University of Southern California (USC) Tuition and Fees

University of Southern California (USC) Tuition and Fees

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    By Kelly Boyer Sagert

    (Last Updated – 05/2023)

    Located in Los Angeles, California, the University of Southern California (USC) is a private, not-for-profit educational institution and research university. USC awards primarily bachelor’s degrees and above, and operates on a semester system. This guide will give you information about USC tuition, financial aid, USC acceptance rates and admission requirements, and more.

    Total Cost of Attendance

    USC placed 19th overall in a comprehensive ranking in 2022 of nearly 800 public and private universities by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education. When looking specifically at universities in the western part of the United States, USC ranked third. When looking at the 25 highest-ranking universities, USC ranked fourth in engagement, a measurement that uses student input on how well their educational institution prepares them for real-world situations. USC is known for its strong academic program and it has a diverse student body. Plus, the USC Trojans are a true athletic powerhouse.

    USC tuition and fees for 2022-23 was $64,726, which is higher than the national average of $39,400 at private colleges.

    Costs for 2022-23

    Student Type



    Tuition & Fees



    Books & Supplies



    Room & Board



    Other Expenses



    Total Cost of Attendance



    Financial Aid

    USC is need blind during the admissions process. This means that admission qualifications do not take a student’s financial need into account, which helps those from lower- and middle-income families.

    Two-thirds of the fall 2021 first-year class received financial assistance, and about 20% received a USC merit-based scholarship. More than 75% of the aid is gift aid, meaning it doesn’t need to be repaid, which includes need-based grants and scholarships.

    Generally, financial aid is monetary assistance awarded to students based on personal need and merit. Students that qualify for financial aid can use it to pay for college costs like tuition, books, and living expenses.

    The federal government is the largest provider of student financial aid. However, aid can also be given by state governments, colleges and universities, private companies, and nonprofits. The different types include:

    •  Scholarships: These can be awarded by schools and other organizations based on students’ academic excellence, athletic achievement, community involvement, job experience, field of study, and financial need.

    •  Grants: Generally based on financial need, these can come from federal, state, private, and non-profit organizations.

    •  Work-study: This federal program provides qualifying students with part-time employment to earn money for expenses while in school.

    •  Federal student loans: This is money borrowed directly from the U.S. Department of Education. It comes with fixed interest rates that are typically lower than private loans.

    Colleges, universities, and state agencies use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine financial aid eligibility. The FAFSA can be completed online, but note that state and federal and school deadlines may differ.

    You can find other financial aid opportunities on databases such as:

    •  US Department of Education – Search for grants from colleges and universities by state

    •  College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS) – A global college scholarship application used by select institutions to award financial aid

    Recommended: The Differences Between Grants, Scholarships, and Loans

    Private Student Loans

    Some USC students obtain private student loans to cover educational costs. The university’s website lists information about the private lenders used but does not give detailed information about usage.

    Private loans are funded by private organizations such as banks, online lenders, credit unions, some schools, and state-based or state-affiliated organizations. While Federal student loans have interest rates that are regulated by Congress, private lenders follow a different set of regulations so their qualifications and interest rates can vary widely.

    What’s more, private loans have variable or fixed interest rates that may be higher than federal loan interest rates, which are always fixed. Private lenders may (but don’t always) require you to make payments on your loans while you are still in school, compared to federal student loans which you don’t have to start paying back until after you graduate, leave school, or change your enrollment status to less than half-time.

    Private loans don’t have a specific application window and can be applied for on an as-needed basis. However, if you think you may need to take out a private loan, it’s a good idea to submit your FAFSA first to see what federal aid you may qualify for as it generally may have better rates and terms.

    If you’ve missed the FAFSA deadline or you’re struggling to pay for school throughout the year, private loans can potentially help you make your payments. Just keep in mind that you will need enough lead time for your loan to process and for your lender to send money to your school.

    Recommended: Guide to Private Student Loans

    Projected 4-Year-Degree Price

    The price for a beginning undergraduate student in 2022-23 was $85,064. If this remains true for all four years, the price would be $340,256. When looking at other private educational institutions in the Wall Street Journal top rankings, USC tuition is the 12th most expensive.

