Glossary of Terms
Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Your or your family’s wages, salaries, interest, dividends, etc., minus certain deductions from income reported on a federal income tax return. Your AGI is used by the federal government—along with other information you provide on the FAFSA—to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
Award Letter An offer that states the type and amount of financial aid the school will disburse to you if you accept admission and register to take classes at that school Award letters also include a breakdown of your estimated Cost of Attendance (COA) and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
Award Year The school year for which financial aid is used to fund your education. WOU’s standard Award Year is Fall Term, Winter Term, and Spring Term. Summer Term is optional, and is the end of any given Award Year.
Borrower The person who assumes legal obligation for repayment of a loan. For Federal Direct Loans, Perkins, and Grad PLUS Loans, the student is the borrower. For the Parent PLUS loan, a parent—and only a parent—is the borrower.
Business Office The Business Office assesses charges to a student’s billing account, including tuition, fees, on-campus housing, parking permits, print credits, services at the Student Health and Counseling Center, etc. Payment due dates, policies, interest, and late fees are determined by the Business Office.
Capitalization of Interest The addition of unpaid interest to the principal balance of a loan. When the interest is not paid as it accrues during periods of in-school status, the grace period, deferment, or forbearance, your lender may capitalize the interest. This increases the outstanding principal amount due on the loan and may cause your monthly payment amount to increase. Interest is then charged on that higher principal balance, increasing the overall cost of the loan.
Concurrent Enrollment Also known as Dual Enrollment. A program in which students must formally participate if they would like their combined enrollment at two different institutions to be counted toward their Enrollment Level for financial aid eligibility purposes. Concurrently enrolled students must receive their financial aid from only one of the schools in which they are enrolled.
Cost of Attendance (COA) The estimated cost of attending this institution for one academic year based on the following standard budget items: Tuition & Mandatory Fees, Room & Board, Books & Supplies, Transportation/Miscellaneous.
Credit Balance If financial aid disbursements exceed the charges assessed to a student’s account, a credit balance will result and will generate a refund. (See Disbursement and Refund).
Data Retrieval Tool See IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
Default Failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to in the Master Promissory Note. Federal student loan default occurs after 270 days of no payments made, unless the borrower has been granted deferment or forbearance. Students who are in default of federal student loans are ineligible for any kind of financial aid.
Deferment A postponement of payment on a loan that is allowed under certain conditions and during which interest does not accrue on Direct Subsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, and Federal Perkins Loans. All other federal student loans that are deferred will continue to accrue interest. Any unpaid interest that accrued during the deferment period may be added to the principal balance (capitalized) of the loan(s).
Degree/Certificate Level Level of the degree-granting program in which a student is enrolled. The amounts and types of financial aid a student is eligible for is determined, in part, by the type of degree they are seeking. Degree levels at WOU include Undergraduate, Post-Baccalaureate, and Graduate.
Dependent Student A student who does not meet any of the criteria for an independent student. An independent student meets one or more of the following criteria: is at least 24 years old, is married, is a graduate or professional student, is a qualifying veteran, is a qualifying member of the armed forces, is or has been an orphan or a ward of the court, is someone with legal dependents other than a spouse, is an emancipated minor, or is someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Direct Costs Cost of Attendance items that are billed directly to the student’s University account. These include tuition and fees, and for students who live on campus, room and board.
Direct Loan See Federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loan
Disbursement When your financial aid is applied to your institutional student account. Your financial aid will disburse to your account, pay any outstanding charges you have, and any remaining financial aid will be issued to you in the form of a refund. (See Refund)
Dual Enrollment: See Concurrent Enrollment
Endorser An endorser is someone who does not have an adverse credit history and agrees to repay the loan if the borrower does not repay it. Parent borrowers who are not approved for the PLUS loan may seek an endorser.
Enrollment Level The number of credit hours taken by a student each term. Generally you must be enrolled at least half-time (and in some cases full-time) to qualify for financial aid. Students are packaged for financial aid with the assumption that they will be full time students. If you are not a full time student, you must notify us before your aid will be disbursed to you.
Undergraduate Enrollment Level Graduate Enrollment Level
Full time= 12+ credit hours Full time = 9+ credit hours
¾ time = 9=11 credit hours ¾ time= 7-8 credit hours
½ time = 6-8 credit hours ½ time = 5-6 credit hours
< 1/2 time = 1-5 credit hours < ½ time = 1-4 credit hours
Entrance Counseling A mandatory online information session which you must complete before you receive your first federal student loan that explains your responsibilities and rights as a student borrower.
