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How to Apply for Aid

Students interested in grantswork-study and loans should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is something you’ll need to do annually to be considered for aid each year you’re enrolled. The FAFSA for the upcoming new Aid Year becomes available on October 1.

The FAFSA is necessary to apply for the following financial aid funds:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Direct Loan-subsidized
  • Federal Direct Loan-unsubsidized
  • Federal Direct PLUS Loan
  • South Carolina Need-Based Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Federal Work-Study
  • Some Private Loans, Grants or Scholarship Programs

Students eligible for state and institutional resources will be automatically awarded based on FAFSA data and transcripts that the University has for the student.   While all students are encouraged to submit a FAFSA, USC does not require one for general scholarship consideration.

What You Will Need:

  • A computer with Internet access
  • Your Federal Student Aid ID 
  • Your Social Security number
  • Income information for both student and parents (unless you qualify as an independent student)
  • A current, valid email address to be contacted with important information about your financial aid

How to Complete the FAFSA

FAFSA on the Web is a free US Department of Education website where you can complete a FAFSA online and submit it via the Internet using your FSA ID to sign the application electronically. If you are a dependent student, your parent must also sign the application using their FSA ID. After obtaining your FSA ID, complete your application online by using FAFSA on the Web at

Use the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet as a tool to assist you in completing FAFSA on the Web, the worksheet is available in English and Spanish. The worksheet is available at for you to print. Complete the worksheet prior to entering your information online. Do not mail the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet to the Office of Financial Aid or to the federal processor.

Before transmitting your application, review your answers and make any necessary corrections. Be sure to provide the appropriate signature(s) on your FAFSA. If you do not wish to sign the application electronically with your FSA ID, you can print a paper signature page from FAFSA on the Web, sign it and mail it to the address provided.

For assistance with FAFSA on the Web, you may contact Customer Service at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Applicants who apply by April 1st for the upcoming school year shall receive first consideration for campus-based federal student aid funds. Please see Summer Aid for the deadlines when applying for financial aid for the summer term. 

The Student Guide provides information pertaining to the financial aid application process. For additional information, please see the Student Guide. Links to the Student Guide for the current academic year and the following academic year can be found on our related links page.


A Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID is a username and password that must be used to log into certain U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID confirms your identity when you access your financial aid information and electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents. If you do not already have an FSA ID, you can create one when logging in to


FASFA Verification

If you are selected for verification, you are not alone! About 30% of all Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filers are selected for the verification process, which requires the school to collect documentation to check the accuracy of the FAFSA information.  If selected, the verification process must be completed before financial aid can be awarded.

When selected for verification the student will be notified by University email account. The student will be directed to Self-Service Carolina to review a list of the documents that must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office before financial aid can be awarded. 

The Financial Aid Office may be required to verify the following data elements on your FAFSA:

  • Adjusted Gross Income
  • Taxes Paid
  • Income Earned from Work (for non-tax filers)
  • Certain Untaxed Income Items
  • Household Size
  • Number in College
  • Any other inconsistent or conflicting information

Important: Please submit all requested forms and supporting documentation together at the same time. No processing can take place until all documentation is received.

Participation in the verification process is not optional. If you do not submit the requested documentation, you will not be eligible to receive federal or state need-based financial aid and your parents will not be eligible to borrow a federal PLUS loan.

Students selected for verification will not be packaged for financial aid until the Financial Aid Office has received all requested required documentation and the verification process has been completed. Depending on the time of year, the verification review process can take up to 15 business days from the time all requested required documents are received. The process can take longer if additional nonstandard documentation is required or corrections are needed to the FAFSA.

  • The prior year tax transcripts for both parent and student, if the student is dependent OR preferably, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool from your FAFSA
  • A Verification Worksheet (downloadable from this web site)
  • W-2s
  • Verification of Net Worth

Documentation Deadline & Participation: The Financial Aid Office begins awarding aid on our priority deadline of April 1st. To prevent missing out on any limited funding sources, verification must be finished and your requirements on SSC satisfied. Even after April 1st, be sure to satisfy your requirements as soon as possible. If selected, the verification process is required to be completed before you may be awarded federal financial aid. 

Note: If verification becomes necessary after you are initially awarded/aid disbursed, your previously awarded aid may be placed on hold until your file once again becomes complete.  If you do not complete the verification process any aid disbursed must be cancelled which may result in a balance owed to the university.

