Financial Aid Glossary


State-sponsored investment plans — officially called qualified tuition programs (QTP) — that help families save money for college. The plans have tax benefits so your savings can grow faster. The money in the accounts can be used only for education expenses.


A period that begins on the first day of classes and ends on the last day of classes, typically August through May.

The demand for immediate repayment of the entire outstanding balance of a loan.

The interest that accumulates on the unpaid principal balance of a loan.

Both the federal government and nonprofit organizations offer money for college to veterans, future military personnel, active duty personnel, or those related to veterans or active duty personnel.

The interest maintained on a loan for a one year period.

The amount of income used to determine how much tax you owe in a given year. This can include wages, salaries, bonuses, tips, investment income, and unearned income.

An undergraduate academic degree granted after completion of two years of study. Community colleges and career colleges generally award associate degrees.

The document you receive from a college that explains the terms of the financial aid that the college is offering you. The information includes the types and amounts of financial aid offered, what you’re expected to do to keep the award and a deadline for accepting the award.


An undergraduate academic degree awarded for a course of study that generally lasts four years.

A financial plan that helps you track your money, make informed spending decisions, and plan for your financial goals.

The college official responsible for handling billing and payments for tuition, fees, housing, and other related expenses.


U.S. Department of Education federal student aid programs administered by colleges and universities. Includes Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and Federal Work-Study (FWS).

The addition of unpaid accrued interest applied to the principal balance of a loan which increase the total debt outstanding. Capitalizing the interest increases the monthly payment and the amount of money you will eventually have to repay. If you can afford to pay the interest as it accrues, you are better off not capitalizing it.

This is the Department of Education system that processes information from the FAFSA and verifies with government databases that the social security number, citizenship, and other information are correct. CPS also calculates the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for each applicant and sends out the Student Aid Report (SAR).

Property used to secure a loan which can be seized if the borrower defaults on a loan.

When a college grants credit for a course, it means that passing that course counts toward a degree. Colleges may also grant degree credit for scores on exams.

A student who lives at home and travels to school.

Consolidation combines several student loans into one loan. The consolidation loan is used to pay off the balances on the other loans. While the monthly payments may be less, there is usually a higher interest rate on a consolidated loan, and a longer life of the loan.

The total amount it should cost the student to go to school. This amount includes tuition and fees, room and board, and allowances for books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. Loan fees, if applicable, may also be included in the COA. Child care and expenses for disabilities may also be included at the discretion of the financial aid administrator. Schools establish different standard budget amounts for students living on-campus and off-campus, married and unmarried students, and in-state and out-of-state students.

The amount of money you borrow and your ability to borrow to purchase goods and services. Credit is extended to you from a credit grantor with which you make an agreement to pay back the amount spent, plus applicable interest and fees, within an agreed-upon time.

A financial aid application used by more than 300 colleges, universities, and private scholarship programs to award their financial aid funds. The College Board offers this service. Read more about the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.

In cases where a student’s parents are divorced or separated, the custodial parent is the parent with whom the student lived the most during the past 12 months.


The course of pursuing payments of loan debts due by borrowers.

A method of debt refinancing that involves taking out one loan to pay off others.

Failure to repay or otherwise meet the terms and condition of a loan. Default typically occurs after six months of delinquent payments. Penalties include a bad credit rating, loss of future financial aid eligibility, withholding of tax refunds, garnishing wages, and loss of monthly payment options.

When a borrower is allowed to postpone repaying the loan. If you have a subsidized loan, the federal government pays the interest charges during the deferment period. If you have an unsubsidized loan, you are responsible for the interest that accrues during the deferment period. You can still postpone paying the interest charges by capitalizing the interest, which increases the size of the loan. Most federal loan programs allow students to defer their loans while they are in school at least half time. If you don't qualify for a deferment, you may be able to get a forbearance. You can't get a deferment if your loan is in default.

The failure to make scheduled monthly loan payments when they are due.

The difference between your expected family contribution (EFC) and the total cost of attendance for a particular college.

A student’s dependency status determines the degree to which the student has access to parent financial resources. An independent student is at least 24 years old as of January 1, is married, is a graduate or professional student, has a legal dependent other than a spouse, is a U.S. Armed Forces veteran, or is/was an orphan or ward of the court.

