One of the criteria used to establish student eligibility in order to receive Title IV program assistance is that a student must have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. Students who are not high school graduates (or who have not earned a General Education Development [GED] Certificate) can demonstrate that they have the "ability to benefit" from the education or training being offered by passing an approved ability-to-benefit (ATB) test. See Federal Financial Aid: What Types of Aid Are Available?
An academic year is the period of time schools use to measure a quantity of study. For example, a school's academic year may consist of a fall and spring semester during which a full-time undergraduate student must complete 24 semester hours. Academic years vary from school to school and even from educational program to educational program at the same school. See Federal Financial Aid: Who Is Eligible?
Accreditation is a process through which colleges, universities, and career training schools can publicly document that their education programs meet regional or national education standards for academic quality. Accreditation confirms that the school has been evaluated by a recognized U.S. accrediting agency and assessed as meeting the same requirements for authenticity and integrity as other schools receiving the same accreditation.
To accrue means to accumulate, and is often used when referring to interest that accrues on a loan of money. The date on which interest on a loan begins to accrue is called the accrual date. See Federal Loan Programs
Adjusted Available Income
According to the Federal Government's method's, the Adjusted Available Income is the remaining income after allowances such as taxes and basic living allowances have been subtracted. See Making Sense of Your Financial Aid Award Letter
Amortization is a gradual process of loan repayment where the loan is paid over an extended period of time through a schedule of payments of principal and interest. See Federal Loan Programs
Apprenticeship is a combination of on-the-job training and related instruction in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation. Apprenticeship programs can be sponsored by individual employers, joint employer and labor groups, and/or employer associations.
Associate degrees are a type of college degree which is usually awarded after the completion of at least 60 semester credit hours, or approximately 20 classes. Courses include career training, general education and elective classes. Associate degrees generally prepare students for a professional career; however, they also prepare students for further college education, like a bachelor degree. See more info on Associate Degrees
An award letter from a school states the type and amount of financial aid the school is willing to provide if you accept admission and register to take classes at that school. See Federal Financial Aid: What Types of Aid Are Available?
A balloon payment is a substantial payment used to repay the outstanding balance of a loan free of penalty. Balloon payments are not available on all loans. Fortunately, simple interest loans, like most educational loans, normally do allow balloon payments. See Federal Loan Programs
A bachelor degree, sometimes called a baccalaureate degree, is a college degree awarded to students who complete a full 4-year undergraduate course of study. A bachelor degree offers many benefits and opportunities like increased earning potential, greater career opportunities, and opening the door for further education. Increasingly, many adults with a high school diploma or GED are going back to school to earn their bachelor degree. Read more info on Bachelor Degrees
The Bursar is the senior financial administrator in a college or school. The Bursar's office is the administrative body responsible for billing student tuition accounts. They are not involved in the financial aid process; however, they do sometimes receive money from scholarships which is then disbursed to students. See Making Sense of Your Financial Aid Award Letter
With certain loans, such as subsidized FFEL Loans, the U.S. Department of Education pays the interest that accrues on these loans while the student is enrolled at least halftime and during periods of deferment. However, with subsidized loans in forbearance, unsubsidized loans or PLUS Loans, the student or the student's parents and graduate or professional degree students are responsible for paying interest as it accrues on these loans. When the interest is not paid, it is capitalized—added to the principal balance—which increases the outstanding principal amount due on the loan. See Federal Loan Programs
A Consolidation Loan combines several student loans into a single loan. This way, you only have to pay one lender. Consolidation Loans are used to pay off balances on other loans.
