Financial Aid Terms and Acronyms

◦ Cost of Attendance (COA) – the full cost (includes tuition, fees, room, board, books, travel, estimated incidental expenses) for one year of college (aka – “sticker price”)

◦ CSS Profile – Another financial aid form required by approximately 400 colleges to determine institutional aid (meaning financial aid provided by the college).

◦ Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – A number based on the information submitted on your FAFSA (i.e. your income, assets and the number of children in a family attending college). The number is based on the government’s formula and represents the amount a family is expected to pay for one year of college.

Federal Methodology – Method used by the federal government to determine a family’s EFC and the amount of federal financial aid a student is awarded.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – the Federal Government’s financial aid form required by virtually every college (and graduate school). Families must fill out the FAFSA every year the student is in school to determine a family’s EFC and their eligibility for Pell Grants or Subsidized loans.

Federal Student Aid Identification (FSAID) - needed by student and one parent to submit the FAFSA.

◦ Institutional Methodology – Method used by a college to determine how the school’s financial aid funds will be awarded.

◦ IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) – Connected to the FAFSA, allows you to automatically download information from your tax returns.

◦ Need – The difference between the Cost of Attendance (COA) and Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

◦ Net Price Calculator – Each college is required to have an NPC on their website, although some may be more worthwhile and accurate than others. Families provide extensive information about finances and student’s academic history to get an estimate of the aid that might be forthcoming and the net amount a family will need to pay.

◦ Merit Aid, Grants, Scholarships – Money to pay for college that doesn’t need to be paid back.

◦ Student Aid Report (SAR) - The report sent to the student after the FAFSA is filed (usually SAR arrives within 5 days). It includes the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

◦ Stafford Loans, Parent PLUS Loans – these are LOANS and will need to be paid back.

◦ Tuition Discount – Any financial aid or scholarship that reduces the total cost of attendance.

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