Combines multiple federal education loans into one loan for free. You will have a single monthly payment on the new Direct Consolidation Loan.

Direct Consolidation Loan Application

Charges included in the Cost of Attendance that the student/family pays directly to the college.

A federal student loan that eligible students and parents borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education at participating schools. Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans and Direct Consolidation Loans are types of Direct Loans.

Federal loans that graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students use to help pay for education expenses.

A Direct Subsidized Loan is a federal student loan where a borrower isn’t generally responsible for paying interest while in an in-school, grace, or deferment period. To apply, start by submitting a FAFSA form.


Disbursement is the release of loan funds to the school for delivery to the borrower. The payment will be made co-payable to the student and the school. Loan funds are first credited to the student's account for payment of tuition, fees, room and board, and other school charges. Any excess funds are then refunded to the student.

A factor used in determining a borrower’s eligibility for certain repayment plans and/or loan rehabilitation. It’s the difference between annual income and a percentage of the poverty guideline for the borrower’s family size and state of residence.

A fixed permanent home to which an individual intends to return whenever absent.


A college admission policy that allows applicants to apply and receive notice of their admission early. Applicants accepted under early action are not under a binding agreement to attend that school and may submit applications to other schools.

A form of financial aid that must be repaid. Educational loans have varying fees, interest rates, repayment terms, and/or borrower protections.

A regional public multiservice agency that is authorized by state law to develop, manage, and provide services or programs to local education agencies, such as public-school districts.

An educational program that meets regulatory requirements for participating in Title IV programs.

An emancipated minor is someone who has been legally deemed an adult by a court in his or her state of residence. If you are an emancipated minor, you are considered an independent student and will not provide information about your parents on the FAFSA® form.

An endorser is someone who agrees to repay the Direct PLUS Loan if the borrower becomes delinquent in making payments or defaults on the loan. The endorser may not be the student on whose behalf a parent obtains a Direct PLUS Loan.

An Endorser Code is used to complete a Direct PLUS Loan addendum to the Master Promissory Note. If encountering issues, visit

A classification based on the number of credit-hours you're taking; for example, your enrollment status may be full-time or half-time. Some loans or aid may be available only to students with a certain enrollment status, usually half-time or more.

A mandatory information session that takes place before you receive your first federal student loan that explains your responsibilities and rights as a student borrower.

Students with educational loans are required to complete an online interview before funds can be released. This process reviews the repayment terms and schedule of the loan, as well as the rights and responsibilities of the student borrower.

A mandatory information session that takes place before you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment that explains your loan repayment responsibilities and when repayment begins.

The dollar amount that a family is expected to pay toward a student's educational costs. This calculation is based on family earnings, assets, number of students in college, and size of family.

Allows you to repay your loans over an extended period. Payments are made for up to 25 years. There are specific eligibility requirements to qualify for this plan.


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid must be completed by students in order to apply for virtually all forms of financial aid.

A number used by a school to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive, if any. It’s based on the financial information you provided in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. The family contribution is reported to you on your Student Aid Report, also known as the SAR.

Many schools award institutional need-based scholarships and grants based upon a more comprehensive calculation of family financial circumstances using information provided on the CSS PROFILE or the institution's own financial aid form. This can result in a higher (or lower) figure than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) might indicate with its Expected Family Contribution (EFC) estimate.

Household size is about who you support financially and not who lives with you. If you do not financially support anyone, you'll just put '1' for yourself. If you're a dependent student, your parents' household size should include yourself, your parents, and your parents' other children. 

Loan funds provided to graduate students by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. This federal loan program allows graduate students with no adverse credit history to apply for a loan amount up to their Cost of Attendance each year, less any other financial aid received.

Loan funds provided to the parents of dependent undergraduate students by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. This federal loan program allows parents with no adverse credit history to apply for a loan amount up to the Cost of Attendance each year, less any financial aid received by the dependent student. Repayment of principal and interest begins immediately once the loan is fully disbursed with some options to delay payment available.

