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FA Glossary

Academic Plan: An Academic Plan is a contract created with the assistance of a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) advisor that outlines the criteria a student must meet each term if their SAP appeal is approved. The Academic Plan must be attached to the student’s appeal packet when it is submitted to the SAP advisor. Conditions for the Academic Plans vary from student to student.

Academic Year: The period in which school is in session – typically September through May.

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI): The total of all income earned by a student and his/her parents through work, interest, investments, etc. and reported on a tax return, minus any deductions.

Aggregate Loan Limit: The limit of loans that a student may borrow in their lifetime.

Adoptive Parent: A parent who legally adopts a child as his or her own child.

Alternative education loans (also known as private loans): A non-federal loan that the student applies for separately from the Direct Loan. Alternative loan eligibility requirements vary from lender to lender and are credit based loans. The interest rate on these loans may depend on the borrower’s and/or co-signer’s credit rating. Students may also be required to meet citizenship requirements or provide a co-signer who meets citizenship requirements. The choice of lender is strictly up to the student’s discretion.

Appeal Denied: Student’s appeal is denied. The student is not eligible for federal or state financial aid from now on.

Assets: Cash in checking and savings accounts, trusts, stocks, bonds, other securities, real estate (excluding home), income-producing property, business equipment, and business inventory. Considered in determining expected family contribution (EFC).

Associate Degree: A two-year college degree.

Award (or Financial Aid Award): The total amount of all financial aid received by the school, usually figured on a full-time basis. The award amount will be pro-rated based on actual enrollment and cost of attendance.

Award Letter: Official letter from the college financial aid office that lists all the financial aid awarded to the student.

Award Year: The time period in which a student can receive a particular award, usually defined as July 1st through June 30th.

Bachelor’s Degree: A four-year college degree.

Biological Parent: Parents who conceived and gave birth to you as the student.

Budget: The estimated cost of attendance for a student at an institution: typically includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, board, personal expenses and transportation.

Completion Rate: One of the three requirements of maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress. Sometimes called “Pass Rate,” a student must “complete” or “pass” at least 67% of all credit hours attempted in order to continue receiving financial aid. Any classes the student fails or from which the student withdraws are considered to be classes that were not completed. Many students do not realize how badly withdrawing from classes can affect their financial aid, and think they are doing it to protect their often above-average GPAs. As an example: a student who begins the semester with 12 credit hours, all three-hour classes, and completes all of them with Ds or higher will have a 100% completion rate at the end of the semester. A student who withdraws from one of those four classes will then have a 75% completion rate. If that same student then withdraws from a second class, his completion rate has now dropped to 50% for the semester, putting him in danger going into a Warning or Unsatisfactory status, depending on what his SAP status was in the previous semester.

Consolidation: Usually done after graduation; a student can combine multiple loans into one loan with a single loan-holder and bill.

Cost of Attendance: Also known as the budget, it includes tuition and fees, room and board, allowances for books and supplies, transportation, and personal and incidental expenses.

Custodial Parent: In cases where a student’s parents are divorced or separated, the custodial parent is the parent with whom the student lived the most during the past 12 months.

Data Release Number (DRN): The number that a student can give a school in order for us to be able to retrieve their FAFSA from the Department of Ed. They’ll also need this number if they have to call FSA to make corrections.

Default: Failure to repay or otherwise meet the terms and condition of a loan. Default typically occurs after six months of delinquent payments. Penalties include a bad credit rating, loss of future financial aid eligibility, withholding of tax refunds, garnishing wages and loss of monthly payment options.

Deferment of Loan: Period during which the repayment of the loan is suspended because the borrower meets certain eligibility requirements (e.g., enrolled in college at least half time).

Delinquency: Failure to make a scheduled loan payment.

Dependency Override (DO): A student requests a Dependency Override when they attempt to prove Independent status due to abuse or neglect by their parents, incarceration of both parents, etc. Students must provide third-party documentation of their circumstances in these instances. Students may not become independent because their parents refuse to pay for college, or will not provide information on the FAFSA, or don’t claim the student as a dependent on taxes.

Dependency Status: A student’s dependency status determines the degree to which the student has access to parent financial resources. An independent student is at least 24 years old as of January 1, is married, is a graduate or professional student, has a legal dependent other than a spouse, is a U.S. Armed Forces veteran or is/was an orphan or ward of the court.

Dependent Student: Any student who does not qualify as an Independent student must complete the FAFSA application using parental information as well as their own. See Independent Student for details.

Direct Loan: A federal student loan, made through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program that eligible students and parents borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education at participating schools. Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans are types of Direct Loans.

Direct Subsidized Loan: A loan based on financial need for which the federal government generally pays the interest that accrues while the borrower is in an in-school, grace, or deferment status, and during certain periods of repayment under certain income-driven repayment plans.