Cost of Attendance (COA)
The total amount it will cost you to go to school—usually expressed as a yearly figure. It's determined using rules established by law. The COA includes tuition and fees; on campus room and board (or a housing and food allowance for off-campus students); and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and, if applicable, dependent care. It also includes miscellaneous and personal expenses, including an allowance for the rental or purchase of a personal computer. Costs related to a disability are also covered. The COA includes reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs as well. For students attending less than half-time, the COA includes tuition and fees and an allowance for books, supplies, transportation and dependent care expenses; but can also include room and board for up to three semesters or the equivalent at the institution, but no more than two of those semesters or the equivalent may be consecutive. Talk to the financial aid administrator at the school you're planning to attend if you have any unusual expenses that might affect your cost of attendance. See Making Sense of Your Financial Aid Award Letter
The College Scholarship Service Profile, or CSS PROFILE, is a financial aid application provided by the College Board. The CSS Profile is much more detailed than the federal FAFSA and factors in funding sources that the FAFSA does not, such as equity in a house. The CSS Profile was created to give College Board members more information than the FAFSA regarding students' and families' finances. Along with the FAFSA, the CSS Profile is the most common financial aid application for U.S. students. Many schools require the CSS Profile from students seeking early decisions regarding admissions because the FAFSA is not available until January 1 (too late for early decision), whereas the Profile can be filled out in the fall.
Failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to when you signed a promissory note. For the FFEL and Direct Loan programs, default is more specific—it occurs if you fail to make a payment for 270 days if you repay monthly (or 330 days if your payments are due less frequently). The consequences of default are severe. Your school, the lender or agency that holds your loan, the state and the federal government may all take action to recover the money, including notifying national credit bureaus of your default. This may affect your credit rating for as long as seven years. For example, you might find it difficult to borrow money from a bank to buy a car or a house. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service can withhold your U.S. individual income tax refund and apply it to the amount you owe, or the agency holding your loan might ask your employer to deduct payments from your paycheck. Also, you may be liable for loan collection expenses. If you return to school, you're not entitled to receive additional federal student financial aid. Legal action also might be taken against you. In many cases, default can be avoided by submitting a request for a deferment, forbearance, discharge or cancellation and by providing the required documentation. See Federal Loan Programs
You must be one of the following to receive federal student aid:
- U.S. citizen
- U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swain's Island)
- U.S. permanent resident who has an I-151, I-551, or I-551C (Permanent Resident Card)
If you're not in one of these categories, you must have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing one of the following designations:
- Asylum Granted
- Cuban-Haitian Entrant, Status Pending
- Conditional Entrant" (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980)
- Victims of human trafficking, T-visa (T-2, T-3, or T-4, etc.) holder
- Parolee (You must be paroled into the United States for at least one year and you must be able to provide evidence from the USCIS that you are in the United States for other than a temporary purpose and that you intend to become a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.)
If you have only a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence (I-171 or I-464), you are not eligible for U.S. federal student financial aid.
If you're in the United States on certain visas, including an F1 or F2 student visa, or a J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa, you are not eligible for U.S. federal student financial aid.
Also, people with G series visas (pertaining to international organizations) are not eligible for federal student financial aid. For more information about other types of visas that are not acceptable, check with your school's financial aid office. Citizens and eligible non-citizens may receive loans from the FFEL Program at participating foreign schools. Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are eligible only for Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants or Federal Work-Study. These applicants should check with their school's financial aid office for more information. See Federal Financial Aid: Who Is Eligible?
A program of organized instruction or study that leads to an academic, professional or vocational degree or certificate, or other recognized educational credential. To receive federal student financial aid, you must be enrolled in an eligible program, with two exceptions:
- If a school has told you that you must take certain course work to qualify for admission into one of its eligible programs, you can get a Stafford Loan for up to 12 consecutive months while you're completing that preparatory course work. You must be enrolled at least half-time, and you must meet the usual federal student financial aid eligibility requirements.
- If you're enrolled at least half-time in a program to obtain a professional credential or certification required by a state for employment as an elementary or secondary school teacher, you can get a Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Work-Study, a Stafford Loan, or your parents can get a PLUS Loan, while you're enrolled in that program.
Expected Family Contribution
The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an estimate a family's ability to contribute to their student's college expenses. The lower the EFC, the less money a family has to contribute. The EFC is based on the information the student provides in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some colleges and universities may use the CSS Profile rather than the FAFSA to calculate EFC. A major difference between the FAFSA and the CSS Profile is that the CSS Profile takes the value of the family's house into account when determining ability to pay, while the FAFSA does not.
