Exceptional Funding

Funding Guidelines
Deadlines & Application
Exceptional Funding vs. Academic Achievement Award

Merit scholarships cover a set percentage of flat-rate tuition up to 18 units for the Fall and Spring semesters. Exceptional Funding supports additional academic courses within the eight semesters (ten for Architecture) of scholarship eligibility.


  • Presidential, Trustee, Mork or Stamps merit scholarship (does not apply to Dean’s, Leadership, or other scholarship recipients)
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Completed at least 15 units per Fall and Spring semesters or 30 units for the prior academic year (Fall+Spring), consistent with University merit scholarship policy
  • Completed at least one semester at USC (if applicable, first-year merit scholars may apply at end of first semester for approval conditional on meeting GPA requirement)

How much much funding is available?

8 units of funding at the standard undergraduate tuition rate are available to for use towards USC tuition. NOTE: Exceptional Funding units match the undergraduate tuition rate of your scholarship. You may request up to 8 units for any given semester. During Fall and Spring semesters, students who intend to request more than 2 additional units must complete necessary registration steps with their academic advisor.

  • Mork, Stamps & Trustee Scholars: Maximum amount of 8 full-tuition units may be funded
  • Presidential Scholars: Maximum amount of 8 half-tuition units, or 50% of the cost of each unit, may be funded (NOTE: half-tuition units cannot be combined to fund full-tuition)

You must request Exceptional Funding every time you wish to use funding; it is not automatically granted. Once all 8 units have been used, they will not renew for the remainder of merit scholarship eligibility. Merit scholars may also qualify for the Academic Achievement Award during the fall and spring semesters.

How to Use Exceptional Funding

Courses that cause enrollment in more than 18 units during the Fall or Spring semester or enrollment in up to 8 units during the summer term.

Courses cannot be audited. All courses must be taken for a letter grade or pass/no pass. Courses must adhere to the following criteria:

  • All courses must demonstrate timely degree progress. Generally, this applies to courses needed to complete a major, minor, required electives and general education courses.
  • Summer study abroad where USC tuition is charged and USC credit is earned.
  • Maymesters or summer classes at USC including Problems Without Passports.
  • Progressive Degree Program courses (NOTE: Exceptional Funding is applied at the standard undergraduate per unit rate. PDP students who choose to take graduate coursework that is charged at a higher per unit rate will only receive Exceptional Funding at the undergraduate per unit rate. Tuition rates are published in the Schedule of Classes.)
  • For more examples of acceptable coursework, click here.

Exceptional Funding Deadlines

Spring 2020

*NOTE: Maymester courses should be included in spring semester funding requests. Submit request by final deadline even if course registration for Maymester is pending.*

Application Opens: November 1, 2019

Priority Deadline: December 6, 2019
If approved and fully registered, students should expect to see funding applied before the tuition settlement deadline. Additional charges may appear on billing statement before exceptional funding is disbursed.

Final Deadline: January 24, 2020
Applicants submitted after the Priority Deadline will be reviewed and notified on a rolling basis through the Spring Week 3 Add/Drop deadline. These applicants may need to pay for additional units up front until they receive Exceptional Funding as a reimbursement.

Summer 2020

Summer tuition & fees are assessed at the time of registration with payment due as stated on the billing statement. Applicants may need to pay for additional units up front and receive Exceptional Funding as a reimbursement. View monthly billing schedule here. Additionally, partial funding will not disburse (i.e. if approved for 8 units, must enroll in 8 units to see funding on student account). Submit a request to match your registration and submit an application update to signify an increase or decrease in total number of units.

Application Opens: March 9, 2020

Priority Deadline: April 1, 2020
Information will be sent to Financial Aid within one week of Priority Deadline. Registration is required for funding to disburse.

Final Deadline: June 15, 2020
Applications submitted after priority deadline are reviewed and notified on a rolling basis every 1-2 weeks. Please account for an additional 1-2 weeks after “Accepting” the award to receive the scholarship through Financial Aid.

*If funding has been applied to your student account, you must withdraw from the course(s) before add/drop deadline and “Last Day to Receive a Refund” posted in the Schedule of Classes (see Session Codes) or Exceptional Funding units will be forfeited.*

Request Funding through the SCholarship Portal on Academic Works:

  • Click the “Sign In” button on the top right corner, and log in with your USC ID.
  • If applicable, complete the “General Application” with your First and Last Name.
  • Under the “Opportunities” tab, find the “Exceptional Funding” selection to apply. If “Exceptional Funding” does not appear, select ‘All’ under the Opportunities drop down menu (the default may be ‘Recommended’).
  • NOTE: You will now need to “Accept” the in-system offer in order to confirm and receive funding.

Request Summer Funding Here

Fall 2020

Application Opens: June 1, 2020

Priority Deadline: July 5, 2020
Students should only apply by the Priority Deadline if they have already enrolled in over 18 units and billed for additional tuition by this date. Students who apply by the Priority Deadline will be notified of their award status and have their student accounts credited before the August payment deadline. For students who are unable to complete their registration in full until the start of Fall semester, please wait to submit an application until the Final Deadline.

Final Deadline: September 4, 2020
Applicants submitting from July 6- September 4, 2020 are notified on a rolling basis until the Fall Week 3 Add/Drop deadline. These applicants may need to pay for additional units upfront until tuition credit can be applied to their student account.

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Exceptional Funding vs. Academic Achievement Award

In addition to Exceptional Funding, merit scholars may also qualify for the Academic Achievement Award (AAA). Both Exceptional Funding and AAA provide tuition benefits for students who enroll in over 18 units in Fall or Spring. Please note the difference in eligibility requirements before applying.

Academic Achievement Award Exceptional Funding
Open to all enrolled undergraduates Open to Merit Scholars only (Presidential, Trustee, Mork, Stamps)
Minimum cumulative GPA requirement: 3.750 Minimum cumulative GPA requirement: 3.00
Must declare more than one academic program No major/minor combination requirements
Awards up to 3 units per semester Awards 8 units over duration of merit scholarship (8 half-units for Presidential Scholars)
Available for Fall and Spring courses only Available for Fall, Spring and Summer courses
Renewable award based on continuous eligibility Non-renewable (capped at 8 units)

Students are encouraged to apply for both EF and AAA in a given term to ensure funding. AAA tuition credits will override EF so both awards will not be used. If awarded both and only one award is needed, students are expected to communicate with Academic Honors and Fellowships to rescind their EF request. Because AAA cannot be used during the summer, it is better to utilize AAA during the Fall or Spring semester and save EF for summer courses.

Please contact Academic Honors and Fellowships for any additional questions regarding awards policies and eligibility requirements.

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