Skip to main content
Sign In
 

Financial Aid Terminology


We try not to use too much jargon, but understand that sometimes it's unavoidable. If you see a word on our site that you don't r​ecognize, find its meaning he​re:

 

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z.

A

ACADEMIC YEAR

This is the amount of the academic work you must complete each year, and the time period in which you are expected to complete it, as defined by your school. For example, your school’s academic year may be made up of a fall and spring semester, during which a full-time student is expected to complete at least 24 semester hours, usually called credits or credit hours, over the course of 30 weeks of instructional time. Academic years change from school to school and even from educational program to educational program at the same school.

ACCRUE

The act of interest accumulating on the borrower’s principal balance.

ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME

Your or your family's wages, salaries, interest, dividends, etc., minus allowable deductions as reported on a federal tax return.

ADVERSE CREDIT HISTORY

A credit history is a summary of your financial strength, including your history of paying bills and your ability to repay future loans. To qualify for a PLUS loan or alternative student loan, you cannot have an adverse credit history. Your credit history may be considered adverse if you are experiencing any of the following credit conditions:

  • Bankruptcy discharge within the past 5 years.
  • Voluntary surrender of personal property to avoid repossession within the last 5 years.
  • Repossession of collateral within the last 5 years.
  • Foreclosure proceedings started.
  • Foreclosure within the last 5 years.
  • Conveying your real property that is subject to a mortgage (by deed) to your lender to avoid foreclosure (deed in lieu of foreclosure).
  • Accounts currently 90 days or more delinquent.
    • Unpaid collection accounts.
    • Charge offs/write offs of federal student loans.
  • Wage garnishment within the last 5 years.
  • Defaulting on a loan, even if the claim has been paid.
  • Lease or contract terminated by default.
  • County/State/Federal tax lien, within the past 5 years.

AGGREGATE LOAN LIMIT

The maximum total outstanding Direct Loan debt that you are allowed.

AGREEMENT TO SERVE (TEACH Grant)

The binding agreement you must sign to receive a TEACH Grant. By signing the ATS, you agree to teach (1) full-time (2) in a high-need field (3) at a low-income school or educational service agency that serves certain low-income schools, and (4) for at least four complete academic years within eight years after completing (or ceasing enrollment in) the course of study for which you received the grant. If you do not complete your teaching service agreement, the amount of the TEACH Grants you received will be converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan that you must repay with interest accumulated from the date of each TEACH Grant disbursement.

ALTERNATIVE (PRIVATE) LOAN

A nonfederal educational loan made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, or state agency.

AWARD OFFER (or Financial Aid Package)

The official award, issued by the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office, which lists all the financial aid awarded to the student.

AWARD (AID) YEAR

For CU Denver, the award year begins with the Fall semester, continues into the Spring semester, and ends with the Summer semester.

Back to Top

B

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

An undergraduate academic degree awarded for a course of study that generally lasts four years.

Back to Top

C

CAMPUS-BASED AID

Financial aid programs, like the Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Work-Study, that are administered by the University. The federal government provides the University with a fixed annual allocation that’s awarded by the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office to students based on financial need.

CANCELLATION (Loan)

The release of the borrower's obligation to repay all or a designated portion of principal and interest on a student loan. Also called discharge or forgiveness of a loan.

CAPITALIZATION

The addition of unpaid interest to the principal balance of a loan. When the interest is not paid as it accrues during periods of in-school status, the grace period, deferment, or forbearance, your lender may capitalize the interest. This increases the outstanding principal amount due on the loan and may cause your monthly payment amount to increase. Interest is then charged on that higher principal balance, increasing the overall cost of the loan.

CERTIFICATION, LOAN

A process by which the University verifies that you are enrolled at least half-time, are making satisfactory academic progress, and are eligible for the alternative (private) student loan. Certification must be made prior to any disbursement of loan funds.

CITIZEN OR ELIGIBLE NON-CITIZEN

You must be one of the following to receive federal student aid:

  • U.S. Citizen
  • U.S. National (includes natives of American Samoa or Swain's Island)
  • U.S. Permanent Resident with a current permanent resident card, an I-151, I-551, or I-551C (Alien Registration Receipt Card)
  • A person in the U.S. for other than temporary purpose with the intention of becoming a citizen or lawful permanent resident, as evidenced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). You must have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) showing one of the following designations:
    • Refugee
    • Asylum Granted
    • Indefinite Parole and/or Humanitarian Parole
    • Cuban-Haitian Entrant, Status Pending
    • Conditional Entrant (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980)
    • Other eligible non-citizen with a Temporary Resident Card (I-688)
    • You can also be eligible based on the Family Unity Status category, with approved I-797s (Voluntary Departure and Immigrant Petition), or if you have a suspension of deportation case pending before Congress. Permanent residents of the Trust Territory of the Pacific (Palau) may be eligible for federal student aid. Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands are eligible for Pell Grants, SEOG, or Work Study only. You are NOT ELIGIBLE for federal financial aid if you only have a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence (I-171 or I-464A), or if you are in the U.S. on an F1, F2, J1, J2, or G series visa.

COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE

A marriage relationship made by agreement and by living together without a marriage certificate. Not all states allow common-law marriages and the elements required for a common-law marriage change from state to state. The state of Colorado allows common-law marriage.
NOTE: Both student and common-law partner are required to report their information on the FAFSA.

CONSOLIDATION

The process of combining one or more loans into a single new loan.

CO-SIGNER, LOAN

An individual who signs the loan promissory note with the borrower and is equally responsible for repaying the debt.

COST OF ATTENDANCE (COA)

The total amount it will cost you to go to school—usually stated as a yearly figure. The COA includes tuition and fees; room and board (or a housing and food allowance); and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and dependent care. It also includes miscellaneous and personal expenses, including an allowance for the purchase of a personal computer; costs related to a disability; and reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs.

CREDIT BUREAU

An organization that tracks and reports your credit, including your history of paying bills and calculates your ability to repay future loans. For example, if you default on a student loan, it is reported to a credit bureau, and other lenders may be less likely to extend credit to you in the future. There are three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

CREDIT REPORT

A report produced by a credit bureau and provided to a lender for the lender to determine a borrower’s creditworthiness. The report includes a listing of debts, including accounts past due. The credit report will also include information about bankruptcy, if applicable.

CREDIT SCORE

A number, generally between 300 and 850, provided in a credit report and used by a lender as a predictive indicator of the borrower's likelihood to repay a loan.

Back to Top

D

DEFAULT

Failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to in the promissory note. For most federal student loans, you will default if you have not made a payment in more than 270 days. You may experience serious legal consequences if you default.

DEFERMENT

A postponement of payment on a loan that is allowed under certain conditions and during which interest does not accrue on Direct Subsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, and Federal Perkins Loans. All other federal student loans that are deferred will continue to accrue interest. Any unpaid interest that accrued during the deferment period may be added to the principal balance (capitalized) of the loan(s).

DEPENDENT STUDENT

A student who does not meet any of the FAFSA criteria for an independent student. An independent student is one of the following:

  • at least 24 years old
  • married
  • a graduate or professional student
  • a veteran
  • a member of the armed forces
  • an orphan or a ward of the court
  • someone with legal dependents other than a spouse
  • an emancipated minor or someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

DELINQUENCY

Failure to make loan payments when due. Delinquency begins with the first missed payment.

DIRECT LOAN (DL)

A federal student loan, made through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, for which eligible students and parents borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education at participating schools. Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans and Direct Consolidation Loans are types of Direct Loans.

DIRECT PLUS LOAN

A loan made by the U.S. Department of Education to graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students for which the borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status.

DISBURSEMENT

When financial aid funds are posted to the student's University account. Students should anticipate receiving the excess financial aid funds during the first week of each semester, provided all required documents have been received and processed by the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office.

DISCHARGE (Loan)

The release of a borrower from the obligation to repay his or her loan.

DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

A statement provided to the borrower prior to or at the time of a loan’s first disbursement that lists the lender name and contact information, the principal loan amount, the dates when loan funds will be disbursed, interest rate, and amount of any loan fees collected by the lender.

Back to Top

E

ELIGIBLE NON-CITIZEN

A U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swains Island), U.S. permanent resident (who has an I-151, I-551 or I-551C [Permanent Resident Card]), or an individual who has an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing one of the following designations:

  • "Refugee"
  • "Asylum Granted"
  • "Cuban-Haitian Entrant (Status Pending)"
  • "Conditional Entrant" (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980)
  • Victims of human trafficking, T-visa (T-2, T-3, or T-4, etc.) holder
  • "Parolee" (You must be paroled into the United States for at least one year and you must be able to provide evidence from the USCIS that you are in the United States for other than a temporary purpose and that you intend to become a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.)

If you meet the noncitizen criteria above, you are eligible to receive federal student aid. If you are unsure of your eligibility, please check with your school's financial aid office for more information.

