FAQs: Support Funds

USC has several resources available for students and employees. Eligible students can apply for assistance from the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund and the USC Student Basic Needs Department, and eligible employees can apply for assistance from the USC Employee Support Fund. See the FAQs below for each resource.

COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund

USC received funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide emergency grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. These expenses include food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care. 

The university’s Financial Aid Office is working closely with Student Affairs and Campus Support & Intervention to coordinate these emergency grants to students who qualify. The university aims to assist as many students as possible in meeting their emergency financial needs during this challenging time.

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocates funds to support individuals and businesses/organizations affected by the pandemic and economic downturn. The Act includes several sources of funds for colleges and universities, including the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

USC received funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide emergency grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. These expenses include food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care. The university’s Financial Aid Office is working closely with Student Affairs and Campus Support & Intervention to coordinate these emergency grants to students who qualify. The university aims to assist as many students as possible in meeting their emergency financial needs during this challenging time.

The U.S. Department of Education restricted funding to expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. These expenses include food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care. The guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education precluded us from being able to award funding for expenses unrelated to the disruption of campus operations, such as tuition, summer expenses, loss of income, and expenses for family members that are unrelated to education.

The U.S. Department of Education announced on Tuesday, April 21 that it is limiting this funding to students who are eligible to receive federal financial aid and are enrolled in a program that met on-campus prior to the transition to online classes due to COVID-19. Under these guidelines, international students and students enrolled exclusively in an online program are not eligible to receive funding.

Eligible students should complete the application for COVID-19 emergency assistance. They can also access it in the document library on the Financial Aid Summary and Tasks (FAST) page in MyUSC. The application identifies common costs that are eligible for emergency grant funding.

Newly admitted undergraduates and undergraduates facing a change in income that may affect their expected family contribution should upload a separate ‘Appeal Concerning Expected Contribution’ through the FAST page in MyUSC, which may result in additional financial aid.

No. The U.S. Department of Education clarified on April 21, 2020 that the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund is not available to international students.

The USC Student Basic Needs Department provides food and housing assistance along with technology rentals for international students who need support due to unforeseen circumstances. Please see the USC Student Basic Needs Department section below for more information.

Additional resources may also be available through your academic unit. We suggest you contact your academic advisor or program director for more information.

No. The U.S. Department of Education clarified on April 21, 2020 that emergency financial aid grants under the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund are only available to students who are eligible for federal financial aid. We are disappointed that DACA students are not covered under the CARES Act, but we are working to assist these students in a myriad of ways, including through the USC Student Basic Needs Department (see section below).

No. The U.S. Department of Education clarified on April 21, 2020 that the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund is not available to students enrolled exclusively in online programs.

The USC Student Basic Needs Department provides food and housing assistance along with technology rentals for online students who need support due to unforeseen circumstances. Please see the USC Student Basic Needs Department section below for more information.

Additional resources may also be available through your academic unit. We suggest you contact your academic advisor or program director for more information.

If you are a financial aid recipient with remaining loan eligibility, you may also wish to consider that option. Private financing may also be available. Please visit financialaid.usc.edu/loans for more information.

Although the May 1 deadline has passed, we are continuing to accept late applications. Please provide documentation of your spring expenses related to the disruption of campus operations to expedite our review.

The maximum award amount is $3,000. We allocate funds based on students’ stated needs and documented expenses.

The total funds available are limited. The university’s priority is to help as many students as possible, especially those in greatest need, get through this academic year.

Departments and schools may establish their own emergency grants for students. In some cases, the Financial Aid Office may contact a student’s school or department to determine if further assistance is available for a student. Please note that departmental grants are institutional funds that need to be coordinated with a student’s financial aid package, although we will make every effort to preserve all existing sources of financial aid.

Students who receive aid from a school or department but remain in need of additional support are still eligible to apply for funding from the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund. However, students will not receive funding for the same expense more than once.

Funding from the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund will not impact a student’s financial aid package since CARES Act funding is not categorized as financial aid.

Yes, students who have not borrowed their full loan eligibility can still apply for funding. We encourage students to be aware of all funding opportunities available to them, including loans.

We are reviewing applications as quickly as possible so we can meet students’ critical needs. Students should check the Financial Aid Summary and Tasks (FAST) page in MyUSC for any additional document requests. Students will receive an email notification when their application is processed and if their financial aid summary was updated.

We are waiting for guidance from the U.S. Department of Education regarding students who have not completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To expedite the review of your application, we encourage you to complete the FAFSA online for 2020-2021 as soon as possible. USC’s federal school code is 001328.

USC determines each student’s COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund award based on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the university guidelines for this fund and the information you submit in your application. The CARES Act requires that this funding be used only for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. Examples of these expenses include food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care.

The university set funding guidelines to help as many students as possible, especially those in greatest need, get through this academic year. Requests for summer funding are not considered as part of this fund because they were not part of the enrolled term. We also take into account students who already received housing or meal plan refunds.

With the exception of food, we only consider requests for categories that are supported by documentation or an explanation. We are unable to fund a request if you do not provide any information in your application to support a particular request.

We know that our students are experiencing many challenges during this time, and we are all here to support you.

At this time, our priority is to ensure that the students who applied and provided supporting documentation receive their approved award. Once we have issued all of those awards, we will assess the remaining funds and determine whether we can increase awards.

