Applying for Financial Aid
*Must have all outstanding requirements complete.
Has it been longer than three weeks since you completed the FAFSA? If it has, go back to the FAFSA website, www.fafsa.gov to check the status of your FAFSA.
- Make sure the student and parent (if required) have signed the FAFSA.
- Make certain USC Aiken federal school code (003449) is included on the FAFSA.
- Verify that the student’s social security number and date of birth are correct on the FAFSA.
- Contact the Office of Financial Aid to follow up. We can check the Central Processor’s website, if necessary, to determine the status of the FAFSA.
Once we receive your FAFSA information, you will receive an email in your USC Aiken account. All communication will be sent to your USC Aiken email account.
If you did not receive an email communication stating that we received your FAFSA information, you will need to provide us with some information from your FAFSA so that we can retrieve your application.
To find and submit this information:
- Log into the FAFSA website and view your completed application.
- Look in the section where your name and social security numbers are, and write down the 4 digit code called the DRN #. This stands for Data Retrieval Number and will allow us to download your FAFSA the following week.
- Call the Office of Financial Aid and ask to speak to a financial aid counselor and let them know your DRN #.
To sign your application electronically, click the login button on the FAFSA on the web home page to log in, and then click the provide signatures button. If you do not already have an Federal Student Aid ID, you can create one.
Alternatively, you can choose one of the following options:
- Print a signature page, sign it, and mail it to the address on the page. Your application will be processed once your signature is received.
- Submit your FAFSA without signatures. Your application will be partially processed without signatures, and you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) within 3-5 days. In order for your FAFSA to fully process, you’ll need to return later to sign electronically.
- Repayment is deferred until after graduation or if the student drops below half-time enrollment status in school.
- The interest rate is fixed and usually a lower rate than credit cards.
- No credit check is required. To qualify, students must be U.S. Citizens or eligible non-citizens, in good standing on any previous student loans, and enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program.
- Some student loan interest is tax deductible.
Processing time for verification normally takes up to two weeks; more time will be required during peak time.
Awarding and Accepting Awards
- Log in to Self Service Carolina (SSC)Self Service Carolina (SSC).
- Click on the Financial Aid tab.
- Click on “Award” the “Award By Aid Year."
- From the "Select Campus" drop-down, select USC Aiken and click continue.
- From the "Select Aid Year drop-down," select the applicable aid year and click continue.
- Select the “Award Overview” tab to view your awards.
- Select the “Accept Award Offer” tab to accept your awards. You have three options: accept the full amount of all awards, accept/decline the full amount of each award individually, or accept a partial amount of each award. For Federal Direct Student Loans, you must accept the full subsidized loan before you can accept the unsubsidized loan.
Recipients of a SC State Scholarship (HOPE, LIFE, Palmetto Fellows) or SC Need-based Grant must also sign a SC State Scholarship/Grant Certification before accepting the award. Your SC Residency must also be completed before a state award can disburse.
To sign your State Scholarship/Grant Certification:
- Log into Self Service Carolina.
- Under the “Financial Aid” tab, click “Award” and then “Award for Aid Year.”
- Select USC Aiken as the campus and USC Aiken 2020-2021 for the aid year.
- Select the “Terms and Conditions” Tab and agree or disagree to the conditions.
- Select the “Accept Award Offer” tab.
- Accept the award.
To certify in-state residency status:
- Log into Self Service Carolina.
- Select the “Admissions” tab
- Select “South Carolina Residency Certification”
- Complete the residency certification for the correct term
- Is packaging complete?
- If verification is in process, have requested documents been submitted?
- Have classes begun?
- Are you enrolled at least half-time?
- Has aid been accepted?
- Have Master Promissory Notes been signed?
- Has a Loan Entrance Counseling Session been completed?
- Are you making Satisfactory Academic Progress?
- Not everyone will be awarded at the same time.
- Financial aid for each semester will begin applying to students’ bills 7-10 days prior to the first day of class.
- Refunds are processed after each semesters billing due date.
Scholarships and Grants
- Students whose EFC is out of Pell Grant range do not qualify.
- Students who already have a bachelor’s degree are not eligible for Pell Grants.
- Graduate students are not eligible for Pell Grants.
- Teacher Certification students are not eligible for Pell Grants.
Generally students should meet all of the following criteria to be competitive:
- Graduate in the top 15 percent of their high school class.
- Score 1,100 math and verbal or better on the SAT or 24 on the ACT.
- Have at least a 3.5 GPA on the South Carolina Uniform Grading Scale.
Subsidized loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education. The Federal Government will pay interest on a subsidized loan while you are in school and during your six-month grace period.
Unsubsidized loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, but in this case, the student does not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the loan.
If you accept the unsubsidized loan, interest will accrue while you are enrolled in school. If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods/deferment periods, your interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).
- Freshmen may borrow up to $5,500 ($9,500 for independent students and students whose parents are denied the PLUS Loan).
- Sophomores may borrow up to $6,500 ($10,500 for independent students and students whose parents are denied PLUS Loan).
- Juniors and seniors may borrow up to $7,500 ($12,500 for independent students and students whose parents are denied PLUS Loan).
All Plus Loan Funds credit to the student’s account. If there is a credit on the student’s account after all charges for the semester have been paid, then it will be returned to the parent borrower, or the student, as you have indicated on the request form.
It will take our office up to 10 days to review and process your application for the lender.
Watch Your Email
If we need more information from you regarding your application, we will send you an email asking you to review a message in Self Service Carolina (SSC). This posted message will indicate what information is needed. Your loan processing will be on hold until you complete/submit the missing information.
If you don't receive an email from us regarding your loan application within 10 days after you apply, then no action is required from you.
Updates to Your Financial Aid Award Package
When your financial aid award package is updated, you will receive an email notifying you that your award balance has been updated. This means the private loan processing has been completed and no further action is required from you regarding your loan application.
After the school has certified your private loan electronically with the lender, it will take approximately 10 business days before the loan will arrive at the university.
Watch for an email from your private loan lender. They will provide you with your loan disbursement date, which is the date when the loan amount will be applied to your USC Aiken student account.
Summer School Financial Aid
Before you can complete the summer application, you must have enrolled for your summer classes, and you must have submitted a FAFSA for the fall/spring of the same academic year.
Undergraduates must be enrolled in at least six total credit hours for all summer sessions in order to be eligible. For more information, please review this page on applying for summer financial aid.
SAP and Withdrawal from USC Aiken
- GPA - Minimum institutional cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 for all undergraduate students.
- Credit Completion Rate - Minimum credit hour completion rate of 67% for both undergraduate and graduate students.
- Maximum Time Frame - Completing your degree within a maximum time frame (150% of the number of hours required for graduation in their programs of study, including transferred hours accepted for credit toward the degree).
- Please note, there are some financial aid programs that have a more stringent requirements.
Read more about Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and appealing SAP.
We will perform a Return of Title IV Funds calculation to determine if adjustments to a student's financial aid award are required.
If adjustments are required, aid is reduced resulting to charges to the student’s account. A letter is sent, informing the student of the adjustment amount.
If you are not meeting SAP standards, and had to withdraw due to mitigating circumstances, you may appeal, using the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form. Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals are reviewed by a committee. The SAP Appeal process may take several weeks to complete.