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Glossary of Terms

Below is a list of Financial Aid-related terms and definitions

Glossary Table of Contents:

Cohort Default Rate: The percentage of a school's borrowers in the US who enter repayment on certain federal loans during a federal fiscal year and default prior to the end of the next one to two fiscal years.

Cost of Attendance (COA): The estimated total cost of attending an institution for one academic year. This amount may include the following:

  • Estimated charges for one academic year of tuition and fees
    • Tuition – Charges assessed for classes and/or other coursework
    • Fees – Charges assessed for other college services (e.g. technology access, recreational center use)
  • Housing – Includes residence hall charges for on-campus students or an estimate of rent and utilities for an off-campus student
  • Food – Includes the cost of a meal plan and/or an estimate of the costs of food prepared at home
  • Estimated transportation and parking costs
  • Estimated costs for books and supplies
  • Purchase or rental of a computer
  • Miscellaneous costs such as personal hygiene, laundry, and reasonable entertainment
  • Other costs specific to certain student circumstances related to attendance, such as dependent care during periods of class attendance or study, expenses related to disabilities, study abroad, educational loan fees, and others
  • Student health insurance costs

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

  • Federal Student Loan: 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.
    • Federal Direct Subsidized Student Loan: 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.
    • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan: 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.
    • Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan: 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.
  • Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan (PLUS): 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.
  • Private Loan: 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.

Enrollment Status: Academic workload (or course load), as defined by the institution, in which a student is enrolled for a defined academic period. This normally relates to the number of credit hours or clock hours taken by a student during a given academic period (e.g. full-time, three-quarter-time, half-time, less-than-half-time).

  • Full-time status = at least 12 credit hours
  • Three-quarter time status = at least 9-11 credit hours
  • Half-time status = at least 6-8 credit hours

For most clock hour schools full-time enrollment equates to at least 24 clock hours per week.

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

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): An eligibility index that college financial aid staff use to determine how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school. The EFC is calculated according to a formula specified in law and is based upon the information provided by the student and their family on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Federal Pell Grant: 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 [offer] amount is prorated based on Enrollment Status.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): A federal grant [offered] by the institution to qualified undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Priority is given to Federal Pell Grant recipients.

Federal Work-Study (FWS): A federal program offered and administered by the institution that provides opportunity for part-time employment to students with financial need to help pay their educational expenses. Students are responsible for finding qualified employment. Funds are paid out through a paycheck, as earned.

Gift Aid: Funds [offered] 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 [offered]. Gift aid can include [offers] with titles such as grants, scholarships, remissions, awards, waivers, etc. Gift aid can be [offered] 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.

Grant: Gift Aid that is typically based on financial need.

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

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG): A federal grant to qualifying students with a parent or guardian who died as a result of U.S. military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. If a student is eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, he or she cannot receive an IASG.

Mav Grants: These grants are designated to pay tuition and fees and are available to both graduate and undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need who are bona fide Texas residents. At least half-time enrollment is required to qualify for a disbursement, and undergraduate grants prorate based on enrollment.

Need: The student's Cost of Attendance minus their Expected Family Contribution, or Family Financial Responsibility (if applicable).

Net Price: 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.

Program Level: 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.

Scholarship: Gift Aid that is typically based on merit, such as, academic excellence, talent, affiliation with various groups, or career aspirations or a combination of merit and need.

Self-help: 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.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants: Federal grants for undergraduate and graduate students, [offered] in exchange for specific future teaching service in designated high-need fields and low-income elementary and secondary schools. If a student does not complete the required teaching service, the grant becomes a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan that must be repaid.

TEXAS Grants: These grants are available to undergraduate students who meet both specific academic criteria as well as demonstrated financial need based on available funding. Eligible students must be Texas residents, graduate from a public or accredited private high school in Texas no earlier than Fall 1998 or receive an Associate degree in May 2001 or later, must complete the recommended high school curriculum or its equivalent, and must not be convicted of a felony or a crime involving a controlled substance.

Texas Public Education Grants (TPEG): These grants are designated to pay tuition and fees and are available to both graduate and undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need. At least half-time enrollment is required to qualify for a disbursement, and undergraduate grants prorate based on enrollment.

Unmet Need: 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.

Verification: 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.

A portion of the terms listed above were referenced from Nasfaa.org.