CSS required?

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