Exceptional Funding

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

Merit scholarships cover full-time enrollment in 12-18 units for the Fall and Spring semesters. Exceptional Funding can be used to afford additional academic courses within the 8 semesters (10 for Architecture) of scholarship eligibility. These units are not available beyond the final scholarship semester.


  • 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 (some flexibility for spring 2020 due to COVID-19)
  • Completed at least one semester at USC

How much much funding is available?

Total of 8 non-renewable units of Exceptional Funding at the standard undergraduate tuition rate are available to for use towards USC tuition. Units match the undergraduate tuition rate of the merit scholarship. 

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 100% of tuition).

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

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.

Courses cannot be audited. All courses must be taken for a letter grade or pass/no pass. Examples of how to utilize Exceptional Funding:

  • Courses that contribute to degree progress or completion of more than one academic program.
  • Summer study abroad where USC tuition is charged and USC credit is earned.
  • Maymesters (spring) or summer classes at USC including Problems Without Passports.
  • Progressive Degree Program (PDP) courses. Exceptional Funding is applied at the standard undergraduate per unit rate. PDP students who choose to enroll in a graduate course with a higher per-unit tuition rate will still receive Exceptional Funding at the undergraduate tuition rate. Tuition and fees are published in the Schedule of Classes.

If approved for Exceptional Funding, all course decisions should be made by the Week 3 add/drop deadline. Tuition applied to extra units is non-refundable after this point.

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Exceptional Funding vs. Academic Achievement Award (AAA)

Merit scholars may also qualify for  AAA. Both Exceptional Funding and AAA provide tuition benefits for students who enroll in 18 to 21 units in Fall or Spring. Please note the difference in eligibility requirements below before applying.

It is possible to apply for both EF and AAA in the same term to ensure funding. AAA tuition credits will override EF, both awards will not be used unless combined to register above 21 units. 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 recommended to utilize AAA during the Fall or Spring semester and save EF for summer courses.

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-tuition 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)

Learn more about applying for Academic Achievement Award (AAA)

Exceptional Funding Application & Review Timeline

Spring 2021

Exceptional Funding requests will be reviewed on a rolling basis through the final deadline. Students will be notified of their funding status based on the deadline by which they submit a request (see schedule below). MAYMESTER COURSES are included in spring semester enrollment.

Students should apply for Exceptional Funding once they have enrolled in over 18 units. Students who apply by Deadline 1 or 2 will be notified of their funding status and have their student accounts credited before the January tuition settlement deadline listed in the Schedule of Classes.

Students who are unable to fully complete their registration until the start of Spring semester should wait to submit a request by the Round 3 Deadline. Students may apply at any time before the final deadline at no disadvantage.

[Application Opens] Monday, November 2, 2020

[Deadline 1] Sunday, November 29, 2020

  • Students who request funding by this deadline will receive notification about their award status by December 20, 2020

[Deadline 2] Sunday, December 20, 2020

  • Students who request funding by this deadline will receive notification about their award status by January 4, 2021 (Spring Tuition Settlement Deadline January 8, 2021)

[Deadline 3] Friday, January 29, 2021

  • This is the final deadline for Spring Exceptional Funding requests. Students who funding request by this deadline will receive notification about their funding status by February 5, 2021 (Week 3 Add/Drop deadline).


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