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Piggy bank

Paying for Your Degree

Financing your program

  • Scholarships do not have to be repaid and are awarded in varying amounts to students who meet special qualifications outlined by a selection committee or donor.
  • 80 percent of incoming MSW students received a scholarship from the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.
  • Thanks to the generosity of our donors, $4 million in scholarships were awarded last year.

Funding Options


Dean's Leadership Scholarships: The school awards Dean's Leadership Scholarships for incoming full-time students with demonstrated leadership capacity and experience who plan to attend the University Park campus. The award will automatically renew for the second academic year as long as students remain in good academic standing and are enrolled in the two-year full-time program. The amount is $25,000 per year renewable up to two years. Only prospective students are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Prospective students who apply by the November 15 priority deadline will be considered for the Dean’s Leadership Scholarship as long as they meet all required criteria.

MSW Merit Scholarships: The faculty review committee selects students with outstanding academic merit and social work experience for the MSW Merit Scholarships based on information provided in the admission application. There is no separate application required for this scholarship. Only incoming students will be considered for this award. Students in the two-year program can be awarded up to $20,000 per year renewable up to two years, and students in the three- or four-year program can be awarded up to $12,000 over the length of the program. Students selected for this scholarship will be notified shortly after receiving their admission decision.

Endowed and Philanthropic Scholarships: Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers multiple scholarships based on financial need, scholastic achievement and leadership qualities. Scholarships are awarded to students who meet the criteria specific to each fund. Unless otherwise indicated, renewal of these awards is not guaranteed and students may be required to reapply each academic year. Prospective students can apply for these scholarships after they receive their admission decision--they will receive an email from their admissions counselor with a link to apply. Continuing students receive an email at the beginning of each semester with a link to apply--they can also contact the Scholarship Programs Office for a link.

View a complete list of scholarships and eligibility criteria.

University Scholarships and Fellowships: Many USC-affiliated organizations offer competitive scholarships to qualifying students who demonstrate merit, financial need, and campus and community involvement. These are not administered by the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Scholarship Programs Office.

Outside Scholarships: There are many organizations outside of USC that offer scholarships for graduate students. For a directory of scholarship search engines, nonprofit organizations and professional groups that offer scholarships.


Several organizations at the local, state and federal level offer programs that help MSW students pay for part of their education in exchange for a payback commitment. The payback commitment often requires employment with full benefits, including compensation, at certain agencies/organizations after they graduate. For example, stipends are offered to students interested in working in the fields of mental health, child welfare, integrated behavioral health and geriatric social work. All stipends are offered to students in the last year of their MSW program, except for the DCFS/UCCF is a two-year program only for full-time incoming students. Students must apply to a stipend program with some being more competitive than others. Awards vary up to $37,000. View descriptions of each stipend, and find an application and stipend contact.

View a complete list of Stipends and eligibility criteria.

Federal Financial Aid

Often scholarships do not cover the full cost of attendance. The majority of incoming students are self-funded with Federal Stafford (up to $20,500 per year) and Graduate Plus loans. Loans need to be paid back and accrue interest over time. To be considered for federal financial aid, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Learn more about federal financial aid from the USC Financial Aid Office.


  • Federal Student Aid: Know what federal student aid programs are available, the process for applying for and receiving aid from those programs, and managing repayment.
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid: Complete and submit the federal form necessary to determine eligibility for federal student aid.
  • Complete entrance and exit loan counseling. Register for or retrieve a forgotten FSA ID. Find information about various student aid programs and loan repayment options.
  • Federal Direct Consolidation Loans: Learn more about consolidating your federal student loans and the repayment options available to you.
  • National Student Loan Data System: Log in with your FSA ID to view the current status of your federal student loans, their outstanding balances and who owns (services) them.
  • Salt: Discuss repayment plans with a counselor and find one that suits your financial needs. Free to USC students and alumni.
  • Financial Aid Videos - Watch these videos to learn how financial aid works, how a student's financial package is put together, and all the possibilities to fund your graduate schooling.
  • Loan Forgiveness: See if you qualify to have your loan forgiven, canceled or discharged, which means you are no longer expected to repay your loan.

Federal Work Study: Each year, there are very limited positions available for federal work study. Social work students must demonstrate financial need, meet all application deadlines, be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, and enroll in at least eight units for credit each semester to be eligible. Please note that USC staff employees are not eligible to receive federal work study. To be considered for federal work study, a student must also meet the following criteria:

1. Complete FAFSA
To be considered for federal work study, you must make sure you submit your FAFSA and the online Enrollment and Housing Form to the USC Financial Aid office by their respective deadlines. The Enrollment and Housing form is located in the students FAST account. To complete the Enrollment and Housing Form online, log in to your Financial Aid Summary and Tasks (FAST) page via youSC. You will find the Enrollment and Housing Form in the Document Library. Visit for document submission instructions.

2. Have an Approved Placement or Find a Federal Work Study Job

2a: Field Placement: Social work students can earn work-study funds through their USC Financial Aid-approved field internship. Nonprofit agencies must submit the USC Federal Work-Study Off-Campus Contract and be approved by USC Financial Aid for students to receive their funds through their internship sites.

2b: On-Campus Job: If federal work study eligibility is listed on your financial aid package, you can apply for an approved federal work study job on the USC campus. Please visit the USC Career Center for all student job openings.

If you have been selected for Federal Work Study and for next steps, please click here for next steps.