The EFC is usually subtracted from the cost of attendance (COA) to determine the student's financial need. If the COA minus the EFC is more than 0, then a student has financial need. Your EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR). See Making Sense of Your Financial Aid Award Letter
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the application form students who wish to apply to any federal student aid program must fill out. The FAFSA must be filled out annually. See The Key To Obtaining Federal Financial Aid
A type of financial aid typically granted to graduate students to help finance their studies. Sometimes these include a tuition waiver or a payment to the university in lieu of tuition. Most include a stipend to cover basic living expenses (think just above the poverty line). Fellowships are like scholarships in the sense that they are a type of gift aid that does not have to be repaid. See Scholarships for Adult Learning
Financial Aid Package
The total amount of financial aid (federal and nonfederal) a student is offered by the school. The financial aid administrator at a postsecondary institution combines various forms of aid into a "package" to help meet a student's education costs. Using available resources to give each student the best possible package of aid is one of the aid administrator's major responsibilities. Because funds are often limited, an aid package might fall short of the amount a student needs to cover the full cost of attendance. Also, the amount of federal student aid in a package is affected by other sources of aid received (scholarships, state aid, etc.). See Making Sense of Your Financial Aid Award Letter
A postponement of loan payments granted by a loaner or a creditor for a temporary period of time is called a forbearance. Usually lenders will do this to give the borrower a little extra time to make up for late payments. See Federal Loan Programs
To be considered full-time for the purpose of financial aid, a student must be enrolled in:
- 12 semester or quarter hours per term in a term-based program using credit hours
- 24 semester hours or 36 quarter hours per academic year (or the prorated equivalent for a program of less than one academic year) in a nonterm program using credit hours
- 24 clock hours of instruction per week in a clock-hour program
Special rules apply to students taking a combination of courses using different types of hours, as well as to students taking correspondence courses or a co-op program. The regulations do not specify a minimum standard for graduate students.
General Education Development (GED) Certificate
To qualify for federal financial aid, students must have either a high school diploma or a GED certificate. more than 17 million people have earned their GED credential since the program began in 1942. The GED tests can only be taken at official GED testing centers. The GED Tests CANNOT be taken online, so beware any website offering you the opportunity to get your GED online for a fee. There are more than 3,400 testing centers worldwide. See the GED website for program details and a testing center near you.
The short period of time after graduation during which the borrower is exempt from having to begin repaying their student loans is called the grace period. The grace period may also come into effect if the student leaves school for some other reason, or if the student drops below half-time enrollment. Stafford loans generally have a 6-month grace period, while Perkins loans have a 9-month grace period. PLUS loans do not have a grace period. Federal Loan Programs
A grant is a gift of money that does not have to be repaid. An education grant is designated by the grantor to be used solely for education purposes. Organizations that award grants include the federal government, state governments, private corporations, nonprofit institutions, and individual schools. Grants can be either need-based or merit-based and usually require an application. In higher education, a scholarship is one type of grant. Federal Grant Programs
The guaranty agency is an organization that administers the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program in your state. This agency is the best source of information on FFEL Loans. For the name, address and telephone number of the agency serving your state, you can contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). Federal Loan Programs
At schools measuring progress in credit hours and semesters, trimesters, or quarters, "half-time" is at least six semester hours or quarter-hours per term for an undergraduate program. At schools measuring progress by credit hours but not using semesters, trimesters, or quarters, "half-time" is at least 12 semester hours or 18 quarter-hours per year. At schools measuring progress by clock hours, "half-time" is at least 12 hours per week. Keep in mind that schools may choose to set higher minimums than these. To be eligible for a federal Stafford loan, you must be enrolled in school at least half-time; however, half-time enrollment is not a requirement for the Federal Pell Grant program, the FSEOG program, federal work-study, or the federal Perkins loan program. Federal Financial Aid: Who Is Eligible?
