Financial Aid Glossary

1

1040 Form, 1040A Form, 1040EZ Form

The Federal Income Tax Return. Every person who has received income during the previous year must file a form 1040 with the IRS by April 15.

1099 Form

Form used by businesses to report income paid to a non-employee. Banks use this form to report interest income.

4

401(k)

A popular type of retirement fund. It is legal to borrow money from your 401(k) to help pay for your children's education.

A

Academic Year

The period during which school is in session, consisting of at least 30 weeks of instructional time. The school year typically runs from mid August/early September through early/mid May at most colleges and universities.

Award Letter

An official document issued by a school's financial aid office that lists all of the financial aid awarded to the student. This letter provides details on the school’s analysis of your financial need and the breakdown of your financial aid package according to amount, source and type of aid. The award letter will include the terms and conditions for the financial aid and information about the cost of attendance. You are not required to sign or return the letter; additionally, you may decline potions of your financial aid award.

Award Year

The academic year for which financial aid is requested (and/or received). The award year typically runs fall semester through spring semester with the summer term(s) being optional.

B

Bursar's Office

(Also called Student Accounts Office) The University office that is responsible for the billing and collection of University charges and the disbursement of federal financial aid. This office also issues the refund checks.

C

Campus-based Aid

Financial aid programs are administered by the University. The federal government provides the university with a fixed annual allocation, which is awarded by the financial aid administrator to deserving students. Such programs include the Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant and Federal Work-Study. Note that there is no guarantee that every eligible student will receive financial aid through these programs, because the awards are made from a fixed pool of money. This is a key difference between the campus-based loan programs and the Federal Loan Programs.

Credit History

People who make all their payments on time are considered good credit risks. People who are frequently delinquent in making their payments are considered bad credit risks. Defaulting on a loan can hurt your credit rating.

Custodial Parent

If a student's parents are divorced or separated, the custodial parent is the one with whom the student lived the most during the past 12 months. The student's need analysis is based on financial information supplied by the custodial parent.

D

Default

A loan is in default when the borrower fails to pay several regular installments on time (i.e., payments overdue by 270 days) or otherwise fails to meet the terms and conditions of the loan. If you default on a loan, the university, the holder of the loan, the state government and the federal government can take legal action to recover the money, including garnishing your wages and withholding income tax refunds. Defaulting on a government loan will make you ineligible for future federal financial aid, unless a satisfactory repayment schedule is arranged, and can affect your credit rating.

Deferment


Occurs 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.

Delinquent

If the borrower fails to make a payment on time, the borrower is considered delinquent and late fees may be charged. If the borrower misses several payments, the loan goes into default.

E

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)

Used by some schools and lenders to wire funds for Stafford and PLUS loans directly to participating schools without requiring an intermediate check for the student to endorse. The money is transferred electronically instead of using paper, and hence is available to the student sooner. If you have a choice of funds transfer methods, use EFT.

Eligible Non-Citizen

Someone who is not a US citizen but is nevertheless eligible for Federal student aid. Eligible non-citizens include US permanent residents who are holders of valid green cards, US nationals, holders of form I-94 who have been granted refugee or asylum status and certain other non-citizens. Non-citizens who hold a student visa or an exchange visitor visa are not eligible for Federal student aid.

Emancipated

To release a child from the control of a parent or guardian. Declaring a child to be legally emancipated is not sufficient to release the parents or legal guardians from being responsible for providing for the child's education. If this were the case, then every parent would "divorce" their children before sending them to college. The criteria for a child to be found independent are much stricter.

Enrollment Status

An indication of whether you are a full-time or part-time student. Generally you must be enrolled at least half-time (and in some cases full-time) to qualify for financial aid.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The amount of money that the family is expected to be able to contribute to the student's education, as determined by the Federal Methodology need analysis formula approved by Congress. The EFC includes the parent contribution and the student contribution, and depends on the student's dependency status, family size, number of family members in school, taxable and nontaxable income and assets. The difference between the COA and the EFC is the student's financial need, and is used in determining the student's eligibility for need-based financial aid.

F

Federal Methodology

The need analysis formula used to determine the EFC. The Federal Methodology takes family size, the number of family members in college, taxable and nontaxable income and assets into account. Unlike most Institutional Methodologies, however, the Federal Methodology does not consider the net value of the family residence.

Federal Processor

The organization that processes the information submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and uses it to compute eligibility for federal student aid. There are two different federal processors serving specific geographic regions.

