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Frequently Asked Questions

Financial Aid

General Information

Yes. The financial aid cost-of-attendance budget includes a room and board allowance. Completed financial aid credits to student accounts to take care of university charges. Anything left is refunded to the student. Students may use refunds to pay rent and living expenses off-campus. Financial aid refunds are not available to students before classes begin each semester; plan accordingly.
USC Aiken does not allow students to purchase textbooks and charge their USC Aiken accounts. Students should be prepared to purchase textbooks with personal funds in case financial aid refunds are delayed.
USC Aiken is one of, if not, the most affordable four year university in the University of South Carolina System. View USC Aiken's complete cost of attendance information.
For dependent students, Parent PLUS Loans are available to help with educational expenses, up to the cost of attendance. Parents may apply for a Parent PLUS Loan. Learn more about PLUS Loans. Dependent students, whose parents are denied the PLUS Loan, may be eligible for additional federal unsubsidized student loan funds. Parents must apply for the PLUS Loan and be denied for the student to become eligible for additional student loan funds. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for specific information. Non-federal loans may be an option as well. Review our private education loan information page to research a list of non-federal lenders.
Contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss the situation.
EFC stands for “Expected Family Contribution.” After the FAFSA is processed using the federal methodology formula, an EFC number is calculated. This is the amount a family could be expected to have available to contribute toward the student’s education. This is not an amount of money you are expected to pay to the school. EFC ranks the FAFSA in order of “need.” (A student with a large EFC may not be eligible for need-based financial aid. Students with a low EFC may qualify for more need-based financial aid, including federal and state aid.) 
Your application date is the date the results of your FAFSA are received by the Office of Financial Aid.
Yes. The financial aid programs at USC Aiken are separate from the other USC System schools.
Graduate students enrolled at USC Aiken are eligible to apply for federal student loans or for private educational loans
No. You must submit a FAFSA each academic year. To apply for summer financial aid, you must submit a separate “USCA Summer Financial Aid Application” in addition to the current year FAFSA. View more information about summer financial aid.

Applying for Financial Aid

In order to apply for federal or state financial aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. The FAFSA is available online at Most institutions use the FAFSA. You do not have to complete a FAFSA for each institution to which you have applied for admission; just be sure you have listed the USC Aiken school code (003449) on the application so that we receive your FAFSA information. USC Aiken does not require the College Profile form. For more details, view the four steps to financial aid. The FAFSA is the only application required for financial aid at USC Aiken. If additional information is needed, we contact students with specific requests. Do not send tax returns, W-2s, etc., to our office unless we ask for them. A FAFSA worksheet may be printed from the FAFSA website to help organize your information.
To be considered for the State Need Based Grant at USC Aiken, you must complete the FAFSA. Since funding is limited and awarded on a first come first serve basis, you will want to apply early and no later than March 1.
Some financial aid is limited, so filing early means there is a better chance to receive some limited funding. Students who wish to have financial aid in place in time to pay bills in August should have the FAFSA completed and requested documentation submitted to our office no later than July 1. For incoming new freshman students, Financial Aid Award Letters will mailed and posted on Self Service Carolina (SSC) beginning on or around March 1*.

*Must have all outstanding requirements complete.

Have you been admitted to USC Aiken? FAFSA information is brought into our system and aid packaged for students who have been admitted. We do not package aid for students who are not yet admitted.

Has it been longer than three weeks since you completed the FAFSA? If it has, go back to the FAFSA website to check the status of your FAFSA.

  • Make sure the student and parent (if required) have signed the FAFSA.
  • Make certain USC Aiken federal school code (003449) is included on the FAFSA.
  • Verify that the student’s social security number and date of birth are correct on the FAFSA.
  • Contact the Office of Financial Aid to follow up. We can check the Central Processor’s website, if necessary, to determine the status of the FAFSA.


No. Unless students meet at least one of the FAFSA criteria that establish independent status, parent information must be included. Please see step 3 on the FAFSA application. 
You will need to log into The counseling can be completed at to verify that you have designated our school code on the FAFSA. The USC Aiken school code is 003449. Once added, we should be able to view your application. 

