So Many Financial Aid Terms, So Little Time

We know you’re busy preparing for the end of the year, and applying for financial aid for college can feel a bit like taking a course in a different language—especially with so many programs, terms and acronyms to decipher. We’ve compiled a list of common financial aid terms and definitions below to help you save time when completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

    • Cost of Attendance (COA) is usually stated as a yearly figure. It’s comprised of the average expenses for tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, student loan fees and some personal expenses.
    • Direct Subsidized Loan is a federal loan available to students with demonstrated financial need as determined by the FAFSA. The federal government pays the interest on this loan while the student is attending college on at least a half-time basis.
    • Direct Unsubsidized Loan is available to undergraduate and graduate students. The interest on an unsubsidized loan isn’t paid by the federal government so borrowers are responsible for all interest accrued from the date the loan is disbursed.
    • Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the measure of your family’s financial strength and is calculated based on the financial information you and your parents provided on the FAFSA. Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It’s a number used by your school to calculate the amount of federal student aid you’re eligible to receive.
    • Financial Need is defined as the difference between what it costs you to attend a college and your Expected Family Contribution. Many forms of financial assistance are based on your ability to show financial need.
    • Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG) is a need-based grant program for Oklahoma residents who attend eligible colleges, universities and career technology centers in Oklahoma.
    • Pell Grant is awarded to eligible undergraduate students to help cover college expenses. The Pell Grant typically does not have to be repaid.
    • Work-Study is a federal student aid program that provides students with part-time employment while they’re enrolled in school. The earnings are used to help pay for educational expenses.

To learn more about financial aid terms, check out the glossary through the U.S. Department of Education.