IRS Data Retrieval

The best way to verify income is by the IRS Data Retrieval using the Tool that is part of FAFSA on the Web. To learn more about the IRS Date Retrieval process and how to use it, you may watch this helpful online tutorial.

NOTE: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recently changed the format of tax transcripts to protect taxpayers from unauthorized use of taxpayer data. The new format redacts all personally identifiable information and some public record information. Because of this, all tax transcripts that are sent to our office must include the student's name and VIP ID on each page of the transcript. Where applicable, the parent or spouse's name should also be written on the tax transcript in addition to the student's name and VIP ID. Without this information, our office cannot identify the owner of the tax transcript or document that we have received the transcript.

Tax Return Transcripts: If you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool provided through the FAFSA, you must order a Tax Return Transcript directly from the IRS and submit it to our office. There are several options for ordering a Tax Return Transcript; most are offered through the IRS website at Be sure to order a Tax Return Transcript (not a Tax Account Transcript) for the necessary documentation.

If you have ordered a Federal Tax Return Transcript and are experiencing difficulties receiving it in a timely manner, you may want to locate and visit a local IRS office to request one in person. The IRS provides a locator service here.

Amended Tax Returns: If you filed an amended tax return, the U.S. Department of Education allows us to accept your federal tax returns. We will need a signed copy of your original Federal Tax Return (1040) AND your amended Federal Tax Return (1040x).

Filing Extensions: If you have filed an extension for your tax return, please contact our office so that we may send you the appropriate form necessary for completing verification.

Submitting Income Tax Information: If you are able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool provided through the FAFSA, your tax return information will be sent to us electronically within 7-10 days of your signing and submitting your FAFSA to us.

Once you have received your Tax Return Transcript, it should be submitted to our office by email, mail, or fax. Please refer to our Contact Us page for this information. If you are submitting parent's Tax Return Transcripts, be sure to write your name and the last four digits of your social security number on the top of each page so we know that it can be linked correctly to your file.

Important Note: Starting in January 2019, IRS tax transcripts can no longer be sent directly to our office from the IRS. Your requested documents will be mailed to the address that exist on your tax return. You will be responsible for submitting the necessary documents to the Financial Aid Office. Please visit for alternative options.


Apply for More Assistance

The FASFA registers you to be considered for aid from USC and the federal/state government. Each Palmetto College Campus of the University of South Carolina offers different scholarships to their undergraduate student body. In order to determine what scholarships are offered at the campus you wish to attend, please see the campus Financial Aid Administrator for further information. Additionally, you may view specific campus scholarship information by visiting the links below.

Special Circumstances

Students and their families may experience changes in their financial situation or have other unusual circumstances that are not reflected on the FAFSA. On a case-by-case basis, the Financial Aid Office may review a student’s special circumstances to determine the impact on a student’s financial aid eligibility. This review, however, does not guarantee a change in the student’s eligibility for additional financial aid. For more information, contact the Financial Aid Office.

Summer Aid

 For Financial Aid purposes, summer is considered to be the end of the academic year. Therefore, the eligibility of each student aid applicant for summer funds is based upon each student's remaining annual limits for grants and loans, also all summer sessions are combined into one processing term. 

To be considered for federal financial aid for summer, you must have a current year Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) [the one used to award the preceding fall and spring semesters] on file. In addition to the FAFSA, a USC Financial Aid Summer Application is required each summer.

The summer application is available on SSC beginning April 1. The deadline to complete the application is May 1. Because of compressed time frames for summer, our office must adhere to strict application deadlines. However, the application will remain on the web through June 1 and these late applications will be processed on a case by case basis.   (Use link to

How to apply for summer aid?

Complete Request for Summer Application in Self-Service Carolina.

  • Sign-In using VIPID
  • Select Financial Aid
  • Select Summer Financial Aid Application
  • Select Campus Attending
  • Select Aid Year
  • Answer all questions and submit application

What does a complete application for summer financial aid include?

A complete application for summer financial aid includes:

  • A Summer Application for Financial Aid (completed on SSC).
  • A completely processed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • A loan application for a new summer PLUS or private loan.
  • Admission into a degree seeking program.

What about Satisfactory Academic Progress?
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) will be completed when spring grades are posted in May. Any student not meeting the SAP policy who has had financial aid awarded for summer will have their financial aid canceled immediately, and therefore, may owe a bill for summer. Detailed information on SAP can be found at Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy (SAP).


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