terms and acronyms

Common Financial Aid Terms and Acronyms as defined by the U.S Department of Education at http://ifap.ed.gov (search glossary)

Aid Package 
A combination of financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans, and/or work-study) assembled by the financial aid office of a college or university for an eligible recipient
Award Letter

 An official document issued by a financial aid office listing the types and amounts of all the financial aid awarded to the student. Generally, the award letter includes information about the cost of attendance and terms and conditions for the financial aid.

Cost of Attendance (COA)
Cost related to a student's enrollment in a postsecondary school for a defined academic period. COA components include tuition and fees, room and board, allowances for books and supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses, along with other applicable expenses such as loan fees, dependents-care cost, cost related to a disability, and study-abroad costs, as outlined in Section 472 of the HEA. The EFC is subtracted from the COA to determine the student's need for aid.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
A calculated amount, based on a formula established by Congress, of how much the student's family can be expected to contribute toward the cost of the student's education in an award year. The EFC is calculated when the CPS successfully processes a student's FAFSA information and is one component schools use to determine the amount and type of aid the student can receive.
Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.
Financial Aid
Financial assistance in the form of scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans for education.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
A student financial aid application form completed by students and parents to apply for federal student aid. The information provided is the source for all FSA need analysis computations, including the student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
A form of financial aid that does not have to be repaid.
An advance of funds guaranteed by a signed promissory note in which the recipient of the funds promises to repay a specified amount under prescribed conditions. A financial source that is available to students and their parents through student loan programs with varying interest rates and repayment provisions to supplement the family's financial resources, scholarships, and grants.
Master Promissory Note (MPN)
The legal document that requires a student loan borrower to repay the funds borrowed under the Direct Loan Program or under the Federal Family Educational Loan Program. Use of the MPN from simplifies the loan process by eliminating the need for eligible students to complete a promissory note every year they borrow.
Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) 
PLUS loans enable parents to borrow federal funds to pay the education expenses of each child who is a dependent undergraduate student.
Personal Identification Number (PIN)
An identifier that allows students and parents to access their personal information in ED systems. The PIN in also used to electronically sign the FAFSA and make corrections electronically to data submitted. A PIN should always be protected, and never provided to anyone other than the person for whom it was created.
Post-secondary Institution
An institution providing education beyond the high school level. The term refers to trade and technical schools, two-year colleges, community colleges, and four-year colleges and universities.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
The qualitative (grade point average) and quantitative (time limit) measure of a student's progress toward completing a program of study. To maintain eligibility for FSA program assistance, the student must show continued progress. Schools must establish policies regarding satisfactory academic progress and must check the progress of FSA recipients at least once each academic year.
Student Aid Report (SAR)
The output document that the CPS sends to a student after a FAFSA is processed. It summarizes the information the student submitted on the FAFSA; reports the student's calculated EFC; provides comments to the student as well as information for the financial aid administrator; and reports the student's NSLDS financial aid history.
Subsidized Loan
A FFEL or Direct Loan that is eligible for interest benefits paid by the federal government. The federal government pays the interest that accrues on subsidized loans during an in-school, grace, authorized deferment, and (if applicable) post-deferment grace periods if the borrower meets certain eligibility requirements.
The amount of money charged for instruction and use of educational facilities such as libraries.
Undergraduate Student
A degree-seeking student at a college or university who has not earned a first bachelor's degree.
Unsubsidized Loan
An unsubsidized (unsub) loan is a loan given to a student not eligible for (or who has exhausted his/her eligibility for a subsidized loan) that will begin accruing interest charges from the disbursement date forward. Interest is charged on these loans from the date of disbursement. While the student is in school, in the grace period, or in deferment, students may elect to make payments on the interest or have it capitalized and added to the principal.
The process a school follows to check the accuracy of the information reported by the student on the FAFSA. The information reported is compared against documents, such as signed federal tax forms and signed Verification Worksheets, the student provides to the school.
Verification Worksheet
A form sent by a school to students who are selected for verification by the Department of Education's Central Processing System (CPS).
For FSA purposes, such as determining dependency status, a veteran is a former member of the U.S. Armed Forces who served on active duty (other than for training purposes) and was discharged other than dishonorably.

Veterans Affairs (VA)

The federal agency responsible for administering and managing the education, healthcare and financial assistance benefits of U.S. veterans and their families. The CPS conducts a match of FAFSA data against this agency's database to confirm the student's veteran status.