USC Presidential Scholarship: University of Southern California’s $30,223 Gift to First-Year Students

By Scholarship Monitor

The University of Southern California (USC) is ranked among the leading universities in the world. This institution of higher learning has always been a preferred choice for many students across the world. But because of the expensive tuition, high competition, and low acceptance rate, getting admission into USC is no child’s play.

However, if you have the required qualifications, don’t give up on your dream of studying at USC. USC has three merit scholarship programs, one of which is the USC presidential scholarship. This scholarship may well be your window of opportunity to get a place at one of the top rated US universities.

About The USC Presidential Scholarship

The Presidential Scholarship is a merit scholarship offered by the University of Southern California to first-year students only. Former USC President Steven B. Sample initiated the presidential scholarships in the early 1990s. The scholarships cover half-tuition, and only early applicants are normally considered. 

Usually, only about 2% of early applicants are considered for a USC Presidential Scholarship. The selection criteria for this scholarship are based on merit. Thus, applicants with exceptional qualifications stand a higher chance of being selected.

If you’re unsure whether you have the required qualifications for this scholarship, then read on. This article will provide answers about the requirements for this scholarship program and how to apply for it. 

How Many Candidates Get Selected?

Each year, a total of 200 students get this scholarship award. Now, considering such figures, you might be wondering: how hard is it to get selected for this merit scholarship at USC?

The simple answer is, it depends on you. If you’ve got exceptional grades, sterling leadership potential, talents, etc, then getting this merit scholarship may not be as hard as you might think.

So, How Do You Get The USC Presidential Scholarship?

First off, to stand a chance of being selected for consideration, you have to apply early. This is one selection criterion many applicants do not know. Generally, selection criteria for merit scholarships at USC include academic excellence, leadership/talent, and community service. 

Academic Excellence 

To be eligible for selection, you must have a good academic record. This is because, at USC, scholarships are generally reserved for students with special qualifications. USC is known for excellence, which is one reason for the high competition and low acceptance rate into this college. 


Before you apply for this USC merit scholarship, it’s vital to understand what the USC scholarship committee wants. The committee seeks, not just applicants with exceptional grades, but students who have the capacity for leadership and impact. Because of this, the committee prioritizes extracurricular activities and essays over standardized test scores.

So, if you are just a bookworm with zero interest in extracurricular activities, you might want to give this a rethink. 

Community Service 

If you have a record of community service, then you have more feathers to your cap. The scholarship committee seeks not only academic excellence and leadership potential in applicants but also students who have demonstrated their commitment to serving their communities.

Although having a record of community service is not compulsory, it is an added advantage. If you have no record of community service but desire to get a merit scholarship at USC, it’s never too late to get one. Look for avenues of service in your community. The extra effort will go a long way in helping you secure a merit scholarship at USC.

USC Presidential Scholarship Interview

An interview is required for all scholarship finalists. So, if you get a notification for an interview, congratulations! Your scholarship is closer than you think.

Interviews take place as part of the Explore USC programs offered between late February and early March. The interview session is about 30-45 minutes in duration. 

Note that the USC scholarship interview is not like a normal college Interview. The interview will be based on the specific parts of your application. So, before the interview, ensure you review your application thoroughly. Endeavor to familiarize yourself with the points and claims you made in your essay. This will go a long way in helping you scale the interview process.

An admission officer, a faculty member, and a current USC merit scholarship awardee usually make up the interview panel.

Scholarship Amount and GPA Requirement 

USC Presidential Scholarship
Presidential Scholarship Awardee

So, how much is the USC presidential scholarship?

This scholarship is worth $30,223. This amount covers half-tuition only. Although this scholarship covers half-tuition, it provides twice as much room for awardees as the trustee scholarship does.

Now, before you get excited at the prospect of grabbing this scholarship award, first consider if you have the required GPA. 

So what GPA do you need for a presidential scholarship at USC? Students who have maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.4 are eligible for this merit scholarship. This GPA requirement applies to both USC undergraduate student applicants in their first year and transfer students.

Is the Presidential Scholarship Renewable?

Yes, just like most USC merit Scholarships, the presidential scholarship is renewable for each subsequent year of the undergraduate degree program.

USC Scholarship Renewal Requirements 

To be eligible for this merit scholarship renewal, you must meet the following requirements: 

Maintain your academic standing

You are required to maintain a high level of academic accomplishment during your college career. In the event that you’re academically disqualified by the USC Office of Academic Records and Registrar as well as the Committee on Academic Policies and Procedures (CAPP), then you will automatically lose your scholarship.

Future readmission to USC will not restore your eligibility for your scholarship.

Uphold USC’s conduct and academic integrity standards

If the Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards Office discovers you are responsible for any serious academic or non-academic conduct violation, resulting in either your expulsion or suspension from the college, your presidential scholarship award will be automatically rescinded.

Make satisfactory academic improvement toward your undergraduate degree during the academic year

This means that, if you complete fewer than 30 units in one academic year, your academic record will be evaluated to determine if you’re progressing toward your degree. At the same time, your course of study and work at other colleges will likewise be deliberated on.

If improvement is not made, you will be placed on scholarship probation for a maximum of two semesters. During this probation period, you must complete 16 units per semester, otherwise, your scholarship may be rescinded.

Note that you are allowed only one probationary period for unit requirements. Another thing to keep in mind is that, if you have received other need-based financial aids, you will be required to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) if you are to continue to receive those grants. You can find the complete undergraduate SAP rules in the USC Catalogue.

How to Apply for USC Presidential Scholarship

To apply for this scholarship, you will need the following documents/credentials as shown in the table below: 

Application formThe application form should have all fields filled out. Care should be taken when filling out the form to avoid errors.
Academic recordsYour academic record must meet the USC requirements for merit scholarships. If your records don’t meet up, you will be disqualified. 
Letter of recommendation Your letter of recommendation should be from someone who knows you well enough to be able to recommend you to USC. Ensure to choose your recommender carefully. A strong recommendation letter will vouch for your character as well as back up any claims you made in your application. 
Personal statement In this document, you must explain your personal goals and why you’re eligible for the scholarship. Make sure to include all your work/educational experiences, the various languages you can communicate in, as well as leadership and community service experiences.
Financial evidenceThis document is meant to back up your claims that you truly need the scholarship. This should include evidence of personal or family support, together with appropriate documentation of available funds

If you have all the documents listed above, you can proceed to the USC application portal once applications are open. Remember to always check back for timely scholarship updates. 

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