Loan funds provided to the student by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. Undergraduate students with financial need can qualify for a subsidized loan. The government pays the interest on the loan while the student remains enrolled at least half-time and during certain periods when the government allows deferment of repayment. There are annual limits on the amounts that may be borrowed, which vary by the student's academic year in school and the student's dependent or independent status.

Loan funds provided to the student by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. Undergraduate students and graduate students regardless of their need, qualify for an unsubsidized loan, provided they have filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Interest accrual begins immediately, and the student can choose to pay the interest while enrolled or upon entering repayment. There are annual limits on the amounts that may be borrowed, which vary by the student's academic year in school and the student's dependent or independent status.

A program that worked with private lenders to provide education loans guaranteed by the federal government. The FFEL Program ended in 2010. All loans are now made through the Direct Loan Program.

The need analysis formula used to determine a family’s expected family contribution (EFC). The Federal Methodology considers family size, the number of family members in college, taxable and nontaxable income and assets.

A federal grant provided by the federal government to undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need and have an Expected Family Contribution below a certain threshold established by the federal government. The Pell Grant award amount is prorated based on Enrollment Status.

The Pell Grant is the largest federal grant program offered to undergraduates. It is designed to assist students from low-income households. To qualify for a Pell Grant, a student must demonstrate financial need by completing and submitting the FAFSA® form.

A Perkins Loan was available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students until Sept. 30, 2017; the program has since expired. The Perkins Loan is a subsidized loan, meaning the federal government pays the loan’s interest while the borrower is in school.

Federal student aid is aid from the government in the form of grants, loans, and/or work-study to assist students with college or career school. Students have to complete the FAFSA® form to apply for this aid.

Federal funds made available to the student that must be paid back by the student. Students must complete Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissory Note (MPN) to receive these loans. Repayment begins six months after the student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time with options to delay payment available. To be eligible, the student must be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program of study.

A program that provides grant assistance to students (as determined by the college). Priority in awarding FSEOG funds is given to students who have exceptional financial need and are Federal Pell Grant recipients. Approximately five percent of undergraduates are recipients of FSEOG.

Federally sponsored Work-Study (FWS) Program provides undergraduate and graduate students with school-year part-time employment. The Federal Government pays some of the student’s salary, which helps departments and businesses pay for and ultimately hire students. Eligibility is based on financial need.

Charges assessed for other college services (e.g. technology access, recreational center use).

Money given or loaned to you to help pay for college. Financial aid can come from federal and state governments, colleges, and private and social organizations.

A college office that serves as a resource for students who need help paying for college costs. Financial aid counselors can help you apply for and receive grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study employment. The financial aid office may also offer programs to help you manage your money.

College employees trained to help students and families apply for and receive grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study employment. They can answer questions about ways to make college more affordable.

The total amount of financial aid a student is offered by a college. The package includes grants, and loans. Parent PLUS loans and Federal Work-study (FWS) can be requested, but are not part of any student's initial package.

A record of all financial aid awards a student received at other educational institutions.

Financial awareness counseling provides tools and information to help you understand your financial aid and assist in managing your finances. Topics include Understand Your Loans, Manage Your Spending, Plan to Repay, Avoid Default and Make Finances a Priority.

Students under the age of 22 must provide evidence of one year of independent living in order to be considered emancipated.

The difference between the student's educational costs and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

An interest rate on a loan that remains the same for the entire term of the loan.

Includes the cost of a meal plan and/or an estimate of the costs of food prepared at home.

A period of time when your monthly loan payments are temporarily stopped or reduced. Interest will continue to be charged on your loans. Be aware that unpaid interest may be capitalized (added to your loan principal balance) at the end of your forbearance period.

The free application form you submit to apply for federal financial aid. It is required for all students seeking federal student grants, work-study programs and loans. Most colleges require it as well. The FAFSA may also qualify you for state-sponsored financial aid.

Read more about the FAFSA.

Consists of a username and password which gives you access to the U.S. Department of Education’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature when completing electronic documents.

A person who provides direct classroom teaching or classroom-type teaching in a non-classroom setting, including special education teachers.


The practice of withholding a portion of a defaulted borrower's wages to repay his or her loan, without their consent.

