Financial Aid Terms
The timeframe during which school is in session; consisting of at least 30 weeks of instructional time. The school year typically runs from the mid-August through the end of May at most colleges and universities. The academic year begins with the Fall Semester, continues with Spring Semester, and ends with the Summer Semester.
AppealAn appeal is a formal request to have a financial aid administrator review the circumstances surrounding an individual not making satisfactory academic progress. The student must provide reason why he/she has not met the minimum academic requirements to receive financial aid and the steps that he/she is taking to obtain the minimum requirements to receive financial aid. Supporting documentation is required.
Appeal AgreementA formal agreement (i.e.; Academic Warning or Academic Plan from the Financial Aid Office) signed by the student if his/her Appeal for financial aid is approved to signify understanding, adherence and compliance of requirements for maintaining conditions of Appeal.
Award NotificationAn award notification is displayed in COAST by a school's financial aid office that lists all of the financial aid awarded to the student. This notification provides details on your financial need and the breakdown of your financial aid package according to amount, source and type of aid. The award notification includes the terms and conditions for the financial aid and information about the cost of attendance. You can view your award letter on COAST.
BankruptcyWhen a person is declared bankrupt, he is found to be legally insolvent and his property is distributed among his creditors or otherwise administered to satisfy the interests of his creditors. Federal student loans, however, cannot normally be discharged through bankruptcy.
Campus-based AidFinancial 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 Perkins Loan, 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.
Cost of Attendance (COA)The COA (also known as the cost of education or "budget") is the total amount it should cost the student to go to school, including tuition and fees, room and board, allowances for books and supplies, transportation, and personal and incidental expenses. Schools may 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.
Custodial ParentIf a student's parents are divorced or separated, the custodial parent is the one with whom the student lived the most with during the past 12 months. The student's need analysis is based on financial information supplied by the custodial parent.
DefaultA loan is in default when the borrower fails to pay several regular installments on time (i.e., payments overdue by 180 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.
DefermentDeferment 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 forbearance. You can't get a deferment if your loan is in default.
DelinquentIf 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.
DependentFor a child or other person to be considered your dependent, they must live with you and you must provide them with more than half of their support. Spouses do not count as dependents in the Federal Methodology. You and your spouse cannot both claim the same child as a dependent. (See also Independent.)
Disclosure StatementA Disclosure Statement provides the borrower with information about the actual cost of the loan, including the interest rate, origination, insurance, loan fees and any other types of finance charges. Lenders are required to provide the borrower with a disclosure statement before issuing a loan.
Eligible Non-CitizenAn “Eligible Non-Citizen” is 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.
EmancipatedEmancipated means 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. The criteria for a child to be found independent are much stricter.
Entrance CounselingThe goal of entrance counselingis to help you understand what it means to take out a federal student loan. If you have not previously received a subsidized or unsubsidized loanunder the Direct Loan Program or a subsidized or unsubsidized Stafford Loan under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, you’ll be required to complete entrance counseling.
Exit CounselingExit Counseling is required when you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. Exit counseling provides important information you need to prepare to repay your federal student loan(s).
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)The EFC is 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. If you have unusual financial circumstances (such as high medical expenses, loss of employment or death of a parent) that may affect your ability to pay for your education, tell your financial aid administrator (FAA). He or she can adjust the COA or EFC to compensate. See Professional Judgment.
Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP)FFELP includes the Federal Stafford Loan (Subsidized and Unsubsidized), the Federal Perkins Loan and the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). The funds for these loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and savings & loan associations. These loans are guaranteed against default by the federal government.
Federal Work-Study (FWS)The Federal Work Study Program provides 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 AidFinancial Aid is the money provided to the student and the family to help them pay for the student's education. Major forms of financial aid include gift aid (grants and scholarships) and self-help aid (loans and work).
Financial Aid Administrator (FAA) - A college or university employee who is involved in the administration of financial aid. Some schools call FAAs "Financial Aid Advisors" or "Financial Aid Counselors".
Financial Aid Office (FAO) - The college or university office that is responsible for the determination of financial need and the awarding of financial aid.
Financial Aid PackageFinancial Aid Package refers to 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.
ForbearanceForbearance is when the lender allows the borrower to temporarily postpone repaying the principal, but the interest charges continue to accrue, even on subsidized loans. The borrower must continue paying the interest charges during the forbearance period. Forbearances are granted at the lender's discretion, usually in cases of extreme financial hardship or other unusual circumstances when the borrower does not qualify for a deferment. You can't receive a forbearance if your loan is in default.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)The FAFSA is the 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.
Grace PeriodA 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.
IncomeIncome is considered as the the amount of money received from employment (salary, wages, tips), profit from financial instruments (interest, dividends, capital gains), or other sources (welfare, disability, child support, Social Security and pensions).
