Glossary of Financial Aid Terms

Accrued interest

Interest that accumulates on the unpaid principal balance of an educational loan. back to top

Award letter

The official notification issued by the financial aid office that lists all of the financial aid awarded or recommended to the student. This letter provides details on the analysis of the student’s financial need and the breakdown of the financial aid package according to amount, source, and type of aid. The award letter will include the terms and conditions for the financial aid and information about the cost of attendance. back to top


The total estimated amount it should cost the student to attend the School of Engineering in an academic year. Also known as the cost of attendance, this amount may include tuition, fees, room, board, allowances for books, supplies, transportation, personal and incidental expenses. back to top


An individual who assumes responsibility for the educational loan if the student borrower should fail to repay it. back to top

Cost of attendance

The total estimated amount it should cost the student to attend the School of Engineering. Also known as the budget, this amount may include tuition and fees, room, board, allowances for books, supplies, transportation, personal and incidental expenses. back to top


A loan is in default when the borrower fails to pay installments on time or otherwise fails to meet the terms and conditions of the loan. If the student defaults on a loan, the holder of the loan can take legal action to recover the money, including garnishing of wages and withholding income tax refunds. back to top


A period of time when a borrower is allowed to postpone repaying the principal and/or interest on a loan. Most federal loan programs allow borrowers to defer repaying their loans while they are in school at least half time. back to top


The process of releasing and making available financial aid funds to cover the cost of attendance. back to top

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The amount the student and/or their parents are expected to contribute towards the student’s educational expenses as determined by a federally-mandated formula, which uses the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid Application (FAFSA) or Renewal FAFSA. back to top

Financial aid package

The collection of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study employment from all sources (federal, state, institutional, and private) that may be offered to the student to enable him/her to attend the School of Engineering. back to top


A temporary adjustment to the student loan repayment schedule for cases of financial hardship. During forbearance the lender allows the student borrower to temporarily postpone repaying the principal, but the interest continues to accrue. In some cases it may be postponed and in others it must be paid. Forbearance is granted at the lender’s discretion, usually in cases of extreme financial hardship or other unusual circumstances. back to top

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The application filed annually by students who are US Citizens or eligible non-citizens to determine their eligibility for federal student aid. back to top

Grace period

A specified period of time after the student graduates or leaves school during which loan payments are not required. The grace period will vary depending on the type of loan. back to top

Guarantee fee

A small percentage of the student loan that is paid to the guarantee agency to insure the loan against default. It is payable by the borrower and deducted from the principal of a loan prior to disbursement of funds or assessed at the time of repayment. Also known as Federal Default fee. back to top


The total amount of a student’s financial aid awards exceeds his or her financial need or cost of attendance. back to top

Need-based aid

Grants and loans that are awarded to the student based on the expected family contribution (EFC) as calculated by FAFSA and/or by the school. back to top

Private loan

Education loan programs established by private lenders to supplement the programs available from federal and state governments. These loans typically have a variable interest rate. back to top

Promissory note

The binding legal document that must be signed by the borrower before loan funds are disbursed by the lender. It includes all of the terms and conditions under which the borrower promises to repay the loan. back to top

Renewal Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

A Renewal FAFSA is designed for students who applied for aid the previous year. back to top

Selective Service

If required by law, the student must register, or arrange to register, with the Selective Service to receive federal student aid. The requirement to register applies to males who were born on or after January 1, 1960, between the ages of 18 and 25 years old, and are not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. (Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau are exempt from registering.) back to top

Subsidized Federal Stafford Direct loan

This loan is awarded based on financial need. The federal government will pay the interest on the Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan while the student is in school at least half-time status or during the times when the student qualifies for authorized postponement of loan payments. back to top

Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Direct loan

This loan is not need-based; student borrowers are responsible for interest payments beginning immediately after disbursement, but interest payments may be postponed during the in-school period and added to the principal balance. back to top

Variable interest

In a variable-interest loan, the interest rate changes periodically. For example, the interest rate might be linked to the cost of U.S. Treasury Bills (e.g., 91-day Treasury Bill rate plus 2.30%) and be updated monthly, quarterly, semiannually, or annually. back to top


The process of confirming accuracy of the data provided on FAFSA. If selected for verification, the student will be required to submit additional documentation. back to top