Academic Year: A measure of academic work to be performed by the student, subject to definition by the school.
Admit-Deny: This describes the process of setting priorities on students who have been accepted to a college. Assume a college is attempting to admit 500 freshmen. Each year, about one-third of the freshmen students a college, accepts eventually enroll. So every year it must accept 1,600 applicants to get 500 freshmen. After it notifies the 1,500 that they've been accepted, it uses financial aid packages to try to entice the 500 it wants most.
The most attractive students get the most generous money offers. The bottom one-third includes some students who cannot afford that particular college without financial aid. They have been accepted, yet denied admission because they were not offered enough money to be able to enroll.
Application Score: Most colleges use score cards to rate their applicants. It's the only way they can keep a record of how the thousands of applications they receive each year compare to each other. Every college has its own scoring system. Some use a numbered scale, say 1-5. Others use letter grades, such as A - E. The important thing to remember is that colleges do keep score. Each component of an application gets its own rating. Then the scores are combined for a total that often determines a candidate's fate. It's customary practice for an application to be read and scored by at least two admission officers. If your total score is above a certain level, you're automatically in. If it's too low, you're gone. Most students are in the middle, between the two cutoffs. Their applications go to the admissions committee for a decision. The university's goal is to increase the number of low-need students, and spread wider the available financial aid dollars. As a result, a student with lower academics can receive more gift-aid than other applicants who have higher academic ratings.
Base Income Year: The calendar year preceding the academic year for which aid is being taught.
Bidding War: A bidding war is similar to trying to get the best deal when you buy a new car. Your best financial award offer is presented to another college to see if it can do better. Financial aid officers don't like to encourage bidding wars, but admit they exist. And because good students are in such high demand, this strategy often works.
Building A Class: Building a class is a term used for maintaining diversity in the student body. The diversity can take many forms - racial, ethnic, geographic, economic - depending on a college's priorities. For example, a college may have a gender-balance policy that states that neither sex can be more than 52 percent of the student body.
As the final decisions are made, these policies and priorities come into play. The freshman class is built to reflect them. Decisions sometimes are made, reversed, then reversed again to build the proper class.
Buying Freshman: Similar to the admit-deny policy, a college often gives its best financial aid package to the students it's attempting to attract and is said to be buying freshmen. The term often comes as an accusation from officials of other colleges that a particular competitor is buying freshmen.
College Scholarship Service (CSS): The financial aid division of the College Board. CSS writes and processes the Financial Aid PROFILE Form.
Cost Of Attendance (COA): A figure, estimated by the school, that includes the cost of tuition, fees, room, board, books and supplies as well as an allowance for transportation and personal expenses. This figure is compared to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to determine a student's aid eligibility. Also known as the student budget.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount of money the family is expected to contribute for the year toward the student's cost of attendance. This figure is compared to the cost of attendance to determine a student's aid eligibility.
FAFSA: See Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Family Contribution: Another name used to refer to the Expected Family Contribution.
FAO: See Financial Aid Officer.
Federal Methodology: The generally accepted method used to calculate the family's expected contribution to college costs for federal aid purposes. Depending on the individual college's policy, the federal methodology may also be used to determine eligibility for money under the schools control.
Federal Work Study (FWS): A federally funded aid program that provides jobs for students. Eligibility is based on need.
Financial Aid: A general term used to refer to a variety of programs funded by the federal schools to assist students with their educational costs. While the names may vary, financial aid comes in three basic forms: (1)gift aid (grants and scholarships) which do not have to be paid back (2) student loans and (3) work-study jobs.
Financial Aid Form (FAF): A need analysis document that was written and processed by the College Scholarship Services (CSS) in Princeton, NJ.
Financial Aid Leveraging: The university practice of cutting the "sticker price" to specifically targeted groups of applicants. The goal is to maximize the financial aid dollar and admit larger numbers of students with the same dollars.
Here's an example of how it can work. The college categorizes all applicants based on academic merit and financial need. For each group, the school determines, by policy, how much total aid is available to award. So, a student with above average academic ability and medium need might receive $5,000 in gift-aid and $3,000 in loans. On the other hand, a student with simply average academics, but low need would receive $6,000 in gift-aid.
Financial Aid Profile Form: See PROFILE form.
Financial Aid Officer: An administrator at each school who determines whether a student is eligible for aid and if so, the types of aid to be awarded.
Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The need analysis document written by the U.S. Department of Education. This form is required for virtually all students seeking financial aid including the unsubsidized Stafford Loan.
Flag: A flag is a mark added to the studant's admissions appplication to indicate that it's special. Children of alumni get flags. Students with special talents get flags. Under-represented minorities get flags. A flagged application is removed from the common pool and considered separately.
Gender Balance: Many colleges want a sexually balanced campus. They don't want a minority of either males or females. Some admission offices work under rules that come down from the president's office requiring each sex to be, say, at least 48.5 percent of the student body.
Gift Aid: Financial aid, usually a grant or scholarship that does not have to be paid back and that does not involve employment.
Grants: Gift Aid that is generally based on need. The programs can be funded by the federal and state governments as well as the individual schools.
Institutional Forms: Supplemental forms required by the individual schools to determine aid eligibility.
Institutional Methodology: An alternative method used to calculate the family's expected contribution to college costs. This methodology is generally used by private and a few state schools to determine eligibility for aid funds under the school's direct control. Colleges that use the institutional methodology usually require completion of the PROFILE form.
Legacy Rating: Children of a college's alumni are called legacies. They get an advantage at the admission office because of their parents. The size of the advantage usually is determined by the parent's generosity in alumni fund drives. Applicants with the highest legacy ratings often are admitted without regard to the rest of their application.
Need: the amount of aid a student is eligible to receive. This figure is calculated by subtracting the Expected Family Contribution from the cost of attendance.
Need Analysis: The process of analyzing the information on the aid form to calculate the amount of money the student and parent(s) can be expected to contribute toward educational costs.
Need Analysis Forms: Aid applications used to calculate the expected family contribution. The most common need analysis forms are: the free application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) and the Financial Aid PROFILE form. Consult the individual school's financial aid filing requirements to determine which form(s) are required for that particular school.
Need Based (Need-Blind) Admissions: The use of money as a factor in admissions is referred to as need-based admission, need-blind admission, or more accurately, need-based denial admissions.
Many colleges say they do it. Colleges attempt to maximize the return on their endowment funds by considering the student's ability to pay when determining who will be admitted. After a college's financial aid pool has been exhausted, "ability to pay" can also be a factor in removing students from an admissions "wait list." Those who have a financial need don't make it.
Parent's Contribution: The amount of money the parent(s) are expected to contribute for the year toward the student's cost of attendance.
Preferential Packaging: Preferential packaging is a more polite term for buying freshmen. The students who are most attractive to a college get the best financial aid package, or more grants and free money and less loans and work-study. Preferential Packaging could also take the form of a large discount off the sticker price, or giving more aid than the students financial need. In a survey by the National Association of College Admissions Counselors, 54 percent of the colleges that responded say they use preferential packaging.
Profile Form: A need analysis document written and processed by the College Scholarship Service (CSS) in Princeton, NJ.
Student Aid Report (SAR): The multi-page report that is issued to students who have filed a completed FASFA.
Student's Contribution: The amount of money the student is expected to contribute for the year toward his or her cost of attendance.