Financial Aid


Academic Year - The measure of academic work to be accomplished by the student. Example: the academic year must be at least 30 weeks in which a full-time student must complete 24 semester credits.

Award Letter - A letter issued by the school listing the aid for which the student is eligible. The student must accept or reject each award, sign, update/correct any incorrect information (address, level of enrollment, etc) and return the award letter (along with any attachments) to the Financial Aid Office within two weeks.

Base Year - Two calendar years prior to the award year and is used to determine financial aid eligibility. Example: for the 2017-2018 award year, the base year is 2015.

Campus-based Programs - Funds allocated to and administered directly by the school’s Financial Aid Office. These programs include SEOG, Perkins Loans and work-study programs.

COA - Cost of Attendance. A set dollar amount estimating costs associated with attending a school for a specific period of time. Tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses are elements considered when determining cost of attendance.

Central Processor - The facility where FAFSAs and corrections are processed for the Department of Education.

DOE or ED - U.S. Department of Education.

EFC - Expected Family Contribution. This is the amount the family is expected to contribute to the education of the student. The figure is determined by a congressionally established formula.

Enrollment Level - Financial Aid is awarded based on the number of credits for which a student is enrolled. There are four levels: Full-Time is 12+ credits, Three-Quarter Time is 9 to 11 credits, Half-Time is 6 to 8 credits, and Less-Than-Half-Time is up to 5 credits.

FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the application filled out and filed by the student that collects household and financial information used by the federal government to determine the EFC.  The FAFSA is completed on-line at

Full-Time - 12 or more credits.

Grant - An award that does not have to be paid back.

Half-Time - 6 to 8 credits.

ISIR - Institutional Student Information Record. The electronic version of the Student Aid Report (SAR) sent to the school.

Loan - An award that must be repaid.

Loan Agreement (MPN) - A binding legal document that a borrower signs to get a loan. By signing this note, the borrower promises to repay the loan, with interest, on specific installments.  Completed on-line at

Need - Student need is computed by subtracting the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number from the Cost of Attendance (COA).

Pell - A federal grant awarded through strict rules set by the Department of Education and completion of the FAFSA.

PLUS - A parent loan available to dependent students. The parent(s) receives the disbursement. Repayment begins about 60 days after the loan is disbursed. The loan offers a low interest rate and is based on a credit check. 

QAP - Quality Assurance Program. A quality management program where the school works with the DOE to identify where students have problems with the application process.

SAP - Satisfactory Academic Progress. Federal regulations require that aid recipients make satisfactory progress toward completion of a degree. Students must be in compliance with the cumulative GPA, maximum credit limit and completion rate requirements.

SAR - Student Aid Report. A federal output document sent to the student by the central processor. The SAR contains all the information the student reported on the FAFSA and the resulting EFC.

SEOG - Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant. Awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional need.

Subsidized Loan - A federal student loan awarded to students who demonstrate need. The government pays the interest on the loan until the student is required to begin repayment.

Unsubsidized Loan - A federal student loan awarded to students regardless of demonstrated need. The student is responsible for all interest payments.

Work Study - A campus-based work program providing on-campus jobs for students.

Verification - A procedure where a school checks the information a student reported on the FAFSA by requesting financial documents.