The holder is the financial institution, agency or lender that holds legal title to a loan. As such, it may be the bank that issued the loan, a secondary market that bought the loan from the bank or, if the borrower defaulted on the loan, a guarantee agency. See Federal Loan Programs
Income Contingent Repayment
A loan repayment schedule where the size of the monthly payments depends on the income earned by the borrower is called an income contingent repayment schedule. If the borrower's income increases, the loan payments increase as well. This payment plan is not available for PLUS loans. See Federal Loan Programs
If a student is at least 24 years old as of January 1 of the academic year, married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran of the US Armed Forces, an orphan or ward of the court, or has a legal dependent other than a spouse, then the student is classified as an independent. See Federal Financial Aid: Who Is Eligible?
When you take out a student loan, you will have to repay the loan with interest. Interest is a fee that you pay for the use of borrowed money, such as a loan. Typically represented as a percentage of the amount of the principal, the interest is calculated from the value of the money and begins to accrue from the date you receive the loan money. The percentage of the loan that is paid as interest is called the interest rate. The rate may be constant throughout the life of the loan (fixed rate) or it may change at specified times (variable rate). Federal student loans have fixed interest rates that are typically lower than that of private loans.
An internship is a part-time position held during the school year or summer months where the student receives practical training in a field usually related to their course of study. At times, internships may serve as a preamble or precursor to professional employment. Some internships place the student under close supervision by a mentor in an apprentice-like position. Some internship programs provide stipends, although this is not always the case. See Federal Financial Aid: What Types of Aid Are Available?
Java is a programming language widely used on the Internet to improve the functionality of Internet features.
The discipline of preparing, writing and reporting news through media outlets like magazines, newspapers, books, radio, television, film, and the Internet.
Knowledge Management is a range of practices that organizations use to identify, create, represent and distribute knowledge and information. Knowledge management resources are usually included as part of a company's Information Technology or Human Resources departments.
Legacy Preference or Legacy Admission
Students that have a family member who is an alumnus of the institution they are applying to are sometimes given Legacy Preference or Admission. Students who are enrolled in a college or university that gave them Legacy Admission are called Legacy Students.
Leveraging is the name given to the practice of offering financial aid to talented and promising students, with the intention of having the student enroll at a particular school, regardless of the student's need. The idea behind the practice is that if a school offers more financial aid, the student is more likely to enroll. See Making Sense of Your Financial Aid Award Letter
A consolidation loan is a type of loan into which multiple loans have been combined and reestablished as one loan. Aside from the convenience of having to keep track of and repay just one loan, loan consolidation may provide students to convert the variable interest rates of their original loans into a fixed interest rate, based on the interest rate at the time of consolidation. The original loans are purchased and closed by a loan consolidation company or the U.S. Department of Education. See Federal Loan Programs
To matriculate is to enroll. A student who is enrolled in college is matriculated in college.
Merit-based grants and scholarships are awarded not on financial need but on performance or merit in a specific field, typically academic merit, artistic talent, or athletic ability. See Scholarships and Grants from Private Organizations
Financial aid that depends on a student's financial situation is called need-based. Usually, students must provide specific information on their family's financial status in order to apply for need-based financial aid. See Student Financial Aid: Who Provides It?
Schools that use a need-blind admissions process make their decision of whether to admit a student or not without considering the student's financial need. Although most schools are need-blind, some schools will use financial information in order to decide if a marginal student should be put on the waitlist. See The Key To Obtaining Federal Financial Aid
Schools that use a need-sensitive admissions process take the applicant's financial situation under account when deciding whether to admit him or her. Sometimes schools use the need-sensitive process to decide whether to admit a borderline student or to pull a student off the wait list. See Federal Financial Aid: What Types of Aid Are Available?
