Financial Aid Glossary
The glossary below will assist you in understanding key terms as it relates to financial aid. Click on the term name below to display the description.
Aid Year/Academic Year
A period of time schools use to measure a quantity of study. FAU’s 2020-2021 aid year consists of Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021. You must complete a new FAFSA once per aid year.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The APR is the annual cost of your loan; it includes interest and the effect of any fees and charges. APRs will differ depending on the terms of your loan and the mount of your loan. Make sure you compare like loan amounts when your compare APRs so you receive a true comparison. If the rate is variable, the APR may change during the life of the loan.
A person who obtains a loan and who is responsible to repay it.
Every student has a budget, which is a “ceiling” or a cap on the total amount of aid (loans, grants, scholarships, tuition waivers) that you may receive during one academic year. Your budget is determined by many factors, including your residency and enrollment status. Any financial aid offers are contingent on remaining within your predetermined budget - aid may be reduced to bring you within your budget if necessary.
Cost of Attendance (COA)
The total amount it will cost a student to go to school—usually expressed as a yearly figure. It’s determined using rules established by law. The COA includes tuition and fees; on-campus room and board (or a housing and food allowance for off-campus students); and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and, if applicable, dependent care; costs related to a disability; and miscellaneous expenses, including an allowance for the rental or purchase of a personal computer. Also included are reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs. For students attending less than half time,* the COA includes only tuition and fees and an allowance for books, supplies, transportation, and dependent- care expenses.
Failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to when you signed a promissory note. In many cases, default can be avoided by submitting a request for a deferment, forbearance, or cancellation and by providing the required documentation before reaching the point of default. The consequences of default are severe. Your school, the lender or agency that holds your loan, the state, and the federal government may all take action to recover the money, including notifying national credit bureaus of your default. This affects your credit rating for a long time. For example, you might find it very difficult to borrow money from a bank to buy a car or a house. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education might ask the Internal Revenue Service to withhold your U.S. individual income tax refund and apply it to the amount you owe, or the agency holding your loan might ask your employer to deduct payments from your paycheck. Also, you’re liable for expenses incurred in collecting the loan. If you decide to return to school, you’re not entitled to receive any more federal student aid. Legal action might also be taken against you.
A postponement of loan payments.
A course of study that leads to a degree (Bachelor’s, Master’s, Ph.D) and meets the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements for an eligible program. To get federal financial aid, you must be admitted in an eligible program. Non-degree seeking students are not eligible for financial aid.
Direct Subsidized Loan (formerly Stafford Loan)
This type of federal loan for undergraduates is interest-free while you are enrolled in at least 6 credit hours. It will begin to accumulate interest at a fixed rate when you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment. Repayment begins 6 months after you graduate or drop below half time enrollment. For more information, go to studentloans.gov. To apply, go to FAFSA.gov.
Direct Unsubsidized Loan (formerly Stafford Loan)
This type of federal loan (for undergraduates and graduates) begins to accumulate interest immediately upon disbursement. Repayment begins 6 months after you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment. The interest rate is fixed and depends on the date of disbursement - for more information, visit studentloans.gov. To apply, go to FAFSA.gov.
Disbursement occurs when your financial aid is applied towards your balance at FAU. This typically happens during the third week of classes, and any leftover funds will be issued to the student as a refund. If you still owe money after your financial aid disburses, the Controller’s Office will issue you a statement.
Every student is classified as either “dependent” or “independent”. Dependency status determines whether or not you are required to report parental income information on your FAFSA. You are considered “independent” ONLY once you turn 24 years old or become a graduate student, married, a veteran, an orphan, or meet other exceptional circumstances.
If you do not meet the criteria for an Independent student but feel that you have exceptional circumstances which may warrant special consideration (i.e. parents are incarcerated or abusive), please contact your financial aid counselor to determine if you may be eligible for a Dependency Override. Your counselor will ask you for documentation which supports reconsideration of your dependency status.
Estimated Family Contribution (EFC)
This is a number calculated by FAFSA to determine your eligibility for financial aid (grants and loans). Your EFC is based on a complicated formula which considers several factors (including income and assets).
You must be one of the following to receive federal student aid:
- U.S. citizen
- U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swain’s Island)
- U.S. permanent resident who has an I-151, I-551, or I-551C (Alien Registration Receipt Card)
If you’re not in one of these categories, you must have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) showing one of the following designations in order to be eligible:
- “Asylum Granted”
- “Indefinite Parole” and/or “Humanitarian Parole”
- “Cuban-Haitian Entrant, Status Pending”
- “Conditional Entrant” (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980)
If you have only a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence (I-171 or I-464), you aren’t eligible for federal student aid.
If you’re in the United States on an F1 or F2 student visa only, or on a J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa only, you’re not eligible for federal student aid. Also, persons with G series visas (pertaining to international organizations) are not eligible.
NOTE: Citizens and eligible non-citizens may receive loans from the FFEL program at participating foreign schools.
Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are eligible only for Federal Pell Grants, FSEOGs, or Federal Work-Study. These applicants should check with their schools’ financial aid offices for more information.
