FAQ: Support Funds

USC has several resources available for students and employees. Eligible students can apply for assistance from the USC Student Basic Needs Department, and eligible employees can apply for assistance from the USC Employee Support Fund. See the FAQs below for each resource. 

If you have questions that are not answered in our FAQs, please email covid19@usc.edu. Our response team will help find an answer.

USC Student Basic Needs Department

The USC Student Basic Needs Department is a university-led resource for currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students that addresses food, housing and financial insecurity throughout the year. 

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the department’s resources for students.

The USC Student Basic Needs Department helps eliminate life barriers such as food, housing and economic injustice that may jeopardize students’ academic and personal success. We are committed to connecting our students with the appropriate resources and support to help them thrive during their time at USC. We have several initiatives that combat food insecurity, housing insecurity and financial insecurity.

All currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students are eligible.

We realize that attending classes online and completing coursework remotely requires access to technology that not all students possess. If you need resources to successfully participate in your classes, such as a laptop or internet hotspot, you may be eligible for the university’s equipment rental program. To apply, please submit an application.

The USC Student Basic Needs Emergency Relief Fund is designed to help currently enrolled students who are experiencing financial distress due to unforeseen circumstances. This fund is for students experiencing financial difficulties that jeopardize their success or continued enrollment at USC, and who have exhausted all other resources. Examples may include, but are not limited to, dental/medical costs, housing costs and unexpected loss of employment.

Funds are limited, and due to the large volume of applications that we have received, we are not accepting new applications at this time. We encourage you to reach out to your school to see if it offers other financial assistance and/or emergency grants.

We know that everyone’s situation is unique, and we are here for you. Our team is available for virtual consultations to discuss your situation and determine whether our other resources can help meet your needs. These resources include food and housing assistance along with technology rentals such as laptops and hotspots.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are conducting all of our operations virtually. Please book a 30-minute consultation via Zoom with our staff by emailing basicneeds@usc.edu.

COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund

USC received funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide emergency grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. These expenses included food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care. 

In spring 2020, we used an application process to distribute funds to thousands of students to meet their emergency financial needs. For fall 2020, we will be using financial aid data to determine eligibility for grant funds, so there will be no separate application process. More details can be found here.

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated funds to support individuals and businesses/organizations affected by the pandemic and economic downturn. The Act included several sources of funds for colleges and universities, including the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

USC received funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide emergency grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. These expenses included food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care.

In spring 2020, the university’s Financial Aid Office worked closely with Student Affairs and Campus Support & Intervention to coordinate these emergency grants to students who qualified. The university aimed to assist as many students as possible in meeting their emergency financial needs.

In fall 2020, emergency grants will be distributed directly to eligible students' accounts.

Emergency grants are limited to students who were eligible to receive federal financial aid and were enrolled in a program that met on campus prior to the transition to online classes due to COVID-19. After the Department of Education’s Interim Final Rule, only students who are or could be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 of the Higher Education Act may receive emergency financial aid grants. Students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and clear all eligibility checks (e.g., citizenship, selective service registration, satisfactory academic progress) to be eligible to receive CARES emergency grant funds. Under these rules, international students and students enrolled exclusively in an online program are not eligible to receive funding.

For fall 2020, we will be using financial aid data to determine eligibility for grant funds, so there will be no separate application process. We know that our students are experiencing many challenges during this time, and we are all here to support you.

In spring 2020, USC determined each student’s COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund award based on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the university guidelines for this fund, and the information you submitted in your application. The CARES Act requires that this funding be used only for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. Examples of these expenses include food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care.

The university set funding guidelines to help as many students as possible, especially those in greatest need, get through this academic year. Requests for summer funding were not considered as part of this fund because they were not part of the enrolled term. We also took into account students who already received housing or meal plan refunds.

With the exception of food, we only considered requests for categories that were supported by documentation or an explanation. We were unable to fund a request if you did not provide any information in your application to support a particular request.

In fall 2020, the remaining CARES Act funds will be distributed to undergraduate and graduate students who meet all federal financial aid eligibility requirements, are enrolled in fall 2020, and meet the following criteria. At the undergraduate level, we will provide approximately 5,800 awards of $1,000 to high need students as well as students awarded work study who may have difficulty finding a job. At the graduate level, we will provide approximately 5,300 awards of $500 to graduate students with financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The CARES Act allocation formula emphasized Pell Grant recipients with 75 percent of the allocation based on USC’s share of full-time equivalent Pell Grant recipients relative to such individuals at all institutions. The remaining 25 percent was based on non-Pell, non-online enrollment. Because we received CARES Act funds in large part due to Pell Grant recipients at the undergraduate level, we are focusing funding on that population.

The USC Student Basic Needs Department provides food and housing assistance along with technology rentals for currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students who need support due to unforeseen circumstances. Please see the USC Student Basic Needs Department section below for more information.

Additional resources may also be available through your academic unit. We suggest you contact your academic advisor or program director for more information.

Please contact our 24/7 COVID-19 hotline at 213-740-6291 or email covid19@usc.edu.

If you would like to speak to a member of the financial aid professional team, you may call them between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Time), Monday through Friday, at (213) 740-4444. Please know that you may experience delayed wait times, as their staff is currently taking calls remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional contact information for the USC Financial Aid Office can be found here.

USC COVID-19 Academic Progress Summer Scholarship

Undergraduate students who enroll full-time for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 and earn fewer than 30 graded units over the course of the academic year will be eligible to apply for this scholarship. The scholarship covers tuition for up to two USC online undergraduate, degree-applicable courses of no more than 4-units each at the standard undergraduate tuition rate offered in Summer 2021.

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the USC COVID-19 Academic Progress Summer Scholarship.

