Tuition Exchange

(If you’re looking for information on Tuition Assistance for your child at USC, visit Tuition Assistance – family.)

The Tuition Exchange program provides an opportunity for children of employees of 600+ member schools to earn an undergraduate degree at another school within the Tuition Exchange program at significant savings. USC is a member of this nonprofit association of schools, so if you’re a full-time benefits-eligible employee, your child may qualify to apply for a Tuition Exchange scholarship at one of the other member schools.

Important restriction note

This program cannot be used in conjunction with USC Tuition Assistance. If your child is granted and accepts a Tuition Exchange scholarship to another member school, s/he is committing to completing his/her degree at that school and thus is not eligible for Tuition Assistance at USC either during or after enrollment at the Tuition Exchange school. This means that students who begin a degree program with a Tuition Exchange scholarship will not be eligible for USC Tuition Assistance should they later transfer to USC, nor will they qualify for Tuition Assistance for a graduate degree. (Similarly, students who have already received USC Tuition Assistance are not eligible for Tuition Exchange.)

Is your child eligible?

The following eligibility conditions apply:


  • must be benefits-eligible and full-time faculty or staff
  • if staff, you must have completed at least 2 years of service (if the 2-year anniversary occurs within 30 days of the start of the semester, the benefit applies, so in some cases the wait period may be slightly less than 2 years)

Your child:

  • Must be your biological or legally-adopted child or stepchild (children under your legal guardianship are not eligible)
  • Must be under age 26 (the scholarship will expire at the end of the semester in which child turns 26)
  • Must not have already used Tuition Assistance or all 8 semesters of Tuition Exchange

If you worked for USC before July 1, 2011, you may be grandfathered into Tuition Exchange eligibility for your children if you completed a full 15 years of service. In some cases, these children can still access Tuition Exchange even if the employee no longer works for USC. Contact Benefits for information at or (213) 821-8100.

Learn the program basics

Scholarships are for undergraduates seeking their first bachelor’s degree (not including progressive degrees), and are awarded based on policies set by each member school.

Explaining the “exchange” in Tuition Exchange

The Tuition Exchange program is a balance of “exports” (children of USC employees approved for scholarships elsewhere) and “imports” (children of other college employees approved for USC scholarships). USC is subsidizing the imports – paying for the scholarships provided to children of employees from other colleges. In exchange, the other institutions are subsidizing the exports – paying for the scholarships provided to children of USC employees. Because of these commitments, if your export stops using Tuition Exchange at another school for any reason, including because s/he is accepted to and obtaining a degree from USC, USC is still obligated to continue paying for the scholarship provided to the matching import who is already studying here. This is why once your child accepts a Tuition Exchange scholarship, s/he cannot receive Tuition Assistance – because that would mean the university is paying tuition in two places for your child, and that is not allowed.

Depending on the number of requests for Tuition Exchange, a lottery system may be used to determine the number of applications that will be allowed from children of USC employees. This is because the number of “exports” must balance with the number of “imports.”

How many semesters are covered?

For a new freshman, USC’s Tuition Exchange scholarships are awarded for 8 semesters (or until a degree is earned, whichever comes first). Awards are based on entering class level, so a sophomore would be granted 6 semesters, a junior 4 semesters, and a senior 2 semesters, to complete the degree. There is no spring admission cycle for Tuition Exchange, and summer terms are not available. Scholarships are renewed each year dependent upon satisfactory academic progress, good conduct, and continued parental benefit eligibility.

Do your homework

Please carefully study the Tuition Exchange website, which includes a complete list of schools currently participating in Tuition Exchange. The site also provides a Tuition Exchange webinar (register to view) which provides further information. The School Search page of the Tuition Exchange website includes a wealth of information on each member school including:

  • Important deadlines, including the date by which scholarships are generally announced
  • What is covered by the school’s scholarship (generally 75%-100% of tuition; in some cases, some other expenses, like housing may be included)
  • Whether the scholarship can be applied to study abroad programs
  • Whether the scholarship is reserved for freshmen only
  • Percentage of applicants who are awarded the scholarship
  • Minimum GPA required to renew scholarship annually

Understand the process

October 1 of each year is generally the deadline to apply for Tuition Exchange for the following school year. This means that almost a full year before your student plans to attend college, you must complete the Tuition Exchange application process outlined below.

Well before that deadline, study the Tuition Exchange site and determine which schools are of interest to your child; students must apply for admission to each school of interest subject to the school’s published application deadlines, which usually fall after the October 1 deadline for the application/certification described in the next section below.

Admission decisions are made without reference to financial need or Tuition Exchange eligibility, but applicants are encouraged to apply for admission as early as possible since the scholarships are competitive and limited.

Please note that applying for a Tuition Exchange scholarship does not affect your child’s chances of admission to USC, and applying to USC does not affect your child’s chances for a Tuition Exchange scholarship.

When – and how – you apply

You apply by completing the certification form, which for the 2022-2023 school year will be available here starting July 1, 2021. Note that to fill out this certification, you will need to upload a state-certified (PDF) copy of your child’s birth certificate. Deadline to submit is OCTOBER 1, 2021.

By late October, the USC Tuition Exchange Liaison will confirm your eligibility, and connect with you via email regarding the next steps in the Tuition Exchange process.

What if you missed the October 1 deadline?

You may apply the following year. As the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles, the sheer number of employees eligible for this program means that we get a high number of Tuition Exchange requests. And because the program requires a balance of outgoing and incoming students (see “How the program works” above), we are not able to consider any applicants after the deadline.

What happens after you apply

If your student is granted admission to one or more Tuition Exchange schools, each institution will then evaluate the applicant’s academic merit as a possible Tuition Exchange scholarship recipient. Note that early admission does not mean the Tuition Exchange decision will be made earlier than the published Tuition Exchange announcement date on the Tuition Exchange website.

If your student is awarded a Tuition Exchange scholarship, the school(s) then notify USC and the student.

You must notify Benefits of your decision to accept a Tuition Exchange scholarship by emailing (note “Tuition Exchange” in the subject line).

If you are not granted a Tuition Exchange scholarship, you can reapply the following year as long as you remain eligible under the conditions listed above, and as long as the member school does not limit the scholarship to incoming freshmen only.

What if you leave the university while your student is using Tuition Exchange?

If you leave the university before your child earns his/her degree, the Tuition Exchange scholarship will cease at the end of the semester in which you terminate, unless you have 15 years of service and started working at USC before July 1, 2011 – in which case your student may still remain eligible.