National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)
NSLDS is the federal student financial aid database where you can find out about the aid you've received. NSLDS receives data from schools, guaranty agencies, and U.S. Department of Education programs. The NSLDS Web site is generally available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By using your PIN, you can get information on federal loan and Pell Grant amounts, outstanding balances, the status of your loans, and disbursements made. You can access NSLDS at www.nslds.ed.gov.
Fees that are paid to the bank to compensate them for the cost of administering a loan are called origination fees. They are charged at disbursement, usually running to 3% of the disbursed amount. Part of this fee goes to the federal government to offset the administrative costs of the loan. See Federal Loan Programs
The parent contribution to a student's financial aid need is similar to the Expected Family Contribution from the FAFSA application process. Generally, schools that refer to the parent contribution determine that contribution themselves using their own financial formulas, based on the student's FAFSA, CSS Profile, and other documentation.
The Pell Grant is a form of federal need-based financial aid granted to all eligible students who apply. The U.S. Department of Education uses a standard formula and a sliding scale to determine each grant amount, based on the financial information submitted by the student. See Increased Pell Grants Available in 2009
A Perkins Loan is a federal need-based loan offered to qualifying low-income students at a fixed interest rate of 5%. The Perkins Loan is repayable over ten years and has a nine-month grace period; borrowers begin repayment in the tenth month after graduation, or if they fall below half-time status, or upon their withdrawal from their college or university. The Perkins Loan is subsidized by the federal government, so the interest on the loan does not begin to accrue until the borrower begins repayment. Perkins Loans are eligible for federal loan cancellation for teachers who volunteer to teach in designated low-income elementary and secondary schools, as well as for teachers in subjects with a teacher shortage, including math, science, and bilingual education. A percentage of the loan is cancelled for each year spent teaching fulltime. See Federal Loan Programs
PIN is the acronym for Personal Identification Number. With regard to federal financial aid, you apply for a PIN at the Department of Education's FAFSA website for the purpose of submitting your federal student aid application (FAFSA) online. Your FAFSA PIN will serve as your electronic signature on your application and provide you with access to your personal application and financial aid records. See The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
The PLUS Loan is another federal loan program. There are two types of PLUS loans: one for parents can and one for graduate students. Parents can take out a Parents' PLUS Loan to help pay your education expenses if you are a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program at an eligible school. Graduate students can take out Graduate PLUS Loans upon being awarded the maximum subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans. See Federal Loan Programs
The amount of money borrowed or that remains to be paid on a loan. Interest is charged as a percentage of principal.
A promissory note is a binding legal document you sign when you apply for a student loan. It lists the conditions under which you are borrowing the money and the terms under which you agree to pay back the loan. The promissory note will include information about how interest is calculated and what provisions are available to you for deferment and cancellation of the loan. It is very important to read, fully understand, and save your promissory note because you'll need it later when you begin repaying your loan, or in case you want to request a deferment or forbearance. See Federal Loan Programs
To qualify for acceptance in a program or activity, the applicant must meet specified eligibility criteria. The term "qualify" is often used in reference to eligibility for financial aid programs, grants, and scholarships. Just because you qualify for participation, however, does not mean you will automatically be selected (as a scholarship winner, for example) or get the full amount of a sliding-scale grant. See Federal Financial Aid: Who Is Eligible?
A regular student is one who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment at an institution for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate or other recognized education credential offered by that institution. Generally, to receive federal student financial aid from the programs discussed in this guide, you must be a regular student. There are exceptions to this requirement for some programs. See Federal Financial Aid: Who Is Eligible?
Scholarships that are awarded for more than one year are sometimes known as renewable scholarships. Most of these require students to maintain a certain level of performance in order to continue receiving the scholarship(s). Some require students to re-apply every year, others only ask for a progress report. See Federal Grant Programs
Satisfactory Academic Progress
To be eligible to receive federal student financial aid, you must meet and maintain your school's standards of satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate offered by that institution. Check with your school to find out its standards. See Federal Financial Aid: Who Is Eligible?
