Glossary of College and Educational Terms


Getting Familiar with College and Education Terms

Looking for colleges, educational opportuinities, applying to colleges, paying for college, and going to college all are big events that involve a lot of big words. Here's a list of definitions that can help you navigate your way through the college, education search and application process.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

3-2 Program — A program which will require you to take three years of study in a liberal arts field followed by two years of professional or specialized study (e.g., engineering, teaching, nursing, business administration). Upon successful completion of this program, you will have earned two degrees.

4-1-4 System — An academic calendar consisting of two semesters made up of four months each, with a short winter term of one month in between.

529 Savings Plans — A state-operated investment plan that gives you a federal tax-free way to save money for college. Also known as qualified tuition programs (QTPs).

Ability to Benefit — One of the criteria used to establish student eligibility in order to receive Title IV program assistance is that a student must have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. Students who are not high school graduates (or who have not earned a General Education Development [GED] Certificate) can demonstrate that they have the "ability to benefit" from the education or training being offered by passing an approved ability-to-benefit (ATB) test.

Academic adviser — This is a senior faculty member in your area of concentration who is assigned to advise you on course selections and requirements.

Academic Year — An academic year is the period of time schools use to measure a quantity of study. For example, a school's academic year may consist of a fall and spring semester during which a full-time undergraduate student must complete 24 semester hours. Academic years vary from school to school and even from educational program to educational program at the same school.

Accelerated study — A program that allows you to graduate in less time than is usually required. By taking summer terms and extra courses during the academic year, you could finish a bachelor's degree in three years instead of four.

AccreditationAccreditation is a process through which colleges, universities, and career training schools can publicly document that their education programs meet regional or national education standards for academic quality. Accreditation confirms that the school has been evaluated by a recognized U.S. accrediting agency and assessed as meeting the same requirements for authenticity and integrity as other schools receiving the same accreditation.

Accrue —To accrue means to accumulate, and is often used when referring to interest that accrues on a loan of money. The date on which interest on a loan begins to accrue is called the accrual date.

Adjusted Available Income — According to the Federal Government's method's, the Adjusted Available Income is the remaining income after allowances such as taxes and basic living allowances have been subtracted.

Admissions decisions  

  • Admit —You are being offered admissions to the college to which you applied.
  • Admit/deny — You have been admitted but will not be receiving financial aid through the college.
  • Deferral — You apply to a college for early action or early decision but your application is put back into the regular applicant pool.
  • Deny —You will not be offered admissions to the college to which you applied.
  • Wait list — You are not in yet but have been placed on a waiting list in case and opening at the college becomes available. After a certain date, if there are no available openings, you will be denied.

Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) — This program gives you the opportunity to take college level courses (in twenty different subject areas) while you are still in high school. Depending on your composite score on an AP test, which ranges from 0 to 5, you may be awarded credits or advanced placement from participating colleges. A score of a 4 or 5 on the AP test is usually required by colleges for credit or advanced placement in college courses. A 3 is sometimes acceptable in foreign languages and some other subject areas.

Alternative assessment — An admissions process which focuses less on your standardized test scores and more on your interview, portfolio, recommendations, and essay.

American College Test (ACT) — This test is an alternative to the SAT, and measures educational development in English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. The score is the average of all four tests; the maximum score is 36. Most colleges accept scores from either the ACT or SAT®.

Amortization — Amortization is a gradual process of loan repayment where the loan is paid over an extended period of time through a schedule of payments of principal and interest.

Apprenticeship — Apprenticeship is a combination of on-the-job training and related instruction in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation. Apprenticeship programs can be sponsored by individual employers, joint employer and labor groups, and/or employer associations.

Articulation — An agreement between a two-year and four-year college within the same state that enables you to start at the two-year college, and automatically transfer to the four-year college after you complete the required courses.

Arts and Sciences — Includes humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, foreign languages, and fine arts.

