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Financial Aid 101: Class is in session

FAFSA? FERPA? What the --?

Higher Education definitely loves a good acronym! We've sorted through the Federal Student Aid and National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) glossaries to

highlight some of the most commonly used terms used on award letters across the country.

Cost of Attendance (COA): The estimated total cost of attending an institution for one academic year. (Tuition, fees, housing, dining, books, etc.)

Federal Student Aid: Aid from the government in the form of grants, loans, and/or work-study to assist students with college or career school. Students have to complete the FAFSA form to apply for this aid.

Family Contributions: any funding coming directly from your family members. This includes 529 Education plans.

Grant: A monetary gift for people pursuing higher education. It is often based on financial need and does not need to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund).

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 based upon the information provided by the student and their family on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan is a federal student loan for which a borrower isn’t generally responsible for paying the interest while in an in-school, grace, or deferment period.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan borrowed through the Direct Loan Program offers students a low, fixed interest rate and flexible repayment terms. It is not based on financial need. The borrower is responsible for paying all the accumulated interest, until the loan balance is paid off.

Parent PLUS Loan: federal loan that parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for college or career school

Private Loan: A 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.

Merit-based: based on a student's skill or ability - often academics or athletic awards

Pell Grant is the largest federal grant program offered to undergraduates. It is designed to assist students from low-income households. To qualify for a Pell Grant, a student must demonstrate financial need by completing and submitting the FAFSA form

Scholarship: 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.

Work-Study: part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students. The program encourages community service work and work related to your field of study.

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