Glossary of Terms

A period of at least 30 weeks of instructional time during which a full-time student is expected to complete at least 24 semester or trimester hours, or at least 36 quarter hours, at an institution that measures program length in credit hours; or at least 900 clock hours at an institution that measures program length in clock hours.
The day interest charges on an educational loan begins to accrue.
The official document, issued by the Office of Student Financial Planning, which lists all the financial aid awarded to the student. While award letters vary among institutions, the letter generally lists the expected family contribution, cost of attendance and all the terms of the aid awarded.
The process of adding unpaid interest to the principal balance of an educational loan, thereby increasing the total amount to be repaid.
You must be one of the following to receive federal student aid:
  • U.S. Citizen
  • U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swain's Island)
  • U.S. permanent resident with an I-151, I-551, or I-551C (Alien Registration Receipt Card)
If you're not in one of these categories, you must have an Arrival Departure Record (I-94) from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) showing one of the following designations:
  • Refugee
  • Asylum Granted
  • Indefinite Parole and/or Humanitarian Parole
  • Cuban Haitian Entrant, Status Pending
  • Conditional Entrant (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980)
  • Other eligible non citizen with a Temporary Resident Card (I-688)
You can also be eligible based on the Family Unity Status category, with approved I-797s (Voluntary Departure and Immigrant Petition), or if you have a suspension of deportation case pending before Congress. Permanent residents of the Trust Territory of the Pacific (Palau) may be eligible for federal student aid. Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands are eligible for Pell Grants, SEOG, or Work Study only. You are NOT eligible for federal financial aid if you only have a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence (I-171 or I-464A), or if you are in the U.S. on an F1, F2, J1, J2, or G series visa.
A loan program that allows a borrower to combine various educational loans into one new loan. By extending the repayment period (up to 30 years depending on the loan amount) and allowing a single monthly payment, consolidation can make loan repayment easier for some borrowers.
The total amount it should cost a student to go to school--usually expressed as a yearly figure. The cost of education covers tuition and fees, on-campus room and board (or a housing and food allowance for off-campus students),and allowance for books and supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. Certain other items may be added at the discretion of the Financial Aid Administrator (FAA). Your COA can be affected by your enrollment status.
Failure to repay a student loan according to the terms agreed to when you signed a promissory note. If you default, your school, the organization that holds your loan, the state, and the federal government can all take action to recover the money, including notifying national credit bureaus of your default. Your wages and/or tax returns may be garnished, and you will no longer be eligible to receive federal financial aid.
An authorized period of time during which a borrower may postpone principal and interest payments. Deferments are available while borrowers are in school at least half time, enrolled in a graduate fellowship program or rehabilitation training program, and during periods of unemployment or economic hardship. Other deferments may be available depending on when and what you borrowed. Contact your lender for additional details.
The release of loan funds to the school for delivery to the borrower. Disbursements for most loans are made in equal multiple installments, and made co-payable to the borrower and the school.
Counseling sessions borrowers are required to attend before receiving their first loan disbursement and again before leaving school.
An amount, determined by a formula established by Congress, that indicates how much of your family's financial resources should be available to help pay for school. The EFC is used in determining your eligibility for financial aid.
The family share of expenses represents our best estimate of your family's capacity to absorb, over time, the costs of education. It is not a prediction of how much cash you have on hand, a value judgment about how much a family should be able to draw from current income or a measure of liquidity. It is not the amount you must pay directly to the University, but, rather, the family's share of the total cost of education.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid):
The federal aid application. This must be completed by all student who wish to be considered for financial aid at Mercer University.
Education loans provided by private lenders and guaranteed by the federal government. Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans and Parent PLUS loans are included in this program.
For undergraduate students, first baccalaureate degree only. Eligibility is based on federal methodology. The amount of the award ranges from $400 to $4,050, subject to Congressional appropriations, and will be reduced for students who enroll less than full time. The Federal Pell Grant will not appear as a credit on your account until Mercer has received a valid and accurate ISIR from the FAFSA processors.  If your award letter shows an estimated Pell Grant, it means your ISIR has not been received and the credit will not appear on your bill.