ENDORSER (Co-signer)

An individual who signs the loan promissory note with the borrower and is equally responsible for repaying the debt.

ENROLLMENT STATUS

Indicates whether a student is enrolled full-time or part-time. Schools may have differing criteria for half-time and full-time enrollment.
The office that tracks your enrollment status is the Office of the Registrar. Generally, students must be enrolled at least half-time to receive financial aid.

ENTRANCE COUNSELING

A mandatory information session which takes place before you receive your first federal student loan that explains your responsibilities and rights as a student borrower.

EXIT COUNSELING

A mandatory information session which takes place when you graduate, leave the school, or attend school less than half-time that explains your loan repayment responsibilities and when repayment begins.

EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION (EFC)

This is the number that’s used to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid. This number results from the financial information that you provide in your FAFSA, the application for federal student aid. Your EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR).

Back to Top

F

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

The federal student aid application. This must be completed by all eligible students who wish to be considered for financial aid at CU Denver.

FEDERAL SCHOOL CODE

An identifier that the U.S. Department of Education assigns to each college or career school that participates in the federal student aid program. In order to send your FAFSA information to a school, you must list the school's Federal School Code on your application. A list of Federal School Codes is available at FAFSA.gov.

FEDERAL STUDENT AID ID

An FSA ID is comprised of a username and password and can be used to login to certain Federal Student Aid websites, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

FINANCIAL AID

Financial aid is funding provided to students and families to help pay for postsecondary education expenses and consist of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study.

FINANCIAL AID ADVISOR (Counselor)

A representative of the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office that helps the student through aspects of the financial aid process.

FINANCIAL AID PACKAGE (or Award Offer)

The total financial aid package that a student is offered. Federal and non-federal aid such as grants, loans, work-study, and scholarships are combined in a "package" to help meet the student's need.

FINANCIAL NEED

The difference between the Cost of Attendance (COA) and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This amount is your total eligibility for need-based aid from all sources, and is used in determining what your aid package will be.

FORBEARANCE

A period during which your monthly loan payments are temporarily suspended or reduced. Your lender may grant you a forbearance if you are willing but unable to make loan payments due to certain types of financial hardship. During forbearance, principal payments are postponed but interest continues to accrue. Unpaid interest that accrues during the forbearance will be added to the principal balance (capitalized) of your loan(s), increasing the total amount you owe.

FULL-TIME ENROLLMENT

At CU Denver full-time enrollment is:

  • 12 or more credit hours - undergraduate students
  • 5 or more credit hours - graduate students

Back to Top

G

GRACE PERIOD

A period of time after borrowers graduate, leave the school, or drop below half-time enrollment where they are not required to make payments on certain federal student loans. Some federal student loans will accrue interest during the grace period, and if the interest is unpaid, it will be added to the principal balance of the loan when the repayment period begins.

GRADE LEVEL (undergraduate student)

  • 0-29 credit hours - Freshman or first year
  • 30-59 credit hours - Sophomore or second year
  • 60-89 credit hours - Junior or 3rd year
  • 90+ credit hours - Senior or 4th year.

GRANT

Financial aid, often based on financial need, that does not need to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund).

Back to Top

H

HALF-TIME ENROLLMENT

At CU Denver full-time enrollment is:

  • Undergraduate students = 6 credit hours per term
  • Graduate students = 3 credit hours per term

HOMELESS

An individual is considered homeless if he or she lacks fixed, regular and adequate housing. Someone may be homeless if living in a shelter, park, motel or car, or temporarily living with other people because he/she has nowhere else to go. Also, if someone is living in any of these situations and fleeing an abusive parent he/she may be considered homeless when completing the FAFSA even if the parent would provide support and a place to live.

Back to Top

I

INDEPENDENT

Based on the FAFSA, an independent student is one of the following:

  • at least 24 years old, married
  • a graduate or professional student
  • a veteran, a member of the armed forces
  • an orphan, or a ward of the court
  • someone with legal dependents other than a spouse
  • an emancipated minor or someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless

INTEREST (Loan)

A loan expense charged for the use of borrowed money. Interest is paid by a borrower to a lender. The expense is calculated as a percentage of the unpaid principal amount of the loan.

Back to Top

L

LEGAL GUARDIANSHIP

A relationship created by court order, through which the court appoints an individual other than a minor's parent to take care of the minor. A legal guardian is not considered a parent on the student's FAFSA. In fact, a student in legal guardianship does not need to report parent information on the FAFSA because he or she is considered an independent student.