The designation of a student as being enrolled full-time, half-time or less than half-time by the institution, which can affect a student's eligibility for financial aid.
If you accept a federal Direct Loan, you must complete Entrance Counseling at studentloans.gov before your loan can disburse. This is an informative tutorial that will explain to you the details of your loan, such as interest rates and repayment options.
If you graduate or drop below half time enrollment, you will be asked to complete Exit Counseling at studentloans.gov to give you information on how and when you will be asked to begin loan repayment. Do not worry if you complete Exit Counseling but do not graduate, or if you later resume half time enrollment - your deferment on your loans will resume.
The FAFSA is your “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” To complete your FAFSA, simply go to FAFSA.gov and get started. Remember: it is completely free and you are NEVER required to pay any type of fee or complete an additional application to apply for financial aid.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was passed by Congress to protect a student’s educational records, including financial aid information. The FERPA applies to the student as soon as he or she is admitted to FAU, regardless of age. By submitting a FERPA form to the Registrar’s office, the student gives FAU permission to release information to the parent.
Funds offered to assist you with completing your degree - loans, grants, and scholarships. Financial aid may be used for tuition, books, housing, meal plans, and related educational expenses.
The difference between a student's total cost of attendance (COA), the expected family contribution (EFC) and any student financial assistance the student will receive from outside sources. A student must demonstrate financial need to be eligible for need-based financial aid programs.
Permission to postpone or reduce payments.
The organization that administers the FFEL Program in your state. This agency is the best source of information on FFELs. To find out the name, address, and telephone number of the agency serving your state, you can contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center. A directory of guaranty agencies is available on the Department of Education’s Web site at www.ed.gov/Programs/bastmp/SGA.htm.
A grant is free funding for your education. Your FAFSA determines whether or not you are grant eligible - go to FAFSA.gov to apply. Grants may come from the federal government (Pell grant), state (FSAG), or the institution (FAU grant). Unlike a loan, a grant does not have to be repaid - however, grant funding may need to be repaid if classes are dropped.
You must be attending school at least half time to be eligible for financial aid, including a Direct Loan. For undergraduates, half time is 6 credit hours per semester (including summer). For graduate students, half time is 5 credit hours per semester (half-time enrollment during summer terms for graduate students is 3 credit hours).
The institution where you are degree-seeking. If eligible for financial aid, your financial aid will be disbursed from the Home School (Florida Atlantic University). Students can not receive Federal Title IV aid from two schools within the same semester.
The institution where you are completing transient enrollment
LEU (Lifetime Eligibility Used)
Need based programs (Pell Grant, Subsidized Loans) have a lifetime limit per student. For example, a student cannot receive Pell grant for more than 600% of the length of his program - this typically means that a student will exhaust his Pell grant if his Bachelor’s degree is not completed after 6 years of full time study.
The student's enrollment period for which the postsecondary institution approves a student loan to pay educational expenses.
Master Promissory Note (MPN)
The binding legal document you sign (at studentloans.gov) when you get a student loan. It lists the conditions under which you’re borrowing and the terms under which you agree to pay back the loan. It will include information on how interest is calculated and what the deferment and cancellation provisions are. It’s very important to read and save this document because you’ll need to refer to it later when you begin repaying your loan.
National Student Loan Database (NSLDS)
Visit NSLDS.ed.gov to view a breakdown of your federal student loans, including contact information for your loan servicers. NSLDS will also provide your Pell grant history.
Parent PLUS Loan
To request additional funding, parents of dependent students may apply for a Parent PLUS loan at studentloans.gov. This is a credit based loan which will be in the parent’s name if approved. If the parent is denied the PLUS loan based on their credit, the student may be eligible for additional Direct Unsubsidized loan funding by submitting a Direct Loan Revision Request Form.
Your financial aid offer is based on tax information from two years prior. If you feel that your current financial circumstances are not reflected by that year’s tax return, please contact your financial aid counselor to determine if you may be eligible for Professional Judgement. Examples of circumstances which may warrant a Professional Judgement are: job loss, death of parent or spouse, high medical bills.
An adjustment to your financial aid based on the number of credit hours you are taking. For example, Pell grant is always prorated based on your number of credit hours (12 credits to receive 100% Pell, 9-11 credits to receive 75% Pell, 6-8 credits to receive 50% Pell).
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
To be eligible to receive student aid, you must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress toward your degree. Generally, this means that you must maintain a 2.0 GPA (3.0 for graduate students), complete at least 67% of the credits which you attempt, and not exceed 180 attempted credit hours. Click here for more information about SAP policies.
Registration If required by law, you 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, are at least 18 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.)
If you are selected for verification, this means that we are required by the Department of Education to verify your eligibility for financial aid. We will e-mail you if verification documents are needed. All missing requirements must be satisfied before we can determine your award. To view your missing requirements, sign into your MYFAU account, click on “FAU Self-Service” and view your Financial Aid Status for the applicable aid year.
Federal Work Study is a program where the federal government provides funds to the school to allocate to students so that they are able to work on-campus. The funds do not go towards tuition and fees. The funds come in a form of a paycheck for the job that the student is hired for. Students work up to the amount that is awarded to them.