Once we receive your FAFSA information, you will receive an email in your USC Aiken account. All communication will be sent to your USC Aiken email account.

If you did not receive an email communication stating that we received your FAFSA information, you will need to provide us with some information from your FAFSA so that we can retrieve your application.

To find and submit this information:

  • Log into the FAFSA website and view your completed application.
  • Look in the section where your name and social security numbers are, and write down the 4 digit code called the DRN #. This stands for Data Retrieval Number and will allow us to download your FAFSA the following week.
  • Call the Office of Financial Aid and ask to speak to a financial aid counselor and let them know your DRN #.
If you have an FSA ID, then you should use your FSA ID to sign your application electronically. When you sign your application electronically using your FSA ID, your application is processed within 3-5 days.

To sign your application electronically, click the login button on the FAFSA on the web home page to log in, and then click the provide signatures button. If you do not already have an Federal Student Aid ID, you can create one

Alternatively, you can choose one of the following options:

  • Print a signature page, sign it, and mail it to the address on the page. Your application will be processed once your signature is received.
  • Submit your FAFSA without signatures. Your application will be partially processed without signatures, and you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) within 3-5 days. In order for your FAFSA to fully process, you’ll need to return later to sign electronically.
You may call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800‑433‑3243) to request a paper FAFSA.
With a reasonable idea of income, the FAFSA may be filed using estimated income information.
The USC Aiken school code for the FAFSA is 003449. You must list this code on your FAFSA in order to be eligible to receive financial aid from USC Aiken. However, when completing the FAFSA online, you should be able to find the school by its name.
No. Investments do not include the value of the home in which you live, your car, the value of life insurance, retirement plans, pension funds, annuities, non-education IRAs, Keogh plans, etc., or cash, savings and checking already reported.
The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for federal student loans. Federal loans have several advantages over non-federal loans:
  • Repayment is deferred until after graduation or if the student drops below half-time enrollment status in school.
  • The interest rate is fixed and usually a lower rate than credit cards.
  • No credit check is required. To qualify, students must be U.S. Citizens or eligible non-citizens, in good standing on any previous student loans, and enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program.
  • Some student loan interest is tax deductible.
Depending on the time of year, it will take the processor approximately a week to process and forward the results of your needs analysis to the USC Aiken Office of Financial Aid.

Verification Questions

During our busiest time of year, it may take up to six weeks for verification to be completed. Please respond to requests for information in a timely and complete manner. 
Federal tax returns are reports filed with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) or with the state or local tax collection agency containing information used to calculate income tax or other taxes, i.e. Form 1040.
If the parent or student has not filed a federal tax return, they can file for a tax extension (IRS form 4868). They must provide a copy of the extension, and the verification specialist must notify the counselor to award the student. No funds will be disbursed until the verification is complete. Once the signed federal tax returns and W2’s have been received and the verification is complete, the counselor will be notified to disburse funds and adjust the award if necessary.

A tax return transcript shows most line items from your tax return (Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) as it was originally filed, including any accompanying forms and schedules. It does not reflect any changes you, your representative or the IRS made after the return was filed. In many cases, a return transcript will meet the requirements of lending institutions such as those offering mortgages and for applying for student loans. You may Google your local IRS office to get a copy that day.

Processing time for verification normally takes up to two weeks; more time will be required during peak time.

View the IRS website for more information.

An IRS verification of non-filing letter provides proof that the IRS has no record of a filed Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ for the year you requested. Non-tax filers can request an IRS verification of non-filing of their tax return status, free of charge, from the IRS. View the IRS website for more information.

Awarding and Accepting Awards

  • Log in to Self Service Carolina (SSC)Self Service Carolina (SSC).
  • Click on the Financial Aid tab.
  • Click on “Award” the “Award By Aid Year."
  • From the "Select Campus" drop-down, select USC Aiken and click continue.
  • From the "Select Aid Year drop-down," select the applicable aid year and click continue.
  • Select the “Award Overview” tab to view your awards.
  • Select the “Accept Award Offer” tab to accept your awards. You have three options: accept the full amount of all awards, accept/decline the full amount of each award individually, or accept a partial amount of each award. For Federal Direct Student Loans, you must accept the full subsidized loan before you can accept the unsubsidized loan.

