Glossary of Financial Aid Terms

Academic Year

A 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 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.

Active Enrollment

The Number of credit hours you are actively enrolled in for a grade (which excludes audited classes) and attending classes.


A release from all loan repayment obligations. Contact your lender for additional information.

Campus-Based Programs

Sources of financial aid which include the Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work-Study.

Conditional Award Offer

Financial Aid Award offers made to First – Time, In College Freshmen with the understanding that specific conditions must be met; that is, priority dates listed, enrollment status, GPA, etc., or the offer will be rescinded.

Cost of Attendance (COA)

The total amount it costs to attend school. The COA includes tuition and fees; on-campus room and board (or a housing and food allowance for off-campus students); allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees; and, applicable expenses for dependent care, disability, and some miscellaneous charges.

Consolidation Loan

A loan that combines several types of federal student loans with various repayment schedules into one.


Failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to when you signed a promissory note.* In many cases, default can be avoided by submitting a request for a deferment, forbearance, or cancellation and by providing the required documentation before reaching the point of default. 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 affects your credit rating for a long time. For example, you might find it very difficult to borrow money from a bank to buy a car or a house. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education might ask the Internal Revenue Service to 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 are liable for expenses incurred in collecting the loan. If you decide to return to school, you are not entitled to receive any more federal student aid. Legal action might also be taken against you.


A temporary postponement of loan repayment. Contact your lender for additional information.


The process of which financial aid funds are made available to students for use in meeting educational and related living expenses. Funds are applied directly to the student’s university account at the Rutgers Financial Aid Business Office.


Expected Family Contribution – the amount you and/or your parents are expected to contribute toward your educational expenses as determined by a federally-mandated formula, which uses the information you provide on your FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)

Your funds are electronically deposited directly to an account at Rutgers, which expedites disbursing funds to you.

Electronic Processing

The electronic exchange of information between Rutgers, state and federal processors, and the state guarantee agencies.

Eligible Non-Citizen


You must be one of the following to receive federal student aid:

  • U.S. Citizen
  • U.S. National (includes natives of American Samoa or Swain’s Island)
  • U.S. Permanent resident who has an I-151, I-551, or I-551C(Alien Registration Receipt Card)

If you are not in one of these categories, you must have an Arrival-Departure Record(I-94) from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) showing one of the following designations in order to be eligible:

  • “Refugee”
  • “Asylum Granted”
  • “Indefinite Parole” and/or “Humanitarian Parole”
  • “Cuban-Haitian Entrant, Status Pending”
  • “Conditional Entrant” (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980)

If you have only a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence (I-171 or I-464), you are not eligible for federal student aid.

If you are in the United States on an F1 or F2 student visa only, or on a J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa only, you are not eligible for federal student aid. Also, persons with G series visas (pertaining to international organizations) are not eligible.

NOTE: Citizens and eligible non-citizens may receive loans from the FFEL program at participating foreign schools.

Citizens of the Federal States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are eligible only for Federal Pell Grants, FSEOGs, or Federal Work-Study. These applicants should check with their schools’ financial aid offices for more information.



Eligible Program


A course of study that leads to a degree or certificate and meets the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements for an eligible program. To get federal financial aid, you must be enrolled in an eligible program, with two exceptions:

  • If a school has told you that you must take certain coursework to qualify for admission into one of its eligible programs, you can get a Direct Loan or a FFEL for up to 12 consecutive months while you are completing that coursework. You must be enrolled at least half time and you must meet the usual student aid eligibility requirements.
  • If you are enrolled at least half time in a program to obtain a professional credential or certification required by a state for employment as an elementary or secondary school teacher, you can get a Federal Perkins Loan, Federal
    Work-Study, a Direct or FFEL Stafford Loan, or your parents can get a PLUS Loan, while you are enrolled in that program.



For undergraduate students full-time enrollment is 12 credit hours, half-time enrollment is 6 credit hours. For graduate students enrolled in Law School or Rutgers Business School, full-time enrollment is 12 credit hours, half-time enrollment is 6 credit hours. For all other graduate students, full-time enrollment is 9 credits hours and half-time enrollment is 4.5 credit hours.

Estimated Cost of Attendance

The anticipated cost of attending Rutgers for one academic year: including, tuition, room and board, books and supplies, travel and personal expenses.


FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – the application used to establish financial need. When completing this form for Rutgers, it is not necessary to complete any supplement you may have received with the FAFSA, or to pay any fees for processing.

Financial Aid Package

The total amount of financial aid (federal and nonfederal) a student receives. The financial aid administrator at a postsecondary institution combines various forms of aid into a “package” to help meet a student’s need. 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, a financial aid package might fall short of the amount a student is eligible for. Also, the amount of federal student aid in a financial aid package is affected by other sources of aid received (scholarships, state aid, etc)

Financial Need

The difference between your budget as established by Rutgers and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).


A limited, specific period of time during which loan repayment is postponed or reduced. Interest continues to accrue, however, and you are responsible for paying it. Contact your lender for additional information.

General Education Development (GED) Certificate:

A certificate for students who don’t have a high school diploma but who have a GED. These students may still qualify for federal student aid. A school that admits students without a high school diploma must make available to those students a GED program in the vicinity of the school and must inform the students about the program. An applicant without a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent, may also be eligible for funds if he or she (1) passes an independently administered ability to benefit (ATB) test approved by the Department of Education, and used for determining the student’s ability to benefit from postsecondary education or (2) enrolls in a school that participates in a process that the state, in which the school is located, has prescribed and the Department has approved..

