Higher education has been one of the most reliable paths to a prosperous life. The economic advantages of obtaining a bachelor’s or advanced degree are well documented. Most recently, there has been much discussion of whether this is still true, and whether the higher education path is worth the investment. Much of this discussion centers around the cost of higher education, but the cost of getting a degree must be balanced with the value that the degree provides to individuals and to society.
USC has been a leader among private research universities in attending to both affordability and value. Nearly two-thirds of USC’s undergraduates receive significant support made possible by a financial aid budget that includes more than $300 million in USC’s own contribution, the vast majority need-based. Programs like Mork Family Scholars, Martens Scholars, and the George Lucas Foundation Endowed Student Support Fund for Diversity strengthen support for our students and diversify our student body. In terms of providing value, at the most fundamental level, we have ensured that our undergraduates get their degrees, with a six-year graduation rate of 92 percent. We have also created a high-touch experience for students through low student-to-faculty ratios, senior faculty engagement in undergraduate education, including in our General Education program, robust internships and externships, and opportunities for students to work side-by-side with faculty in producing new knowledge and creative works.
In the coming years, we will redouble our efforts to secure scholarships for students at all levels: undergraduate, graduate, and professional. We will expand efforts to increase the four-year undergraduate graduation rate. We will undertake comprehensive and recurring evaluation of our operations, in order to find efficiencies that improve performance and reduce costs. We will establish curricular options for undergraduate students that will broaden their postbaccalaureate educational choices. We will implement new internship programs and expand career services support. We will invest in programs to improve student health and wellness, and to support disability services. And, we will better leverage our Trojan networks to support current and future students.