Funds awarded to the student that do not have to be repaid, unless the student fails to meet certain criteria, such as a service requirement that is specified as a condition of the gift aid or not completing the period for which the aid was awarded. Gift aid can include awards with titles such as grants, scholarships, remissions, awards, waivers, etc. Gift aid can be awarded based upon many factors, including (but not limited to) financial need, academic excellence, athletic, musical, and/or theatrical talent, affiliation with various groups, and/or career aspirations.

For certain types of federal student loans, a period of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment when you are not required to make payments. You are responsible for paying the interest that accrues on unsubsidized loans during the grace period. If the interest is unpaid, it will be added to the principal balance of the loan (capitalized) when the repayment period begins.

A graduate or professional student is a student who is pursuing education opportunities beyond an undergraduate (bachelor's) degree. Graduate and professional programs include master's and doctoral programs such as Ph.D., J.D., and M.D., among others.

The Graduated Repayment Plan starts with lower payments that increase every two years. Under this plan, you make payments for up to 10 years (between 10 and 30 years for consolidation loans).

The percentage of students who graduate from an institution. This shows students who began their studies as first-time, full-time degree-or certificate-seeking students and completed their degree or certificate within 150 percent of "normal time." For example, for a four-year school, the graduation rate would be the percentage of students who completed that program within six years or less.

A kind of "gift aid" — financial aid that doesn’t have to be paid back. Grants are usually awarded based on need.

Learn more about gift aid.

Your total income before deductions.

A state or private non-profit agency that helps administer the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. A guaranty agency insures federal loans by repaying the loan holder when a loan defaults, and then collects the defaulted loan from the borrower.


An enrollment status applied to students who are only enrolled in half of the expected full-time course load. Half-time enrollment can affect the cost of attendance (COA), and each school may have different half-time enrollment specifications.

For tax purposes, you might claim head of household if you are unmarried and responsible for more than half of the cost of keeping up your and your dependent's home. Whether you are head of household can affect how you report tax return information on the FAFSA® form.

Part of an armed services record which indicates the state of residency upon joining the military.

A homeless individual is someone without a home who generally lives in shelters, parks, motels, hotels, cars, or with someone else due to not having anywhere else to go. Homeless individuals can still receive federal student aid.

Includes residence hall charges for on-campus students or an estimate of rent and utilities for an off-campus student.


Students who lawfully reside in the United States on a permanent basis and hold a valid Permanent Resident Card (green card).

The size of the monthly payments depends on the income earned by the borrower. As the borrower’s income increases, so do payments.

A student's contract with their institution or a private entity to pay a percentage of their future earnings for a fixed period after graduation in exchange for funds to pay for their education while enrolled.

Eligible loans Direct loans and FFEL Program loans other than those in default, PLUS loans made to a parent borrower, or Consolidation Loans that repaid a Direct or Federal PLUS Loan made to a parent borrower. Consolidating a Federal Perkins Loan may make you eligible.

Eligible loans Direct loans other than those in default and parent PLUS loans. Consolidating a Federal Perkins Loan, FFEL Program loan or Direct PLUS Loan made to a parent may make you eligible.

A student who is at least 24 years old, married, a graduate/ professional student, a veteran, a member of the armed forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, someone with legal dependents (not a spouse), an emancipated minor, or someone who is or at risk of being homeless.

Estimated expenses in the Cost of Attendance that are not paid directly to the institution.

The amount charged to the borrower for the privilege of using the Department of Education's money. Interest is usually calculated as a percentage of the principal balance of the loan. The percentage rate may be fixed for the life of the loan, or it may be variable, depending on the terms of the loan.

The percentage at which interest is calculated on your loan(s).

You may be eligible for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG) if your parent or guardian died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11, and you are not eligible for a Federal Pell Grant.


The percentage of graduating students who obtained employment either in the recognized occupation for which they were trained or in a related, comparable, recognized occupation within a determined period after receiving their degree/certificate.

A judgment lien gives a creditor the legal right to keep property when the owner fails to pay a debt. It can only be granted by a court. A student (or parent in the case of a parent borrower) with a judgment lien will not qualify for federal student aid.


A designation by a court that authorizes someone to care for an individual in place or absence of parents. Having a legal guardian qualifies you as an independent student, such that you do not have to report your parents’ income on the FAFSA® form.