Exit Counseling A mandatory online information session which you must complete when you graduate or attend school less than half-time that explains your loan repayment responsibilities and when repayment begins.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC) A measure of a family’s financial fitness that, in conjunction with the institutionally determined Cost of Attendance, determines a student’s Financial Need. The EFC is used to determine eligibility for several need-based aid programs. The EFC is calculated from information reported on the FAFSA, is consistent from institution to institution, and is determined by a formula set by the federal government.
FAFSA Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FREE application used to apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, loans, and work-study. State, institutional, and private scholarship agencies may also use FAFSA data to determine aid eligibility.
Federal Direct Subsidized Loan A loan based on financial need for which the federal government pays the interest that accrues while the borrower is in an in-school, grace, or deferment status.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan A loan for which the borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status. Interest on unsubsidized loans accrues from the date of disbursement and continues throughout the life of the loan. When your loan enters repayment, you have the option of paying the accrued interest up front or capitalizing the interest into the principal balance of the loan.
Federal Parent (PLUS) Loan A federal loan program that allows parents—and only parents—who have no adverse credit history to apply for up to the Cost of Attendance each year, less any other financial aid. PLUS loans must be repaid with interest and have flexible repayment terms
Federal Pell Grant A grant provided by the federal government to qualified undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need and have an Expected Family Contribution below a threshold designated annually by the U.S. Department of Education, based on the amount of program funds appropriated by Congress.
Federal Perkins Loan A low interest loan for educational expenses provided by the federal government and serviced by the institution for qualified individuals with exceptional financial need as defined by the institution. The Federal Perkins Loan needs to be repaid with interest once the student is no longer enrolled at least half-time.
Federal School Code An identifier that the U.S. Department of Education assigns to each college that participates in the federal student aid programs. In order to send your FAFSA information to a school, you must list the school’s Federal School Code on your application. A list of Federal School Codes is available at fafsa.ed.gov.
FSA ID Your username and password that is used to officially sign your FAFSA, complete loan entrance/exit counseling, and generally serve as your personal “account” with Federal Student Aid.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) A grant provided by the federal government to qualified undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Priority is given to Pell Grant recipients and funds must be awarded by the school in lowest EFC order. WOU awards FSEOG to Freshmen and Sophomores only who otherwise qualify.
Federal Work Study (FWS) A program that provides part-time employment to students attending institutions of higher education who need the earnings to help meet their educational costs. Students who are awarded work study as part of their financial aid package must find and secure their own work study job. The WOU Service Learning and Career Development Center provides a listing of work study jobs available every year.
Financial Aid Award The total amount of financial aid (federal and nonfederal) a student is offered by an institution.
Financial Need The difference between the COA and the EFC is the student’s financial need- the gap between the cost of attending the school and the student’s resources. The financial aid package is based on the amount of financial need. The process of determining a student’s need is known as need analysis. Cost of Attendance (COA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need
Forbearanc: A period during which monthly loan payments are temporarily suspended or reduced based on certain types of financial hardship. A borrower must ask their lender for and be granted forbearance. Forbearance is distinct from deferment, which is when loan payments are temporarily suspended because a student meets predetermined conditions, such as graduate school attendance.
Foster Care A, legally-recognized living arrangement for dependent children when their parent(s) or another relative cannot take care of them.
Gift Aid Funds awarded to the student that do not have to be repaid, unless the student fails to meet certain terms, such as a service requirement, specified as a condition of the grant. Gift aid includes awards with titles such as grants, scholarships, remissions, waivers, etc. Gift aid can be awarded based upon many factors, including (but not limited to) financial need, academic excellence, athletic, musical, and theatrical talent, affiliation with various groups, or career aspirations.
Grace Period A period of time after borrowers graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment where they are not required to make payments on certain federal student loans. Some federal student loans will accrue interest during the grace period, and if the interest is unpaid, it will be added to the principal balance of the loan when the repayment period begins.
Grade Level For undergraduate students, grade level is determined by number of credits earned. Grade Level determines annual Federal Direct Loan borrowing limits.