Associate Degree — An associate's degree is a type of college degree which is usually awarded after the completion of at least 60 semester credit hours, or approximately 20 classes. Courses include career training, general education and elective classes. Associate degrees generally prepare students for a professional career; however, they also prepare students for further college education, like a bachelor degree.

Award Letter — An award letter from a school states the type and amount of financial aid the school is willing to provide if you accept admission and register to take classes at that school.

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Bachelor's Degree — A bachelor degree, sometimes called a baccalaureate degree, is a college degree awarded to students who complete a full 4-year undergraduate course of study. A bachelor degree offers many benefits and opportunities like increased earning potential, greater career opportunities, and opening the door for further education.

Balloon Payment — A balloon payment is a substantial payment used to repay the outstanding balance of a loan free of penalty. Balloon payments are not available on all loans. Fortunately, simple interest loans, like most educational loans, normally do allow balloon payments.

Blended Learning — An approach to teaching that integrates live classroom activities, face-to-face instruction, and online learning to create the most effective combination of independent and collaborative learning

Bursar —The Bursar is the senior financial administrator in a college or school. The Bursar's office is the administrative body responsible for billing student tuition accounts. They are not involved in the financial aid process; however, they do sometimes receive money from scholarships which is then disbursed to students.

Branch campus — A campus connected to, or part of, a large institution.

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Campus-Based Aid — Financial assistance for students and their families administered by a college. Funds, regardless of their source, are awarded to students by the college's financial aid office, and not by a state, federal, or private agency.

Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA) — An agreement that allows you wait until May 1 to decide where you will go to college. This gives you time to get responses from most of the colleges that you have applied to before making a decision on one.

Capitalized — With certain loans, such as subsidized FFEL Loans, the U.S. Department of Education pays the interest that accrues on these loans while the student is enrolled at least halftime and during periods of deferment. However, with subsidized loans in forbearance, unsubsidized loans or PLUS Loans, the student or the student's parents and graduate or professional degree students are responsible for paying interest as it accrues on these loans. When the interest is not paid, it is capitalized—added to the principal balance—which increases the outstanding principal amount due on the loan.

College Board — The College Board administers the PSAT/NMSQT®, SAT®, SAT Subject Tests™, Advanced Placement Program® (AP®), CLEP®, College Scholarship Service® (CSS®), and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®.

College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP®) — A credit-by-examination program that helps students of all ages earn college degrees faster by getting credit for what they already know. By receiving a satisfactory score, a student can earn from 3 to 12 college credits toward a college degree for each CLEP she takes, depending on the exam subject.

College Scholarship Service® (CSS®) — The College Scholarship Service Profile, or CSS PROFILE, is a financial aid application provided by the College Board. The CSS Profile is much more detailed than the federal FAFSA and factors in funding sources that the FAFSA does not, such as equity in a house. The CSS Profile was created to give College Board members more information than the FAFSA regarding students' and families' finances. Along with the FAFSA, the CSS Profile is the most common financial aid application for U.S. students. Many schools require the CSS Profile from students seeking early decisions regarding admissions because the FAFSA is not available until January 1 (too late for early decision), whereas the Profile can be filled out in the fall.

Common Application— A standard application form accepted by approximately 400 colleges in lieu of their own form. The common application is available through both your high school guidance office and online (

Consortium — A group of colleges or universities that offer joint programs and allow you to take advantage of the facilities and course offerings at member campuses. Consortiums are generally made up of neighboring schools.

Consolidation Loan — A Consolidation Loan combines several student loans into a single loan. This way, you only have to pay one lender. Consolidation Loans are used to pay off balances on other loans.

Cost of education — This includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. Your financial aid eligibility is the difference between the cost of education and your Expected Family Contribution as computed by the federal government using the FAFSA.

Course load — The number of course credit hours you take in each semester. Twelve credit hours is the minimum to be considered a full-time student. The average course load per semester is 16 credit hours.

