Definitions

(From: http://www.finaid.org/questions/glossary.phtml#s FinAid web site copyright © 1994-2010 by FinAid Page, LLC. All rights reserved. FinAid and the diploma slammer are registered trademarks and service marks of FinAid Page, LLC.)

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 their 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 required to sign a copy of the letter, indicating whether you accept or decline each source of aid, and return it to the financial aid office. Some schools call the award letter the "Financial Aid Notification (FAN)".

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 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. This is a key difference between the campus-based loan programs and the Direct Loan Program. Do not confuse the two, even though both loans are issued through the schools.

College Work-Study (CWS)
College Work-Study is simply a part time job. This term is sometimes erroneously used to refer to the Federal Work-Study Program.

Cost of Attendance (COA)
(Also known as the cost of education or "budget") 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. 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.

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. 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 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.

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

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

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

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 of up to $5,500 (2010-11) 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 $3,000/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.

Self Help Aid
Financial aid in the form of loans and student employment. If every financial aid package is required to include a minimum amount of self-help aid before any gift aid is granted, that level is known as the self-help level. For example, the self-help level will be $8,150 at MIT in 1995-96 (The Tech, March 7, 1995, Vol. 115, No. 9, Page 1). MIT has one of the highest self-help levels of private colleges and universities, with an average self-help level of around $5,500 at the more expensive schools.

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.

Undergraduates may borrow up to $31,000 ($5,500 during the freshman year, $6,500 during the sophomore year and $7,500 during the third, fourth and fifth years) no more than $23,000 of which may be subsidized ($3,500 during the freshman year, $4,500 during the sophomore year and $5,500 during the third, fourth and fifth years) and graduate students up to $65,500 including any undergraduate Stafford loans ($20,500 per year, no more than $8,500 of which may be subsidized). The difference between the subsidized loan amount and the unsubsidized limit may be borrowed by the student as an unsubsidized loan. Higher unsubsidized Stafford loan limits are available to independent students, dependent students whose parents were unable to obtain a PLUS Loan and graduate/professional students. Undergraduates may borrow up to $57,500 ($9,500 during the freshman year, $10,500 during the sophomore year and $12,500 during each subsequent year) and graduate students up to $138,500 including any undergraduate Stafford loans ($20,500 per year). These limits are for subsidized and unsubsidized loans combined. The amounts of any subsidized loans are still subject to the lower limits for dependent students. Certain medical school students may borrow an aggregate amount of $224,000.

State Student Incentive Grants (SSIG)
A state-run financial aid program for state residents. The states receive matching funds from the Federal government to help them fund the program.

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. See also Unsubsidized Loan.

Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant
Federal 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.

Unmet Need
In an ideal world, the Financial Aid Office (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 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.

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