Freshmen: 0 – 44 credits earned
Sophomore: 45-89 credits earned
Junior: 90 – 134 credits earned
Senior: 135+ credits earned
Graduation Rate Measures the progress of students who began their studies as full-time, first-time degree- or certificate-seeking students by showing the percentage of these students who complete their degree or certificate within a 150% of “normal time” for completing the program in which they are enrolled.
Graduate Student A student who is enrolled in a master’s or doctorate program. WOU does not offer doctorate level programs.
Graduate PLUS Loan Loan funds provided to graduate students by the U.S. Department of Education. Students must pass a credit check to be eligible for a Graduate PLUS Loan.
Grant Gift aid awarded to the student that does not need to be repaid. Grants are typically based on financial need.
Homeless An individual is considered homeless if he or she lacks fixed, regular and adequate housing. You may be homeless if you are living in a shelter, park, motel or car, or temporarily living with other people because you have nowhere else to go. Also, if you are living in any of these situations and fleeing an abusive parent you may be considered homeless when completing your FAFSA, even if your parent would provide support and a place to live. Students who are considered homeless or at risk of homelessness are considered Independent for the purposes of financial aid.
Indirect Costs Expenses incurred as a result of attendance that the student does not pay directly to the institution. Examples of indirect costs include off-campus housing, food, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses.
Interest A loan expense charged for the use of borrowed money. Interest is paid by a borrower to a lender. The expense is calculated as a percentage of the unpaid principal amount of the loan.
Interest Rate The percentage at which interest is calculated on a loan.
IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) The feature on the FAFSA that allows you to authorize transfer of IRS tax information to your FAFSA. This is the easiest, most accurate way of reporting your tax information on your FAFSA.
IRS Tax Return Transcript A detailed document obtained from the Internal Revenue Service which lists most line items from your tax return (Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) as it was originally filed, including any accompanying forms and schedules. An IRS Tax Return Transcript can be ordered online at irs.gov. If you are selected for Verification and you are not able to successfully use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool in the FAFSA, you will be required to submit a Tax Return Transcript.
Legal Guardianship A relationship created by court order, through which the court appoints an individual other than a minor’s parent to take care of the minor. A legal guardian is not considered a parent on the student’s FAFSA. In fact, a student in legal guardianship does not need to report parent information on the FAFSA because he or she is considered an Independent student.
Lender An organization that makes an initial loan; the lender could be the borrower’s school; a bank, credit union, or other lending institution; or the U.S. Department of Education.
Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU) The amount of all Federal Pell Grant aid (in percentage) awarded to you divided by the amount of Pell Grant aid you would have been eligible to receive based on full-time enrollment. The amount of Federal Pell Grant funds for a student may receive over his or her lifetime is limited by federal law to be the equivalent of six years of Pell Grant funding.
Loan Servicer A company that collects payments on a loan, responds to customer service inquiries, and performs other administrative tasks associated with maintaining a loan on behalf of a lender. If you’re unsure of who your federal student loan servicer is, you can look it up on nslds.ed.gov
Master Promissory Note (MPN) A binding legal document that you must sign when you borrow a federal student loan. The MPN can be used to make one or more loans for one or more academic years (up to 10 years). It lists the terms and conditions under which you agree to repay the loan and explains your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. It’s important to read and save your MPN because you’ll need to refer to it later when you begin repaying your loan or at other times when you need information about provisions of the loan, such as deferments or forbearances.
Matriculate A student matriculates at an institution when he or she enrolls at that institution for the first time.
Merit-Based Financial aid that is awarded based on a student’s academic, leadership or artistic merit, or some other criteria, and does not depend on financial need. Merit-based awards may look at a student’s grades, test scores, special talents, or extracurricular activities to determine eligibility.
National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) A centralized database, available at nslds.ed.gov, which stores information on federal grants and loans. NSLDS contains information on how much aid you’ve received, your enrollment status, and your loan servicer(s). You can access NSLDS using your FSA ID.
Need See Financial Need
Need-Based Financial aid that is awarded based on a student’s financial circumstance. Need-based aid can be awarded in the form of grants, loans, or work-study.
Net Cost Amount of direct and indirect costs remaining after all gift aid (scholarship and grant) is subtracted; total cost to a student’s family to attend school in a given academic year.
Net Price Calculator A tool to estimate financial aid
Non-Resident A student attending school in a state in which he/she is not a legal resident. Residency status is determined by the Admissions Office.