Federal Work-Study (FWS)

Program providing undergraduate and graduate students with part-time employment during the school year. The federal government pays a portion of the student's salary, making it cheaper for departments and businesses to hire the student. For this reason, work-study students often find it easier to get a part-time job. Eligibility for FWS is based on need. Money earned from a FWS job is not counted as income for the subsequent year's need analysis process.

Financial Aid Package

The complete collection of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study employment from all sources (federal, state, institutional and private) offered to a student to enable them to attend the college or university. Note that unsubsidized Stafford loans and PLUS loans are not considered part of the financial aid package, since these financing options are available to the family to help them meet the EFC.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Form used to apply for Pell Grants and all other need-based aid. As the name suggests, no fee is charged to file a FAFSA.

G

Gift Aid

Financial aid, such as grants and scholarships, which does not need to be repaid.

Grace Period

A short time period after graduation during which the borrower is not required to begin repaying his or her student loans. The grace period may also kick in if the borrower leaves school for a reason other than graduation or drops below half-time enrollment. Depending on the type of loan, you will have a grace period of six months (Stafford Loans) or nine months (Perkins Loans) before you must start making payments on your student loans. The PLUS Loans do not have a grace period.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

An average of a student's grades, converted to a 4.0 scale (4.0 is an A, 3.0 is a B, and 2.0 is a C).

Grant

A type of financial aid based on financial need that the student does not have to repay.

Guarantee Fee

A small percentage of the loan that is paid to the guarantee agency to insure the loan against default. The insurance fee is usually 1% of the loan amount (and by law cannot exceed 3% of the loan amount).

H

Half-Time

Most financial aid programs require that the student be enrolled at least half-time (6 hours undergraduate and 4.5 hours graduate) in classes required for your eligible program. Some programs require the student to be enrolled full-time.

N

Need

The difference between the COA and the EFC is the student's financial need -- the gap between the cost of attending the school and the student's resources. The financial aid package is based on the amount of financial need. The process of determining a student's need is known as need analysis.
Cost of Attendance (COA) - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need

Need Analysis

The process of determining a student's financial need by analyzing the financial information provided by the student and his or her parents (and spouse, if any) on a financial aid form. The student must submit a need analysis form to apply for need-based aid. Need analysis forms include the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Financial Aid PROFILE.

Need-Based

Financial aid that is need-based depends on your financial situation. Most government sources of financial aid are need-based.

O

Origination Fee

Fee paid to the bank to compensate them for the cost of administering the loan. The origination fees are charged as the loan is disbursed, and typically run to 4% of the amount disbursed. A portion of this fee is paid to federal government to offset the administrative costs of the loan.

Out-of-State Student

A student who has not met the legal residency requirements for the state, and is often charged a higher tuition rate at public colleges and universities in the state.

Outside Resource

Aid or benefits available because a student is in school and is counted after need is determined. Outside scholarships, prepaid tuition plans and VA educational benefits are examples of outside resources.

Outside Scholarship

A scholarship that comes from sources other than the school and the federal or state government.

Over awards

A student who receives federal support may not receive awards totaling more than $400 in excess of his or her financial need.

P

Parent Contribution (PC)

An estimate of the portion of your educational expenses that the federal government believes your parents can afford. It is based on their income, the number of parents earning income, assets, family size, the number of family members currently attending a university and other relevant factors. Students who qualify as independent are not expected to have a parent contribution.

Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)

Federal loans available to parents of dependent undergraduate students to help finance the child's education. Parents may borrow up to the full cost of their children's education, less the amount of any other financial aid received. PLUS Loans may be used to pay the EFC. There is a minimal credit check required for the PLUS loan, so a good credit history is required. Check with your local bank to see if they participate in the PLUS loan program. If your application for a PLUS loan is turned down, your child may be eligible to borrow additional money under the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan program.

Pell Grant

A federal grant that provides funds based on the student's financial need.

Perkins Loan

Formerly the National Direct Student Loan Program, the Perkins Loan allows students to borrow up to $4,000/year (5 year max) for undergraduate school and $5,000/year for graduate school (6 year max). The Perkins Loan has one of the lowest interest rates and is awarded by the financial aid administrator to students with exceptional financial need. The student must have applied for a Pell Grant to be eligible. The interest on the Perkins Loan is subsidized while the student is in school.

Priority Deadline Date

Priority Deadline Date  - students who file a FAFSA by this date (currently March 1 of the preceding award year) will be among the first considered to receive certain types of financial aid, which are limited.  If the priority deadline is missed, students may still be eligible to receive other forms of financial aid such as Federal Pell Grants and Federal Direct Student Loans.