Credit hours — The number of hours per week that courses meet are counted as equivalent credits for financial aid and used to determine you status as a full- or part-time student.

Cross-registration — An arrangement between colleges that allows students enrolled at one college or university to enroll in courses at another institution without formally applying for admission to the second institution. This can be an advantage if you are a student in a smaller college and you want to experience another learning environment.

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Default — Failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to when you signed a promissory note. For the FFEL and Direct Loan programs, default is more specific—it occurs if you fail to make a payment for 270 days if you repay monthly (or 330 days if your payments are due less frequently). 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 may affect your credit rating for as long as seven years. For example, you might find it difficult to borrow money from a bank to buy a car or a house. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service can 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 may be liable for loan collection expenses. If you return to school, you're not entitled to receive additional federal student financial aid. Legal action also might be taken against you. In many cases, default can be avoided by submitting a request for a deferment, forbearance, discharge or cancellation and by providing the required documentation.

Deferred AdmissionDeferred Admission allows an accepted student to postpone admission for one year.

Demonstrated Need— The difference between the family contribution as established on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the total cost of attending college.

Doctorate Degree—A doctorate degree is the highest education credential and can take from 3-7 years to complete, depending on the subject. A doctoral degree is often a requirement for scholars pursing a career in academia. Doctoral degree programs usually require a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree and a dissertation or thesis, except in medical doctor (MD) and juris doctor (JD) programs.

Double major — Allows you to complete all the requirements to simultaneously earn a major in two fields.

Dual enrollment — A policy that allows you to earn college credits while you are still in high school.

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Early Action (EA)Early Action is a program that gives you special consideration if you apply for admission to a college by a specified fate. You are not obligated to enroll if you are admitted.

Early Decision (ED)Early Decision is a program that gives you special consideration if you apply for admission to a college by a specified fate. You will be obligated to enroll if you are admitted, and you must withdraw your applications from any other institutions.

Emphasis — An area of concentration within a major or minor; for example, an English major may have an emphasis in creative writing.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)EFC is an estimate a family's ability to contribute to their student's college expenses. The lower the EFC, the less money a family has to contribute. The EFC is based on the information the student provides in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The EFC is usually subtracted from the cost of attendance (COA) to determine the student's financial need. If the COA minus the EFC is more than 0, then a student has financial need. Your EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR).

Experiential Learning - Experiential learning is the knowledge you’ve gained through real-life contexts. The Association for Experiential Education defines Experiential education as a philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people's capacity to contribute to their communities.

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FAFSA —The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the application form students who wish to apply to any federal student aid program must fill out. The FAFSA must be filled out annually. You can fill it out online at 

Federal Stafford Loan — The Federal Stafford Loan program provides low-interest loans for undergraduate and graduate students. The maximum annual loan amount depends on the student’s grade level. Fixed interest rates will not exceed 6.8%. Repayment does not begin until 6 months after the borrower drops to less than halftime enrollment status. Several repayment options are available.

Federal Work-Study Program (FSW) — A federally financed program that arranges for students to combine employment and college study; the employment may be an integral part of the academic program (as in cooperative education or internships) or simply a means of paying for college.

Fellowship — A type of financial aid typically granted to graduate students to help finance their studies. Sometimes these include a tuition waiver or a payment to the university in lieu of tuition. Most include a stipend to cover basic living expenses (think just above the poverty line). Fellowships are like scholarships in the sense that they are a type of gift aid that does not have to be repaid.

Financial Aid Package — The total amount of financial aid (federal and nonfederal) a student is offered by the school. The financial aid administrator at a postsecondary institution combines various forms of aid into a "package" to help meet a student's education costs. Using available resources to give each student the best possible package of aid is one of the aid administrator's major responsibilities. Because funds are often limited, an aid package might fall short of the amount a student needs to cover the full cost of attendance. Also, the amount of federal student aid in a package is affected by other sources of aid received (scholarships, state aid, etc.).

