We’ve put together a quick guide to some common terms you’ll come across as you explore your financial aid options.

  • Financial Aid: Any grant or scholarship, loan, or work-study offered to help a student pay for their college expenses. This funding can come from federal or state agencies, colleges, foundations, or corporations.
  • FAFSA: FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form is used by the federal government, states, colleges, and other organizations to award financial aid. The FAFSA must be filled out each year for federal aid.
  • CSS Profile: The CSS Profile is an online application through the College Board that collects information used to award financial aid from sources not connected to the federal government.
  • EFC: Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a measure of your family’s financial strengths. Taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits like Social Security or unemployment reported on your FAFSA are considered to determine your EFC.
  • COA: Your Cost of Attendance (COA) is an estimate of everything that you’ll need to budget for and includes tuition and fees, room and board (whether on campus, off campus, or commuting), books, supplies, personal expenses, and transportation.
  • Estimated Bill: Estimated bills are sent to undergraduate freshman who have not yet registered for the billing semester. They provide estimated tuition and fee charges for a 12-credit semester. The final bill may change once the student has registered for classes.
  • Grant: A grant is a form of financial aid that does not need to be earned or repaid. Usually this form of funding is awarded based on your demonstrated financial need.
  • Scholarship: A scholarship is a type of financial award that does not need to be repaid. Scholarships can be given to a student based on academic achievement, financial need, or a combination of both achievement and need.
  • Federal Loan: A federal loan is a type of loan to help students pay for fees and expenses associated with attending college, including tuition, books, and room and board. This type of financial has to be paid back, frequently with interest.
  • Subsidized Loan: This type of federal loan does not collect interest while you are still in college. Interest begins to accrue after you are no longer enrolled on at least a half-time basis.
  • Unsubsidized Loan: This type of federal loan collects interest while you’re in college.
  • Work-Study: A type of financial aid program that allows a student to work part time while attending college.
  • SAP: Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is measured by a set of university guidelines that determines if you’re eligible to continue financial aid.
  • NCP: The Non-Custodial Parent Profile (NCP) refers to information provided by the parent who does not have custody of you if your parents are divorced or not married.