College Terms to Know

AA – This stands for “associate of arts” degree, which can be earned at most two-year colleges.

AAS – This refers to an “associate of applied science” degree, which can be earned at some two-year colleges.

BA or BS – BA stands for “bachelor of arts” and BS stands for “bachelor of science.” Both degrees can be earned at four-year colleges. Some colleges only grant BAs and others only grant BSs – it depends on the kinds of courses offered at the particular college.

EFC (Expected Family Contribution) – 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.

FAFSA – The application required for students to be considered for federal student financial aid. Obtain a FAFSA form or electronic filing information from a high school or college for the appropriate year. To process the FASFA, a PIN number is needed. The FAFSA is processed free of charge, and it is used by most state agencies and colleges.

Fees – These are charges that cover costs not associated with the student’s course load, such as costs of some athletic activities, clubs, and special events. Textbook fees may be in addition to these fees and can range from $100 per semester to $800 or more per semester.

Financial Aid – Financial aid (in the PCHS context) refers to money available from various sources to help students pay for college.

Financial Aid Package – The total amount of financial aid that 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 college’s financial aid administrator.

Financial Need – 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 of a student’s family is expected to pay, which varies according to the family’s financial resources).

Grade Point Average – An indicator of the student’s overall scholastic performance. The GPA is computed by multiplying the number of grade points earned in each course (generally, A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0) times the number of course hours / credit hours, tehn dividing teh sum by the total number of course hours / credit hours carried.

Grant – 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. Grants are available through the federal government, state agencies, and educational institutions.

Major – The subject of study in which the student chooses to specialize. Your major is a series of related courses, taken primarily during the junior and senior years.

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.

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 family’s income and assets, as well as other factors.

Open Admissions – 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.

Pell Grants – These are Federal need-based grants that were given to just under 4 million students with the maximum award (2004-2005) was $4,050.

Perkins Loans – 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 college or university.

PLUS Loans – These Federal loans allow parents to borrow money for their children’s college education.

Postsecondary – This term means “after high school” and refers to all programs for high school graduates, including programs at two- and four-year colleges, vocational, and technical schools.

Room-and-board – This is the amount of money that is paid to the school for the cost of staying on campus (in a dorm) and for a meal package.

Scholarship – 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.

Stafford Loans – These are student loans offered by the Federal Government. There are two types of Stafford Loans – need-based and 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. There are loan limits to Stafford Loans.

Transcripts – 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.

Tuition – 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 $50,000.

Wait List – An admission decision option utilized by institutions to protect against shortfalls in enrollment. Wait lists are sometimes made necessary because of the uncertainty of the admission process, as students submit applications for admission to multiple institutions and may receive several offers of admission. By placing a student on the wait list, and institution does not initially offer or deny admission, but extends to a candidate the possibility of admission in the future, before the institution’s admission cycle is concluded.

Work-study Programs – 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.