Office of Financial Aid

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FAQs About Scholarships

  1. What different types of scholarships are there?
  2. How do I qualify for USD Merit-based scholarships?
  3. How do I qualify for USD Need-based scholarships?
  4. What scholarships are available to transfer students?
  5. What scholarships are available to graduate students?
  6. What scholarships are available to international students?
  7. Typically, what are the deadlines for scholarships?
  8. What are some good tips in seeking scholarships through my community?
  9. Where do I start?
  10. What effect will outside scholarships have on my financial aid package?
  11. Do you have any tips for applying for scholarships?
  12. I've been contacted by companies offering to help me find scholarships for a fee. Is it worth it?
  13. How can companies provide scholarship services for free?
  14. It's much easier to apply for a few large, well known scholarships. What's the advantage of spending time looking for smaller, more obscure ones?
  15. How do I renew my scholarship?
  16. Where do I send a check for an outside scholarship that I have received?
  17. Is my scholarship taxable or tax-free?
  1. What different types of scholarships are there?
    There are university scholarships, departmental scholarships, private and outside scholarships
    .
  2. How do I qualify for USD Merit-based scholarships?
    Merit-based scholarships are awarded by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and are only awarded upon admission to the University.  Merit-based scholarships are not awarded after the first year of admission. There are also Graduate Merit-based scholarships that are awarded during the first year of attendance, and are not renewable but can be reapplied for based on the admissions application.   
  3. How do I qualify for USD Need-based scholarships?
    To qualify for Need-based scholarships, you must file a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The government uses this form to calculate an estimated family contribution (EFC). The financial aid office subtracts your EFC from your cost of attendance to determine your financial need. If you are determined to have any amount of financial need, you may be eligible for some need-based scholarships or grants offered by the University.
  4. What scholarships are available to transfer students?
    Transfer students are eligible to receive the same need-based scholarships as continuing students at the University.  Transfer students, however, are not eligible for merit-based scholarships.
  5. What scholarships are available to graduate students?
    Graduate students may be eligible for the USD Graduate Grant, the Dean’s Graduate Merit Scholarship, or other Graduate Assistance Programs available through specific departments. 
  6. What scholarships are available to international students?
    International students are not eligible for need-based scholarships.  Depending on a student’s area of study, individual departments may offer scholarships to international students.
  7. Typically, what are the deadlines for scholarships?
    There are different deadlines for the different types of scholarships.  The priority deadline to be eligible for University scholarships for freshman and undergraduate transfers is February 20th, and for continuing undergraduates is April 1st.  For new and continuing graduate students, the priority deadline is May 1st.  The deadlines for outside scholarships and most departmental scholarships vary, during different times throughout the year.  Typically, most deadlines are towards the beginning of the academic school year, or calendar year.
  8. What are some good tips in seeking scholarships through my community?
    When seeking scholarships in your community, ask your high school counselor to recommend some organizations.  You may also want to approach your local church, community organization, or local Chamber of Commerce to see if they offer any scholarships.  You can also use free scholarship search engines to find outside scholarships within your community. 
  9. Where do I start?
    Just looking at our website is a great start.  Asking your high school counselor or financial aid counselor for help is also a great place to start.  They can provide you with the most up-to-date information on the financial aid process.
  10. What effect will outside scholarships have on my financial aid package?
    Each student’s financial aid package is different according to your financial need.  The effects of an outside scholarship on your overall package will vary individually.  If you would like to know how an outside scholarship will affect your aid, please come to the Office of Financial Aid and speak with a Financial Aid Counselor. 
  11. Do you have any tips for applying for scholarships?
    Tips for Applying:
  • Start Your Search Early: Any search for funding is likely to be more successful if it is started early.  If you allow enough time to complete all the necessary steps, you will be more likely to identify a wide variety of awards for which you may qualify and be able to meet the application deadlines.  Some expects recommend that you start this process as early as two years before you think you will need financial assistance.
  • Assess Your Needs and Goals: Your first step in seeking financial aid should be to establish your basic qualifications as a potential recipient.  To do this, you must clearly define your educational and financial needs and goals (e.g. I want to graduate in four years; I want to keep my student loans to a minimum, my tuition and fees year = xxxx; my room/board per year = xxxx)
  • Leave No Stone Unturned: Once you have defined your goals, the next step is to identify any special factors that might make you eligible for aid programs that are offered only to certain types of students (e.g. gender, race, or ethnic group, membership in an organization, parent’s employer, career goal/major).
  • Allow Enough Time for the Application Process: The amount of time needed to complete the application process for individual awards will vary, so you should pay close attention to application details and deadlines.  Some awards carry application deadlines that require you to apply more than a year before study will actually begin.  Prepare each application carefully and neatly.  Your application gives your first impression.
  • Don’t Apply Unless You Are Sure You Qualify: If you find you don’t qualify for a particular award, don’t apply for it.  Instead, use your time and energy to identify and apply for more likely sources of aid.
  • Prepare for a Scholarship Interview: Prepare as you would for a job interview.  You are competing with other scholarship applicants. You can prepare yourself by thinking through your answers to the following often-asked questions:
    • Describe yourself in a few sentences.
    • What are your goals and ambitions for the future?
    • Describe your involvement in your school.
    • Describe your involvement in your community.
    • Who is the individual that has influenced you the most and why?
    • In your spare time, what do you enjoy doing?
    • Do you have any special talents that make you stand out as an individual?
    • If you were to help solve one problem in the world, which would it be and why?
    • Why do you feel you should be chosen for this scholarship?
  1. I've been contacted by companies offering to help me find scholarships for a fee. Is it worth it?
    Be very cautious about scholarship scams such as these.  Visit our Scholarship Scams section for more detailed information about fraud.
  2. How can companies provide scholarship services for free?
    Companies that supply free scholarship searches usually operate through advertising and sponsorships with other companies, therefore, they do not need your money in order to provide you with their service. 
  3. It's much easier to apply for a few large, well known scholarships. What's the advantage of spending time looking for smaller, more obscure ones?
    All scholarships are competitive, which means that well-known scholarships are more likely to have more applicants than smaller, less-known scholarships.  By applying for a few small scholarships as opposed to two well-known scholarships, you better your chances of winning the smaller scholarships because of the smaller pool of applicants. 
  4. How do I renew my scholarship?
    University non-merit based scholarships may be renewed for students that demonstrate continued financial need.  Eligibility for renewal will be determined by the USD Office of Financial Aid upon receipt of students FAFSA information.  Students must file the FAFSA each year by the posted priority deadline.  Merit-based scholarships are automatically updated for the next year’s award based on the GPA renewal criteria. If a student decides to take a leave of absence, it is important that they notify the Office of Financial Aid.
  5. Where do I send a check for an outside scholarship that I have received?
    Please send all scholarships checks to:

    University of San Diego
    Office of Financial Aid
    Attn: Scholarship Advisor
    5998 Alcala Park
    San Diego, CA 92110

  6. Is my scholarship taxable or tax-free?
    If you are not sure if your scholarship is taxable, ask the organization award sponsor, or contact the IRS (www.irs.gov). Ordinarily, if a full- or part-time student has an award that covers tuition and fees or book, supplies and equipment for required courses, the scholarship is considered tax-free.  A taxable scholarship is an award used to cover room & board, research, travel, or other non-course related expenses.   If you have a taxable scholarship, you will need to report the scholarship to the IRS; however, if it is tax-free you do not have to report the award.