Recipients of a SC State Scholarship (HOPE, LIFE, Palmetto Fellows) or SC Need-based Grant must also sign a SC State Scholarship/Grant Certification before accepting the award. Your SC Residency must also be completed before a state award can disburse.

To sign your State Scholarship/Grant Certification: 

  • Log into Self Service Carolina (SSC).
  • Under the “Financial Aid” tab, click “Award” and then “Award for Aid Year.”
  • Select USC Aiken as the campus and USC Aiken 2020-2021 for the aid year.
  • Select the “Terms and Conditions” Tab and agree or disagree to the conditions.
  • Select the “Accept Award Offer” tab.
  • Accept the award.

To certify in-state residency status:

  • Log into Self Service Carolina (SSC).
  • Select the “Admissions” tab.
  • Select “South Carolina Residency Certification.” 
  • Complete the residency certification for the correct term. 

View more information about South Carolina Residency

Log into Self Service Carolina (SSC) to check the status of your aid and determine whether there are outstanding requirements to be met.
  • Is packaging complete?
  • If verification is in process, have requested documents been submitted?
  • Have classes begun?
  • Are you enrolled at least half-time?
  • Has aid been accepted?
  • Have Master Promissory Notes been signed?
  • Has a Loan Entrance Counseling Session been completed?
  • Are you making Satisfactory Academic Progress?

You will receive an email when your financial aid award has been posted.
  • Not everyone will be awarded at the same time.
  • Financial aid for each semester will begin applying to students’ bills 7-10 days prior to the first day of class.
  • Refunds are processed after each semesters billing due date.

Scholarships and Grants

Yes. Pell Grants pay to students’ accounts based on their enrollment status. Students who are enrolled full-time will receive the entire amount of their Pell award. At USC Aiken, enrolling in 12 or more credit hours is considered full-time. Students who are enrolled for 9.00 hours are considered ¾ time and receive 75% of their Pell award. Half-time 50%, etc.
Federal Pell Grants are awarded based on federal eligibility requirements and students’ FAFSA information.
  • Students whose EFC is out of Pell Grant range do not qualify.
  • Students who already have a bachelor’s degree are not eligible for Pell Grants.
  • Graduate students are not eligible for Pell Grants.
  • Teacher Certification students are not eligible for Pell Grants.

No. Only students attending private colleges in the state of South Carolina are eligible to receive Tuition Grants. However, the South Carolina Need-Based Brant is a program available at USC Aiken. 
Generally outside scholarship proceeds are forwarded to the USC Aiken’s Office of Business Services by the awarding party and posted to your account.
Outside scholarships can sometimes affect other financial aid. However, generally the only impact outside scholarships have is a reduction in loan eligibility. Notify the financial aid office as soon as you become aware that you will be receiving an outside scholarship. If an outside scholarship causes a change in financial aid that has already been awarded, you will receive a revised financial aid award letter.
A scholarship from any organization or agency other than USC Aiken is considered an outside scholarship. Resources for these scholarships can include civic and/or community groups, church or religious organizations, employers, other states, etc.
USC Aiken offers many different types of scholarships each year to incoming and current students. Scholarships must be applied for, and they are awarded based on financial need, academic merit or both. Please visit our scholarship webpages to find out more information about institutional scholarships as well as South Carolina State Scholarship programs.
Incoming freshmen who have been admitted to USC Aiken are automatically considered for academic scholarships. Students are strongly encouraged to complete their Application for Admission by December 1 or February 1 of their senior year of high school to be considered for awards.

Generally, students should meet all of the following criteria to be competitive:

  • Graduate in the top 15 percent of their high school class.
  • Score 1,100 math and verbal or better on the SAT or 24 on the ACT.
  • Have at least a 3.5 GPA on the South Carolina Uniform Grading Scale.
Scholarships in varying amounts are available to entering and current USC Aiken students through many of USC Aiken’s academic departments. Some may require applications or auditions. However, most of our departmental scholarships do not require a separate application; therefore, we encourage students to speak to their academic departments in early spring to find out more about scholarship availability. Information can also be found on USC Aiken’s scholarship page.
Transfer students who are admitted by July 15, who are transferring at least 30 hours but less than 90 hours with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 at all institutions, and who are not currently receiving a scholarship are automatically considered for any funds that remain after renewals have been issued to students already receiving scholarships. Transfer students also must have satisfactorily completed 67 percent of all attempted courses.
These funds are provided to student-athletes. Eligibility criteria and selection are determined by the coaches and the Athletic Director.