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    Undergraduate Tuition and Fees

    Costs for 2022-23

    USC tuition and fees in 2022-23 was $64,726 with room and board being $17,436.

    Graduate Tuition and Fees

    Costs for 2022-23

    In the 2022-2023 school year, tuition and required fees averaged $64,666 for graduate students. USC is a need blind school, opening up opportunities for qualified students regardless of their financial situation.

    Cost per Credit Hour

    2022-2023 academic year: $2,137 per credit hour for undergraduate and graduate students.

    Looking at the past three academic years, USC has been implementing regular although relatively small increases annually.

    Campus Housing Expenses

    Costs for 2022-23

    In 2022-23, room and board for on/off campus students was $17,436. USC does not require freshmen to live in dormitories, providing a wide range of options for all students, including:

    •  Four freshmen residence halls

    •  Three freshmen suite buildings

    •  Four freshmen apartment buildings

    •  Thirteen undergraduate apartment buildings

    •  Twenty-four undergraduate housing units

    •  Five family housing options

    •  Non-university housing options

    •  Gender-inclusive housing

    Off-campus housing for USC students comes with a wide range of prices, starting at $975 a month for a room in a 1,286-square-foot, three bedroom/three bathroom apartment. Note that leases will likely be for a full year, not just for the academic year. Some of the units list one or more of these prohibitions: no smoking, no pets, no disability accessibility.

    You can find out more about housing at USC here .

    University of Southern California (USC) Acceptance Rate

    Fall 2023

    For the incoming 2023-24 academic school year, this is the USC acceptance rate:

    •  80,790 students applied to USC for the fall freshman class.

    •  The acceptance rate is a record low of 9.9%.

    Admission Requirements

    USC notes that it conducts a “comprehensive, holistic review” to understand an applicant’s “individual story.” This includes academic accomplishments as well as personal characteristics and achievements.

    More specifically:

    •  Most admitted students rank in their class’s top 10% with median standardized test scores in the top 5%. (Note that USC has become a test-optional university.)

    •  Students typically pursue the most rigorous program available in English, foreign language, science, social studies, and the arts.

    •  Students should earn a C or better in three or more years of high school mathematics, including Algebra II.

    •  Some majors require a portfolio or audition by December 1.

    •  Essay and short answer responses and teacher/counselor recommendations are helpful. One letter is required for all students; School of Cinematic Arts applicants need two.

    •  Submit all official high school and college transcripts.

    •  Submit fall grades when they become available.

    For first-year students, here are deadlines for the 2023-24 academic year:

    •  November 1: Early Action deadline; merit scholarship consideration deadline for programs that participate in Early Action

    •  December 1: Application deadline for programs requiring a portfolio or audition

    •  January 15: Application deadline for all other programs

    •  Application deadline extensions are determined on an individual basis

    As far as USC GPA requirements:

    •  Middle 50-percent average GPA: 3.82-4.00 (unweighted)

    •  The university typically accepts students in the top 10% of their class

    •  Students need a “C” or better in three or more years of high school math

    SAT and ACT Scores

    Starting in the 2021-22 calendar year, USC became a test-optional university. In the fall of 2021, here are SAT and ACT scores, first listing those in the 25th percentile and then those in the 75th percentile:


    25th Percentile

    75th Percentile

    SAT Evidence-Based



    SAT Math



    ACT Composite



    ACT English



    ACT Math



    Graduation Rate

    The graduation rate is as follows for students who began their studies in 2016:

    •  6 years: 92%

    Post-Graduation Median Earnings

    The median earnings for USC graduates is $89,884, which is much higher than the median salary of $55,260 for graduates of four-year schools in the U.S.

    Bottom Line

    The University of Southern California is a sought-after school that can be difficult to get into. Students who are admitted receive a world-class education. Tuition is on the upper end, but USC is need-blind, creating opportunities for lower- and middle-class students. Graduates typically earn a significantly higher salary than the average.

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    Photo credit: iStock/Rebecca Todd

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