Watch: 2020 USC Merit Scholarship Webinar
Recorded July 29, 2020

Navigating Support
Scholarship Usage
Renewal Policies
Progressive Degree
Leave of Absence

Administered through the Office of Admission, USC Merit Scholarships require students to apply for admission to the university by the December deadline. Academic Honors and Fellowships works with the Office of Financial Aid to support recipients of Presidential, Trustee, Mork and Stamps scholarships. View the full list of USC merit scholarships here.

Navigating Support

Depending on the questions you have about your scholarship, you will need to consult with different university offices. Use the guide below to determine the appropriate office or department to contact based on the type of scholarship inquiry:


Undergraduate Admission Financial Aid Academic Honors and Fellowships
Selects merit scholars through admission process & coordinates Explore USC campus visit program.


Sets scholarship policies.


Manages deferral policy for incoming students.


Manages scholarship disbursement questions related to leave of absence, under-enrollment, probation, or other extenuating circumstances.

Fields inquiries on student financial aid packages.

Advises on aid resources related to cost of tuition, housing, and other expenses.


Manages Exceptional Funding application for Trustee, Presidential, Mork and Stamps Scholars.

Oversees Trojan Scholars Society student board.

Advises on university awards and external fellowship opportunities for research, international exchange and post-graduate studies.


Other contacts for scholarship recipients include:

  • Residential Education: Manages all aspects of the residential experience for merit scholars. Scholars can opt to live in McCarthy Honors College (first-year) and Ilium (second-year).
  • Academic Advisors: Works within your specific school to help you add/drop courses, change major or minors, process requests for Leave of Absence, and set academic plan.

Scholarship Usage

USC merit scholarships are designated to cover the cost of flat-rate tuition for fall and spring semesters. The relative value of these scholarships is based on the cost of flat-rate tuition (which covers 12-18 units per semester) for eight semesters (10 semesters for students in the five-year Bachelor of Architecture program).

Trustee Scholarships cover 100% of tuition and Presidential Scholarships cover 50% of tuition for the duration of scholarship eligibility. Scholarship type is determined by the Office of Undergraduate Admission upon initial offer and cannot be changed after matriculation.

USC merit scholarships can also cover tuition for USC-sponsored overseas programs for fall and spring semesters. If the cost of the tuition at the university overseas is less than tuition at USC, the scholarship will adjust to equal the lesser tuition cost. Contact the Financial Aid Office to determine what will be covered for a program abroad.

To cover tuition above 18 units for fall and spring semesters, or tuition for summer courses, scholarship recipients must apply for Exceptional Funding.

Renewal Policies

Scholarship renewal policies are part of a written contract set by the Office of Undergraduate Admission. Students receive a copy of the policy when the scholarship is awarded. Read the policy thoroughly to understand how you may be affected by the terms of your scholarship.

USC merit scholarships are awarded for a maximum of 8 semesters (10 semesters for students in the five-year Architecture program), contingent upon the satisfactory completion of renewal requirements. No exceptions are made to this policy. Scholars planning to enroll at USC beyond 8 semesters (10 for Architecture) are encouraged to apply for need-based aid through the Financial Aid Office.

The following criteria must be met for your USC merit scholarship to be renewed each year:

1. You must maintain your USC Academic Standing

  • The university expects you to maintain a high level of academic success during your university career. If you are academically disqualified by the USC Office of Academic Records and Registrar and the Committee on Academic Policies and Procedures (CAPP), you will automatically lose your scholarship. Readmission to USC will not restore your eligibility for your scholarship.

2. You must make satisfactory academic progress toward your undergraduate degree during the academic year (not including summer).

  • If you complete fewer than 30 units in one academic year, your academic record will be reviewed to determine if you are making progress toward your degree. (You should be able to graduate within eight semesters, or 10 semesters in the five-year Bachelor of Architecture program.) Your course of study, and work at other colleges will be taken into consideration.
  • If progress is not made, you will be placed on scholarship probation for a maximum of two semesters, during which you must complete 16 units per semester or your scholarship may be revoked. You are allowed only one probationary period for unit requirements. If you have received other need-based financial aid, you will need to maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) to continue to receive those awards. The complete undergraduate SAP rules can be found in the USC Catalogue at catalogue.usc.edu.
  • To receive your scholarship funds each semester, you must be enrolled as a full-time student (defined as 12 or more units for credit). Audited courses (not for credit) are not eligible for scholarship funding. Courses taken for letter grade or Pass/No Pass are covered by the scholarship.

3. You must uphold USC’s conduct and academic integrity standards

Review the Admitted Students Scholarship Guide 

Progressive Degree Students

Students enrolled in a Progressive Degree program will receive their USC merit scholarship for eight semesters total. Progressive Degree students must meet the renewal requirements listed above, including completing 30 or more units each academic year. Both undergraduate and graduate units count toward that total.

Progressive degree students are classified as undergraduate students until their undergraduate degree is conferred or they complete 144 units, whichever comes first. Transfer units, including AP or IB units, and all units earned at USC, from both undergraduate- and graduate-level course work, will be counted toward the 144-unit limit. Any and all units earned during summer semesters will be counted, as well as units earned during semesters that were not funded with financial aid.

Refer to the Office of Financial Aid policy page for more information about Progressive Degree funding.

Leaves of Absence

Recipients of USC merit-based scholarships can defer their scholarship while on a leave of absence (LOA). By taking official steps to declare leave, students can retain their scholarship usage and apply it towards a future semester. Follow these instructions to declare a leave of absence.

All USC merit scholarships are limited to a total of 8 semesters of eligibility (10 semesters for students in the five-year Architecture program). If you have received scholarships from other USC organizations or academic departments, you must contact them to discuss your award status and inquire about reapplication requirements.

Preparing to take a leave of absence:

  • Students do not need to notify Academic Honors and Fellowships to request a scholarship hold for a leave of absence. Students who take a leave of absence must start the process with their academic advisor. Then, they must notify the Financial Aid office in writing to protect their remaining scholarship eligibility.
  • To notify Financial Aid, upload a letter through your Financial Aid Summary and Tasks (FAST) portal. The letter should include your scholarship type, and which terms you will be leaving and returning to the university.
  • Upon receiving notice of your leave of absence, the Financial Aid office will put any USC Scholarships you have been awarded on hold. Your scholarship will be on hold for the time period your academic department has approved for your leave of absence.

Returning from a leave of absence:

  • Contact the Financial Aid Office before you return to USC to reinstate your scholarship. Students should notify the Financial Aid Office of their enrollment plans at least three months prior to their expected return to USC. Students will lose one semester of scholarship eligibility for every semester of transferable coursework completed at another institution during a leave of absence.

More information about the leave process can be found on the Leave of Absence website.