Financial Aid Glossary

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C
Cost of Attendance
The cost of attendance (COA) is the total college costs. The cost of attendance includes tuition, required fees, room and board, textbooks, supplies, equipment, transportation and miscellaneous/personal expenses.
D
Direct Deposit
Direct deposit is a form of electronic funds transfer, where money is automatically transferred to a recipient’s bank account. Many employers use direct deposit to transfer paychecks to their employees.
E
EFC
The cost of attendance (COA) is the total college costs. The cost of attendance includes tuition, required fees, room and board, textbooks, supplies, equipment, transportation and miscellaneous/personal expenses.
FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a financial aid application that is used to determine a student’s eligibility for federal and state aid. It is available online at fafsa.ed.gov. Many colleges and universities use the FAFSA for awarding their own financial aid funds. International students are not eligible for federal student aid. However, some colleges will ask international students to complete the FAFSA as a convenient way to enter the student’s financial information into the college’s administrative software systems. These students should select “No, I am not a citizen or eligible noncitizen” in response to the question about U.S. citizenship.
Fees
Fees are charges paid to a college for specified services, such as a technology fee, a transcript fee or an athletic fee. Some fees are mandatory and some are optional.
Fellowship
A fellowship is a form of gift aid that is awarded to a graduate student to pay for the cost of study or research beyond the baccalaureate level.
Financial Aid
Financial aid is money provided to a student to help them pay for college costs. Financial aid may include grants and scholarships, student employment and student loans. Financial aid funds for international students to study in the U.S.A. are very limited. International students are not eligible for federal student financial aid, such as the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Work-Study and the Federal Stafford Loan. International students cannot work off campus except if it is part of their education program, so they may be limited to non-federal on-campus jobs and teaching/research assistantships. Most private student loans require international student borrowers to have a creditworthy U.S.A. citizen or permanent resident as a cosigner on the loan.
Financial Need
Financial need is the difference between total college costs and the student’s ability to pay. Demonstrated financial need is usually defined as the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) and the expected family contribution (EFC). Financial need is a form of means testing.
G
Gift Aid
Gift aid is money that does not need to be earned or repaid. Examples of gift aid include grants, scholarships and tuition waivers.
Grant
A grant is a form of gift aid that is usually awarded based on financial need.
I
Internship
An internship provides a student with training and work experience. Internships may be paid or unpaid.
M
Merit-Based Financial Aid
Merit-based financial aid is awarded based on the student’s academic, artistic or athletic talent, not financial need. Examples include merit scholarships and fellowships.
N
Need-Based Financial Aid
Need-based financial aid is awarded based on a student’s financial need, not academic merit. Students with a lower ability to pay or who are enrolled at higher-cost colleges may qualify for more need-based aid, due to a greater financial need.
Net Price
The net price is the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) and gift aid. The net price is a discounted sticker price, the actual amount of money the student (and his or her family) will have to pay for college costs from their savings, income and loans.
P
Private Student Loan
A private student loan is a non-federal student loan. Private student loans are made by commercial lenders, such as banks and other financial institutions, and may also be made by state loan agencies.
R
Research Assistant
A research assistant (RA) helps a professor with research duties, such as conducting scientific experiments, analyzing data, conducting surveys or writing computer software. Research assistants may earn a small stipend and a full or partial tuition waiver.
Room And Board
Room and board is the cost of housing and a meal plan if the student lives on campus, or an allowance for similar costs if the student lives off campus.
S
Scholarship
A scholarship is a form of gift aid that is usually awarded based on merit, such as academic talent, artistic talent or athletic talent.
Sticker Price
The sticker price is a college or university’s full, undiscounted cost of attendance.
Stipend
A stipend is payment for services rendered, such as a salary or wages.
Student Loan
A student loan is borrowed money that must be repaid, usually with interest.
T
Teaching Assistant
A teaching assistant (TA) helps a professor with teaching duties, such as teaching a tutorial or recitation section of a class, holding office hours, and grading tests and assignments. Teaching assistants may earn a small stipend and a full or partial tuition waiver.
Tuition
Tuition is a fee charged to cover the cost of academic instruction.