Subsidized loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education. The Federal Government will pay interest on a subsidized loan while you are in school and during your six-month grace period.

Unsubsidized loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, but in this case, the student does not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the loan.

If you accept the unsubsidized loan, interest will accrue while you are enrolled in school. If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods/deferment periods, your interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).

Read more about the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

Federal student loan limits, for each academic year, are established by congress to help students manage loan debt.
  • Freshmen may borrow up to $5,500 ($9,500 for independent students and students whose parents are denied the PLUS Loan).
  • Sophomores may borrow up to $6,500 ($10,500 for independent students and students whose parents are denied PLUS Loan).
  • Juniors and seniors may borrow up to $7,500 ($12,500 for independent students and students whose parents are denied PLUS Loan).

Students with a large EFC number may not be eligible for need-based financial aid. Federal Direct loans are considered financial aid and are available to help students meet educational costs. Students may accept or decline any loan, or accept a portion of loans offered. 
Parent PLUS loans are loans that are applied for by the parent(s) of the student. Parents of a dependent undergraduate student may apply for a Federal Direct PLUS loan to help meet the student's cost of attendance not covered by other financial aid. Interest rates and repayment provisions on PLUS loans are generally more favorable than other alternative loans available for educational expenses. FAFSA is required, and parents must submit a PLUS loan request form to the Office of Student Financial Aid for certification of the student's cost of attendance as well as other anticipated financial aid.
In order to obtain a Parent Plus loan, the student must first complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Learn more about initiating the Parent Plus loan process.

All Plus Loan Funds credit to the student’s account. If there is a credit on the student’s account after all charges for the semester have been paid, then it will be returned to the parent borrower, or the student, as you have indicated on the request form.

You do have the option to defer payments. When you go to sign the Master Promissory Note at, you may select the deferment option at that time.

The U.S. Department of Education requires that students complete an online loan entrance counseling session before loan funds can be disbursed. Loan entrance counseling provides students with information regarding their rights and responsibilities in regard to their federal student loans. The counseling can be completed at
A Master Promissory Note is a promise to repay the loan you have been given to help with the cost of your education. An MPN is usually signed online, using the 4-digit FAFSA PIN number as the signature.
To sign the Master Promissory Note for a Federal Direct Loan, please go to You will sign the Master Promissory Note electronically using an FSA number the same that was used on the FAFSA. Be very careful that you sign your Master Promissory Note so that it exactly matches your name on your Social Security Card. This will prevent any delays in the releasing of your funds.
Private education loans help bridge the gap between the actual cost of your education and the amount the government allows you to borrow in its programs. Private loans are offered by private lenders and there are no federal forms to complete. Eligibility for private student loans often depends on your credit score.
After you have applied for a private loan:


It will take our office up to 10 days to review and process your application for the lender.

Watch Your Email

If we need more information from you regarding your application, we will send you an email asking you to review a message in Self Service Carolina (SSC). This posted message will indicate what information is needed. Your loan processing will be on hold until you complete/submit the missing information.

If you don't receive an email from us regarding your loan application within 10 days after you apply, then no action is required from you.

Updates to Your Financial Aid Award Package

When your financial aid award package is updated, you will receive an email notifying you that your award balance has been updated. This means the private loan processing has been completed and no further action is required from you regarding your loan application.

After the school has certified your private loan electronically with the lender, it will take approximately 10 business days before the loan will arrive at the university.

Loan Disbursement

Watch for an email from your private loan lender. They will provide you with your loan disbursement date, which is the date when the loan amount will be applied to your USC Aiken student account.

To update or make changes to your loan account, please complete the Financial Aid Adjustment Form
Exit counseling is a federal requirement for all Federal Stafford Loan recipients. Exit counseling was created to ensure that you understand your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. During the counseling, you will learn how to make payment of your loans easier and how to get help and protect your credit rating if you have problems.

