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Financial Aid Glossary

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 credit hours. Academic years vary from school to school and even from educational program to educational program at the same school.

Campus-Based Programs

Sources of federal financial aid which include the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS).


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


The practice of adding unpaid interest charges to the principal balance of a student loan, thereby increasing the size of the loan. Interest is then charged on the new balance which includes both the unpaid principal and the accrued interest. Capitalizing the interest increases the monthly payment and the amount of money you will eventually have to repay.

Consolidation Loan

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

Cost of Attendance (COA)

An estimate of the total amount it costs to attend school. The COA includes tuition and fees; and allowance for housing and food (or on-campus room and board, if applicable), and allowances for books and supplies, transportation and miscellaneous expenses. With appropriate documentation, expenses for dependent care and expenses related to a disability can be included.


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 deferment, forbearance or cancellation and by providing the required documentation before reaching the point of default.


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


The process by 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 account at the CFCC Business Office.


Expected Family Contribution–the amount you and/or your parents can reasonably be expected to contribute toward your educational expenses. The EFC is calculated using a federally-mandated formula based on the data you provide on your FAFSA.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)

Financial aid funds are electronically wired to CFCC and deposited directly to an account without requiring an intermediate check for you to endorse. Since the money is transferred electronically instead of using paper, the funds are available sooner.

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. Generally, to be eligible to receive financial aid, you must be enrolled in an eligible program.


Full-time enrollment is 12 or more credit hours each semester; three-quarter-time enrollment is 9-11 credit hours each semester; half-time enrollment is 6-8 credit hours each semester; and less than half-time enrollment is 1-5 credit hours each semester.

FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid

The application used to establish financial aid eligibility.

Financial Aid Package

The total amount of financial aid from all sources received by a student. Various forms of aid are combined into a “package” to help meet the student’s need. Because funds are often limited, a financial aid package might fall short of the amount for which the student is eligible.

Financial Need

The difference between your cost of attendance (budget) established by CFCC and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).


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

Gift Aid

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

Grace Period

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


A form of financial aid that is awarded based on financial need and does not require repayment.

Need Analysis Formula

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


Any amount of financial aid paid to a student which exceeds the amount s/he was entitled to or eligible to receive.


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

Professional Judgment

Although the formula used to determine eligibility for financial aid is basically the same for all applicants, there is some flexibility allowed. By exercising “professional judgment”, an aid officer may make adjustments to dependency status, the cost of attendance, or the information used to calculate your EFC to take into account any unusual circumstances you might have. There must be good reason to make these adjustments and you will have to provide adequate proof to support your claim. Professional judgment decisions are school-specific, i.e., a decision made at CFCC is not binding at any other school you may subsequently attend. The decision of the financial aid officer is final and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education.

Promissory Note

The legal binding document you sign when you receive a student loan. It lists the conditions under which you are borrowing and the terms under which you agree to repay the loan. It will include information on how interest is calculated and what the deferment and cancellation provisions are. It is important to read, understand, and save this document…you will need to refer to it when you begin repaying your loan.

Renewal FAFSA

A Renewal FAFSA will be generated for most students who completed a FAFSA for the previous year. It is a simpler method of applying for federal financial aid. Much of the required information will be preprinted; all you have to do is verify the preprinted information, make corrections, and fill in the all blanks.

SAR (Student Aid Report)

The report you receive in response to submitting the FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

To be eligible to continue to receive financial aid, you must maintain satisfactory progress toward a degree or certificate. You must successfully complete 67 percent of all classes in which you have ever enrolled and maintain a cumulative 2.0 GPA.

Selective Service Registration

If required by law, you must register with the Selective Service to receive financial aid. 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 are generally required to register.


A form of financial aid which involves activity on your part, such as work or loan repayment.

Student Account

An account to which your financial aid is disbursed. These funds pay your tuition and fees and bookstore purchases owed to CFCC. If funds remain after these charges are satisfied, you will receive an excess financial aid check in the mail.

Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan

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 of principal and interest begins six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time.

Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan

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 (EFC).


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

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