Gift Aid

A form of financial aid that does not have to be repaid or earned.

Grace Period

A period of 6 or 9 months, depending upon the terms of your loan, after you leave school during which you are not required to make loan repayments.


Financial aid that does not require repayment and is awarded to students based on financial need.

Half Time

At schools measuring progress in credit hours and semesters, trimesters, or quarters, “half time” is at least six semester hours or quarter hours per term. At schools measuring progress by credit hours but not using semesters, trimesters, or quarters, “half time” is at least 12 semester hours or 18 quarter hours per year. At schools measuring progress by clock hours, “half time” is at least 12 hours per week. Note that schools may choose to set higher minimums.

You must be attending school at least half time to be eligible for a Direct Loan or FFEL. Half time enrollment is not a requirement to receive aid from the Federal Pell Grant, FSEOG, Federal Work-Study, or Federal Perkins Loan programs.

Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR):

The FAFSA information Rutgers receives from the central processor. (Provides your SAR information electronically).

Need Analysis Formula:

A federally-mandated formula used to objectively determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Need Based Aid

Aid programs for which you must demonstrate financial need in order to qualify.


You may seek the assistance of the Department of Education’s Student Loan Ombudsman if you dispute the terms of your student loans. The Ombudsman will review and attempt to informally resolve your dispute.

The Ombudsman may be reached at:

US Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman
830 First Street, N.E.
Fourth Floor
Washington, D.C. 20202-5144
877-557-2575 (Toll Free)

Origination Fee

A fee which is applied to Direct Lender and or loans which may be combined with an insurance premium. This fee is a percentage of the loan amount and is deducted from the amount approved before the lender disburses the check.

OSFA (Office of Student Financial Assistance)

A division of the NJ Department of Education responsible for administering State of NJ financial aid programs.

Outside Scholarship

A scholarship funded by sources outside the Office of Financial Aid. These sources include corporations, individuals, or University departments, schools and colleges.


Any amount paid to a student which is in excess of the amount he/she was entitled or eligible to receive.


The process of combining various types of student aid (grants, loans, employment) to attempt to meet a student need.

Pell Grant

Available to undergraduate students only. Administered by the Federal Pell Grant Office. Eligibility indices are determined by the Pell Grants Office based on data submitted by the applicant and/or family.

Promissory Note

The binding legal document you sign when you get a student loan. It lists the conditions under which you are borrowing and the terms under which you agree to pay back the loan. It will include information on how interest is calculated and what the deferment and cancellation provisions are. It’s very important to read and save this document because you will need to refer to it later when you begin repaying your loan.

Professional Judgement

 Although the formula used to determine eligibility for student aid is basically the same for all applicants, there is some flexibility. By exercising “professional judgement,” an aid administrator may make adjustments to your dependency status, the cost of attendance, or the information used to calculate your EFC to take into account any special circumstances you might have.

There must be very good reasons to make these adjustments, and you will have to provide adequate proof to support your claim.

Professional judgement decisions are institution-specific, i.e., a decision made at one college is not binding at any other school you may subsequently attend. The decision of the financial aid administrator is final and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education.

Refund Check

A check you receive through the mail for any funds in your student account after aid has been disbursed and fees paid.

Regular Student

One who is enrolled in an institution to obtain a degree or certificate. Generally, to receive aid from the programs discussed in this booklet, you must be a regular student. (For some programs, there are exceptions to this requirement. See the definition of eligible program).

Renewal FAFSA

A Renewal FAFSA will be generated for most students who completed a FAFSA. It is a simpler method of applying for federal financial aid. Much of the required information will be preprinted for you, all you have to do is verify the preprinted information, make correction, fill in all blanks, and check Rutgers in section “H”. If you receive a Renewal FAFSA, you may complete it instead of a FAFSA.

SAR (Student Aid Report)

The report you receive as a result of filling the FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA.

Satisfactory Academic Progress or Academic Progress

To be eligible to receive federal student aid, you must maintain satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate. You must meet your school’s written standard of satisfactory progress. Check with your school to find out about its standard.


Financial aid which involves activity on your part, such as work or loan repayment.

Selective Service Registration

If required by law, you must register, or arrange to register, with the Selective Service to receive federal student aid. The requirement to register applies to males who were born on or after January 1, 1960, are at least 18 years old, and are not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. (Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau are exempt from registering.)

Student Account

An account to which your financial aid is disbursed. These funds pay your tuition and fees or receivables you owe Rutgers. If funds remain after fees are paid, the balance is mailed to you via a refund check.

Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans

For subsidized loans, loan interest is paid on your behalf by the government while you are enrolled as at least a half-time student and during grace or deferment periods. For both subsidized and unsubsidized loans, repayment or principal and interest begins six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time.

Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans

For unsubsidized loans, loan interest accrues within sixty days of disbursement and can be paid while you are in school, or capitalized until you begin repayment. Capitalized interest is added to the principal amount outstanding. For both subsidized and unsubsidized loans, repayment of principal and interest begins six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time.

Unmet Need

The difference between a Student’s Cost of Attendance (COA) and the Expected Family Contribution.


The process of proving your FAFSA information is correct. If selected for verification, you will be required to submit additional documentation, i.e., a copy of your parent’s federal income taxes return. If you fail to provide the requested proof, you will not receive financial aid.