LENDER

The organization that made the loan initially; the lender could be the borrower's school; a bank, credit union, or other lending institution; or the U.S. Department of Education.

LIFETIME ELIGIBILITY USED or LEU (Pell Grant)

The amount of all Federal Pell Grant aid (in percentage) awarded to you divided by the amount of Pell Grant aid you would have been eligible to receive based on full-time enrollment. The amount of Federal Pell Grant funds a student may receive over his or her lifetime is limited by federal law to be the equivalent of six years of Pell Grant funding.

LIFETIME LOAN LIMIT

The maximum total outstanding Direct Loan debt that you are allowed.

LOAN, STUDENT

Allows you to borrow money for your education; you must repay your loans, with interest. The Financial Aid & Scholarships Office can award Federal Direct Loans, Federal PLUS loans, and Federal Perkins Loans to eligible students.

LOAN FORGIVENESS

The cancellation of all or some portion of your remaining federal student loan balance. If your loan is forgiven, you are no longer responsible for repaying that remaining portion of the loan.

LOAN SERVICER

A company that collects payments on a loan, responds to customer service inquiries, and performs other administrative tasks associated with maintaining a loan on behalf of a lender. If you're unsure of who your federal student loan servicer is, you can look it up on NSLDS.ed.gov.

Back to Top

M

MPN (MASTER PROMISSORY NOTE)

A binding legal document that a student must sign when you borrows a federal student loan. The MPN can be used to make one or more loans for one or more academic years (up to 10 years). It lists the terms and conditions under which you agree to repay the loan and explains your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. It’s important to read and save this document because you’ll need to refer to it later when you begin repaying your loan or at other times when you need information about provisions of the loan, such as deferments or forbearances.

Back to Top

N

NATIONAL STUDENT LOAN DATA SYSTEM (NSLDS)

A centralized database, available at NSLDS.ed.gov, which stores information on federal grants and loans. NSLDS contains information on how much aid you've received, your enrollment status, and your loan servicer(s). You can access NSLDS using your Federal Student Aid ID.

NEED-BASED

Based on a student's financial need. Example: A need-based grant might be awarded based on a student's low income.

NEEDS ANALYSIS

A process of reviewing a student's aid application to determine the type and amount of financial aid a student is eligible to receive. Completing a needs analysis form (FAFSA) is the required first step in applying for most types of financial aid.

NET PRICE CALCULATOR

A tool that allows current and prospective undergraduate students, families, and other consumers to estimate the net price of attending a particular college or career school.

NEW (first-time) BORROWER

You are a new borrower if you had no outstanding balance on a Direct Loan Program Loan or a Federal Family Education Loan Program loan as of Oct. 1, 2007, or have no outstanding balance on such a loan on the date you receive a new loan after Oct. 1, 2007.

Back to Top

O

ORIGINATION (processing) FEE

A fee that the U.S. Department of Education deducts from loan proceeds before disbursement to partially offset administrative costs for the loan.

Back to Top

P

PELL GRANT

A federal grant program for first-time undergraduates who demonstrate financial need through the FAFSA.

PELL GRANT LIFETIME ELIGIBLITY USED (LEU)

The amount of all Federal Pell Grant aid (in percentage) awarded to you divided by the amount of Pell Grant aid you would have been eligible to receive based on full-time enrollment. The amount of Federal Pell Grant funds a student may receive over his or her lifetime is limited by federal law to be the equivalent of six years of Pell Grant funding.

PERKINS LOAN

A federal student loan, made by the University, for undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate financial need. The Perkins loan may also be referred to as an institutional loan because the lender is the University.

PRINCIPAL

The total sum of money borrowed plus any interest that has been capitalized.

PRIVATE (ALTERNATIVE) LOAN

A nonfederal educational loan made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, or state agency.

PROMISSORY NOTE

The binding legal document that you must sign when you borrow a federal student loan. It lists the terms and conditions under which you agree to repay the loan and explains your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. It’s important to read and save this document because you’ll need to refer to it later when you begin repaying your loan or at other times when you need information about provisions of the loan, such as deferments or forbearances.

PRORATION, LOAN

The annual maximum loan amount an undergraduate student may borrow must be prorated in certain situations, including:

  • when the student is enrolled in a program that is shorter than a full academic year; and
  • when the student is enrolled in a program that is one academic year or more in length, but is in a remaining period of study that is shorter than a full academic year.

The prorated amount is determined by the number of credit hours the student is taking in their final semester and the amount of Direct loan(s) awarded.

Back to Top

R

REGULAR STUDENT

A student who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment at an institution for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate, or other recognized education credential offered by that institution. To be eligible for federal student aid, you must generally be a regular student.

REPAYMENT PLAN

A schedule agreed upon by both a borrower and a lender regarding repayment of a loan. Changing repayment plans is a good way to manage your loan debt when your financial circumstances change to be less favorable. For example, borrowers can usually lower their monthly payment by changing to another repayment plan, if eligible, that has a longer term in which to repay the loan. There are no penalties for changing repayment plans.

REPAYMENT SCHEDULE

Discloses the borrower's monthly payment, interest rate, total repayment obligation, due dates and length of time for repaying the loan.

Back to Top

S

SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS (SAP) STANDARDS

The policy of the University to measure quantitative, qualitative, and maximum academic progress for financial aid eligibility. If a student fails to meet the minimum standards required by this policy, the financial aid award to that student is canceled.

SCHOLARSHIP

Money awarded to students based on academic or other achievements to help pay for education expenses. Scholarships generally do not have to be repaid.

SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant)

A federal grant program for needy students pursuing their first undergraduate degree. Generally awarded to students who are also eligible for the Federal Pell Grant.

SERVICE OBLIGATION

The teaching service requirement set out in the Agreement to Serve (ATS) that you must sign to receive a TEACH Grant. By signing the ATS, you agree to teach (1) full-time (2) in a high-need field (3) at a low-income school or educational service agency that serves certain low-income schools, and (4) for at least four complete academic years within eight years after completing (or ceasing enrollment in) the course of study for which you received the grant. If you do not complete your teaching service agreement, the amounts of the TEACH Grants you received will be converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan that you must repay with interest charges from the date of each TEACH Grant disbursement.

STUDENT AID REPORT (SAR)

A summary of the information you submitted on your FAFSA. You receive this report (often called the SAR) via e-mail a few days after your FAFSA has been processed or by mail within 7-10 days if you did not provide an e-mail address. If there are no corrections or additional information you must provide, the SAR will contain your EFC, which is the number that's used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid.

SUBSIDIZED DIRECT LOAN

A loan based on financial need for which the federal government pays the interest that accrues while the borrower is in an in-school, grace, or deferment status. For Subsidized Direct Loans first disbursed between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2014, the borrower will be responsible for paying any interest that accrues during the grace period. If the interest is not paid during the grace period, the interest will be added to the loan’s principal balance. The Subsidized Direct Loan ia awarded only to eligible undergraduate students.

Back to Top

T

TEACH Grant

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant is a federal grant awarded to eligible students who agree to teach for four years at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves students from low-income families and to meet other requirements. If the service obligation is not met, the grant is converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

THREE-QUARTER-TIME ENROLLMENT

Undergraduate students are considered enrolled three-quarter-time when registered for 9-11 credit hours per term. This designation is generally used when prorating the Federal Pell or TEACH Grants.

TRUTH IN LENDING DISCLOSURE

A statement provided to the borrower prior to or at the time of disbursement of a private loan that lists the lender name and contact information, amount financed, annual percentage rate (APR), finance charge, payment amount and schedule, and total repayment amount.

Back to Top

U

UNMET NEED

The amount of financial aid eligibility that is not met with financial aid awards.

UNOFFICIAL WITHDRAWAL

Identified as Title IV (federal) aid recipients who received all "F" or combination of "F" and "W" grades for the semester and who have not notified the University that he/she withdrew from the semester. If you are classified as an unofficial withdrawal student, CU Denver will use the midpoint of the term as your withdrawal date to determine your repayment amount.

UNSUBSIDIZED DIRECT LOAN

A loan for which the borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status. Interest on unsubsidized loan accrues from the date of disbursement and continues throughout the life of the loan. This loan is the only type of Direct loan available to eligible graduate/professional students.

Back to Top

V

VERIFICATION

A process of review to determine the accuracy of the information on your financial aid application. You may be selected by the processing agency after the FAFSA is filed. The CU Denver Financial Aid & Scholarships Office will list additional verification documents on your To Do List in the UCD Access Portal.

Back to Top

W

WITHDRAWAL

Ceasing to be enrolled prior to the end of the standard semester.

WORK-STUDY

Work-Study provides part-time jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay educational expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the recipient's course of study.

Back to Top

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Most of the terminology on this page is from the Federal Student Aid Glossary section.

​​​​​