College Admissions Terms
the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate
section of the glossary. To help reduce confusion for students and
parents, this section presents common definitions for many of the
words used by college admissions officers andfinancial aid adminstrators.
This stands for an "associate of arts" degree, which can
be earned at most two-year colleges.
This refers to an "associate of applied science" degree,
which can be earned at some two-year colleges.
This is a test published by American College Testing, which is located
in Iowa City, Iowa. The ACT measures a student's aptitude in English,
mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. Many colleges in the
South and Midwest require students to take this test and submit
their test scores when they apply for admission. Some colleges accept
this test or the SAT. (See below for explanation of SAT.) Most students
take the ACT or the SAT during their junior or senior year of high
B.A. or B.S.:
B.A. stands for "bachelor of arts," and B.S. stands for
"bachelor of science." Both degrees can be earned at four-year
Certificates of Deposit:
See Investment Terms
Term referring to a student that lives in off-campus housing. At
most four-year schools, freshmen are required to live on-campus.
The default rate is the percentage of students who took out federal
student loans to help pay their expenses but did not repay them
Dividends are payments of part of a company's earnings to people
who hold stock in the company.
Through this program, qualifying high school juniors with outstanding
academic records may forego their senior year in high school and
enroll in a college or university.
Through this program offered by many post-secondary schools, students
willing to commit to a school if accepted submit their application
by a date well before the general admission deadline. If accepted,
the student must enroll in that school, so students should only
apply early decision to their first choice school.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC):
An amount, determined by a formula that is specified by law, that
indicates how much of a family's financial resources should be available
to help pay for school. Factors such as taxable and non-taxable
income, assets (such as savings and checking accounts), and benefits
(for example, unemployment or Social Security) are all considered
in this calculation. The EFC is used in determining eligibility
for Federal need-based aid.
These are charges that cover costs not associated with the student's
course load, such as costs of some athletic activities, clubs, and
Financial aid in this handbook refers to money available from various
sources to help students pay for college.
Financial Aid Package:
The total amount of financial aid a student receives. Federal and
non-federal aid such as grants, loans, or work-study are combined
in a "package" to help meet the student's need. Using
available resources to give each student the best possible package
of aid is one of the major responsibilities of a school's financial
In the context of student financial aid, financial need is equal
to the cost of education (estimated costs for college attendance
and basic living expenses) minus the expected family contribution
(the amount a student's family is expected to pay, which varies
according to the family's financial resources).
Student enrolled in classes whose credit hours meet the given school's
requirements for full-time status, generally four or more classes
General Educational Development (GED) Diploma:
The certificate students receive if they have passed a high school
equivalency test. Students who don't have a high school diploma
but who have a GED will still qualify for Federal student aid.
Grade Point Average (GPA):
Quantitative measure of a student's grades. The GPA is figured by
averaging the numerical value of a student's grades.
Student enrolled in a master's or professional degree program. Graduate
students have completed a bachelor's degree program.
A grant is a sum of money given to a student for the purposes of
paying at least part of the cost of college. A grant does not have
to be repaid.
Individual Corporate Bonds or Stocks:
See Investment Terms
A student whose permanent residence is in the same state
as the college or university he or she attends or hopes to attend.
In-state students pay lower tuition than do out-of-state students.
This refers to the amount that your money earns when it is kept
in a savings instrument.
In this guide, an investment refers to using your money to invest
in something that will enable you to earn interest or dividends
A term that refers to how quickly you can gain access to money that
you invest or deposit in some kind of savings instrument.
A loan is a type of financial aid that is available to students
and to the parents of students. An education loan must be repaid.
In many cases, however, payments do not begin until the student
The specific course of study pursued by a student. Majors may but
are normally not required to be declared before a student gains
admission to a four-year college or university.
Merit-based Financial Aid:
This kind of financial aid is given to students who meet requirements
not related to financial needs. Most merit-based aid is awarded
on the basis of academic performance or potential and is given in
the form of scholarships or grants.
Money Market Accounts/Money Market Mutual Funds:
See Investment Terms
See Investment Terms
Need-based Financial Aid:
This kind of financial aid is given to students who are determined
to be in financial need of assistance based on their income and
assets and their families' income and assets, as well as some other
Office of Admissions:
The department of a post-secondary school that determines which
applying students will be accepted for enrollment at that institution.
The Office of Admissions is the place to obtain applications and
information about enrollment.