Full-Time Student — To be considered full-time, a student must be enrolled in:

  • 12 semester or quarter hours per term in a term-based program using credit hours
  • 24 semester hours or 36 quarter hours per academic year (or the prorated equivalent for a program of less than one academic year) in a nonterm program using credit hours
  • 24 clock hours of instruction per week in a clock-hour program

Special rules apply to students taking a combination of courses using different types of hours, as well as to students taking correspondence courses or a co-op program.

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Grade Point Average (GPA) — Indicates a student's overall scholastic performance. It is computed by assigning a point value to each grade.

General Education Development (GED) Certificate —A group of 5 subject tests which, when passed, certify that you have high school level academic skills. The GED is sometimes referred to as a General Equivalency Diploma, General Education Diploma or Good Enough Diploma.

Grant — A grant is a gift of money that does not have to be repaid. An education grant is designated by the grantor to be used solely for education purposes. Organizations that award grants include the federal government, state governments, private corporations, nonprofit institutions, and individual schools. Grants can be either need-based or merit-based and usually require an application. In higher education, a scholarship is one type of grant.

Greek LifeGreek life refers to the fraternities and sororities on campus, whose names originate from letters in the Greek alphabet.

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Honors program — Honors programs offer an enriched, top-quality educational experience that often includes small class size, custom-designed courses, mentoring, enriched individualized learning, hands-on research, and publishing opportunities. A handpicked faculty guides students through the program. Honors programs are a great way to attend a large school that offers enhanced social and recreational opportunities while receiving an Ivy League-like education at a reduced cost.

Humanities — Courses focusing on human culture, including philosophy, foreign language, religion, and literature.

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Income Contingent Repayment — A loan repayment schedule where the size of the monthly payments depends on the income earned by the borrower is called an income contingent repayment schedule. If the borrower's income increases, the loan payments increase as well. This payment plan is not available for PLUS loans.

Independent — If a student is at least 24 years old as of January 1 of the academic year, married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran of the US Armed Forces, an orphan or ward of the court, or has a legal dependent other than a spouse, then the student is classified as an independent.

Independent Study — Allows a student to earn credit through self-designed coursework, which is usually planned and evaluated by a faculty member.

Interest — When you take out a student loan, you will have to repay the loan with interest. Interest is a fee that you pay for the use of borrowed money, such as a loan.

Internship — An internship is a part-time position held during the school year or summer months where the student receives practical training in a field usually related to their course of study. At times, internships may serve as a preamble or precursor to professional employment. Some internships place the student under close supervision by a mentor in an apprentice-like position. Some internship programs provide stipends, although this is not always the case. Check out's Guide to Internships.

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Legacy — Students that have a family member who is an alumnus of the institution they are applying to are sometimes given Legacy Preference or Admission. Students who are enrolled in a college or university that gave them Legacy Admission are called Legacy Students.

Leveraging — Leveraging is the name given to the practice of offering financial aid to talented and promising students, with the intention of having the student enroll at a particular school, regardless of the student's need. The idea behind the practice is that if a school offers more financial aid, the student is more likely to enroll.

Liberal Arts — A course of study that includes humanities, social science, natural sciences, mathematics, foreign languages, and fine arts.

Loan — A loan is a sum of borrowed money that must be repaid with interest to the lender.

Loan Consolidation — A consolidation loan is a type of loan into which multiple loans have been combined and reestablished as one loan. Aside from the convenience of having to keep track of and repay just one loan, loan consolidation may provide students to convert the variable interest rates of their original loans into a fixed interest rate, based on the interest rate at the time of consolidation. The original loans are purchased and closed by a loan consolidation company or the U.S. Department of Education.

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MBA — A Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) is a key education credential if you’re hoping to get promoted to a management or leadership position. Traditional MBA degree programs are offered on campus, but online MBA degree programs are becoming increasingly popular with working professionals for reasons of convenience and timing. MBA degree programs can be 1-3 years long.

