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Glossary of Financial Aid Terms

Financial Aid

Ability to Benefit

A requirement for Federal aid that applies to students admitted to the College who have not yet earned a high school diploma or GED. If you are admitted to the College without a high school diploma or GED, you must take and pass an independently administered test approved by the U.S. Department of Education before receiving any Federal financial aid. The ability to benefit requirement does not affect your status as a matriculated student.

Academic Progress

Meeting the Institution's Academic Progress standard requiring you (1) accumulate at least 6 degree credits by the end of the second semester and between 12-15 credits each semester thereafter AND (2) attain a minimum grade point average (GPA). Federal Financial Aid Programs require you meet a separate Federal standard of satisfactory academic progress for continued receipt of Federal financial aid.

Academic Year

A period of at least 30 weeks of instructional time during which you are expected to complete the equivalent of two semesters of full-time study.


An offer of financial assistance to help you meet the cost of a college education.

Award Letter

This notification sent to you from the Financial Aid Office through LioNet indicates your financial aid package and the basis for calculating your financial need. You are required to accept or decline the program(s) awarded.

Cost of Attendance

Tuition and costs applicable to you, together with each individual school's estimate of other expenses related to college attendance. Factors affecting your cost of attendance include whether or not you live with your parents and, if you are an independent student, whether or not you have dependent care expenses.


Failure to repay a student loan according to the terms of your repayment agreement.


A specified time during which you do not have to make loan or interest payments.

Dependency Status

Your classification as either a dependent or independent student according to the specified requirements of the State or Federal financial aid programs you are applying for. These classifications are based on the idea that students who may have access to parental support should not receive financial aid at the expense of students who don't.

Dependent Student

One who does not meet the criteria for classification as an independent student. If you fall into the dependent student category, you must report not only your income but that of your parents.


The process by which financial aid monies are paid to you, the recipient, through either check distributions or crediting your student account.


Proof of the accuracy of statements made on your financial aid applications. Documentation can include any of the following: signed copies, with appropriate schedules, of Federal or State income tax returns; proof of citizenship status; social security benefit statements; proof of unemployment benefits; completed forms required by the Financial Aid Office and any other data needed to verify information submitted on your financial aid applications.

Enrollment Status

The classification you fall into based on the number of credits or equated credits for which you are registered and in attendance. At MSSU, you may have full-time (12 or more credits or equated credits) or part-time (fewer than 12 credits or equated credits) enrollment status. Part-time students can have an enrollment status of 3/4 time (9 to 11 credits or equated credits), half-time (6 to 8 credits or equated credits) or less than half-time (1 to 5 credits or equated credits).

Entrance and Exit Interviews 

Counseling sessions you must attend before the first disbursement of any loan funds and again before leaving school to review your responsibilities as a borrower, repayment procedures and loan deferment and cancellation options.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The amount of money you and your family can reasonably be expected to use toward paying for a college education. The EFC is determined by a formula established by Congress and is used by the Office of Financial Aid to establish your degree of financial need for Federal financial aid (except for Federal Direct Unsubsidized or PLUS loans). If you are an independent student, you may be expected to use a portion of your (and your spouse's, if married) income, other benefits and assets to finance your education. If you are a dependent student, you may not only be expected to use a portion of your income, other benefits and assets to finance your education, but may also be expected to receive financial help from your parents.

Financial Aid Package

Awards from a combination of two or more financial aid programs (e.g., grants + work + loans = package).

Financial Need

The specific amount of money you need to attend college after the expected family contribution has been subtracted from the cost of attendance.


The temporary suspension or altering of a previously agreed upon loan repayment schedule due to unusual circumstances or financial hardship and granted at the discretion of the lender. The lender is required to provide three year maximum annual renewable forbearance if your loan debt burden equals or exceeds 20% of your gross income.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Form used to apply for most types of Federal financial aid.

Full-Time Student

To be considered a full-time student, you must be enrolled in at least 12 semester credits or equated credits toward your degree. (See Section RE: PELL for additional information concerning enrollment status that are specific to these type programs.)

Grace Period

A period of time after you cease to be enrolled in college at least half-time but before you start repaying your student loan.


Financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Financial aid grants can take the form of tuition assistance paid directly to the College on your behalf or a direct disbursement of money to you to help to cover other educational or living expenses. Grants can be awarded on the basis of financial need or academic merit.

Independent Student

For Federal financial aid, you are considered financially independent automatically if you are 24 years of age by December 31 of the award year, an orphan or a ward of the court, a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, are a graduate or professional student, are married, or have legal dependents other than a spouse.

If you do not fall into one of these above categories, but meet certain conditions which can be documented, you may qualify to be independent for Federal financial aid (discuss your situation with a financial aid counselor).


Money that you, the student, borrow and agree to pay back with interest by signing an agreement with the lender. Unlike personal loans, educational loans are generally easier to get and have special repayment and deferment options that make them attractive to the student borrower.

Part-Time Student

If you are taking fewer than 12 credits or equated credits, you are considered a part-time student. You must have a part-time course load of at least 6 credits or equated credits to qualify for most financial aid programs, although students with fewer than 6 credits may qualify for Federal Pell Grants.


In the Federal Work Study (FWS) program, the procedure by which you select, are interviewed for and placed on a job location.


The face value of a loan, or, the total amount that you borrow. Also, it's the amount on which the interest is charged.


A financial aid grant based either on your scholastic achievement or financial need.

Selective Service 

If required by law, you must register with Selective Service before receiving any Federal financial aid. You will be required to sign a statement indicating that you have registered with Selective Service or explaining why you are not required to register. The Selective Service registration requirement applies to males born on or after January 1, 1960, who are at least 18, are citizens or eligible non-citizens, and are not currently on active duty in the armed forces.


Indicates that the College is excusing the student from a financial or academic requirement.

Work Study 

Financial aid you receive in the form of hourly wages from a job that you obtain through the Financial Aid Office. Work-study jobs try to give you practical experience in your field of interest.