Summer School Financial Aid

A separate application for summer financial aid is required. To access the applications, please log into Self Service Carolina (SSC). The application is available between April 1 and May 15.

Before you can complete the summer application, you must have enrolled for your summer classes, and you must have submitted a FAFSA for the fall/spring of the same academic year.

Undergraduates must be enrolled in at least six total credit hours for all summer sessions in order to be eligible. For more information, please review this page on applying for summer financial aid.

SAP and Withdrawal from USC Aiken

In order to remain eligible for federal financial aid, continuing students must meet SAP standards. SAP is measured at the end of the spring semester to determine whether students remain eligible for financial aid. View the SAP policy.
In accordance to federal regulations, students must maintain satisfactory academic progress in order to continue receiving financial aid. Failure to earn certain minimum credit hours and/or grade point averages can cause a student to lose financial aid eligibility. For more information, please read the SAP Policy
Students may only receive federal financial aid for one repetition (repeat) of a previously passed course. This means that students (undergraduate and graduate) who have already passed a course with a grade of D or better may only repeat the class one additional time and receive financial aid for that course. No student may repeat a course a third time and receive financial aid for the course.
Financial aid is awarded with the expectation that students will complete the semester for which aid was awarded. Students who are considering dropping classes, or withdrawing from USC Aiken, should contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss the matter. Some students may be required to return aid already disbursed to their accounts. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and federal student loan repayment may be a factor to consider as well.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Requirements:
  • GPA - Minimum institutional cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 for all undergraduate students.
  • Credit Completion Rate - Minimum credit hour completion rate of 67% for both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Maximum Time Frame - Completing your degree within a maximum time frame (150% of the number of hours required for graduation in their programs of study, including transferred hours accepted for credit toward the degree).
  • Please note, there are some financial aid programs that have a more stringent requirements.

Read more about Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and appealing SAP.

It may. Review the SAP Policy. Based on your SAP standing, you may not be eligible for future financial aid.
Not always. If a federal student loan reduction is required based on the above calculation, the student's loan is reduced and the amount of the reduction is returned to the lender. That amount is charged to the student’s account. For example, if a student’s loan had to be reduced by $1,000 that amount would be returned to the lender, reducing the student’s overall loan debt. However, the student would owe the $1,000 to USC Aiken, immediately.
If you are out of school for at least 6 months, you need to begin repaying your loans. Your lender/servicer will contact you when repayment begins. If you return to school within 6 months, your loans will remain in deferment, but it is your responsibility to ensure the lender is aware you have re-enrolled. At USC Aiken the Registrar's Office sends enrollment information to the clearing house after the drop and add period for each semester. 
Adjustments to your financial aid may have to be made, depending upon the date of your withdrawal. The Office of Financial Aid is required by federal law to pro-rate financial aid, based on the number of days a student was in attendance each semester.

We will perform a Return of Title IV Funds calculation to determine if adjustments to a student's financial aid award are required.

If adjustments are required, aid is reduced resulting to charges to the student’s account. A letter is sent, informing the student of the adjustment amount.

If you are not meeting SAP standards, and had to withdraw due to mitigating circumstances, you may appeal, using the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form. Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals are reviewed by a committee. The SAP Appeal process may take several weeks to complete.


Financial aid is credited toward your student bill after you have completed and submitted all required paperwork and documents. If you have been offered a student loan, be sure to complete the entrance counseling and master promissory note if necessary. 
Your financial aid funds will initially be applied to charges on your student account. Any amount in excess of your student account balance will be sent via direct deposit or a check in the mail.
Most, but not all financial aid is applied to the student accounts at the beginning of the semester. Throughout the semester, if you are awarded financial aid, it will be applied accordingly. In both cases, financial aid refunds are mailed or direct deposits are applied within several days after the funds are applied to the student's account. If you have direct deposit the funds are applied to the appropriate banking account.
Any financial aid owed to you that exceeds your student account balance will be sent to the permanent address that you have on file with the University if direct deposit is not set up. Click here for directions on setting up Direct Deposit.