Direct Unsubsidized Loan: A loan for which the borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status. Interest on unsubsidized loans accrues from the date of disbursement and continues throughout the life of the loan.

Direct PLUS Loan (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students)
: If a dependent student is not receiving enough financial aid with student loans and/or grants, his/her parent may apply for a PLUS loan. Students need not apply for a loan first in order for their parents to apply for one. Unlike student loans, parents must undergo a credit check in order to receive this loan. Parents may apply for up to the Cost of Attendance for the student minus any other aid the student is already receiving. PLUS loans are not need-based, so even a student with a very high EFC can receive them. There are also GradPLUS loans available, but students at an undergraduate college would not be eligible to apply for them.

Disbursement: The process by which financial aid funds are made available to students for use in meeting educational and related living expenses. Funds are directly applied to the student’s account.

Educational Opportunity Fund Program
The New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund provides financial assistance to students from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds who attend institutions of higher education in the State of New Jersey. These grants are renewable based on continued eligibility.

Enrollment Status: Indication of whether student attends full or part time.

Entrance Counseling: One of two required online forms you must complete in order to receive a Federal Direct Student Loan. This document consists of tutorials and quizzes designed to explain to you your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. Students complete their Entrance Counseling by going to www.studentloans.gov and using their FSA ID to log in to the system. See Master Promissory Note.

Exit Counseling: Students must complete Exit Counseling when they graduate, withdraw, leave school without withdrawing, or fall below half-time enrollment status. Exit Counseling will provide information about the loan terms and conditions, with emphasis on repayment requirements and debt management strategies. Students complete Exit Counseling either by going to www.studentloans.gov or www.nslds.gov.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The dollar amount that a family is expected to pay toward a student’s educational costs. EFC is based on family earnings, assets, students in college and family size.

Extenuating Circumstances: As it pertains to Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals, this simply means any localized event that was beyond the student’s control but that directly affected the student’s ability to be successful in her coursework. Examples include a death in the family, an accident or sudden illness that required the student or a close family member to be hospitalized, a sudden change in work schedule that was not initiated by the student, etc. Generally, extenuating circumstances are not chronic in nature, and not the fault of the student. A student must be able to prove via outside documentation not only that the circumstances existed, but that they are no longer an issue going forward.

Failed Academic Plan Status: Student who was placed on an academic plan has failed to make progress as outlined on their academic plan. They are not eligible for federal or state financial aid from now on.

Federal School Code: The code that is used to communicate to the federal government that a student would like to have his/her FAFSA, MPN or Entrance Counseling sent to a particular school. MCC’s school code is 002615.

Federal Student Aid Identification (FSA ID): The replacement for the former PIN that was used to access and sign the FAFSA. The FSA ID is a user name and password combination used by both students and parents to access and sign the FAFSA, the MPN and Entrance Counseling.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): These are federal grants for students with exceptional financial need (as determined by the college).

Federal Work-Study: Federally sponsored Work-Study (FWS) Program provides undergraduate and graduate students with school-year part-time employment. Eligibility is based on financial need.
Financial Need: The difference between the student’s cost of attendance and the Expected Family Contribution.

Forbearance: The approved temporary suspension of loan payments due to a financial hardship (interest continues to accrue).

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The application students must first complete to apply for virtually all forms of financial aid. Available by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID, and on the Web by following the links at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.

Grace Period: The period after a student either graduates or leaves school and before loan payments must begin (typically six to nine months).

Grade Point Average (GPA): One of the three requirements of maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress. A student must maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA in order to continue receiving financial aid. Students are encouraged to use an online GPA Calculator in order to determine what grades they should make in their classes to achieve the GPA they want.

Grant: Financial aid that does not have to be paid back.

Home Equity: The current market value of the home minus the mortgage’s unpaid principal (based on market value).

Income Contingent Repayment: The size of the monthly payments depends on the income earned by the borrower. As the borrower’s income increases, so do payments.

Independent Student: A student is considered Independent for federal student aid purposes if they are one of the following: at least 24 years old, married, in graduate school, have dependents they support, are on active duty or a veteran of combat, are a ward of the court, in foster care, an orphan, or in legal guardianship, are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, or are an emancipated minor. Students are not necessarily considered independent if they live alone or apart from their parents, have a job and support themselves, or have a child or other dependent that they do not support 50% or more.

Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR): The institutional equivalent of the student’s Student Aid Report (SAR). The ISIR report shows all information provided on the FAFSA and includes the student’s EFC, any error messages reported, whether or not the student was selected for verification, and anything else that seems to be a bit “off” and should be reviewed.