Major — An area of concentration in a particular field of study. Usually students specialize in their majors during their junior and senior years at college.

Master's Degree — A master's degree program is course of study in a specific subject that usually takes 1-3 years to complete. A bachelor’s degree is required for admission to a master’s degree program. A master’s degree is essential for some careers, such as social work, while optional for others, but will almost always expand opportunities for leadership roles and increased earnings.

Matriculate — To matriculate is to enroll. A student who is enrolled in college is matriculated in college.

Maturity Date — The date when a loan comes due and must thus be repaid in full.

Merit awards, merit-based scholarships — Merit-based grants and scholarships are awarded not on financial need but on performance or merit in a specific field, typically academic merit, artistic talent, or athletic ability.

Minor — An area of concentration with fewer credits than a major. The minor can be related to the major area of concentration or not; for example, an English major may have a minor in theater.

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National Merit Scholarship Program — A scholarship program based mostly on scores from the PSAT/NMSQT. Each year, National Merit students receive scholarships ranging from several hundred dollars to full costs of attendance.

National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) —NSLDS is the federal student financial aid database where you can find out about the aid you've received. NSLDS receives data from schools, guaranty agencies, and U.S. Department of Education programs. The NSLDS Web site is generally available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By using your PIN, you can get information on federal loan and Pell Grant amounts, outstanding balances, the status of your loans, and disbursements made. You can access NSLDS at

Need-Based —Financial aid that depends on a student's financial situation is called need-based. Usually, students must provide specific information on their family's financial status in order to apply for need-based financial aid.

Need-Blind —Schools that use a need-blind admissions process make their decision of whether to admit a student or not without considering the student's financial need. Although most schools are need-blind, some schools will use financial information in order to decide if a marginal student should be put on the waitlist.

Need-Sensitive — Schools that use a need-sensitive admissions process take the applicant's financial situation under account when deciding whether to admit him or her. Sometimes schools use the need-sensitive process to decide whether to admit a borderline student or to pull a student off the wait list.

Nonmatriculated — A student who has either not been admitted yet but is taking classes or has been academically dismissed. Under this category, a student may neither receive financial aid nor participate in an athletic program at that school.

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Open Admissions — Schools that take any high school graduate until all the openings are filled. Almost all two-year colleges have an open admissions policy.

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Pell Grant Program — This is a federally sponsored and administered program that provides grants based on need to undergraduate students. Congress annually sets the appropriation; award amounts vary based on need, and the maximum award for 2010-11 is $5,550. Pell grants do not need to be repaid.

Perkins Loan Program — This is a federally run program based on need and administered by a college's financial aid office. This program offers low-interest loans for undergraduate study. Repayment does not begin until 9 months after the borrower drops to less than halftime enrollment status. The maximum loan amount is $5,500 per year.

PLUS Loan — The PLUS Loan is another federal loan program. There are two types of PLUS loans: one for parents can and one for graduate students. Parents can take out a Parents' PLUS Loan to help pay your education expenses if you are a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program at an eligible school. Graduate students can take out Graduate PLUS Loans upon being awarded the maximum subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans.

Preferential Packaging — A policy in which the most desirable applicants get the best financial aid packages.

Principle — The amount of money borrowed or that remains to be paid on a loan. Interest is charged as a percentage of principal.

Private LoansPrivate Student Loans are issued through programs established by private lending institutions, and are designed to supplement the loans available from the Federal Government.

Promissory Note — A binding legal document you sign when you apply for a student loan. It lists the conditions under which you are borrowing the money and the terms under which you agree to pay back the loan. The promissory note will include information about how interest is calculated and what provisions are available to you for deferment and cancellation of the loan. It is very important to read, fully understand, and save your promissory note because you'll need it later when you begin repaying your loan, or in case you want to request a deferment or forbearance.

