Award Letter
Notification of the terms and requirements of the financial aid package offered by a college.

College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile
A financial aid application required by some schools in addition to the FAFSA.

Cooperative Education
A program which allows students to alternate college studies with salaried work experience off-campus.

Cost of Attendance (COA)
The annual cost of attending college that is used to determine a student’s financial need. It includes tuition, books, fees, room and board, transportation and out-of-pocket expenses. Also referred to as the student expense budget.

Dependent Student
An unmarried student under the age of 24 who has no dependents and who is at least partially dependent on parental support.

Estimated Family Contribution (EFC)
The total amount a student and his or her family are expected to pay toward college costs from their income and assets.

Federal Methodology
A formula established by Congress that evaluates the expected family contribution to determine eligibility for all types of financial aid.

Federal Work-Study Program
A federally sponsored campus-based program that provides employment opportunities for students with demonstrated need.

Financial Aid Package
The total financial aid award offered to the student which may include grants, scholarships, loans, and work study.

Financial Need
The amount by which a student’s estimated family contribution falls short of covering the cost of attendance.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
A form distributed by the federal government for use by students applying for federal financial aid programs. May be mailed or filed electronically using FAFSA on the Web.

Gift Aid
Student financial aid, such as scholarships and grants, that does not have to be repaid and does not require a student’s being employed.

A financial award that does not have to be repaid.

Independent Student
A student who is not dependent on parental support and meets one of several conditions established by the federal government.

Institutional Methodology
A formula used to determine eligibility for college money.

Money borrowed that must be paid back with interest.

Self-help Aid
Student financial aid, such as loans and federal work-study jobs, that require repayment or a student’s being employed.

Simplified Needs Test
A formula used by families whose total adjusted gross incomes are under $50,000 and who are eligible to file a 1040EZ, 1040A, or no tax return at all.

Student Aid Report (SAR)
A report produced by the U.S. Department of Education and sent to students who have applied for federal student financial aid. It contains either a number called the expected family contribution or a request for further information.

Monetary award that does not have to be repaid.

Tuition Payment Plan
Alternative method of payment designed by colleges, banks, insurance companies and financial management organizations. Most offer either prepayment or installment options.