This term means that a college admits most or all students who apply
to the school. At some colleges it means that anyone who has a high
school diploma or a GED can enroll. At other schools it means that
anyone over 18 can enroll. "Open admissions," therefore,
can mean slightly different things at different schools.
Student whose permanent residence is in a different state than that
of the college or university which he or she attends or hopes to
attend. Out-of-state students generally pay higher tuition than
do instate students.
These are federal need-based grants that were given to just under
4 million students for school year 1998-99. In school year 1998-99,
the maximum Pell Grant was $3,100.
This is a federal financial aid program that consists of low-interest
loans for undergraduates and graduate students with exceptional
financial need. Loans are awarded by the school.
These federal loans allow parents to borrow money for their children's
This term means "after high school" and refers to all
programs for high school graduates, including programs at two-and
four-year colleges and vocational and technical schools.
This refers to the face value or the amount of money you place in
a savings instrument on which interest is earned.
This is a term used to describe postsecondary schools that are private
and are legally permitted to make a profit. Most proprietary schools
offer technical and vocational courses.
This stands for the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National
Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, a practice test that helps students
prepare for the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT I). The PSAT is
usually administered to tenth or eleventh grade students. Although
colleges do not see a student's PSAT/NMSQT score, a student who
does very well on this test and who meets many other academic performance
criteria may qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Return refers to the amount of money you earn through a financial
investment or savings instrument. You earn money on investments
and savings instruments through interest earnings or dividends.
In reference to saving or investing, risk refers to the danger of
losing money you set aside in some kind of savings plan.
This stands for Reserve Officers Training Corps program, which is
a scholarship program wherein the military covers the cost of tuition,
fees, and textbooks and also provides a monthly allowance. Scholarship
recipients participate in summer training while in college and fulfill
a service commitment after college.
This stands for the Scholastic Assessment Test, published by the
College Board, a non-profit organization with headquarters in New
York City. The SAT is a test that measures a student's mathematical
and verbal reasoning abilities. Many colleges in the East and West
require students to take the SAT and to submit their test scores
when they apply for admission. Some colleges accept this test or
the ACT. (See above for an explanation of the ACT.) Most students
take the SAT or the ACT during their junior or senior year of high
SAT Subject Test:
SAT subject tests (also known as SAT II tests) are offered in many
areas of study including English, mathematics, many sciences, history,
and foreign languages. Some colleges require students to take one
or more SAT subject tests when they apply for admission. Write to
the address in the last section of this handbook for more information
about such tests.
See Chart 10.
In this document, savings instrument refers to any kind of savings
plan or mechanism you can use to save money over time. Examples
of savings instruments discussed in this handbook are savings accounts,
certificates of deposit (CDs), and money market accounts.
A scholarship is a sum of money given to a student for the purposes
of paying at least part of the cost of college. Scholarships can
be awarded to students based on students' academic achievements
or on many other factors.
SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant):
This is a federal award that helps undergraduates with exceptional
financial need, and is awarded by the school. The SEOG does not
have to be paid back.
These are student loans offered by the federal Government. There
are two types of Stafford Loans -- one need-based and another non-need-based.
Under the Stafford Loan programs, students can borrow money to attend
school and the federal Government will guarantee the loan in case
of default. Under the Stafford Loan programs, the combined loan
limits are $2,625 for the first year, $3,500 for the second year,
$5,500 for the third or more years. An undergraduate cannot borrow
more than a total of $23,000.
This is a list of all the courses a student has taken with the grades
that the student earned in each course. A college will often require
a student to submit his or her high school transcript when the student
applies for admission to the college.
One of three academic terms in a school's academic year. Trimesters
are used in the academic calendars of some post-secondary institutions.
This is the amount of money that colleges charge for classroom and
other instruction and use of some facilities such as libraries.
Tuition can range from a few hundred dollars per year to more than
$20,000. A few colleges do not charge any tuition.
A student pursuing a bachelor's degree at a college or university.
U.S. Government Securities:
See Investment Terms
U.S. Savings Bonds:
See Investment Terms
William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans:
Under this new program, students may obtain federal loans directly
from their college or university with funds provided by the U.S.
Department of Education instead of a bank or other lender.
These programs are offered by many colleges. They allow students
to work part time during the school year as part of their financial
aid package. The jobs are usually on campus and the money earned
is used to pay for tuition or other college charges.
Credit: Preparing Your Child For College: 2000 Edition published by
The U.S. Department of Education