The organization that made the loan (borrower’s school, bank, credit union, etc.).

The amount of all Federal Pell Grant aid (in percentage) awarded to you, divided by the amount of Pell Grant aid you would have been eligible to receive based on full-time enrollment. The amount of Federal Pell Grant funds a student may receive over his or her lifetime is limited by federal law to be the equivalent of six years of Pell Grant funding.

Litigation is the act or process of bringing or contesting a legal action in court.

Money you borrow from the government, a bank or another source. Loans need to be paid back, usually over an agreed period of time. You will most likely also have to pay interest on a loan — a fee for borrowing the money.


Learn about Your College Loan Options.

The percentage of student borrowers – undergraduate and graduate – who have failed to repay their federal loans within three years of leaving a particular school. A low loan default rate could mean that the institution’s students are earning enough income after leaving school to successfully repay their loans.

Loan discharge is the removal of a borrower’s obligation to repay a loan under certain circumstances including but not limited to death, disability, bankruptcy, fraud, and identity theft.

A document that provides a Direct Loan borrower with important loan-specific information, such as the anticipated loan disbursement amounts, the anticipated loan disbursement dates, and the amount of the borrower's loan fee. It is provided to the borrower before or at the time of the first disbursement of a Direct Loan.

Student loan forgiveness is offered to encourage certain types of employment. A loan may be fully or partially forgiven after a certain number of years of qualifying employment.

An entity that collects payments on loans, responds to customer service inquiries, and performs other administrative tasks associated with maintaining a loan (e.g., processing requests for a change in repayment plans). A federal loan servicer is a loan servicer for the U.S. Department of Education.

Borrowed money that must be repaid with interest. Loans from the federal government typically have a lower interest rate than loans from private lenders. Federal loans, listed from most advantageous to least advantageous, are called Federal Perkins Loans, Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans.

You can find more information about federal loans at


A promissory note that can be used to make one or more loans for one or more academic years (up to 10 years). An MPN lists the terms and conditions under which the borrower agrees to repay the loan and explains the borrowers rights and responsibilities.

A legal document that contains the Borrower’s Rights and Responsibilities and Terms and Conditions for repayment. Direct PLUS and Direct Subsidized / Unsubsidized loans have different MPNs.

Access the MPN at https//

The amount in federal loans the typical undergraduate student takes out at a particular institution. It also indicates the monthly payments that an average student would pay on that amount using a 10-year repayment plan.

Financial aid given to students based on their personal achievements. Most scholarships are considered merit aid, as they are generally awarded for success in school, the arts, athletics or another area.


Financial aid (grants, scholarships, loans and work-study opportunities) given to students because they and their families are not able to pay the full cost of attending a certain college. This is the most common type of financial aid.

A policy of making college admission decisions without looking at applicants’ financial circumstances. Colleges that use this policy may not offer enough financial aid to meet a student’s full need.

An estimate of the actual costs that you or your family will need to pay during the 2016-17 school year to cover education expenses at a particular school. Net costs are determined by taking the institution's cost of attendance and subtracting your grants and scholarships.

Amount of direct and indirect costs remaining after all Gift Aid is applied. Net price can be covered through a variety of sources, including savings, income, and education loans.

An online tool that gives you a personalized estimate of what it will cost to attend a specific college. Most colleges are required by law to post a net price calculator on their websites.

Students who enter the United States on a temporary basis for a specific purpose.

A person whose domicile is not New York State.

The Department of Education's central database for student financial aid. It provides a centralized view of federal student aid loans and Pell Grants received from all schools.


When a payment from the U.S. Department of Treasury (such as an income tax refund) is reduced or stopped to pay off a delinquent debt. The remainder of a refund will be processed; an offset shouldn't delay it unless the entire refund is applied to the debt.

Group dedicated to helping resolve disputes related to the federal student aid programs, including Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, Perkins Loans, and grant programs.

A student who is attending a college or career school outside of his or her state of legal residence.

Also called “private scholarship.” A scholarship offered by a private organization — not the government or a college. Outside scholarships are offered by all kinds of groups, individuals, corporations and nonprofit organizations.