PSAT/NMSQT® — The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT® and SAT Subject Tests™. It also gives students a chance to qualify for National Merit Scholarship Corporation's (NMSC) scholarship programs.

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Quarter System — Divides the nine-month academic calendar into three equal parts of approximately 12 weeks each. Summer sessions, if any, are usually the same length.

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Registrar — College official who registers students and collects fees. The registrar may also be responsible for keeping permanent records, maintaining student files, and forwarding copies of students' transcripts to employers and schools.

Regular Student — A regular student is one who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment at an institution for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate or other recognized education credential offered by that institution. Generally, to receive federal student financial aid from the programs discussed in this guide, you must be a regular student. There are exceptions to this requirement for some programs.

Renewable Scholarships — Scholarships that are awarded for more than one year are sometimes known as renewable scholarships. Most of these require students to maintain a certain level of performance in order to continue receiving the scholarship(s). Some require students to re-apply every year, others only ask for a progress report.

Repayment Schedule — This discloses loan details like payment due dates, monthly payment size, total repayment obligation, interest rate, and the term of the loan.

Repayment Term — The repayment term is the period of time during which a borrower is expected to make and ultimately conclude payments on their loans.

Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) — Combines military education with college study leading to the bachelor's degree. For students who commit themselves to future service in the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, there is usually an offer of financial aid. Not all schools offer ROTC.

Residency Requirements — Length of time stipulated by colleges or universities that students must spend on campus taking courses. The term also refers to time families or students must reside in a state before being considered eligible for state aid.

Retention rate — The number and percentage of students returning for the sophomore year.

Rolling Admissions — Admissions procedure by which the college considers each student's application as soon as all the required credentials have been received (e.g., school record, test scores). The college usually notifies applicants of its decision without delay.

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SAT® — The SAT is a 3 hour and 45 minute exam that measures the critical thinking skills needed for academic success in college.  It measures skills in three areas: critical reading, mathematics, and writing.

SAT Subject Tests — One hour, primarily multiple-choice tests that measure achievement in specific subject areas.

Satisfactory Academic Progress — To be eligible to receive federal student financial aid, you must meet and maintain your school's standards of satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate offered by that institution. Check with your school to find out its standards.

Scholarship — A scholarship is a financial grant awarded to a student for the purpose of covering educational expenses. A scholarship does not need to be repaid, and is typically awarded on a merit basis. Check out's Scholarship Secrets Guide.

Selective Service Registration — Registering with the Selective Service System (the military draft system) is a federal financial aid requirement. In order to receive federal student financial aid, if you are a male born on or after Jan. 1, 1960, are at least 18 years old, and are not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, you must register, or arrange to register, with the Selective Service System. (Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands or the Republic of Palau are exempt from registering.)

Semester System — Divides the academic year into two equal segments of approximately 18 weeks each. Summer sessions are shorter, but require more intensive study.

Seminar — A class that has a group discussion format rather than a lecture format.

Servicer — An organization that performs administrative tasks necessary to maintain a loan portfolio is called a loan servicing agency. These tasks can include collecting payments, monitoring loans while borrowers are in school, disbursing loan funds, responding to borrower questions, processing deferments and forbearances, and anything else necessary for the loans to be administered in accordance with federal laws and guarantee agency requirements.

Silent scores — The term is applied to PSAT scores because only the student and his or her guidance counselor see the scores. They are not reported to colleges. It is the "practice without penalty" feature of the test.

Simple Interest — Simple interest is paid only on the principal balance of a loan, not on any accrued interest in addition to principal. Most student loan programs offer simple interest.

Stafford Loans — The Stafford Loan is the basic and best-known federal student loan, available through the both the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) program and the Direct Lending Program. Stafford loans are offered as subsidized and unsubsidized loans. To be eligible for a Stafford Loan, you must submit a FAFSA.

