Academic Year. GW’s Academic Year begins in the fall and concludes at the end of the summer semester.

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). A family's wages, salaries, interest, dividends, etc., minus certain deductions from income as reported on a federal income tax return.

Aggregate Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Limit. The total lifetime amount you may borrow in the Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan Programs. This includes loans with outstanding balances in both the Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan Program and the Federal Family Education Loan Program if applicable.

Annual Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Limit. The maximum yearly amount you may borrow in the Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan Program based on your grade level and dependency status.

Auto-debit. Repayment of a loan by auto-debit occurs when the borrower sets up an agreement with the loan servicer to deduct monthly loan payments directly from the borrower’s bank account. Lenders may offer a slight interest rate deduction for this type of payment.

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Capitalization. A term used to describe a method of computing interest. To capitalize a loan means to add all interest that has accrued to the principal loan amount. Once a loan is capitalized, the new loan amount (both principal and interest) is the amount upon which interest will accrue.

Certificate Student. A student who will be awarded a certificate at the conclusion of their academic program.

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

Co-signer/Co-borrower/Endorser. An additional applicant added to a loan to meet creditworthiness guidelines, often a parent. A co-signer/co-borrower/endorser has the same legal responsibility on the loan as the primary borrower.

Cost of Attendance (COA). A budget constructed to approximate the expenses which a student will incur that are directly related to enrollment.

Credit-Based. Credit-based lending considers past credit history and income to determine eligibility for a loan. Repayment history, delinquencies, and length of time accounts have been established are considerations in determining a borrower's ability to obtain a loan. The credit history of both the student (if he or she has a credit history) and the co-applicant will be reviewed. PLUS and private loans are credit-based.

Credit Score. Your credit score is a number based on the information in your credit file that shows how likely you may be to pay a loan back on time — the higher your score, the less risk you represent.

CSS PROFILE. An application distributed by the College Board required for new undergraduate students to apply for financial aid.

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Default. Failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to in the promissory note which could result in legal consequences.

Deferment. A time during which the borrower is not required to make payment. During deferment, interest will accrue on the loan, although the borrower is not obligated to make payment on the loan amount.

Degree Student. A student who will be awarded a degree at the conclusion of their academic program.

Delinquent. When loan payments are not received by the due dates the loan is delinquent. A loan remains delinquent until the borrower makes up the missed payment(s) through payment, deferment, or forbearance.

Disbursement. Disbursement is the process by which financial assistance (grants, scholarships and loans) are applied to the student’s university account.

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

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Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). The electronic exchange, or transfer of money, from one account to another used by many private alternative loan lenders.

Enrollment Status. Your educational institution's own classification of your attendance, important to your eligibility for student loans. Federal Direct Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized and PLUS), and some private alternative loans require that you be enrolled at least half-time. For undergraduates full-time is considered enrollment in at least 12 credits per semester. Half-time for undergraduates is defined at 6 credits per semester. For graduate students, full-time is considered 9 credits of enrollment in the fall and spring, and 6 in the summer. Half-time for graduates is defined as 4.5 credits in the fall and spring, and 3 in the summer. Students who do not meet the above requirements are considered less than half-time.

Entrance/Exit Counseling. Federal Direct Loan requirements where you learn your rights and responsibilities as a borrower and during repayment.

Estimated Financial Aid. The total amount of financial aid you expect to receive for the period in question.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC). A measure of how much money you and your family will be able to contribute toward your educational expenses for one academic year.

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FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid which is required for all financial aid applicants to determine their eligibility for assistance

Federal Loan Repayment Plans.

  • Extended. Allows you to pay your loans over an extended period of time.

  • Graduated. Starts with lower payments that increase every two years.

  • Income-Based. Borrowers pay 15% of their discretionary income for up to 25 years, after which the rest of the loan is forgiven.

  • Income-Contingent. A plan based on adjusted gross income, family size and total amount of Direct Loans

  • Income Sensitive. Payments increase or decrease based on the borrower’s annual income.

  • Pay as You Earn (PAYE). Borrowers pay 10% of their discretionary income for up to 20 years, after which the rest of the loan is forgiven.

  • Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE). Borrowers pay 10% of their discretionary income and will have the remaining debt forgiven after 20 years for those who borrowed only for undergraduate study and 25 years for those who borrowed for graduate study.  

  • Standard. Payments under this plan are fixed and made for up to 10 years.

Federal Methodology (FM). The formula used by the federal government to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Financial Aid Denial. Students who fail to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards for two subsequent semesters are placed into Financial Aid Denial status and notified they are no longer eligible to receive financial assistance.

Financial Aid Probation. Students who fail to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards after being issued a warning may appeal for one additional semester of eligibility. Students whose appeals are approved are put on Financial Aid Probation status for one semester.

Financial Aid Warning. Students who fail to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards are placed into Financial Aid Warning status and notified that they have one semester to meet all standards.

Fixed Interest Rate. An interest rate which remains the same throughout the life of the loan, through repayment.

Forbearance. A period during which your monthly loan payments are temporarily suspended or reduced.

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Grace Period. The length of time a borrower is granted before the first payment is due. Grace period may refer to the time between disbursement of funds and the first payment if immediate repayment is required, or the length of time from the end of a deferment period to the first payment.

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Institutional Methodology (IM). The formula used by the CSS PROFILE to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Interest. Money paid for money borrowed. Most interest is computed using a percentage of the outstanding balance of the loan.

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Lifetime Eligibility 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.

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 Period. The semesters for which your requested loan funds cover.

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Master Promissory Note (MPN)/Promissory Note. A binding legal document that you must sign when you obtain a student loan. First-time loan borrowers in each of the Federal loan programs must complete a separate MPN for each loan type in question – Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized, Federal Direct PLUS, Federal Direct Graduate PLUS, and Federal Perkins Loans. The MPN is valid for ten years from the date it is signed as long as a loan disburses on that Note within one year of signature. Students and parents who were denied credit in the Federal Direct PLUS program, but who successfully appealed that decision or added a credit-worthy endorser  to their loan, must complete a new MPN each  time  a new loan is obtained. Most private alternative loans require a new Promissory Note for every loan you borrowed.

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National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). A centralized database that 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 PIN.

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

Non-Degree Student. A student not matriculated into the university.

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On-Campus/Off-Campus/Online Education. Students who attend classes in Foggy Bottom or Mount Vernon are on-campus students. Students who attend courses in classrooms at other locations are considered off-campus students. Student who attend classes via distance education are online education students.

Origination Fee. The fee, charged by the lender, for services provided in connection with the origination and funding of the loan.

Outside Resource. Outside resources are funds designated to be used for educational purposes and awarded to the student by offices or agencies other than the Office of Student Financial Assistance.

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Post-Withdrawal Disbursement. A determination of Federal Title IV award eligibility that is prorated when a student withdraws from all classes and had valid awards on file before withdrawal.

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

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Rebudget. The process where your loan eligibility is reassessed due to a change in circumstances.

Refund. A credit to your student account in excess of your charges for a given semester

Return to Title IV (R2T4). A process to determine the amount of federal aid a student has earned after withdrawing during a semester.

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Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Metrics for satisfactory academic progress towards degree or certificate completion.

Servicer. An agency or 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.

Student Aid Report (SAR). A summary of the information you submitted on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You receive this report 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.

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Title IV. The portion of the Higher Education Act of 1965 that covers the administration of federal financial aid.

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Variable Interest. An interest rate that may change depending on the terms of the loan.

Verification. Verification refers to the process by which a student’s eligibility for need based assistance is validated.

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