Once senior year of high school rolls in, it’s time to decide which colleges you’ll apply to for your undergraduate education. One option to consider is the University of Southern California, a private research university in Los Angeles, California. While USC is an expensive investment, it is one of the best private institutions for higher education in America. Keep reading as we delve into why USC is so expensive and whether USC is worth the cost.
What is USC Known For?
USC was founded in 1880 and has become a central hub for engineering and technological innovations over the years. It has observed the creation of antivirus software, image compression, and DNA commuting on campus grounds. As the institution paves the way for brilliant inventors, it’s no surprise that ten alumni hold Nobel Prize laureates honors.
Additionally, other alums have been awarded Emmy Awards, Fulbright Scholar Awards, Academy Awards, and other prestigious accolades, while 29 graduates have moved on to become billionaires. If you want a hands-on college experience, USC is an attractive option because it entails an extensive list of learning opportunities, top-notch facilities, and a location in one of the world’s top entertainment hubs.
University of Southern California’s strength lies in research, especially in majors such as visual and performing arts, marketing, and business. Some other popular majors at the school include engineering, interdisciplinary studies, and journalism. But wait, it gets better: The university economically also impacts California to an amount up to $8 billion and is the largest private employer in Los Angeles.
How Hard is it to Get into USC?
Since USC consistently ranks among the top 30 national colleges, securing admission can be challenging. Some of its majors are ranked as the country’s best, and the school competes with NYU every year regarding whose creative majors are better. For the 2021-2022 admissions cycle, the university admitted 8884 students out of 71031 applicants, meaning its acceptance rate currently stands at 12.5%.
Most accepted students graduate high school with GPAs between 3.99 and 3.75, so you’ll have to maintain a strong performance in the classroom to get in. Although its highly-ranked film school doesn’t require higher academic standards than other programs, the USC admissions committee evaluates applications by placing considerable weight on portfolio strength and extracurricular experiences.
Don’t be alarmed by the USC acceptance rate. Sure, it’s much lower than expected, but your chances of getting admission depend on your personal portfolio. Ensure that you submit your application before the deadline, no matter which program you’re applying for, as this will increase the possibility of receiving an acceptance letter.
How Much Does It Cost to Attend USC on Average?
The estimated attendance cost at the institution is an average figure that helps students determine their financial aid eligibility, including USC tuition, books, meals, housing, fees, supplies, and other living expenses for one academic year. Your actual total cost may vary and you might have to set a higher budget if you have laboratory or studio supply fees. The tuition rate does not differ for out-of-state and in-state residents.
The University of Southern California is regarded as one of the most expensive colleges in the USA as the average California tuition is around $25,500 for a four year degree. Tuition for the 2023-2024 academic year is $66,640, and the total cost of attendance can range from $79000 to $90,000 for two semesters, depending on whether you live on campus or at home. You can find more details on the official USC website.
Why Does It Cost So Much to Study at USC?
USC upholds a high standard of academics, creating a high-touch environment that provides access to the world’s best faculty. If you decide to attend, you’ll be exposed to exceptional residential college experiences and high-value career and internship services. Of course, this excellence in every aspect comes with a cost, which is why USC is so expensive. There are several reasons for the high tuition:
- Tuition inflation is on the rise due to the Covid-19 pandemic
- Availability of subsidized student loans
- Overbuilding of campus amenities
- Administrative bloat/ reinstatement of the faculty 401k plan
- The university follows a model dependent on high-wage labor
Moreover, the university gives several students a massive amount of aid every year, so those who can afford to attend at full price can help contribute to those who submit need-based aid applications.
How Do Students Afford USC?
We admit that USC’s cost of attendance can be intimidating, but most students don’t end up paying the total amount listed on their website. USC is known for being generous with financial aid, covering the difference between what a student’s family can afford and the cost of attending. You can avail of the following types of USC financial aid:
- Student loans
- Merit-based scholarships
- Need-based grants
This financial aid either comes from the institution itself or the federal government. Generally, schools have little control over how much federal aid an applicant is eligible for, but we can consider USC’s personal financial aid program to see how they award it. As a rule, the bigger the award amounts a student receives directly from the school, the better its financial aid program. USC offers a less competitive financial aid program than similar schools, providing more institutional aid to its students. Thus, it is much more affordable than it seems.
Does USC Offer Scholarships?
