Regarding Scholarships and Financial Aid from a Current Student

<p>Hey guys,</p>

<p>This is my first post on College Confidential. What prompted this post was a lot of the discussion and questions regarding scholarships and mostly this article will be targeted toward those students who did not obtain a scholarship and don't think they can afford USC. As a disclaimer: I do not work work the Financial Aid Office and don't know how the different schools at USC give out their scholarships. </p>

<p>A bit about me:</p>

<p>I am a current Sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering. I am originally from a small town in Massachusetts and graduated Valedictorian from my high school while participating in many extra curricular activities such as NHS, Peer Leaders, Math Team, Senior Leader, Prom Committee, Class Officer, and played soccer for all four years. Here at USC I am involved in many on campus and off campus organizations and have an on campus work study job.</p>

<p>When applying to colleges my twin brother was also applying and my one year older sister was already in college. My parent's were strapped for cash and finances were a very big reality in my college decision. I applied to USC last minute (read as: the last hour of the last day to apply). I didn't know that they had their own scholarship deadline, and once I found out that I applied after the deadline, I hung my head.</p>

<p>However when my Financial Aid package arrived in the mail, my dream to go to school on the west coast was realized. I only had a pay around $7,000 to go to USC. The University gave me a grant that valued a Trustee Scholarship, I then received Viterbi School of Engineering Scholarships, in addition to California state grants and my scholarships received from high school.</p>

<p>The one thing about USC that you have to remember is that it is a private institution. It has the money to support you once you have been accepted. It was actually cheaper for me to go to college at USC than it was at my local state school UMASS Amherst (they couldn't give me any Financial Aid).</p>

<p>Lastly, I just wanted to let you know that the Financial Aid depart works with you. They will let you submit in writing a statement of how your financial situation has changed the past year and they let you explain why you need more money to cover tuition. Also they will give you different documents that allow you to extensively update your FAFSA (by scrutinizing it). I received 5 of these documents and after I filled them out USC updated my FAFSA and I received more Financial Aid. In addition my brother and sister received more Financial Aid from their schools as well since USC so extensively updated the FAFSA taking all these things into account.</p>

<p>So don't worry if you did not receive a scholarship from USC as of yet. Wait for your Financial Aid package before you rule USC out because it is definitely not a school you want to rule out.</p>

<p>I have only been at USC for one and a half years but it has been the best years of my life. USC has so much to offer, great people, great networking, great social events, great classes, balanced students, and lasting friendships and experiences. Let me know if you have any questions about classes, work study, housing, greek life, or just student life. I would love to be of assistance.</p>

<p>Best luck with your college search and Fight On!</p>

<p>Thanks for your helpful post :) Do you know of people with relatively high EFC's that were able to receive good aid? My EFC is 37K or something very close to that and while both my parents are employed, USC is still going to be very very expensive if I get in since I didn't get a Trustee/Presidential scholarship interview.</p>

<p>beastlyb87 THANK YOU for your comments. My D has been accepted and is receiving a Dean's Scholarship, but my husband and I are still wondering how we can pull it off. USC is her dream school and she will be attending in the fall. Your comments were just what I needed to read as I just finished sending in docs to FA.</p>

<p>ghuskies,</p>

<p>I definitely know people with high EFC that have gotten great Financial Aid packages. My friend had a similar situation in which the FAFSA didn't take all her families monetary issues into account. Talking to them on the phone, writing letters and filling out these extra forms will give them a better rounded view of where your families money lies / if it is accessible for college tuition, net income, other priority bills etc etc. Once all these gaps are filled in they can correctly figure an EFC for you and your family. EFC calculators are not the end all be all, and USC makes sure there are humans in place to deal with situations like these.</p>

<p>Thank you so much!! That gives me some hope. First I have to get admitted. But I was pretty set on not being able to consider USC when I got my FAFSA back and saw the EFC number.</p>

<p>Thanks, beastlyb87, for the great first-hand experience post about financial aid! It is great for potential Trojans to hear that it really can work out.</p>

<p>I do want to direct ghuskies to the net price calculator on the USC financial aid website - I have it linked in the financial aid thread. It is VERY important to remember that:</p>

<ul>
<li>USC uses the CSS/Profile. Again, USC uses the CSS/Profile. Your FAFSA EFC will be used to distribute Federal Financial aid, and with a $37,000 FAFSA EFC, the only Federal aid for which you will be eligible for a $5,500 Stafford loan. The CSS/Profile will be used to distribute USC grants, and it considers assets the FAFSA does not - such as home equity - so the amount you are expected to contribute may differ from your FAFSA EFC. In most cases you are expected to contribute more than your FAFSA EFC at USC.</li>
</ul>

<p>As beastlyb87 says, the USC financial aid staff is amazing - they treat each financial aid applicant as an individual and listen to there unique circumstances. They also have a very specific list of things they consider as special circumstances, and in many cases will determine that their offer of financial aid was appropriate as originally presented. </p>

<p>P.S.
-You imply that you could attend with a Presidential scholarship, but had you been awarded a Presidential scholarship of $21,000/year, your net cost at USC would have been COA $57,000 - $21,000 = $36,000, or approximately the amount of the EFC you say is too much for your family. If your parent said that you could attend with a Presidential scholarship, now might be the time to get them to buy-in to the idea that if you are awarded ~$21,000 in need-based aid - the equivalent of a Presidential - that they would consider allowing you to attend USC.</p>

<p>Thanks for the help, alamemom. I guess I wasn't too clear, I'm not saying I would necessarily be able to attend with a Presidential scholarship. Just simply that I did not receive one. I'm simply wondering if financial assistance is even provided to families that may not demonstrate huge need due to income and only 1 child in college, etc. As you mentioned, every family has certain obligations (in my case for ex., we help support both sets of elderly grandparents) which USC is willing to take into account. It helps to hear that. I realize that there are families with far greater need than my family and I am incredibly thankful for what I have. But 57K a year on school is a large burden to most. I guess what I'm saying is I hope I don't get 'brushed aside' when my file is reviewed for FA just because my parents combined income may be on the higher end. Sorry for rambling!! Again thank you so much :)</p>

<p>Nobody's file gets "brushed aside." If USC determines you have need based on a $57,000 cost of attendance and you have supplied all the financial aid application materials (CSS/Profile, FAFSA and copies of parent and student tax returns), a financial aid package will be presented. Each package will reflect the student's USC-determined need so some will consist only of a $5,500 Stafford loan and others may include USC grants from $1,000 to over $40,000.</p>

<p>Again, I suggest you use the net price calculator that USC has provided - I bumped up a thread with a link - to get an idea of the aid you can expect. You can certainly present any special circumstances you have and the more documentation you provide of those special circumstances, the better.</p>

<p>Have you discussed with your parents the amount they ARE willing to contribute to your education and applied to schools that you know you can afford with that contribution? It is very important to have options in April, so if you have not yet applied to schools you know you can afford it would be a very good idea to look for some that are still accepting applications.</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>Yes, certainly! I have been accepted to two schools with big scholarships and I'm waiting on 5 more schools including USC. There will be options if USC doesn't work out. My parents are somewhat new to college in the US because only my dad attended grad school here so they aren't ready to make a decision on how much they are willing to contribute until all financial aid/scholarship packages are on the table. Thanks for your valuable help!</p>

<p>It sounds like you done a great job making your college list. Congratulations on all the scholarship offers so far - there will be great options for you in April, and hopefully USC will be one of them!</p>