Financial Aid Glossary

Award notification/letter

This document provides information about your financial aid eligibility and details your awards and their amounts.

Certification date

Your instructors certify (verify) your course attendance on a certain date each semester. Certification affects your financial aid eligibility.

Cost of Attendance (COA)

COA is the estimated total cost of attending an institution for one academic year. This amount may include the following:

  • Estimated charges for one academic year of tuition and fees
    • Tuition  Charges for classes and/or other coursework
    • Fees Charges for other college services (for example, technology access, recreational center use)
  • Housing Includes residence hall charges for on-campus students or an estimate of rent and utilities for an off-campus student
  • Food Includes the cost of a meal plan and/or an estimate of the costs of food prepared at home
  • Estimated transportation and parking costs
  • Estimated costs for books and supplies
  • Purchase or rental of a computer
  • Miscellaneous costs such as personal hygiene, laundry and reasonable entertainment
  • Other costs some students may have when attending college, such as child care when attending class or studying, expenses related to disabilities, study abroad, educational loan fees and others
  • Student health insurance costs

Direct costs

Expenses paid to your college, such as tuition.

Disbursement

A disbursement is a payment of money.

Distance Learning class

A Distance Learning class is a class primarily taken online.

Educational loan

A form of financial aid that must be repaid. Educational loans have varying fees, interest rates, repayment terms and/or borrower protections.

  • Federal Student Loan: Federal funds made available to students that must be paid back by students. You must complete Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissory Note (MPN) to receive these loans. Repayment begins six months after you are no longer enrolled at least half-time with options to delay payment available. To be eligible, you must be enrolled at least half time in an eligible program of study.
    • Federal Direct Subsidized Student Loan: Loan funds provided to students by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. Undergraduate students with financial need can qualify for a subsidized loan. The government pays the interest on the loan while you are enrolled at least half time and during certain periods when the government allows deferment of repayment. There are annual limits on the amounts that may be borrowed, which vary by your academic year in school and your dependent or independent status.
    • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan: Loan funds provided to students by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. Undergraduate students and graduate students, regardless of their need, qualify for an unsubsidized loan, as long as they have filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Interest accrues (builds up) immediately, and you can choose to pay the interest while enrolled or when you start repayment. There are annual limits on the amounts that may be borrowed, which vary by your academic year in school and your dependent or independent status.
  • Private Loan: A private loan is a student or parent loan from a commercial, state-affiliated or institutional lender used to pay for up to the annual Cost of Attendance, minus any financial aid received. Private loans have varying interest rates, fees and repayment options. They usually require the applicant to be creditworthy or have a creditworthy cosigner. Repayment generally begins immediately.

Enrollment status

Your enrollment status is your academic workload (or course load), as defined by the college, in which you are enrolled for a defined academic period (such as the Fall semester). This normally relates to the number of credit hours or clock hours you are taking during a given academic period (for example, full time, three-quarter time, half time, less than half time).

eRefunds

eRefunds is a service that El Centro College partners with to process and distribute refunds and disbursements to students. This includes financial aid disbursements, refunds, grants and any other payments you may be owed.

Expected direct costs

Charges included in the Cost of Attendance that you/your family pay directly to the college.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

An eligibility index that college financial aid staff use to determine how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school. The EFC is calculated according to a formula specified by law. The EFC is based on the information you and your family provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Family Financial Responsibility (FFR)

Many schools award institutional need-based scholarships and grants based on a more comprehensive calculation of family financial circumstances. The FFR uses information provided on the CSS Profile or the college's own financial aid form. This can result in a higher (or lower) figure than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) might indicate with its Expected Family Contribution (EFC) estimate.

Federal Pell Grant

A grant provided by the federal government to undergraduate students who show exceptional financial need. Pell Grant recipients must have an Expected Family Contribution below a certain threshold (limit) established by the federal government. The Pell Grant award amount is prorated based on enrollment status. (In other words, the amount of Pell Grant funds you may receive is based on how many credit hours you are taking.)

