FAFSA® and Financial Aid Glossary

We know that financial aid and filing the FAFSA® can be confusing. So, we’ve done everything we can to make it easy as pie! Use the terms listed below to help answer you on your quest for financial aid and an affordable education!

Financial Aid TermDefinition
1040 FormThe 1040 Form is an IRS tax form used for personal federal income tax returns filed by United States residents.
Academic YearThe Academic Year typically runs from the Fall semester to the Summer semester of the following year.
Alien Registration NumberAn Alien Registration Number (A-Number, Alien Number, or USCIS Number) is a seven-to-nine-digit number that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services gives to most immigrants who apply to live in the United States.
Associate DegreeAn associate degree is an undergraduate degree awarded after a course of post-secondary study lasting two to three years.
Bachelor’s DegreeA bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate academic degree awarded to students by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting three to six years. The two most common bachelor’s degrees are the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science.
Certificate ProgramCollege certificate programs are designed to offer you the opportunity to refresh, pick up or master a subject or skill at the postsecondary level. A certificate program will typically require fewer credits and take less time to complete than an associate or bachelor’s degree.
Dependent StudentA dependent student, for the purposes of filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), is someone who is evaluated for financial aid based both on their own income and their parents’—even if that student’s parents will not contribute financially to their college education.
Dislocated WorkerDislocated workers are individuals who have lost their jobs due to a layoff. Workers who are terminated due to unsatisfactory job performance are not considered displaced workers.
Early ActionEarly action (EA) is a type of early admission process offered by some institutions for admission to colleges and universities in the United States. Unlike the regular admissions process, EA usually requires students to submit an application by mid-October or early November of their senior year of high school instead of January 1.
Early DecisionEarly decision or early acceptance is a common policy used in college admissions in the United States for admitting freshmen to undergraduate programs. It is used to show the college or university that it’s the student’s first-choice school.
EFCA students’ EFC, also known as their Expected Family Contribution is a number generated after filling out the FAFSA® that is used by schools to determine the amount of financial aid a student is awarded.
FAFSA®The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is an application all college-bound students must fill out in order to apply for federal student aid.
Federal Financial AidFederal Financial aid is money awarded to United States Citizens to help pay for college or career school in the form of grants, work-study, loans, and scholarships.
Federal Pell GrantFederal Pell Grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree. Generally, this money does NOT need to be repaid.
Federal Student Aid (FSA)Federal Student Aid is the largest provider of financial aid for college in the U.S.
Federal Student LoanFederal student loans, also known as government loans, allow students and parents/guardians to borrow money for college directly from the federal government. These loans generally have a much lower interest rate than private loans.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, known as the FSEOG, is a federal assistance grant reserved for college students with the greatest financial need.
ForbearanceForbearance is a period of time when a student’s monthly loan payments are temporarily stopped or reduced. During forbearance, interest will continue to accrue on the loans.
FSA IDAn FSA ID is a username and password that gives students access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems. The FSA ID also serves as a signature for both the parent and student when submitting the FAFSA® application.
GrantA grant is a financial award given to students by a federal, state, or local government authority to help students cover the cost of college. Generally, this money does NOT need to be repaid.
Gross IncomeGross income represents the total income from all sources, including returns, discounts, and allowances, before deducting any expenses or taxes.
Head of HouseholdHead of household is a filing status on tax returns filed by unmarried taxpayers who support and house a qualifying person.
Independent StudentAccording to the FAFSA®, students are considered independent college students if they meet any of the following criteria: They’re at least 24 years old. They must be 24 years or older by 1st January of the academic year to apply for financial aid. They are married or separated but not divorced.
InvestmentsTo invest means owning an asset or an item with the goal of generating income.
Some Examples of Investment Types:
– Stocks Bonds
– Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
– Cryptocurrencies
– Real Estate
PensionA pension plan is a retirement plan that requires an employer to make contributions.
SAR (Student Aid Report)A Student Aid Report (SAR) is a paper or electronic document that gives students basic information about federal student aid eligibility and lists their answers to the questions on their FAFSA®.
Social Security NumberA Social Security number is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents
Subsidized LoanSubsidized Loans are loans for undergraduate students with financial need, as determined by the FAFSA® form. Subsidized Loans do not accrue interest while students are in school at least half-time or during deferment periods.
Unsubsidized LoanUnsubsidized Loans are loans for both undergraduate and graduate students that are not based on financial need. Interest is charged during in-school, deferment, and grace periods.
Work Study ProgramFederal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. It’s available to full-time or part-time students.
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