The disbursement of more federal student aid funds to a student than he or she is eligible to receive. A student's overpayment alert in My Federal Student Aid will let him or her know whom to contact to resolve the aid overpayment.


A financial aid administrator’s process of combining various types of student aid (grants, loans, scholarship and employment) to attempt to meet a student’s financial need.

An eligibility requirement under the Income-Based Repayment and Pay As You Earn repayment plans. For more information, go to Repayment Plans.

A repayment plan with monthly payments that are generally equal to 10% of your discretionary income, but never more than the 10-year Standard Repayment amount.

Amounts of money withheld from your paycheck by your employer.

Helps graduate/professional students and parents of eligible dependent undergraduate students understand the obligations associated with borrowing a PLUS loan and assists them in making careful decisions about taking on student loan debt.

Federal loans available to parents of dependent undergraduate students to help finance their child’s education. Parents may borrow up to the difference between education costs and financial aid received from a bank or other lending institution.

Also known as a section 529 plan, lets you lock in future tuition rates at in-state public colleges at current prices and is usually guaranteed by the state in which the plan was established.

Means paying off all or part of a loan before it is due.

The amount of money borrowed or remaining unpaid on a loan. Interest is charged as a percentage of the principal amount. Insurance and origination fees will be deducted from this amount before disbursement.

The date by which your application – whether it’s for college admission, student housing or financial aid – must be received to be given the strongest consideration. Since financial aid is often limited, meeting the priority date is important to be eligible to receive funds.

A student or parent loan from a commercial, state-affiliated or institutional lender used to pay for up to the annual Cost of Attendance, less any financial aid received. Private loans have varying interest rates, fees and repayment options and usually require the applicant to be creditworthy, or have a creditworthy cosigner. Repayment generally begins immediately.

For need-based federal aid programs, financial aid administrators can adjust the expected family contribution (EFC), or the cost of attendance (COA), or change the dependency status (with documentation) when extenuating circumstances exist (for example, if a parent becomes unemployed, disabled or deceased).

Level of the degree-granting program in which a student is enrolled. Program levels may include undergraduate (students seeking an associate degree, an undergraduate certificate, or a baccalaureate degree); post-baccalaureate (such as teacher certification); or graduate (students working on a master's degree, graduate certificate, doctorate, or professional degree). The amounts and types of financial aid for which a student is eligible is determined, in part, by their program level.

The legal and binding contract signed between the Department of Education and the borrower, which states that the borrower will repay the loan as agreed upon in the terms of the contract.

This tool will help you understand the following about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program what is required to participate, if an employer qualifies, which loans qualify, and what actions to take. The PSLF Help Tool is available at

The PSLF Program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 (10 years) qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan, while working full-time for a qualifying employer.


One who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment at an institution for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate, or other recognized education credential. To be eligible for federal student aid, you must generally be a regular student.

One method of getting your student loan out of default. To begin the rehabilitation process, you must contact your loan holder. If you’re not sure who your loan holder is, log in to your account to get your loan holder’s contact information.

Paying back money you borrowed by making scheduled payments to a loan holder or servicer.

A program offered by the military and available at some colleges. ROTC offers scholarships to students who agree to serve in the military after they graduate. Some ROTC four-year scholarships cover full tuition and fees. The program combines a military education along with college study leading to a bachelor’s degree.

The amount of time a student has to live in a state before he or she is eligible for in-state tuition prices and state aid.

A school’s retention rate is the percentage of its first-time students who are seeking bachelor's degrees who return to the institution to continue their studies the following fall.

The REPAYE Plan is a repayment plan with monthly payments that are generally equal to 10% of your discretionary income.

Room and board is generally the cost of housing and food while attending college or career school.


A school’s policy concerning the minimum number of courses that must be completed each semester, the maximum time frame, and the minimum GPA required to receive financial aid.

A kind of "gift aid" — financial aid that doesn’t have to be paid back. Scholarships may be awarded based on merit or partially on merit. That means they’re given to students with certain qualities, such as proven academic or athletic ability. Learn more about gift aid.

A school closure occurs when an institution no longer provides educational services to students. Read about recent closed school announcements

An institution's expectation that a student contribute toward their education using a combination of loans, student employment such as Federal Work-Study, and/or summer savings.

