Glossary of Terms
Below are some of the common terms associated with financial aid packaging and awards. Additional information is made available via the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NAFSAA). For additional terms, please visit NASFSAA.org.
Adjustment of Aid
Adjustment to aid may be necessary if there are changes in the student’s financial situation, for example, corrections due to verification, discovery of data errors, changes in enrollment status, or a change in residency status. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the Office of Financial Aid of any additional funding received from any sources not listed on the initial award letter. Additional funding sources may require that other aid be reduced to avoid exceeding the student’s calculated financial need or cost of attendance.
The period in which Financial Aid is disbursed to a student account. All aid, including HCU scholarships and grants, is awarded for fall and/or spring semesters of an academic year. Summer awards are indicated separately on the award letter.
Consenting to Direct Data Exchange (DDX)
DDX is now required on your FAFSA. Through the DDX process, the IRS shares federal tax information (FTI) with the Department of Ed and the colleges listed on the FAFSA to calculate a Student Aid Index (SAI). Every contributor on the FAFSA is required to consent to DDX, even if they didn’t file taxes, for the student to be eligible for federal financial aid.
Someone required to report their information on the FAFSA, typically the student and their parent(s).
Cost of Attendance
Cost of Attendance is an estimate of the educational costs while studying at HCU for one academic year. It includes costs payable to the school (referred to as direct or billable costs) and costs paid to others (or indirect, non-billable or discretionary) costs. It contains direct charges such as tuition, fees, housing and food (living expenses), and indirect charges such as books, supplies, equipment, transportation, and personal expenses.
An estimate of the educational costs while studying at HCU for one academic year. It contains direct and indirect charges such as:
- Estimated charges for one academic year of tuition and fees
- Tuition – Charges assessed for classes and/or other coursework
- Fees – Charges assessed for other college services (e.g. technology access, recreational center use)
- Housing – Includes residence hall charges for on-campus students or an estimate of rent and utilities for an off-campus student
- Food – Includes the cost of a meal plan and/or an estimate of the costs of food prepared at home
- Estimated transportation and parking costs
- Estimated costs for books and supplies
- Purchase or rental of a computer
- Miscellaneous costs such as personal hygiene, laundry, and reasonable entertainment
- Other costs specific to certain student circumstances related to attendance, such as dependent care during periods of class attendance or study, expenses related to disabilities, study abroad, educational loan fees, and others
- Student health insurance costs
- Estimated charges for one academic year of tuition and fees
Direct Subsidized Loan
Direct Subsidized Loans are provided through the Department of Education which pays the interest for you while you are in school (at least half-time enrollment), and during your post-graduation grace period. *HCU will disburse aid twice per semester.
Direct Unsubsidized Loan
Direct unsubsidized loans are offered to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students at a low fixed interest rate and flexible repayment terms. Students can defer interest payment while they are in school (at least half-time enrollment), however these loans do accrue interest while the student is enrolled. *HCU will disburse aid twice per semester.
Enrollment Status and Changes
Each financial aid award requires a particular enrollment status. In general, undergraduates must be enrolled full-time (12 credit hours or more per semester) to receive the full allocation of most awards. If a student falls below full-time at any time, financial aid awards (including loans) may be reduced or canceled. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the Office of Financial Aid of changes in enrollment status.
This is an online educational session to make sure you understand all aspects of taking out the student/parent loans.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
An eligibility index that college financial aid staff use to determine how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school. Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a calculated figure by the Department of Education based on the data a student and/ or parent submits on the FAFSA application. The results of the calculation are on the Student Aid Report (SAR) after the FAFSA has completed and processed. Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the EFC in 2024-25.
Family Financial Responsibility
Many schools award institutional need-based scholarships and grants based upon a more comprehensive calculation of family financial circumstances. This can result in a higher (or lower) figure than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) might indicate with its Student Aid Index (SAI) estimate.
Federal Pell Grant
A federal grant provided by the federal government to undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need and have an Student Aid Index below a certain threshold established by the federal government. The Pell Grant award amount is prorated based on Enrollment Status.
Federal Work Study
A federal program offered and administered by the institution that provides opportunity for part-time employment to students with financial need to help pay their educational expenses. Students apply for part-time employment while studying and attending the institution. Students will earn a paycheck for a max of 20 hours per week that they are allowed to work. Students can search for jobs at: https://joinhandshake.com/.
Financial Aid Offer
Financial Aid Offer is the offer letter sent by the Office of Financial Aid to students which outlines the amounts and details of the financial aid being offered, and may include scholarships, grants, loans, employment, or other forms of financial assistance to pay for college expenses. HCU may refer to these as financial aid “awards,” although this term is outdated. Schools should refer to these as financial aid offers.