We are processing applications on an ongoing basis from students who completed a financial aid application known as a FAFSA and provided supporting documentation. We are waiting for guidance from the U.S. Department of Education regarding students who have not completed a FAFSA. To help expedite funding disbursement, please respond to all requests for clarification and documentation as quickly as possible. If you need additional resources, please contact the USC Student Basic Needs Department at basicneeds@usc.edu.

If funding is approved, the grant funds will be disbursed to your student account. If you have not already signed up for eRefund (Direct Deposit) on USCe.pay, please do so immediately. Disbursements from this fund will not be applied to an outstanding balance on your student account.

Students who needed to depart study abroad programs unexpectedly during the spring 2020 semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic can request reimbursement for travel expenses paid by the student, including airfare, rebooking fees, and the cost of shipping belongings home. USC will process reimbursement through funding the university has received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Please submit an application for the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund and provide all supporting documentation by May 29, 2020. If you have not already completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), we encourage you to complete the FAFSA online for 2020-2021 as soon as possible to be eligible to receive CARES Act funding. USC’s federal school code is 001328.


USC Student Basic Needs Department

The USC Student Basic Needs Department is a university-led resource for currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students that addresses food, housing and financial insecurity throughout the year. 

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the department’s resources for students.

The USC Student Basic Needs Department helps eliminate life barriers such as food, housing and economic injustice that may jeopardize students’ academic and personal success. We are committed to connecting our students with the appropriate resources and support to help them thrive during their time at USC. We have several initiatives that combat food insecurity, housing insecurity and financial insecurity.

All currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students are eligible.

The USC Student Basic Needs Emergency Relief Fund is designed to help currently enrolled students who are experiencing financial distress due to unforeseen circumstances. This fund is for students experiencing financial difficulties that jeopardize their success or continued enrollment at USC, and who have exhausted all other resources. Examples may include, but are not limited to, dental/medical costs, housing costs and unexpected loss of employment.

Funds are limited, and due to the large volume of applications that we have received, we are not accepting new applications at this time. We encourage you to reach out to your school to see if it offers other financial assistance and/or emergency grants.

We know that everyone’s situation is unique, and we are here for you. Our team is available for virtual consultations to discuss your situation and determine whether our other resources can help meet your needs. These resources include food and housing assistance along with technology rentals such as laptops and hotspots.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are conducting all of our operations virtually. Please book a 30-minute consultation via Zoom with our staff by emailing basicneeds@usc.edu.

USC Employee Support Fund

Many of our more than 28,000 employees are financially impacted by COVID-19 in ways we never could have imagined. We launched the USC Employee Support Fund to provide support for these employees.

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the USC Employee Support Fund.

The USC Employee Support Fund was created to assist employees who have an immediate need for financial assistance due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Office of Human Resources, in partnership with Campus Support & Intervention, is administering this program.

All current full-time and part-time employees, regardless of length of service, who have an immediate need for financial assistance due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to apply.

To apply, please visit USC’s Campus Support & Intervention website.

Yes. As employees of USC, postdoctoral scholars with the following postdoctoral titles are eligible to apply:

  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Research Associate
  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Teaching Fellow
  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Fellowship Trainee
  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Visiting Fellow

If you have any questions about your job title, please email postdocs@usc.edu.

Although there is no deadline to apply, please note that funds are limited. Employees are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

There is no cap on how much financial assistance employees can request. However, please note that funds are limited. While we would like to fund every request, we may not be able to fulfill every request in whole.

The USC Employee Support Fund typically covers the following expenses, including:

  • Temporary housing assistance, including additional rent; a security deposit; short-term hotel costs incurred to relocate, quarantine or isolate; for personal safety, etc.
  • Unexpected medical, mental health and well-being, or dental costs related to COVID-19 that are not covered by insurance.
  • Unplanned travel expenses related to COVID-19 to receive medical care, to self-quarantine or to isolate. Examples could include airfare, car rental, bus or train fare, etc.
  • Temporary assistance with food insecurity resulting from COVID-19.
  • Unplanned or additional child care costs for employees required to work on our campuses during COVID-19.
  • Emergency personal or incidental expenses such as clothing, hygiene items, etc. due to COVID-19.
  • Safety-related needs created by COVID-19 such as a change of locks, legal assistance, court fees, etc.

The following types of expenses are typically not covered by the fund if not related to COVID-19, including:

  • Credit card debt.
  • Penalties, fines, parking or other tickets.
  • Non-essential expenses.
  • Expenses due to a lack of planning or overspending.

We are reviewing applications as quickly as possible so we can meet employees’ critical needs. Employees will receive an email notification from Campus Support & Intervention once their request has been reviewed.

Those employees enrolled in direct deposit will receive approved funds through direct deposit. Those not enrolled in direct deposit will receive funds through a check mailed to the employee’s current mailing address.

As of now, while federal taxes have been waived for this type of fund disbursement, California state taxes have not been waived. However, the fund administrators (Human Resources, in partnership with Campus Support & Intervention) will factor in the tax consequences for each employee so that the employee will receive the full, approved disbursement amount. For example, an employee who is approved for $1,000 will receive a net $1,000 disbursement after taxes.

Please reach out to Campus Support & Intervention at uscsupport@usc.edu. A member of the team will get back to you within one (1) business day.