Origination Fee Fee paid to compensate for the cost of administering the loan. The origination fees are charged as the loan is disbursed.
Outside Scholarship Also called “private scholarship.” A scholarship offered by a private organization, not the government or an institution. Outside scholarships are offered by all kinds of groups, individuals, corporations and nonprofit organizations.
Out-of-Pocket Cost Difference between the cost of attendance and all gift aid. Out-of-pocket cost can be covered through a variety of sources, including: savings, income and student loans.
Parent Contribution A portion of the expected family contribution that is derived from the parents’ family income, assets, state and federal taxes, an allowance for family living expenses, and the costs of other family members in college.
Post Baccalaureate A student who has earned their first bachelor’s degree and is enrolled in undergraduate courses in pursuit of a second bachelor’s degree or as prerequisites for a master’s program. student that has completed one undergraduate degree and is pursuing an additional undergraduate degree.
Principal The total sum of money borrowed plus any interest that has been capitalized.
Priority Deadline The date by which your application – whether it’s for college admission, student housing or financial aid – must be received to be given the strongest consideration. Since financial aid is often limited, meeting the priority date is important to be eligible to receive funds.
Private (Alternative) Loan A nonfederal loan made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, or state agency. Private loans usually require the applicant to be creditworthy or have a co-signer and have varying interest rates, fees and repayment options. Repayment of interest (and often principal) generally begins immediately, with some lenders offering deferment options for in-school periods.
Renewable Scholarship A scholarship that is awarded for more than one year. Usually the student must maintain certain academic standards to be eligible for subsequent years of the award. Some renewable scholarships will require the student to reapply for the scholarship each year; others will just require a report on the student’s progress to a degree.
Room & Board Estimated annual budget amount for on-campus housing and meal plan or off-campus housing and food.
Satisfactory Academic Progress A federally-mandated institutional policy that defines whether a student is meeting qualitative, quantitative, and maximum timeframe standards for completing their degree. Students must meet certain cumulative GPA requirements, certain pace of course completion requirements, and be within a certain attempted-credit limit to be eligible to receive financial aid.
Scholarship Gift aid awarded to the student that does not need to be repaid. Scholarship awards are typically based on merit or a combination of merit and need, such as academic excellence, talent, affiliation with various groups, or career aspirations.
Self-Help (Aid) Financial aid in the form of loans or student employment. Loans are used to help pay the remaining net costs after gift aid is deducted. Student employment earnings (including Work-Study awards) are generally not deducted from billed costs but can be used to help cover indirect costs and are paid in the form of wages to the student.
Special Conditions Appeal A formal request to have a financial aid administrator review your aid eligibility and possibly use Professional Judgment to adjust your Expected Family Contribution. For example, if you believe the financial information on your FAFSA does not reflect your family’s current ability to pay (e.g., because of death of a parent, unemployment or other unusual circumstances), you may provide the Financial Aid Office with documentation of your unusual circumstance to potentially have your EFC recalculated. Submission of an appeal and documentation does not guarantee that the Financial Aid Office will exercise Professional Judgment to recalculate your EFC; Special Condition Appeals are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
State Aid Financial aid from a student’s state of legal residence.
Student Account: The means by which the institution charges you for tuition, fees, and other direct costs incurred while you are a student.
Student Aid Report (SAR) A summary of the information you submitted on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You receive this report via e-mail a few days after your FAFSA has been processed or by mail within 7-10 days if you did not provide an e-mail address. If there are no corrections or additional information you must provide, the SAR will contain your EFC, which is the number that’s used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid.
Student Contribution In addition to the amount parents are asked to contribute, students are also expected to help meet a portion of their own educational costs each year. A student’s minimum contribution may come from prior year earnings, summer employment, savings, and educational benefits.
Tuition & Mandatory Fees Estimated charge for classes and fees using the full-time enrollment amount for 15 credits per term. These fees may vary each term depending on number of credits taken and the fees associated with each class.
Transportation/Miscellaneous Expenses Estimated annual budget amount to account for traveling to and from college and other miscellaneous such as personal hygiene and toiletry items.
Undergraduate Student: A student seeking an associate’s degree, a certificate, or a baccalaureate degree
Unmet Need The difference between the Cost of Attendance and the combination of your expected family contribution (EFC) and any financial aid you’ve received.
Verification The process your school uses to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is accurate. Your school has the authority to contact you for documentation that supports income and other information that you reported.