USC Aiken's priority date for receipt of the financial aid application, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), is March 1st of each year. If we receive your FAFSA information by this date and you promptly respond to requests to complete any other documents or to provide additional information, you will be considered for the best financial aid award package for which you are eligible. A priority deadline for receipt of the FAFSA is necessary because several aid programs for which a student may be considered have limited funding. Applications received and reviewed after the priority deadline will be considered for Federal Pell Grant funds, Federal Direct Loan funds, and other types of loan funds.

If we receive your FAFSA information after July 1st, you should not expect financial aid to be available for fee payment before the Fall semester begins.

Determination of Need

In determining financial need, the Office of Financial Aid estimates a student's expenses for a 9-month period (Fall and Spring semesters). These estimated expenses include tuition and fees, books, supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses. These estimates are called student expense budgets (or the total cost of attendance).

To be considered for federal financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The information reported by you on this application is used by the U.S. Department of Education to calculate your expected family contribution (EFC). The formula used to calculate your EFC is established by law and is uniformly applied to all aid applicants. This formula analyzes a number of factors to determine what you and your family should be able to contribute toward your educational costs, including the following:

  • parents' income and assets
  • the age of the older parent
  • the number in the household
  • the number attending college
  • the student's income and assets

An independent student's need is based on the resources of his or her family unit; parental contribution is not considered.

To determine your financial need, the total expected family contribution is subtracted from the student expense budget (the total cost of attendance). The remaining figure represents your maximum eligibility for need-based financial assistance and scholarships. Because of limited funding, a student's total aid package is often less than the amount of financial need determined. If the total of your awarded financial aid is less than your need, remaining need may be met through other programs, generally through additional borrowing and/or non-need-based employment.

Information about the Federal Direct Parent Loan (PLUS) and other non-need-based educational loan programs is available in our office and online.

Learn more about Loan Programs

In some cases, a student's aid package will require adjustments to avoid an over-award, defined by federal regulations as financial aid in excess of financial need. Students who receive institutional, state and/or federal aid and later receive additional aid not considered in the development of the initial award package may receive an adjusted award notification reducing aid as required by law.

Student Expense Budgets

For example, the following student expense budgets for 2022-2023 are based on full-time undergraduate enrollment for the academic year (Fall and Spring semesters).

Living with Parents
Dependent or Independent Student
Living Away from Parents
Dependent or Independent Student
Living On Campus
Dependent or Independent Student

Learn more about tuition, fees, housing, meal plans and other expenses

Award Notification

If you are awarded financial aid, an award notification will be sent to your USC Aiken email account. You will be instructed to access Self Service Aiken to view your financial aid award information, which will include the source(s) and amount(s) of the aid.

See important information about your award notice and the terms and conditions of your financial aid award.

It is the student's responsibility to read this information and be familiar with the terms and conditions of the financial aid award(s).

Enrollment and Attendance Requirements for Receipt of Financial Aid

Initially, your awards are made assuming full-time enrollment in USC Aiken credit hours for each semester (12 credit hours for undergraduates and 9 credit hours for graduate students). If you do not enroll full-time, your awards will be adjusted accordingly. 

You may use your financial aid award to pay for study only at the USC Aiken campus. If you will be attending a USC campus other than Aiken, you must contact the Financial Aid Office at that campus for application information.

Failure to enroll will result in the cancellation of your financial aid for that semester or summer session, as well as any subsequent semester or term for which aid was awarded. Should you drop below half-time status during the semester or term, any future disbursement of either a Federal Direct or PLUS Loan will be cancelled.