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Important Financial Aid Terms And Definitions

Paying for college is expensive but there are some resources available to help you relieve some of the burden. It is important that you know where to find those resources and how to make them work in your favor. By knowing and understanding financial aid terms and definitions, you can get a jump start on financing your education.

Student Financial Aid Terms And Definitions That You Should Know:

  • Fellowship: A scholarship or grant awarded to a graduate student in a college or university.
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): A form students fill out to determine their eligibility for federal student financial aid or non-federal aid.
  • Scholarship: Financial aid that usually is awarded for merit or academic achievement.  A scholarship considered gift aid and does not have to be paid back.
  • Grant: A gift aid that does not have to be paid back.

  • Loan: Money which must be repaid.  Loan programs have varying repayment provisions.

  • Work Study: This program provides jobs that enable students to earn a portion of school costs through employment at the institution.
  • Need: The term need, as used in financial aid, usually refers to the difference between the resources available to the student (from parents, student savings and summer jobs, etc.) and the cost of attending the student's selected postsecondary institution.  The process of determining need is often referred to as a need analysis.
  • Self Help: Financial resources provided by the student.

  • Family Contribution: The combined contribution reasonably expected during the enrollment period from the student (and his or her spouse if applicable), as well as from the student's parents if the student is a dependent.

  • Conversion scholarship/loan:  A scholarship that requires you to provide certain services, such as teaching or nursing, for a certain length of time. If the services are not provided, the scholarship becomes a loan which must be paid back with interest.

  • Waiver: An agreement that allows attendance at a school without having to pay tuition or other costs if certain eligibility requirements are met.

    Keep in mind that every year millions of dollars in scholarships, grants, and other financial aid for students are not awarded because many students either don't know about them or don't take the necessary steps to obtain them.

Because every school has different financial aid sources, students should check with the financial aid office of the institution they are attending or are going to attend in the future for details. But before you talk to the financial aid office, make sure you fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This will speed up the process. You can get a FAFSA form and other information at the FAFSA website http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/index.htm.

For additional scholarships by state, click here.

For information about grants, click here.

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