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Managing Your Finances Glossary

Find definitions of terms and language related to managing your finances.

No matter where you go to school, financial aid can be confusing if you don’t have the proper resources. At University of Maryland Global Campus, you can become financially savvy by learning these helpful terms.


Cost of Attendance (COA): The estimated cost of attending an institution for one academic year. This amount includes the following:

  • Expected charges for one year of tuition and fees
    • Tuition—charges assessed for classes
    • Fees—charges assessed for other college services
  • Room and board for resident students
  • Estimated living expenses—allowance for rent, utilities, and food for off-campus living
  • Estimated transportation costs
  • Estimated costs for books and supplies
  • Miscellaneous costs

Direct Costs: Expenses the student and/or family pays to the college or university.

Enrollment Level: Level of the degree-granting program in which a student is enrolled. Basic levels of enrollment include undergraduate (students seeking an associate's degree, certificate, or bachelor's degree); postbaccalaureate (students seeking teacher certification); graduate (students working on a master's degree or professional degree); and postgraduate (for example, students enrolled in a doctoral program). The amounts and types of financial aid a student is eligible for is determined, in part, by their enrollment level.

Enrollment Status: Academic workload (or course load), as defined by the institution, that a student is carrying for a defined academic period. This normally relates to the number of credits taken by a student during a given academic period. For most traditional undergraduate term-based schools:

  • Full-time status = At least 12 credits
  • Three-quarter time status = At least 9 to 11 credits
  • Half-time status = At least 6 to 8 credits

Expected Family Contribution: A measure of how much the student and/or family can be expected to contribute to the cost of the student's education for the year. The EFC is calculated according to a formula specified by the U.S. Department of Education and is based upon the information provided by the student and/or family during the Free Application for Federal Student Aid filing process.

Federal Pell Grant: A grant provided by the federal government to qualified undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need and have an Expected Family Contribution below a threshold designated annually by the U.S. Department of Education, based on the amount of program funds appropriated by Congress.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: A grant provided by the federal government to qualified undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Priority is given to Pell Grant recipients and funds must be awarded by the school in lowest EFC order.

Gift Aid: Funds awarded to the student that do not have to be repaid, unless the student fails to meet certain terms, such as a service requirement, specified as a condition of the grant. Gift aid includes awards with titles such as grants, scholarships, remissions, waivers, etc. Gift aid can be awarded based upon many factors, including (but not limited to) financial need, academic excellence, athletic, musical, and theatrical talent, affiliation with various groups, or career aspirations.

Grant: Gift aid awarded to the student that does not need to be repaid. Grants are typically based on financial need.

Indirect Costs: Expenses incurred as a result of attendance that the student/family may pay to a third party (merchant, landlord, etc.) other than the college.

Net Cost: Amount of direct and indirect costs remaining after all gift aid (scholarship and grant) is subtracted.

Out-of-Pocket Cost: Difference between the cost of attendance and all gift aid. Out-of-pocket cost can be covered through a variety of sources, including savings, income, and educational loans

Scholarship: Gift aid awarded to the student that does not need to be repaid. Scholarship awards are typically based on merit or a combination of merit and need, such as academic excellence, talent, affiliation with various groups, or career aspirations.

Self-Help: Financial aid in the form of loans or student employment. Loans are used to help pay the remaining net costs after gift aid is deducted. Student employment earnings (including work-study awards) are generally not deducted from billed costs but can be used to help cover indirect costs and are paid in the form of wages to the student.

Student Loan: Funds awarded to the student that must eventually be paid back to the lender by the student

  • Federal Direct Student Loan: Loan funds provided to the student by the U.S. Department of Education through the school. Repayment of principal begins six months after the borrower ceases to be a student on at least a half-time basis. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the annual application. There are two types of Federal Direct Student Loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. Students with financial need can qualify for a subsidized loan and the government pays the interest on the loan while the student remains enrolled at least half time. Students who don't demonstrate financial need qualify for an unsubsidized loan and interest accrues while the student is in school.
  • Federal Perkins Loan: A low-interest loan for educational expenses provided by the federal government for qualified individuals with exceptional financial need as defined by the institution. The Federal Perkins Loan needs to be repaid with interest once the student is no longer enrolled at least half-time.

    Note: Under Federal law, the authority for institutions to make new Federal Perkins Loans ended on September 30, 2017. Therefore, UMGC students can no longer receive Perkins Loans. Learn more on the Federal Student Aid website.

  • Federal Grad PLUS Loan: Loan funds provided to graduate students by the U.S. Department of Education through the school. This federal loan program allows graduate students with no adverse credit history to apply for up to their Cost of Attendance each year, less any financial aid. To be eligible, the student must be enrolled at least half time in an eligible program of study and first borrow the maximum allowable through the Federal Direct Student Loan program. Repayment of principal and interest begins 30 to 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed with deferment and forbearance options available.
  • Private (Alternative) Loan: A loan from a commercial, state-affiliated, or institutional lender used to pay for up to the annual cost of education, minus any financial aid received. Private loans usually require the applicant to be creditworthy or have a cosigner and have varying interest rates, fees, and repayment options. Repayment of interest (and often principal) generally begins immediately, with some lenders offering deferment options for in-school periods.
  • Federal Parent Loan (PLUS): A federal loan program that allows parents who have no adverse credit history to apply for up to the Cost of Attendance each year, less any financial aid. PLUS loans must be repaid with interest.

Verification: Process to confirm the accuracy of data provided by the applicant on the FAFSA. In order to complete the verification process, students are required to provide certain documents to the school for review.

Budgeting for College

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