A scholarship is a financial grant awarded to a student for the purpose of covering educational expenses. A scholarship does not need to be repaid, and is typically awarded on a merit basis. See Federal Grant Programs
Selective Service Registration
Registering with the Selective Service System (the military draft system) is a federal financial aid requirement. In order to receive federal student financial aid, if you are a male born on or after Jan. 1, 1960, are at least 18 years old, and are not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, you must register, or arrange to register, with the Selective Service System. (Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands or the Republic of Palau are exempt from registering.) See Federal Financial Aid: Who Is Eligible?
An organization that performs administrative tasks necessary to maintain a loan portfolio is called a loan servicing agency. These tasks can include collecting payments, monitoring loans while borrowers are in school, disbursing loan funds, responding to borrower questions, processing deferments and forbearances, and anything else necessary for the loans to be administered in accordance with federal laws and guarantee agency requirements. See Federal Loan Programs
Simple interest is paid only on the principal balance of a loan, not on any accrued interest in addition to principal. Most student loan programs offer simple interest. See Federal Loan Programs
The Stafford Loan is the basic and best-known federal student loan, available through the both the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) program and the Direct Lending Program. Stafford loans are offered as subsidized and unsubsidized loans. To be eligible for a Stafford Loan, you must submit a FAFSA. See Federal Loan Programs
Student Aid Report
After you apply for federal student financial aid, you'll get your FAFSA results in an e-mail report within a few days after your FAFSA has been processed or by mail in a few weeks. This report is called a Student Aid Report or SAR. Your SAR details all the information you provided on your FAFSA. If there are no corrections or additional information required, the SAR will contain your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is an important number in determining how much aid you can qualify for. Whether you applied online or by paper, we will automatically send your data electronically to the schools you listed on your FAFSA. See Making Sense of Your Financial Aid Award Letter
A subsidized loan is awarded on the basis of financial need. If you're eligible for a subsidized loan, the government will pay (subsidize) the interest on your loan while you're in school, for the first six months after you leave school, and if you qualify to have your payments deferred. Depending on your financial need, you may borrow subsidized money for an amount up to the annual loan borrowing limit for your level of study. See Federal Loan Programs
Title IV of the 1965 federal Higher Education Act is the section designating the criteria schools must meet in order to participate in the federal financial aid program. A primary criterion is accreditation by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Title IV student loans are collectively referred to as the Federal Family Education Loan Program and include federal Stafford loans, PLUS loans, and Consolidation loans. See Federal Loan Programs
A type of loan not backed by collateral is called an unsecured loan. This type of loan usually represents a greater risk to the lender. Unsecured loans usually require a co-signer to vouch for the borrower. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the co-signer will be held responsible for repayment. Most educational loans are unsecured loans, and on most federal loans the federal government guarantees repayment. See Federal Loan Programs
An unsubsidized loan is one on which the borrower pays the interest from the first day the interest accrues. The federal government usually pays the interest on a subsidized loan during the time the student is still in school. On an unsubsidized loan, however, the borrower is responsible for the interest from the date the loan is disbursed, whether the student is still in school or not. See Student Loan Programs: New Rules
Variable interest is an interest rate that does not remain fixed at one amount, but fluctuates with an industry index or rate it is tied to. Loans with a variable interest rate are called variable-rate or adjustable-rate loans. See Student Loan Programs: New Rules
Ward of the court
If you are a ward of the court it means that you have no parents or another person who is financially responsible for you and the court has assumed custody of you. If you have a legal guardian or foster parents you may still be a ward of the court. See Federal Financial Aid: Who Is Eligible?
The Federal Work-Study program provides jobs for undergraduates and graduate students who demonstrate financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. Jobs are either on campus or off campus. Off-campus jobs must be related to community service. See Federal Financial Aid: The Work-Study Program
Their role is to support doctors by managing the X-Ray imaging process. Their responsibilities include preparing patients for X-Rays, performing the X-Ray, and acting as a crucial information link between patients and doctors.
These are counselors that focus on providing guidance and support to children and teenagers. A youth counselor will usually work in a school, church, community organization or other private or government funded institution.