Useful Terminology for Financial Aid

Posted by:


Financial Aid: Financial aid from the federal government to help you pay for education expenses at an eligible college or career school. Grants, loans and work-study are types of federal student aid. You must complete the FAFSA form to apply for this aid.

Satisfactory Academic Progress or SAP: A school’s standards for satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate offered by that institution. Check with your school to find out its standards.

College Credit: Recognition by a school or college that a student has fulfilled a requirement leading to a degree.

Attempted Credit: Credit having been tried without success.

Earned Credit: Credits completed successfully. 

Transfer Credit: Educational experiences or courses taken from one university but granted credit at another institution.

Grade Point Average: Grade Point Average is the measure of a student's academic achievement; calculated by dividing the total number of grade points received by the total number attempted.

High School Credit: Credit that counts towards a high school diploma

College Degree or Certificate: An academic award for completion of a course or major.

Timeframe Limits: The maximum number of credits for which one can receive federal financial aid.

Credit Limit: This is a limit on the total number of college credits you have attempted.

Pace: Number of credits attempted compared to number of credits earned. If the number of attempted credits is much higher than the number of credits earned, then a student is not passing satisfactory academic pace.

Disbursement: Payment of federal student aid funds to the borrower by the school. Students generally receive their federal student aid in two or more disbursements.

Academic Probation/Warning/Suspension: Each college has a policy for letting students know when they do not make good academic progress. This is called a warning or probation. The student must improve their grades or their academic work or else they will be dismissed or suspended from continuing to study at that college.

Appeal: Request for a review of the decision about SAP or other policies. Students may write a letter or present other evidence about their situation with their request for a different outcome.

Notice: Written communication about a student’s status

Cumulative maximum: Total number of credits allowed to be paid by financial aid for a degree, certificate, or scholarship. 

Mitigating circumstances (leaves of absence, professional discretion): A student may be able to change their financial aid information if there are circumstances way beyond your control.

Verification: The process your school uses to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA form is accurate. Your school has the authority to contact you for document.

*From Federal Student Aid (US Department of Education)

**From Oregon Student Aid (OR Higher Ed Coordinating Commission OSAC)