Access and Opportunity

One of the core purposes of an institution of higher education is to serve as a gateway to opportunity. The University of Southern California, characterized by the breadth of its academic disciplines and its deep roots within the great, culturally diverse metropolis of Los Angeles, is uniquely positioned to serve as a bridge to new opportunities for students of myriad backgrounds. Creating a community of diverse viewpoints—economic, cultural, intellectual—builds a greater generation of innovators, leaders, visionaries, and creators to move society forward.

We are proud of the record of achievements in pursuing this vision. The university remains among the nation’s top private research universities for the percentage of its students who are from low-income households. Twenty-one percent of the total undergraduate population were Pell grant-eligible during the 2017-18 academic year, a direct result of USC’s ongoing efforts to accept high-achieving transfer students, especially from community colleges. Among the 2019 entering freshman class, one in seven students are the first in their families to attend college, and the university provides more than $350 million in financial aid from all sources to help make the university accessible to all.

USC is particularly proud of its longstanding support of our immediate neighborhoods. The highly successful college preparation program, Neighborhood Academic Initiative, has educated 1,097 students in South and East Los Angeles neighborhoods as they graduated from high school and headed off for college-level academic work. In 2019, 57 students graduated from the program with 19 of them planning to attend USC.

But it is not in our DNA to be satisfied with what has already been accomplished. We know there is always more that can be achieved, more courageous and curious minds who would be welcome and valuable addition to the USC community of scholars, and we will work together to extend the opportunities even further.

Supporting Access for Students from Diverse Backgrounds

Nearly two-thirds of all USC students receive some form of financial aid. In 2017-2018, the total amount of financial aid awarded from all sources resources was $570 million. The university’s need-blind admission process helps identify the best students, regardless of their ability to pay. This helps increase access to the university for students from all backgrounds:

  • 29.5 percent are underrepresented minorities;
  • 21 percent are eligible for Pell Grants; and
  • 15 percent of the undergraduate student body are first generation college students, the first in their family to attend college.

The incoming class of 2023 is the most diverse admitted class in USC history.