As you explore different ways to pay for higher education, you may come across some acronyms commonly found in the world of student financial aid. We’ve listed some here, with a brief explanation of each.
Adjusted Gross Income – A dollar amount found on your, and/or your parents’, tax return that must be reported on your FAFSA.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – A relief package passed in March 2020 to protect the American people from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
Cost of Attendance – The average annual cost for attending a specific college, university, technology center or proprietary school, which includes tuition, room and board, books, fees, supplies, personal expenses and transportation.
Expected Family Contribution – A number found on your Student Aid Report (SAR) that’s used by a financial office to determine how much aid you’re eligible to receive.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid – A form submitted by you that is used to determine your eligibility for federal and state financial aid. One or both parents may also need to contribute their financial information.
Federal Student Aid – The branch of the U.S. Department of Education that oversees federal financial aid disbursed to higher education institutions for students who qualify.
Federal Student Aid Identification – A username and password that gives you access to some of the U.S. Department of Education’s websites; it can also serve as your legal signature on the FAFSA and other electronic documents.
Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act – Passed December 2019; it expands access to federal student aid, and along with the FAFSA Simplification Act will create sweeping changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA.
Institutional Student Information Record – A report sent to your selected college(s) that contains the data from your FAFSA.
Master Promissory Note – A document signed by you that says you promise to repay a student loan, along with any accrued interest and fees.
Student Aid Index – Will replace the EFC beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA.
Student Aid Report – Contains the data submitted on your FAFSA, along with next-step instructions. Once the FAFSA is processed, you’ll receive information on how to download and print the report.
For a much larger list of the many acronyms and terms used throughout the federal financial aid process, visit StudentAid.gov.