Students save money by leaving early

Attending USC without financial aid costs at least $41,000 per year, not including books and other expenses. Graduating a semester early can save students thousands of dollars and give them a chance to either begin working earlier or just take a break.

Ceremony · Students from the class of 2009 walk on Hellman Way on May 15, 2009 for their graduation. The main graduation ceremony for the USC class of 2011 will begin at 9 a.m. on May 13, 2011. - Daily Trojan file photo

Although rare — less than 1 percent of students leave USC early — Associate Registrar Matt Bemis said graduating early is “definitely not unheard of.”

Leher Pathak, a junior majoring in communication, transferred to USC as a sophomore and plans to graduate after this fall semester to save money. Pathak said graduating early will relieve financial stress on her family.

“I had enough credits from my old school. I could have spread out my courses to just two classes senior year, but decided not to because it saved money,” Pathak said.

Pathak said she originally had no intentions of graduating early.

“Even now, it’s not something I’m super excited about because I’m going to miss all my friends,” Pathak said. “I’d love to be here for the entire time, but it’s not practical, so I have to go for it.”

Nora Sassounian, a junior majoring in international relations, will also graduate a semester early by using AP credits to satisfy unit requirements.

Like Pathak, Sassounian too said she did not originally plan to graduate early.

“I definitely had not planned an early graduation,” Sassounian said. “The idea came to me fall of junior year while I was prepping for the LSAT and realized I had a lot of credits. I talked to my parents and decided it’d be a nice break personally and financially to graduate early.”

Sassounian took a full course load at USC, averaging 18 units each semester, and will use the semester off as a break, since she plans to attend law school in the fall.

Sassounian said she doesn’t feel like she will be “missing out” by graduating early because she plans to attend school in the fall. She also said she still had “the undergraduate experience.”

“During my years at USC, I’ve done a pretty good job of taking advantage of opportunities,” said Sassounian. “I lived on campus two years, I was president of my sorority and I really made the most of my time here.”