IndependentAn independent student is at least 24 years old as of January 1 of the academic year, is married, is a graduate or professional student, has a legal dependent other than a spouse, is a veteran of the US Armed Forces, or is an orphan or ward of the court (or was a ward of the court until age 18). A parent refusing to provide support for their child's education is not sufficient for the child to be declared independent. (See also Dependent.)
LenderA bank, credit union, savings & loan association, or other financial institution that provides funds to the student or parent for an educational loan is referred to as a lender. Note: Some schools now participate in the Federal Direct Loan program and no longer use a private lenders since loan funds are provided by the US Government.
LoanA loan is a type of financial aid which must be repaid, with interest. The federal student loan programs (FFELP and FDSLP) are a good method of financing the costs of your college education. These loans are better than most consumer loans because they have lower interest rates and do not require a credit check or collateral. The Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans also provide a variety of deferment options and extended repayment terms.
Merit-basedFinancial aid that is merit-based depends on your academic, artistic or athletic merit or some other criteria, and does not depend on the existence of financial need. Merit-based awards use your grades, test scores, hobbies and special talents to determine your eligibility for scholarships.
NeedThe 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 AnalysisThe 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-BasedFinancial aid that is need-based depends on your financial situation. Most government sources of financial aid are need-based.
Origination FeeAn origination fee is a 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. A portion of this fee is paid to federal government to offset the administrative costs of the loan.
Outside ScholarshipA scholarship that comes from sources other than the school and the federal or state government.
PackagingPackaging refers to the process of assembling a financial aid package.
Pell GrantA federal grant that provides funds based on the student's financial need.
Professional Judgment (PJ)
For need-based federal aid programs, the financial aid administrator can adjust the EFC, adjust the COA, or change the dependency status (with documentation) when extenuating circumstances exist. For example, if a parent becomes unemployed, disabled or deceased, the FAA can decide to use estimated income information for the award year instead of the actual income figures from the base year. This delegation of authority from the federal government to the financial aid administrator is called Professional Judgment (PJ).
Promissory NoteThe 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.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)A student must make this 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 and they will lose the ability to receive financial aid.
ScholarshipA scholarship is 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.
Selective ServiceSelective Services refers to 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 the 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 registration should call 1-847-688-6888.
ServicerServicer is the 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.
Stafford LoansFederal 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.
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 one to two 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 1-800-433-3243.
Student AssistantA student assistant is a student who is employed by CCGA as a part-time worker. This term is sometimes erroneously used to refer to the Federal Work-Study Program.
Subsidized LoanWith 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. See also Unsubsidized Loan.
Supplemental Education Opportunity GrantFederal grant program for undergraduate students with exceptional need. SEOG 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 Pell Grant.
Undergraduate StudentA student who is enrolled in a program that leads to a certificate or a bachelor's degree.
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 LoanA 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 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 unsubsidized Stafford Loans. See also Subsidized Loan.
VerificationVerification is a review process in which the FAO determines the accuracy of the information provided on the student's financial aid application. During the verification process the student and parent will be required to submit documentation for the amounts listed (or not listed) on the financial aid application. Such documentation may include signed copies of the most recent Federal and State income tax returns for you, your spouse (if any) and your parents, proof of citizenship, proof of registration with Selective Service, and copies of Social Security benefit statements and W2 and 1099 forms, among other things.
Financial aid applications are randomly selected by the Federal processor for verification, with most schools verifying at least 1/3 of all applications. Students that are selected to be verified will receive notification of what documents need to be submitted to the Financial Aid Office.
If any discrepancies are uncovered during verification, the financial aid office may require additional information to clear up the discrepancies. Such discrepancies may cause your final financial aid package to be different from the initial package described on the award letter you received from the school.
If you refuse to submit the required documentation, your financial aid package will be cancelled and no aid awarded.
VeteranFor Federal financial aid purposes such as determining dependency status, a veteran is a person who (1) engaged in active duty in the U.S. Armed forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard) or are a National Guard or Reserve enlistee who was called to active duty for purposes other than training, or were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies, and (2) was released under a condition other than dishonorable.
Having a DD-214 does not necessarily mean that you are a veteran for financial aid purposes. As noted above, you must have served on active duty and received an honorable discharge.
W2 FormA W2 form lists an employee's wages and tax withheld. Employers are required by the IRS to issue a W2 form for each employee before January 31st.
Ward of the CourtA ward of the court is someone under the protection of the courts. The ward of the court may have a guardian appointed by the court. The legal guardian is not personally liable for the ward's expenses and is not liable to third parties for the ward's debts.
The key issue for financial aid purposes is that when a child becomes a ward of the court, no parent or other person is financially responsible for the child. Legal guardians and foster parents are not financially responsible for a ward of the court. Adoptive parents, on the other hand, are financially responsible for the child.
A student who declares themselves a ward of the court may be asked to provide documentation to certify their status.