If you’re a highly qualified student who has applied to the University of Southern California, you’ll likely receive a merit scholarship. It is one of the few private elite colleges known to be generous with its institutional aid. You must submit your application before the deadline for regular decision to be eligible for a USC merit scholarship.
It’s always better to work hard and opt for a scholarship instead of a loan because grants and scholarships don’t have to be paid back. While fewer students receive aid at USC, the ones that do get more sizable awards compared to other universities. To determine whether you qualify for aid, assess your financial situation and compare it to your total personal cost of attending the University of Southern California.
Is USC Worth the Cost?
Perhaps you’re wondering how much USC is worth and whether getting a degree here will be a good financial investment. Undoubtedly, USC is a part of the most competitive group of upper-tier colleges that scout for talented individuals. And while USC is not as prestigious as Caltech, MIT, Harvard, or Stanford, it’s still a great school increasingly gaining recognition.
Considering the institution’s research rankings per $ of tuition, most people would comment that USC is not worth attending. However, the school’s freshmen don’t seem to agree with this numerical interpretation of school worth, as the majority reside in California and are eligible for in-state tuition. Note that there are other great but less prestigious private universities in LA like LMU, Chapman, and Pepperdine where students pay a similar fee structure to USC.
While none of these schools are easy to get into, USC can help you reach your potential and consistently breaks loose of the Cal/USC/UCLA trinity to obtain academic and community excellence. It has one of the country’s most connected professional alumni networks and produces the 4th most billionaires out of any schools globally.
That being said, college is something you get to experience only once or twice in life and there often aren’t any redos. So, when you choose to commit to a college, it should be one that really aligns with your values and needs. Things like making lifelong friends, forming business relationships with other alumni, revisiting campus, and much more can be priceless. If you believe USC is the school that will make you happy in the long run, then pursuing a degree there will definitely be worth it.
3 Tips for Securing a USC Merit Scholarship
In this section, we’ll look at some strategies that can improve your chances of receiving a merit scholarship from USC.
Your college application should portray who you are and touch on what you wish to achieve in the future. The process is centered around you telling a true and cohesive story about yourself to the admissions team, and materials such as your transcripts, extracurriculars, test scores, and essays are all plot points you need to mention.
Pay special attention to the short essay section of your USC application. Sure, questions like “what TV show do you plan on watching next?” or “what is your favorite snack?” can seem difficult or ridiculous to answer. Still, they’re exactly what shed light onto your authentic character and personality.
It’s recommended to let your friends read the responses you provide for these short answer questions and ask whether they can tell you wrote them. Authenticity is a crucial part of your application for the USC college admissions team.
Write Engaging Essays
The merit scholarship committee is looking for students who exhibit leadership qualities and a willingness to adapt and change. For this reason, they prioritize your extracurricular activities and essays over standardized test scores. It’s not uncommon for students with ACT scores below 30 to receive a merit scholarship, while those with stellar grades and test scores are rejected.
Ensure that your essays revolve around substantive and meaningful experiences you’ve encountered while participating in extracurriculars. They should elaborate on why these activities interest you and how they can help bring your goals and future endeavors into action. It would also help if you describe how you plan on continuing these activities at USC.
In order to demonstrate your sincere interest in USC and what it offers, name specific clubs, departments, programs, and faculty that you wish to contact as a USC community member.
Ask for Letters of Recommendation Wisely
To successfully receive a USC merit scholarship, your recommendations should highlight your genuine curiosity about the wonders of the world around you. The USC scholarship committee uses recommendations to sort out students who only look good on paper. With a solid recommendation, you can reinstate your character traits to the admissions team and back up all the claims made in your application.
For this reason, you should pick someone who knows you both outside and inside of the classroom. Consider, for example, picking your guidance counselor as your recommender since they have details regarding your academic abilities and extracurricular activities.
When it comes to scholarships where test scores are outweighed by personal qualities, it’s essential to choose a recommender who really knows you. Don’t hesitate to contact a trusted adult who can write a unique and personalized recommendation.
Wrapping Things Up: Why is USC So Expensive?
Why is USC so prestigious and expensive? As you now know, the university strives for academic excellence and a strong network both within and outside the campus grounds, requiring money to maintain its standard. Sure, USC is certainly up there in the list of America’s most expensive colleges, but it offers a world rich with culture, diversity, and knowledge.
If you reside in the Los Angeles area and can afford to attend USC, it’s a good option to consider. Remember that it’s likely you won’t have to pay the full cost due to the institution’s generous allotment of aid and scholarships to those who deserve or need it.