Legal Guardianship: A relationship created by court order, through which the court appoints an individual other than a minor’s parent to take care of the minor. A legal guardian is not considered a parent on the student’s FAFSA form. In fact, a student in legal guardianship does not need to report parent information on the FAFSA form because he or she is considered an independent student.

Maximum Time Frame: Student is no longer eligible to receive Federal or State financial aid due to having exceeded the maximum allowed credits for earning his/her program of study.
Merit-based Aid: Financial aid based on academic, artistic, athletic or other merit-oriented criteria (not financial need).

Master Promissory Note (MPN): One of two required online forms you must complete in order to receive a Federal Direct Student Loan. This document is an online promise to pay back your loan. Students must provide contact information for two references for this document, one of whom is usually a parent. The other reference must be someone who lives outside the parent’s home, but who would know how to get in touch with the student should the student fail to pay his/her loan back. Students complete their MPN by going to www.studentloans.gov and using their FSA ID to log in to the system. See also Entrance Counseling.

Maximum Eligibility Period (Direct Loan): Also called Subsidized Usage Limit, a period of time, measured in academic years, equal to 150 percent of the length of the educational program in which the borrower is currently enrolled, as published by the institution. Students may not receive any additional Subsidized loan funds once they have received those funds up to that limit.

Need Analysis: The process used by a college to evaluate an applicant’s financial resources and determine how much the student or family can pay toward the cost of the education.

NJ STARS: The New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship (NJ STARS) Program is an initiative created by the State of New Jersey that provides New Jersey’s highest achieving students with free tuition at their home county college. The NJ STARS award covers the cost of tuition, less any State and/or Federal grants and scholarships, for up to five semesters. The award covers these charges for up to 18 credit hours per semester. Students must graduate in the top 15% of their high school class in either their Junior or Senior Year and completed a rigorous series of high school coursework as determined by the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education.

Overpayment: A student is considered to be in “overpayment” when they have received more Pell grant or Direct Loan funds than they were entitled to receive. This can sometimes be caused by complete withdrawal, which resulted in a Return to Title IV calculation being completed.

Packaging: A financial aid administrator’s attempt at combining various types of student aid (grants, loans, scholarship and employment) to attempt to meet a student’s financial need.
Pell Grant: The Pell grant is a need-based grant which is considered an “entitlement.” In other words, if a student qualifies for it in all ways and has not yet hit their Lifetime Eligibility Usage (see Pell LEU), they receive the grant. The grant is always pro-rated based upon a student’s enrollment status. Students who have a very high EFC (i.e. an EFC hovering around 5000) may not be eligible for the Pell grant unless they are enrolled full-time or three-quarter time (see Pell Chart).

Pell Lifetime Eligibility Used (PLEU): Students are allowed to receive Pell grant up to six full-time years, or 600%. Once students reach the 600% mark, they are no longer eligible to receive Pell grant. In some cases, if a student exceeds the 600% mark, they will not qualify to receive any federal financial aid until they have paid back the amount that they are over. Students use a full year of eligibility (100%) when they are paid full Pell grant for two semesters of the same year. If a student is only enrolled half-time for both semesters of the same year, the student would only use 50% of their eligibility for that year.

Professional Judgment (PJ): Because students can sometimes have unusual circumstances that are not reflected on the FAFSA application but that affect their ability to receive financial aid, financial aid administrators are allowed to exercise something called Professional Judgment. Professional Judgment (or PJ) exists to correct an inequity or provide a more accurate picture of the student’s financial well-being. See Dependency Override and Special Circumstances for examples. Financial Aid Appeals also loosely fall under this category, since a student does not technically qualify for financial aid, but an administrator or a committee is making the decision that the circumstances were beyond the student’s control and so are overriding the usual regulations to award the student financial aid. In all cases, Professional Judgment must always be on a strictly case-by-case basis and must always be documented thoroughly in the student’s file.

Promissory Note: A legally binding contract a student signs before receiving loan funds that details the terms of the loan and obligates the borrower to repay.

Reject Codes: Alphabetic and numeric codes for the problems found with the student’s FAFSA. When there is a reject, no EFC is generated and the reason for the reject must be addressed. Alphabetic codes indicate reject reasons that are verifiable, that is, the student can verify the questionable value by re-entering it if it is correct or changing it if it is wrong.

Remedial: If a student is enrolled in an eligible program which contains some remedial coursework, he/she can be considered a regular student and potentially eligible for Title IV aid, even if he/she is taking all remedial courses in advance of taking any regular courses. Students may receive federal financial aid payments for no more than 30 hours of non-credit remedial course work.

