I was a PSAT/NMSQT semi-finalist and I was planning on applying to Stanford, but I discovered that USC only considers applications for merit scholarship consideration if an applicant applies for early action.
Then, am I allowed to apply for USC early action for the purpose of trying to receive a merit scholarship, or is this just not allowed?
It is Stanford policy that, if you apply to Stanford with a decision plan of Restrictive Early Action, you may not apply to any other private college/university under their Early Action, Restrictive Early Action, Early Decision, or Early Notification plan.
I would suggest that you contact Stanford and ask specifically about that. The REA policy has the following exceptions posted:
It is Stanford policy that you may simultaneously apply to Stanford with a decision plan of Restrictive Early Action and to the following:
any public college/university with a non-binding early application plan or early application deadline.
any college/university with a non-binding rolling admission process.
any foreign college/university with a non-binding application plan on any schedule.
any military academy.
any college/university with an early deadline for a scholarship or special academic program, as long as:
the decision is non-binding; and
in order to be considered for the scholarship or program, the student must apply in the early round or by an early deadline.
If after reviewing the exceptions above you are still uncertain about whether you can simultaneously apply to Stanford Restrictive Early Action and another college/university, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for clarification. In your email, include the page link to the early application plan you are considering and copy and paste the website description of the program’s application deadlines and requirements.
Thank you @DadOfJerseyGirl@tamagotchi for pointing out the exceptions that I missed. I believe this question has come up several times but I have as of yet seen any of the CC posters which have come back with a definitive answer from the schools.
The restrictions in Stanford REA appear to be aimed at preventing REA applicants from applying early to other domestic colleges that may be a higher choice over Stanford by many applicants. This list of colleges is likely very small and probably does not include USC.