Acceptance Letter: Letters to students offering them admission for the next school year. These letters are conditional, meaning final acceptance is contingent on maintaining the grades, activities and conduct that was required for admission to the college or university.

Advanced Placement (AP): AP classes are college level courses administered by the College Board, open to students who meet eligibility requirements.

ACT:  Widely accepted, the ACT assesses English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. Often an alternative to the SAT subject tests. Required by some schools in place of the SAT test.

Cal-Grant: A California based grant program that awards money for college expenses to low income students and families. Eligibility is based on meeting minimum grade requirements and income levels.

Common Application: Standardized college application form accepted by many colleges and universities.

Cost of Attendance: The dollar amount that best represents the actual cost, per year, for a student to attend an institution—includes tuition, room, board, books, fees, transportation, and other living expenses.

CSS Profile:  A supplemental financial aid form, used in conjunction with the FAFSA. Required by more selective colleges and universities to help determine eligibility for financial aid. Unlike the FAFSA, there is a fee to file this form.

Dependent Student: A student who is dependent on parents or guardians for financial support.

Early Decision (ED): The Early Decision plan allows you to apply to an institution and to request an early notification of admission. If you apply for ED, and are accepted, you have an obligation to attend that school.

Early Action (EA): In an Early Action application a student applies to a college or university early and requests an early review and decision of admission. Unlike Early Decision applications, acceptance does not create an obligation to attend that school; the student may still attend a different school that has accepted them.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): Calculated for each year, this is the amount of money the federal government expects a family to be able to contribute toward their student’s education. Income and assets are the primary determinants in the formula. The information to calculate EFC is gathered on the FAFSA form.

FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid: the starting point to apply for financial aid.  The FAFSA gathers information on the parent’s and student’s family, assets and income for the institutions they are applying to. There is no fee to submit this form.

Merit-Based Scholarships: Financial awards based on academic achievement, regardless of financial need.

Need-Based Scholarships: Financial awards based on family income, not academic achievement.

NCAA Eligibility Center: Before a student can be considered eligible for participation in, or scholarships for, sports, they must register with the National Collegiate Athletic Association.  This is for Division I or II level athletic teams, not Dlll.

Net Price Calculator:  found on most schools websites, the NPC is a tool to help students determine the cost of attending a particular college.

Pell Grant: A federal grant program that awards money for college expenses to low income students and families. Eligibility is based on meeting minimum grade requirements and income levels.

PLUS Loans: Parent loans for undergraduate students.  Additional source of funds available to be borrowed by parents and students.

Private college:  The university is funded by tuition, their investments and private donors. They do not receive direct support from taxpayers.

PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test: Similar in format to the SAT, this test is usually administered in the  junior year. It is used as a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Awards Program.

Public college: Majority of funding comes from taxpayers, as well as tuition and fees.

Retention rate: This is the number and/or percentage of students returning for the sophomore year.

Student Aid Report: The SAR is the output created by the information entered on the FAFSA. This report contains your Expected Family Contribution, and will be used by schools you applied to determine the type of financial aid package that you are eligible for and what a particular college will offer you.

SAT: The best known college admissions test,  SAT measures critical reading, writing and math. Almost all colleges and universities require either the SAT or the ACT scores for admission consideration.

SAT Subject Tests: SAT Subject Tests are achievement tests designed to measure a student’s competence in different subjects. Required at the more selective colleges and universities.

Subsidized loan: Simply, a loan on which no interest accrues while a student is still attending college.

Un-subsidized Loan: A loan on which interest does accrue while a student is attending college.

Work Study: College work study is a government supported financial aid program whereby eligible students may work while attending school.  Often, income earned from a work study program is applied directly toward tuition.