Tuition assistance for employees


(If you’re looking for tuition assistance information for your children or spouse, or information about the Tuition Exchange program, visit Tuition help for your family.)

Please read this page carefully – it contains all the information you need to access this benefit as a benefits-eligible employee.

  • USC is hard to get into! The university is very selective in admissions. Faculty or staff who wish to be accepted into a degree program should consult with the Office of Admissions, or an academic advisor in the school where they would like to enroll. Faculty should also consult with their dean of faculty or dean.
  • Staff hired on or after January 1, 2019 must complete two years of service before enrolling in a degree program; they must also stay actively employed by USC for two additional years (total four years of service) to avoid having to repay tuition. Staff must be actively employed (not on leave) to use the tuition assistance benefit.
  • Staff wishing to earn an undergraduate degree might consider beginning their collegiate studies at a community college and apply as a transfer student to USC. More information is available at the Transfer Applicants website.
  • Employees wishing to earn a graduate degree should consult the Graduate Admission website.

The university does not waive any undergraduate application fees for employees, but the Office of Graduate Admission does offer graduate application fee waivers.

After reading all the information on this webpage, be sure you read the Tuition Assistance Benefit policy in its entirety.

If you are accepted into a USC degree program, that program will in most cases be 100% tuition-free as long as you remain a benefits-eligible, full-time employee. You’re allowed a maximum of 6 units per semester or summer term, of which no more than 4 units may be at the graduate level. You must email the applicable Tuition Assistance form to uschr@usc.edu no later than the week before the start of classes for each semester or the relevant summer session (find your form below).

Additional information for faculty: Faculty members may not be candidates for degrees in the same school in which they have an appointment. Assistant professors on the tenure track may not simultaneously be candidates for degree anywhere at the university. Individual exceptions may be approved only by the Provost or a special committee appointed by the President. See the Faculty Handbook for full details.

In all cases and under every circumstance, Tuition Assistance is strictly limited to tuition payments and does not cover room, board, books, any additional fees, or any other expenses associated with a degree program. Some additional fees include health-related charges:

  • All USC students are charged a mandatory Student Health Center fee, but this fee can be waived for employees using Tuition Assistance (not a student worker).
  • All USC students are also charged a mandatory Student Health Insurance fee. This fee can be waived simply by proving that you already have adequate health insurance coverage. As USC employees, you likely qualify for this waiver.

If you are a staff member, you may also be eligible for a small scholarship to offset the costs of fees, books, etc. See the Staff Assembly Scholarship webpage.

Tuition Assistance is generally considered taxable and reportable income. The gross amount of the benefit will be divided into three portions, added to the employee’s monthly pay and taxed accordingly. This may significantly affect net pay in the applicable months. See Tuition Assistance tax schedule, below. If employees are enrolled in a graduate program and their manager certifies that the coursework is job-related, non-taxable Tuition Assistance may be available. See the Tuition Assistance – Graduate Coursework Certification – this form, as well as any questions regarding taxation of the tuition assistance benefit, should be directed to payroll@usc.edu.

Tuition Assistance tax schedule

  • Fall semester – taxed October, November and December
  • Spring semester – taxed February, March and April
  • Summer sessions – taxed July, August and September

Employees are responsible for immediate payment to the university of any prorated amount of tuition assistance if a post-registration audit reveals that their employee status changed during the semester or summer session in which they received the benefit, or if it is found that any Tuition Assistance was applied to ineligible tuition or fees, or the maximum allowed units was exceeded. Please note that the first and last day of classes in any session, including summer courses, is defined by the university’s academic calendarStaff hired on or after January 1, 2019 must complete four years of active employment to avoid having to repay tuition (see “Prepare for admission to a degree program” above). Note also that going on leave affects eligibility; see the “Going on leave” page.

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