Student Ambassador Blog | Melissa
Financing USC: What You Need to Know
As we’ve gotten closer to the application deadline, one of the questions I’ve gotten the most concerns paying for USC and whether the “financial burden” is worth it. Thus, I wanted to take the time to give you guys some insight as to what my thought process looked like when I was applying, and why I feel like coming to USC was the best decision I’ve ever made.
First of all, I want to validate your concerns and let you know that it is completely normal to be intimidated by the cost of tuition at our program. It is more expensive than most programs, and it may feel like a lot to take on. However, I think it’s important that you know what your financing options are before you make a decision. I will admit that to me, it was a bit of a no-brainer. Despite the fact that I was intimidated by the cost of the program, that intimidation was offset by my excitement to be a part of USC Chan. Our program is known to be a leader in the field of occupational therapy, and I truly wanted to be a part of that. In addition, my fears were further ameliorated when I attended an information session and learned more about the aid USC offers, as well as the Federal Loan Forgiveness Program (which I will talk more about below). I was happy to know that I had options, and that made my decision far less daunting, which is why I want to share that information with all of you!
Jessica, a previous Student Ambassador, wrote a “Financing USC” blog series which consists of a couple of blog posts outlining how you can pay for the program. They include information on federal loans available to graduate students and the Loan Forgiveness Program, division scholarships and research assistantships, and student worker positions! When you first apply to USC, you have the option to fill out a division scholarship sheet that is attached to our financial aid brochure (link), which I highly recommend that you do. In addition, you can apply to the Research Assistantship positions that offer quite a bit of aid to those that get it! The financial aid brochure - which you can download here - also has great information on scholarships available to students outside of the division, however I recommend that you do additional research as well because there are a lot of scholarship opportunities that people miss out on. Student worker positions are also a great way to get involved in the division, and they include the Student Ambassador position that I’m in right now! I also work as a research assistant for one of the many research studies currently being conducted by the division, which is a great opportunity students have available to them as well.
Lastly, I want to talk to you a bit more about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program available to students that have taken out federal loans and work in a non-profit setting after they’ve graduated. This program requires that you make 120 payments towards your loans (which is about 10 years), and then waives or “forgives” the remaining balance after you’ve made those payments. Examples of non-profit settings include - but are not limited to - hospitals, some outpatient clinics, and even universities. As OTs, there is a high chance that we may end up working at a site that is considered a non-profit, which means we can qualify for this program! I do want to add that this program only waives federal loans, and not private loans that have been taken out in addition to federal ones.
I highly encourage prospective students to weigh their options before making a decision, and not to let the finances intimidate you from applying/attending USC. After being here for the last year and a half, I truly feel like I made the best decision coming to USC, as the education I’ve received is of the highest caliber. In addition, I have had access to professors and clinicians who are leaders and innovators in the field, which has been instrumental in my own career development. Just know that you have lots of options, and I would be happy to talk to you guys about this further if you have any other questions or concerns!