Progress (SAP)

A student must make this status in order to continue receiving federal aid. If a student fails to maintain an academic standing consistent with the school's SAP policy, they are unlikely to meet the school's graduation requirements.

Promissory Note

The binding legal document that must be signed by the student borrower before loan funds are disbursed by the lender. The promissory note states the terms and conditions of the loan, including repayment schedule, interest rate, deferment policy and cancellations. The student should keep this document until the loan has been repaid.

S

Scholarship

A form of financial aid given to undergraduate students to help pay for their education. Most scholarships are restricted to paying all or part of tuition expenses, though some scholarships also cover room and board. Scholarships are a form of gift aid and do not have to be repaid. Many scholarships are restricted to students in specific courses of study or with academic, athletic or artistic talent.

Scholarship Search Service

A service that charges a fee to compare the student's profile against a database of scholarship programs. Few students who use a scholarship search service actually win a scholarship.

Selective Service System

Registration for the military draft. Male students who are US citizens and have reached the age of 18 and were born after December 31, 1959 must be registered with Selective Service System to be eligible for federal financial aid. If the student did not register and is past the age of doing so (18-25), and the school determines that the failure to register was knowing and willful, the student is ineligible for all federal student financial aid programs. The school's decision as to whether the failure to register was willful is not subject to appeal. Students needing help resolving problems concerning their Selective Service System registration should call 1-847‑688‑6888.

Servicer

An organization that collects payments on a loan and performs other administrative tasks associated with maintaining a loan portfolio. Loan servicers disburse loans funds, monitor loans while the borrowers are in school, collect payments, process deferments and forbearances, respond to borrower inquiries and ensure that the loans are administered in compliance with federal regulations and guarantee agency requirements.

Simple Interest

Interest that is paid only on the principal balance of the loan and not on any accrued interest. Most federal student loan programs offer simple interest. Note, however, that capitalizing the interest on an unsubsidized Stafford loan is a form of compounded interest.

Simplified Needs Test

If the parents have an adjusted gross income of less than $50,000 and every family member was eligible to file an IRS Form 1040A or 1040EZ (or wasn't required to file a Federal income tax return), the Federal Methodology ignores assets when computing the EFC. If you filed a 1040 but weren't required to do so, you may be eligible for the simplified needs test. Details on the eligibility requirements appear on the Simplified Needs Test Chart.

Stafford Loans

Federal loans that come in two forms, subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized loans are based on need; unsubsidized loans aren't. The interest on the subsidized Stafford Loan is paid by the federal government while the student is in school and during the 6 month grace period. The Subsidized Stafford Loan was formerly known as the Guaranteed Student Loan (GSL). The Unsubsidized Stafford Loan may be used to pay the EFC - costs not covered by other financial aid awards.

Student Aid Report (SAR)

Report that summarizes the information included in the FAFSA and must be provided to your school's FAO. The SAR will also indicate the amount of Pell Grant eligibility, if any, and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). You should receive a copy of your SAR four to six weeks after you file your FAFSA. Review your SAR and correct any errors on part 2 of the SAR. Keep a photocopy of the SAR for your records. To request a duplicate copy of your SAR, call 1-319‑337‑5665.

Student Contribution (SC)

The amount of money the federal government expects the student to contribute to his or her education and is included as part of the EFC. The SC depends on the student's income and assets, but can vary from school to school. Usually a student is expected to contribute about 35% of his or her savings and approximately one-half of his summer earnings above $1,750.

Subsidized Loan

With a subsidized loan, such as the Perkins Loan or the Subsidized Stafford Loan, the government pays the interest on the loan while the student is in school, during the six-month grace period and during any deferment periods. Subsidized loans are awarded based on financial need and may not be used to finance the family contribution. See Stafford Loans for information about subsidized Stafford Loans.

Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant

Federal grant program for undergraduate students with exceptional need. FSEOG grants are awarded by the school's financial aid office, and provide up to $4,000 per year. To qualify, a student must also be a recipient of a Federal Pell Grant.

U

Unmet Need

In an ideal world, the FAO would be able to provide each student with the full difference between their ability to pay and the cost of education. Due to budget constraints the FAO may provide the student with less than the student's need (as determined by the FAO). This gap is known as the unmet need.

Unsubsidized Loan

A federal loan for which the government does not pay the interest. The borrower is responsible for the interest on an unsubsidized federal loan from the date the loan is disbursed, even while the student is still in school. Students may avoid paying 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. See Stafford Loans for information about Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans.