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The following terms are often used in financial aid materials, and are worth understanding while reviewing your financial aid options. For the most up-to-date federal financial aid information and a larger, more general glossary of terms, visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Award Offer Letter: The letter sent to you by DigiPen Institute of Technology detailing the financial aid for which you qualify. You must sign and send this letter back to DigiPen’s Office of Financial Aid before receiving your financial aid funds.

Cost of Attendance (COA): The combined cost of all expenses related to a student’s college education. Among other factors, COA determines the maximum amount of federal financial aid for which you qualify.

Deferment: The act of postponing or reducing federal student loan payments to avoid defaulting. You must meet certain conditions to defer your loans.

Dependent Student: Most students applying to attend DigiPen right after high school are dependent students. Dependent students do NOT meet any of the criteria listed under the definition of Independent Student. (Please see that definition below.) Dependent student is a designation used to determine certain types of aid for which an applicant may qualify. If you are a dependent student, you must provide information about your parents on the FAFSA.

Direct Loans: Subsidized and unsubsidized loans distributed by the Direct Loan Program, which is operated by the U.S. Department of Education as a way to provide financial aid to college students.

Direct PLUS Loan: Stands for Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) Loan. This is a federally guaranteed loan that parents can borrow from the U.S. Department of Education to help fund their child’s higher education costs.

Enrollment Status: Designations including “half-time,” “three-quarters-time,” and “full-time.” Students are eligible for different types of financial aid depending on their enrollment status.

Entrance Counseling: Process intended to inform students about their responsibilities when borrowing funds from the U.S. Department of Education. Entrance counseling must be completed on StudentLoans.gov prior to receiving Direct Loans.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): Number calculated from the information submitted on your FAFSA, used to determine the amount and type of financial aid for which you may be eligible. The EFC is neither the amount of money you owe nor the amount of financial aid you are receiving.

Federal School Code: Number used on the FAFSA to indicate the college(s) to which you want a copy of your FAFSA sent. DigiPen’s Federal School Code is 037243.

Federal Student Aid (FSA): An office of the U.S. Department of Education that manages Title IV programs to provide grants, loans, and work-study funds to students attending college.

Federal Work Study (FWS): Financial aid program offered by the U.S. Department of Education that allows students with financial need to apply for part-time student work and earn funds while attending school.

Financial Aid Warning: Status indicating that a student failed to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) during the previous semester. Failure to meet SAP while on Financial Aid Warning will result in termination of financial aid starting the next semester.

Financial Need: Dollar value used to determine eligibility for need-based financial aid. Financial need is calculated by subtracting your Expected Family Contribution from the Cost of Attendance for the school you plan to attend.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): A form used by the federal government to determine your eligibility for financial aid.

Full-Time Student: A student taking the regular course credit load during the semester.

Gift Aid: Financial aid funds (including grants and scholarships) that do not need to be repaid under regular circumstances.

Grant: Money awarded by the state or federal government to students with financial need. Common grants include the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).

Half-Time Student: A student taking half the regular course credit load, which may affect what types of financial aid the student is eligible to receive.

Independent Student: A student who meets any of the following criteria:

  • You are 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year.
  • You are married.
  • You are a veteran.
  • You are a ward of the court.
  • You are a graduate or professional student.
  • You have children or legal dependents (other than a spouse) who live with you and receive more than half their support from you.

Independent student is a designation used to determine certain types of aid for which an applicant may qualify. If you are an independent student, you provide your own tax and financial information (and not your parents’) on the FAFSA.

Master Promissory Note (MPN): A legal document students must sign to acknowledge the repayment terms of their federal student loans. Students must sign their MPN on StudentLoans.gov before they receive federal student loans.

Merit-Based: Used to describe grants and scholarships awarded based on a student’s academic performance or another relevant skill or talent.

Need-Based: Used to describe grants and scholarships awarded based on a student’s financial need.

Private Loan: An educational loan offered by a private financial institution or lender other than the U.S. Department of Education. Private loans usually entail higher interest rates and steeper penalties than Direct Loans.

Renewal FAFSA: FAFSA available to students who filed a FAFSA during the previous award year, pre-filled with information from the student’s previous FAFSA. Students must submit a FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA each award year to continue receiving financial aid.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP): In order to receive financial aid funds, a student must meet the standards set forth in DigiPen’s SAP policy. See the DigiPen Course Catalog for DigiPen’s full SAP policy.

Scholarship: Merit- or need-based gift aid awarded to students who fulfill certain criteria.

Student Aid Report (SAR): Document detailing what financial aid a student is eligible to receive based on the student’s submitted FAFSA. The U.S. Department of Education sends a SAR to every student who files a FAFSA via mail or e-mail.

Subsidized Loan: A Direct Loan for which government pays the interest while the borrower is attending college at least half-time or while the loan is in deferment. Compare to unsubsidized loans.

Title IV: Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 enables students to borrow funds from the federal government through several programs (called “Title IV programs” or “Federal Student Aid programs”), including Direct Loans, the Federal Pell Grant, and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).

Unsubsidized Loan: A Direct Loan for which the government does not pay any of the interest; interest accrues on the loan throughout its duration — including while the student is in college — and the borrower is responsible for paying the loan and all interest accrued. Compare to subsidized loans.

U.S. Department of Education: The department of the U.S. government that oversees primary, secondary, and higher education, including federal financial aid for college students with financial need, as well as Federal Student Aid.

Verification: Process by which the U.S. Department of Education selects students at random to ensure accurate reporting and record-keeping. Students selected for verification must submit a verification worksheet and copies of their tax transcripts.