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant for undergraduate students, first baccalaureate degree only. Eligibility is based on the federal methodology using the information provided on the FAFSA. Priority is given to students who are eligible for Pell Grants, meet filing deadlines and who demonstrate the greatest historical need.
A representative of the Office of Student Financial Planning that reviews a student's application and awards aid, and helps the student in all aspects of the financial aid process.
The total financial aid a student receives. Federal and non-federal aid such as grants, loans, work-study, and scholarships are combined in a "package" to help meet the student's need.
The difference between the Cost of Attendance and the family's Estimated Family Contribution. This amount is your total eligibility for aid from all sources, and is used in determining what your aid package will be.
An authorized period of time during which the lender agrees to temporarily postpone a borrower's principal repayment obligation. Interest continues to accrue and usually must be paid during the forbearance period. Forbearance may be granted at the lender's discretion when a borrower is willing to repay their loan but is unable to do so.
A type of financial aid award based on need or merit that is not repaid by the student.
The period between the time a borrower leaves school or drops below half-time and the time they are obligated to begin repaying their loans - usually six or nine months, depending on the type of loan.
The organization that administers the Federal Stafford Loan and Federal Plus Loan programs in your state. The federal government sets loan limits and interest rates, but each state is free to set its own additional limitations, within federal guidelines. This agency is the best source of information on Stafford and PLUS loans in your state. To find the name, address, and telephone number of the guaranty agency in your state, as well as information about borrowing, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-(800)4-FEDAID (1-800-433-3243).
An insurance premium deducted from the borrower's loan proceeds prior to disbursement and paid to the guaranty agency that insures the loan. By law the fee cannot exceed 3% of the loan amount.
Students must meet one of the following criteria in order to be considered an independent student if for the 2004-2005 year:
· You were born before Jan. 1, 1981.
· You are married.
· You're enrolled in a graduate or professional educational program.
· You have legal dependents other than a spouse.
· You're an orphan or ward of the court (or were a ward of the court until age 18).
· You're a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
If you claim to be an independent student, you may be asked to submit proof before you can receive any federal financial aid. If you have unusual circumstances that do not fit the above criteria and feel that you should be classified as an independent student, please schedule an appointment to talk with a Financial Aid Counselor.
The Institutional Student Information Report (ISIR) is the name for the electronic version of SARs delivered to schools by the FAFSA processors.
A fee charged for the use of borrowed money. Interest is calculated as a percentage of the principal loan amount. The rate may be constant throughout the life of the loan (fixed rate) or it may change at specified times (variable rate). As of Oct. 1, 1992, all federal education loans made to new borrowers have variable interest rates.
A process of reviewing a student's aid application to determine the amount of financial aid a student is eligible for. Completing a needs analysis form is the required first step in applying for most types of financial aid.
A borrower who has no outstanding (unpaid) loan balances on the date (s)he signs the promissory note for a specific educational loan. New borrowers may be subject to different regulations than borrowers who have existing loan balances.
A fee charged by the federal government and deducted from loan proceeds before disbursement to partially offset administrative costs of the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.
The amount borrowed. Interest is charged on this amount, and guaranty and origination fees will be deducted prior to disbursement.
The legal document borrowers sign when they get an education loan. It lists conditions under which the money is borrowed and the terms under which borrowers agree to repay the loan with interest. Borrowers should keep the borrower copy of their promissory notes until the loans are fully repaid.
Discloses the borrower's monthly payment, interest rate, total repayment obligation, due dates and length of time for repaying the loan.
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An organization established to purchase education loans from lenders. This allows lenders to replenish capital to fund new loans. Selling loans is a common practice among lenders and does not affect the terms and conditions under which the loan was originally made.
A form sent to the student after submitting the FAFSA to the federal processor. The SAR shows the information that was processed and indicates Pell Grant Eligibility.  For duplicate reports call (319) 337-5665
The amount of financial aid eligibility that is not provided by the OSFA.
A process of review to determine the accuracy of the information on a student's financial aid application. Students are selected by the Processing Agency of the Pell Grant Program. Mercer performs 100 percent verification of applicants.
A need-based loan on which the interest is paid by the federal government during the in-school, grace, and deferment periods.
A non need-based loan on which interest is not paid by the federal government. Borrowers are responsible for interest on all unsubsidized loans from the date the loan is disbursed.