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

A federal grant awarded by the college to qualified undergraduate students who show exceptional financial need. Priority is given to Federal Pell Grant recipients.

Federal Work-Study (FWS)

A federal program offered and administered (run) by the college. It provides opportunity for part-time employment to students with financial need to help pay their educational expenses. If you are awarded Federal Work-Study funds, you are responsible for finding qualified employment. Funds are paid out through a paycheck, as earned.

Flex Term class

A Flex Term class does not follow the regular semester schedule. Usually Flex Term classes are shorter, more concentrated classes. They often last only a month.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

This standard form collects demographic and financial information about you and your family. This information is used to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). You can fill out the FAFSA online at fafsa.ed.gov. You must complete this application for all financial aid programs at El Centro College.

Gift aid

Funds awarded to students that usually do not have to be repaid. They may need to be repaid if you fail to meet certain criteria, such as a service requirement that is specified as a condition of the gift aid or not completing the period for which the aid was awarded. Gift aid can include awards with titles such as grants, scholarships, remissions, awards, waivers, etc. Gift aid can be awarded based on many factors, including (but not limited to) financial need; academic excellence; athletic, musical and/or theatrical talent; belonging to various groups; and/or career plans.

Grant

Gift aid that is typically based on financial need.

Income Share Agreement (ISAs)

A contract with your college or another organization in which you agree to pay a percentage of your future earnings for a fixed period after graduation. In exchange for an ISA, you receive funds to pay for your education while you are enrolled.

Indirect costs

Estimated expenses in the Cost of Attendance that are not paid directly to the college, such as commuting costs.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG)

A federal grant to qualifying students with a parent or guardian who died as a result of U.S. military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001. If you are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, you cannot receive an IASG.

Need

Your Cost of Attendance minus your Expected Family Contribution or Family Financial Responsibility (if applicable).

Net price

Amount of direct and indirect costs remaining after all gift aid is applied. Net price can be covered through a variety of sources, including: savings, income and education loans.

Payment period

A payment period is a school-defined length of time for which financial aid funds are paid to students. A payment period is equal to a term or semester (Fall, Spring or Summer).

Program level

Level of the degree-granting program in which a student is enrolled. Program levels may include: undergraduate (students seeking an associate degree, an undergraduate certificate or a bachelor's degree); post-baccalaureate (such as teacher certification); or graduate (students working on a master's degree, graduate certificate, doctorate or professional degree). The amounts and types of financial aid for which you are eligible is determined, in part, by your program level.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

To keep getting financial aid every semester, you must move forward in your program of study. You must meet all three criteria:

  1. 2.0 cumulative (overall) GPA, based on a 4.0 scale
  2. Must have a cumulative passing rate of at least 67% of all attempted credit hours
  3. Credit hours that do not exceed 150% of the minimum number of hours required to complete your program of study

Scholarship

Gift aid that is typically based on merit or a combination of merit and need. Scholarships may be awarded based on factors such as academic excellence, talent, belonging to various groups or career plans.

Self-help

A college's expectation that you contribute toward your education using a combination of loans, student employment such as Federal Work-Study and/or summer savings.

Student Aid Report (SAR)

After you fill out the FAFSA, this report will be sent to you. The SAR contains the information you submitted in the FAFSA and other information about your financial aid eligibility.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants

Federal grants for undergraduate and graduate students. TEACH recipients must agree to specific future teaching service in certain high-need fields and low-income elementary and secondary schools. If you do not complete the required teaching service, the grant becomes a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan that must be repaid.

Unmet need

Your Cost of Attendance, minus your Expected Family Contribution or Family Financial Responsibility (if applicable), and minus any need-based aid you receive, such as gift aid, Federal Work-Study or Federal Direct Subsidized Loans.

Verification

A process to confirm the accuracy of data provided by selected applicants on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Verification is required by federal law. To complete the Verification process, you, your parent(s) or spouse, if applicable, must provide certain documents to the school for review. If the documentation you provide doesn't match what was reported on the FAFSA, Verification can result in changes to your financial aid eligibility and/or financial aid offers.