Applications Strong for Fall ’09 USC Freshman Class

January 21, 2009

USC Admissions Sees Large, Diverse Pool. Will Not Cut Enrollments Despite Economic Uncertainty. Promises Significant Increase in Financial Aid.

Los Angeles — More than 35,000 accomplished high school seniors from all 50 states and nearly 100 countries have applied for admission to the fall 2009 entering class of the University of Southern California.

Despite global economic uncertainty, said USC administrators, student interest in USC remains very strong — in part because of the university’s need-blind admissions policy, which offers the prospect of financial aid to match demonstrated need of every student.

"A college education is an investment that has enduring value," says Provost C.L. Max Nikias. "We are committed to partnering with families to make a USC education attainable for all qualified applicants." USC expects to increase the undergraduate financial aid budget for fall 2009 by 8 percent, and will not cut enrollments.

Last year, USC received 35,899 applications for 2,600 places in the fall 2008 freshman class, representing the highest number of applications ever received at the university. The freshman admission rate was approximately 22 percent.

The applicant pool represents a highly competitive and highly diverse group of students, with very broad geographic representation:

  • The pool is 6.7 percent African American, 14.9 percent Latino/Hispanic, 2.1 percent Native American/Pacific Islander, and 28.5 percent Asian. Overall, 23.6 percent of the pool is from underrepresented minority populations. In addition, 16 percent of applicants aspire to be the first in their family to attend college.
  • Outside California, the leading metropolitan areas in the U.S. supplying applicants to USC are, in order: New York City; Chicago; Seattle; Washington D.C.; and Dallas. The most represented foreign countries are: China, Canada, India, South Korea and Taiwan.
  • Overall, 54 percent of applicants are from California, with 7 percent international students representing almost 100 foreign countries, and the remainder of the applicant pool coming from the other 49 states and U.S. territories.

USC enrolls more underrepresented minority undergraduates (African American, Hispanic and Native American) than most other private research universities in the country (3,030 as of fall 2008). Moreover, USC enrolls 17 percent low-income students (defined by Pell Grant eligibility). Most importantly, low-income students at USC graduate at rates comparable to the overall undergraduate population.

The university’s graduate applications continue to be strong, with a 10 percent overall increase as well as a 10 percent increase in international applications.

USC’s Financial Aid Pledge

USC offers admission without regard to ability to pay, and the university meets 100 percent of the demonstrated need of on-time financial aid applicants. Almost 60 percent of USC’s undergraduate students receive some form of university aid. This represents more than 9,000 students — more than the total undergraduate population of most highly selective private research universities.

USC has the largest university-funded financial aid budget of any university in the country, providing more than $180 million each year of university funds to undergraduates.

Contact: James Grant, (213) 740-6156 or