A TEACH service obligation is an agreement to teach full-time, in a high-need field, at an elementary/secondary school/educational service agency for low-income students, and for at least four out of eight academic years following their ending of the grant assisted study.

An organization that acts on behalf of the Department of Education to administer their student loan portfolio and is paid a fee to do so.

The Standard Repayment Plan is the basic repayment plan for the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) and Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Programs. Payments are fixed and made for up to 10 years (10–30 years for Consolidation Loans).

A standardized test is a test that is designed to assess individuals against a common standard. For example, the SAT and ACT are standardized tests that some colleges require for consideration for admission.

State aid, such as Cal Grants and NY TAP, is financial assistance that a state offers to eligible residents to help reduce education costs. We don’t administer state aid programs.

The report sent to your family after you submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that tells you what your expected family contribution (EFC) is.

A quantitative estimate of the student’s ability to contribute to postsecondary education expenses. (Typically 35 percent of his or her savings and half of the student’s summer earnings above $1,750).

Any situation where an individual falsifies information in order to qualify for student aid. Examples of student fraud include using false information on the FAFSA, such as income or marital status, or reporting an invalid high school diploma.

The percentage of a borrower’s monthly income that is dedicated to his or her student loan payments. The smaller this percentage, the lower the debt burden.

A loan that student borrowers do not have to pay interest on until after their grace period expires.

Federal grant program for undergraduate students with exceptional need. SEOG grants up to $4,000 are awarded by the school’s financial aid office.


A teach-out process provides for the equitable treatment of students and a reasonable opportunity for students to complete their program of study if a school ceases to operate before they have completed their program of study.

The TEACH Grant funds students who are completing/plan to complete coursework that is required to be a teacher, and who agree to teach full-time in a high-need field at an educational service agency or school for low-income students for at least four years.

Federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. Includes Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work Study, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Stafford Loan, Federal PLUS Loan, Direct Loan, Direct PLUS Loan and SSIG.

A total and permanent disability discharge relieves you from having to repay your federal student loan(s) and/or complete your Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant service obligation. Learn more at https//

Student aid funds that do not have to be repaid. Grants are often need-based, while scholarships are usually merit-based. Occasionally you might have to pay back part or all of a grant if, for example, you withdraw from school before finishing a semester.

The official record of your course work at a school or college. Your high school transcript is usually required as part of your college application and for some financial aid packages.

The percentage of its full-time, first-time students who have transferred to another institution.

A student who has completed some academic credits at a college or university and has requested to enroll at a different institution.

The amount of money you owe for receiving instruction, materials, and/or supplies, or for the rental or purchase of equipment, for a course of study at your institution.


A college student working toward an associate degree or a bachelor's degree.

Students unable to document their lawful immigration status in the United States.

The student's Cost of Attendance, minus their Expected Family Contribution or Family Financial Responsibility (if applicable), less any need-based aid received, such as Gift Aid, Federal Work-Study or Federal Direct Subsidized Loans.

An unsubsidized loan is a loan for which the government does not pay the interest. The borrower is responsible for the interest on an unsubsidized loan from the date the loan is disbursed, even while the student is still in school. Students may elect not to pay the interest while they are in school by capitalizing the interest, which increases the loan amount. Unsubsidized loans are not based on financial need and may be used to finance the family contribution.

Untaxed income is income you don't pay taxes on, such as Supplemental Security Income, child support, or federal or public assistance.


A federally mandated process to confirm the accuracy of data provided by selected applicants on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To complete the verification process, the student, their parent(s), or spouse, if applicable, are required to provide certain documents to the school for review. If the documentation the student provides the institution doesn't match what was reported on the FAFSA, verification can result in changes to the student's financial aid eligibility, and/or financial aid offers.


The Direct Loan Program is the federal student loan program under which eligible students and parents borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education at participating schools. Loans include Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, Direct PLUS, and Direct Consolidation Loans.

An amount of money that an employer takes out of your wages and pays to the government. If too little is withheld, you will owe additional taxes. If too much is withheld, you receive a refund.

A program that allows students to take a part-time campus job as part of their financial aid package. To qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program, which is funded by the government, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some colleges have their own work-study programs.

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