Standby — If a student registers for an SAT or ACT testing date and there are no seats available, the student may accept a standby position; that is, if a seat becomes available the day of the test, the student will take the test. The student must go to the testing center and wait to see if there is an open seat. A fee is attached to standby.

Student Aid Report (SAR) — After you apply for federal student financial aid, you'll get your FAFSA results in an e-mail report within a few days after your FAFSA has been processed or by mail in a few weeks. This report is called a Student Aid Report or SAR. Your SAR details all the information you provided on your FAFSA. If there are no corrections or additional information required, the SAR will contain your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is an important number in determining how much aid you can qualify for. Whether you applied online or by paper, we will automatically send your data electronically to the schools you listed on your FAFSA. 

Student-Designed Major — Students design their own majors under this policy. It offers students the opportunity to develop nontraditional options not available in the existing catalog of majors.

Subsidized Loan — A subsidized loan is awarded on the basis of financial need. If you're eligible for a subsidized loan, the government will pay (subsidize) the interest on your loan while you're in school, for the first six months after you leave school, and if you qualify to have your payments deferred. Depending on your financial need, you may borrow subsidized money for an amount up to the annual loan borrowing limit for your level of study.

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Term — The number of years (or months) during which the loan must be repaid.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) — An exam required by almost all U.S. colleges and universities for students whose principal language is not English. The test is made up of three multiple choice sections: listening comprehension, structure and written expression, and reading comprehension.

Title IV — Title IV of the 1965 federal Higher Education Act is the section designating the criteria schools must meet in order to participate in the federal financial aid program. A primary criterion is accreditation by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Title IV student loans are collectively referred to as the Federal Family Education Loan Program and include federal Stafford loans, PLUS loans, and Consolidation loans.

Transcript Official —  record of a student's coursework at a school or college. A high school transcript is generally required as part of the college application process.

Transfer program — A transfer program is usually found in a two-year college or in a four-year college that offers associate degrees. It allows a student to continue his or her studies in a four-year college by maintaining designated criteria set down at acceptance to the two-year program. It is not necessary to earn an associate degree to transfer.

Transfer student — A student who transfers from one college or university to another. Credits applied toward the transfer will be evaluated by the receiving school to determine the number it will accept. Each school sets different policies for transfers, so anyone considering this option should seek guidance.

Trimesters — An academic calendar that is divided into three equal terms or semesters.

Tuition Tax Credits — Allow you to subtract, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, the amount of the credit from your total federal income tax bill.

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Undergraduate — A college student earning a bachelor's degree.

Unsecured Loan — A type of loan not backed by collateral is called an unsecured loan. This type of loan usually represents a greater risk to the lender. Unsecured loans usually require a co-signer to vouch for the borrower. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the co-signer will be held responsible for repayment. Most educational loans are unsecured loans, and on most federal loans the federal government guarantees repayment.

Unsubsidized Loan — An unsubsidized loan is one in which the borrower pays the interest from the first day the interest accrues. The federal government usually pays the interest on a subsidized loan during the time the student is still in school. On an unsubsidized loan, however, the borrower is responsible for the interest from the date the loan is disbursed, whether the student is still in school or not.

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Virtual visit — This is the use of the Internet to investigate various colleges by looking at their home pages. A student can "tour" the college, ask questions vie e-mail, read school newspapers, and explore course offerings and major requirements on line. It is not a substitute for a live visit.

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Waitlist — A list of applicants who may be considered for acceptance if there is still space after admitted students have decided whether or not they'll attend.

Waiver to view recommendations — The form many high schools ask their students to sign by which they agree not to review their teachers' recommendation letters before they are sent to the colleges or universities to which they are applying.

Work-Study —The Federal Work-Study program provides jobs for undergraduates and graduate students who demonstrate financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. Jobs are either on campus or off campus. Off-campus jobs must be related to community service.

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Yield —Percentage of accepted applicants who enroll at a college.


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