Repeated Coursework: Repeated courses may impact financial aid eligibility and federal Title IV financial aid awards. In order for a repeated course to count toward the student’s enrollment status for financial aid purposes, the student may only repeat a previously passes course once, for a total of two attempts. If a student enrolls in a previously repeated course for a third time, this course will not count towards their enrollment for financial aid purposes.
Satisfactory Status: Student has met progress standards and is eligible for aid for the following semester or academic year.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP): A school’s policy concerning the minimum GPA, minimum completion rate, and the maximum time frame required to receive financial aid. MCC’s SAP policy is students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA (2.0 or higher) and a minimum cumulative completion rate (67% or higher) in order to continue receiving financial aid. In addition, students may not exceed the Maximum Timeframe for their academic program.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal: If a student has a legitimate, unavoidable reason why they were unable to be successful with their coursework, they may submit a SAP Appeal. The appeal must explain what the uncontrollable circumstances were, provide dates to prove that they coincide with periods of poor performance, and, in some cases, provide some sort of assurance that the issue has been resolved and will not occur again. Students must provide outside, third-party documentation to corroborate their explanations.

Scholarship: A form of financial assistance that does not require repayment or employment and which is usually offered to students who show potential for distinction, or who possess certain characteristics important to the scholarship provider.

Selective Service: A federal system which collects the names of all male U.S. citizens and immigrant non-citizens who are between the ages of 18 and 25, for the purpose of potentially conscripting them into the U.S. military. Males in this age group must register with Selective Service in order to receive Title IV aid. The Central Processing System performs a match with the Selective Service System to determine if students are registered for the draft. Students may go to www.sss.gov in order to print off proof that they have indeed registered for Selective Service.

Servicer: An organization that is paid by a lender to administer their student loan portfolio.

Special Circumstances: If a student had a dramatic change in financial viability for a particular reason during a given school year, he/she can sometimes apply for Special Circumstances. The financial aid administrator will then review the provided information and documentation to determine if the student’s FAFSA data elements or budget should be changed based on the nature of the special circumstances. This often results in a lower EFC. Examples of Special Circumstances (sometimes called Special Conditions or Professional Judgment) could include a decrease in income due to job loss; a divorce or separation; or the death of a parent or spouse. The circumstances are handled on a case-by-case basis and must be thoroughly documented in the student’s file. See Professional Judgment.

Subsidized Usage Limit Applies (SULA): You may see this term in reference to a student’s Subsidized loan eligibility. This indicates that the student’s loan was first disbursed on or after July 1st, 2013, so therefore is subject to the Maximum Eligibility Period (or Subsidized Usage Limit) described earlier.

Student Aid Report (SAR): The official notification sent to students after submitting the FAFSA. Students may be required to submit this document to the college’s financial aid office.

TAG (Tuition Aid Grant)
The NJ Tuition aid Grant Program (TAG) is a generous need based state funded financial aid program. TAG awards may cover up to the cost of tuition and is offered to students with demonstrated financial aid. Eligibility for TAG is based on filing the FAFSA application and listing Middlesex County College as the first choice.

Tax Return Transcript: Until recently, students were allowed to submit their tax returns and/or their parents’ tax returns as a method of verifying information provided on the FAFSA. Now, the DOE will not accept a Tax Return except in very limited cases. Instead, students must provide a Tax Return Transcript, which they can find on the IRS website at www.irs.gov. It is important to stress that students should always request the Tax Return Transcript and not the Tax Account Transcript, since that document does not contain several data elements that are required to be checked in the verification process.

Title IV Programs: Federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. Includes Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work Study, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Stafford Loan, Federal PLUS Loan, Direct Loan, Direct PLUS Loan and SSIG.

Undergraduate Student: A student who has not yet received a bachelor’s degree.

Unsatisfactory Status: If a Warning student failed to meet the progress standards (failed GPA or completion rate requirement or both) at the end of the Warning semester, the student is not eligible for federal or state financial aid from now on.

Unusual Enrollment History: Students are flagged by the U.S. Department of Education for having an Unusual Enrollment History (UEH) if they have attended three or more schools in a four year period. Students flagged for having UEH must submit the UEH form found on our website and attached transcripts from every school attended during the years indicated on the form. In order to be eligible for federal aid (grants or loans) the student must have passed courses at every school attended for every year in question.

Unmet Need: Difference between a student’s total cost of attendance at a specific institution and the student’s total available resources, including financial aid.

Verification: The review process in which the financial aid officer requests documentation from a financial aid applicant to verify the accuracy of the application.

Warning Status: Student has NOT met progress standards (failed GPA or completion rate requirement or both), but may continue receiving federal aid for one more semester. Student is encouraged to seek tutoring to assist with the improvement of his/her GPA and progress. If the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress at the end of semester, they will become unsatisfactory and will not be eligible for any federal or state aid.