The June release of USC’s latest financial report revealed various statistics about the University’s finances, with rising tuition prices and the coronavirus pandemic affecting revenue streams.
For the University’s 21,000 undergraduate students, the price of tuition increased by 2.1%, resulting in an annual cost of attendance of $79,063. Of those who were part of the entering class of 2020, 21% received a merit-based USC scholarship and two-thirds received some form of financial aid.
Jessica Bukowski, a sophomore in communications, said she was “amazed” to see high tuition fees rising each year with how few freshmen were receiving merit scholarships compared to the number who were receiving assistance.
“[For] a school that is already as competitive as USC, I feel like 21% is still a very low number considering how many of these students are doing very well academically,” Bukowski said. “I think it’s crazy how many of these students, even with these merit scholarships to help tuition, still have to seek other help…You shouldn’t have to pay that much for an education.”
James Nguyen, a second-year student studying cognitive science and English, said the rising tuition price was difficult to manage, even taking on several jobs during the summer to bear the cost.
“I don’t hesitate to say that I need financial help… so [the school] increasing it even more really hurts me,” Nguyen said.
According to University Comptroller Erik Brink, this overall cost of attendance consists of four major parts: tuition and fees, room and board, miscellaneous expenses, and books. The price increase reflects updates to financial aid packages and offsets the latest housing averages in the local Los Angeles area.
“Not all students live in university accommodation, so [the financial aid office] tried to consider what that cost is in our community,” Brink said.
The school further plans to maintain its blind admissions policy for future USC admissions.
Another important factor at play in the single financial statistics in this year’s report is the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on revenue, general campus maintenance, and physical capital expenditures. Ancillary revenue, including revenue from USC Village, athletics, and events held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, was down 80%. Other revenue from sales of USC Ticket Office, USC Radio Group and the Marshall business decreased 29%. Meanwhile, revenue from health care services increased by 11.4% – and represents the largest source of income for the university.
“All of this was impacted very significantly by the fact that we weren’t on campus,” Brink said. “We hope over the next year to get back to where we were before.”
Additionally, USC received a total of $103 million in federal COVID relief funding due to the passage of the CARES Act, which provides higher education grant funds to support universities during the pandemic. . $56 million was paid directly to students through aid programs, while the remaining funds were used to support the University during the period when students were off campus and out of dorms.
USC endowment net assets now stand at $8.126 billion, a 37% increase over the prior year; investments in school endowment, including venture capital programs, returned a high percentage of 43.2%.
University contributions and donations also increased by approximately 17% (a total of $524 million) in fiscal year 2021, but this was due to the timing of recognition of new building plans.
“We have a very good track record of maintaining a stable giving program. For FY21, there was some recognition of some donations related to some construction projects that happened in that year, which gave it a little extra boost,” Brink said.
Brink expects the next year’s report to be released in late spring.