Funds awarded to the student that do not have to be repaid, unless the student fails to meet certain criteria, such as a service requirement that is specified as a condition of the gift aid or not completing the period for which the aid was awarded. Gift aid can include awards with titles such as grants, scholarships, remissions, awards, waivers, etc. Gift aid can be awarded based upon many factors, including (but not limited to) financial need, academic excellence, athletic, musical, and/or theatrical talent, affiliation with various groups, and/or career aspirations.
A grant is a form of gift aid (see above definition) that is typically based on financial need. Federal Grants include PELL Grants / Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG). State Grants include the Texas Equalization Grant Program (TEG) and any Institutional Merit or award (INSG).
Grants & Scholarships
Any money provided to students that do not have to be repaid. They can be called grants, scholarships, tuition remissions, gift aid, or tuition waivers. Grants and scholarships are provided based on many different factors. Federal Grants: PELL Grants/Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG). State Grants: Texas Equalization Grant Program (TEG). Institutional Aid: Merit Scholarships, Tuition Waivers/Tuition Remission, and Departmental. Other Scholarships can come from outside entities.
Income Share Agreement (ISAs)
A student’s contract with their institution or a private entity to pay a percentage of their future earnings for a fixed period after graduation in exchange for funds to pay for their education while enrolled.
Estimated expenses in the cost of attendance that are not paid directly to the institution.
Other Funding Options
Funding options outside of grants and scholarships that a student and their family may use to pay any remaining costs or expenses. This may include loans, student employment, institutional payment plans, or personal savings.
Master Promissory Note
A master promissory note is a legal document in which you promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to The Department of Education. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loan(s).
Merit Awards are a form of gift aid awarded based upon the student maintaining full-time enrollment status, meeting the GPA requirement, and other conditions specified on the award’s Terms and Agreement. Refer to the Terms and Agreement for each award to see the specific requirements.
Need is determined by the student’s Cost of Attendance (COA) minus Student Aid Index (SAI) minus Other Financial Assistance. The completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required annually to determine students’ demonstrated need to award any need-based aid.
Amount of direct and indirect costs remaining after all Gift Aid is applied. Net price can be covered through a variety of sources, including: savings, income, and education loans.
Other Financial Assistance
Gift aid, scholarships, state aid, federal subsidized loans and federal work study awards.
Release of Funds (Disbursement)
Financial aid is credited to a student’s account after completion of all requirements. For student borrowers, loans will disburse only after entrance counseling and the Master Promissory Note (MPN) has been completed and signed. For parent borrowers, loans will only disburse after a credit check, application, and MPN has been successfully completed. Work-study will not be disbursed on the student account.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
All students must demonstrate satisfactory academic progress in order to receive merit or need-based aid. Details are available on the HCU website or in the HCU Academic Catalog.
Gift Aid that is typically based on merit, such as, academic excellence, talent, affiliation with various groups, or career aspirations or a combination of merit and need.
Selected for Verification
A federally mandated process to confirm the accuracy of data provided by selected applicants on the FAFSA. To complete the verification process, the student, their parent(s), or spouse, if applicable, are required to provide certain documents to the school for review. If the documentation the student provides the institution doesn’t match what was reported on the FAFSA, verification can result in changes to the student’s financial aid eligibility, and/or financial aid offers. If a student is selected, funds will not release into the student’s account until missing requirements are submitted.
Student Aid Index (SAI)
The SAI will replace the SAI starting with the 2024-25 FAFSA as the eligibility index used to determine your eligibility for federal, and in some instances, state and institutional need-based student financial aid. Generally, students with a higher SAI are eligible for less need-based financial aid. It is based upon the information provided by the student and their family on the FAFSA.
Federal grants for undergraduate and graduate students, awarded in exchange for specific future teaching service in designated high-need fields and low-income elementary and secondary schools. If a student does not complete the required teaching service, the grant becomes a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan that must be repaid.
Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
An unaccompanied homeless youth is a youth (21 years old or younger or still enrolled in high school) who lacks fixed, regular and adequate housing and is not living in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. Students who are experiencing homelessness or a risk of homelessness or are otherwise unaccompanied may still receive federal student aid.
The student’s Cost of Attendance minus SAI, minus any need-based aid (Grants, Gift, Scholarships, Work-Study or Federal Subsidized Loans) remaining is your unmet need.
A federally mandated process to confirm the accuracy of data provided by selected applicants on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To complete the verification process, the student, their parent(s), or spouse, if applicable, are required to provide certain documents to the school for review. If the documentation the student provides the institution doesn’t match what was reported on the FAFSA, verification can result in changes to the student’s financial aid eligibility, and/or financial aid offers.
If a student makes any changes in their enrollment status, financial aid may be reduced or canceled, and they may be required to repay awards already disbursed. Since withdrawals may also impact current or future aid eligibility, it is important that students consult a financial aid advisor before withdrawing from a class.