In order to receive the USC COVID-19 Academic Progress Summer Scholarship, students must:

  • Enroll as a degree-seeking undergraduate student at USC in the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. Progressive Degree students are not eligible as they are already on an accelerated track for degree completion.
  • Enroll full-time for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 (12-18 units; audited courses do not count towards this requirement). Students must be enrolled in at least 12 units past the add/drop deadline for the term and not have a balance on their student account (other than for summer charges).
  • Earn fewer than 30 graded units over the course of the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. Incomplete (IN) coursework will be counted as earned units for the purposes of establishing scholarship eligibility because it is expected that those units will be become earned units.

Students who meet the above criteria and earn less than 26 graded units are eligible to receive a scholarship to cover tuition for two USC online undergraduate, degree-applicable courses of no more than 8 units at the standard undergraduate rate offered in Summer 2021.

Students who meet the above criteria and earn 26-29 graded units are eligible to receive a scholarship to cover tuition for one USC online undergraduate, degree-applicable course of no more than 4 units at the standard undergraduate rate offered in Summer 2021.

After degree progress is evaluated for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, eligible students will be sent an email invitation to apply for the scholarship. As part of the application process, students will need to work with their academic advisors to ensure their summer coursework is approved.

Tentative Timeline

  • Add/Drop Deadline for Spring: February 5, 2021
  • Summer Registration Opens: Early March 2021
  • Academic Progress Scholarship Application Opens: Early April 2021
  • Withdrawal Deadline for Spring: April 30, 2021
  • Add/Drop Deadline for First Summer Session (050): May 27, 2021
  • Deadline to Apply for Academic Progress Scholarship: June 1, 2021

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis once course(s) have been approved by your academic advisor and you have registered for approved summer coursework.

Degree applicable courses are courses that apply to subject requirements or electives toward the bachelor degree program’s minimum unit requirement. Students should work with their academic advisor to review the courses available for summer.

Students should work with their academic advisor to review the coursework available for summer. The COVID-19 Academic Progress Summer Scholarship applies to summer 2021 only and cannot be used for any other terms.

Students will still be responsible for fees associated with summer enrollment (e.g., student health center fee).

No, audited courses are not calculated in a students’ earned units nor do they count towards the 12-18 units of full-time enrollment required for the COVID-19 Academic Progress Summer Scholarship.

No, audited courses do not count towards degree requirements.

No, the COVID-19 Academic Progress Summer Scholarship is intended for students who enrolled full-time the entire 2020-2021 academic year.

The COVID-19 Academic Progress Summer Scholarship is intended for students who enrolled full-time the entire 2020-2021 academic year. The scholarship supports students who paid flat-rate tuition in 2020-2021, but did not complete 30 or more units.

Incomplete units are expected to become earned units and will be counted in the Registrar’s earned units calculation.

Yes, withdrawn coursework is counted as attempted units for Satisfactory Academic Progress. If withdrawn courses push you beyond maximum timeframe for SAP, you may submit an SAP appeal for review. Please review the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy for undergraduates for more details.

USC Employee Support Fund

Many of our more than 28,000 employees are financially impacted by COVID-19 in ways we never could have imagined. We launched the USC Employee Support Fund to provide support for these employees.

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the USC Employee Support Fund.

The USC Employee Support Fund was created to assist employees who have an immediate need for financial assistance due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Office of Human Resources, in partnership with Campus Support & Intervention, is administering this program.

All current full-time and part-time employees, regardless of length of service, who have an immediate need for financial assistance due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to apply.

To apply, please visit USC’s Campus Support & Intervention website.

Yes. As employees of USC, postdoctoral scholars with the following postdoctoral titles are eligible to apply:

  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Research Associate
  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Teaching Fellow
  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Fellowship Trainee
  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Visiting Fellow

If you have any questions about your job title, please email postdocs@usc.edu.

Although there is no deadline to apply, please note that funds are limited. Employees are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

There is no cap on how much financial assistance employees can request. However, please note that funds are limited. While we would like to fund every request, we may not be able to fulfill every request in whole.

The USC Employee Support Fund typically covers the following expenses, including:

  • Temporary housing assistance, including additional rent; a security deposit; short-term hotel costs incurred to relocate, quarantine or isolate; for personal safety, etc.
  • Unexpected medical, mental health and well-being, or dental costs related to COVID-19 that are not covered by insurance.
  • Unplanned travel expenses related to COVID-19 to receive medical care, to self-quarantine or to isolate. Examples could include airfare, car rental, bus or train fare, etc.
  • Temporary assistance with food insecurity resulting from COVID-19.
  • Unplanned or additional child care costs for employees required to work on our campuses during COVID-19.
  • Emergency personal or incidental expenses such as clothing, hygiene items, etc. due to COVID-19.
  • Safety-related needs created by COVID-19 such as a change of locks, legal assistance, court fees, etc.

The following types of expenses are typically not covered by the fund if not related to COVID-19, including:

  • Credit card debt.
  • Penalties, fines, parking or other tickets.
  • Non-essential expenses.
  • Expenses due to a lack of planning or overspending.

We are reviewing applications as quickly as possible so we can meet employees’ critical needs. Employees will receive an email notification from Campus Support & Intervention once their request has been reviewed.

Those employees enrolled in direct deposit will receive approved funds through direct deposit. Those not enrolled in direct deposit will receive funds through a check mailed to the employee’s current mailing address.

As of now, while federal taxes have been waived for this type of fund disbursement, California state taxes have not been waived. However, the fund administrators (Human Resources, in partnership with Campus Support & Intervention) will factor in the tax consequences for each employee so that the employee will receive the full, approved disbursement amount. For example, an employee who is approved for $1,000 will receive a net $1,000 disbursement after taxes.

Please reach out to Campus Support & Intervention at uscsupport@usc.edu. A member of the team will get back to you within one (1) business day.