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Glossary

Use these definitions to help you understand terms and concepts related to financial aid and scholarships.

General terms

  • Academic Progress: To continue receiving financial aid each year, you must pass a minimum percentage of units each semester with a minimum GPA.  Read more about the satisfactory academic progress requirements.
  • Academic Year: A 9-month period made up of the fall and spring semesters.
  • Adverse Credit History: Adverse credit history is a poor track record of repayment on one or more loans or credit cards as detailed in a credit check. To qualify for a Parent PLUS or Grad PLUS Loan, a borrower cannot have an adverse credit history.
  • AidLink: SDSU's secure, web-based, self-service system that enables you to monitor the status of your financial aid and SDSU scholarship applications.  An AidLink account is created for you automatically once you complete the FAFSA or apply for an SDSU scholarship.
  • Alternative Loan:  Alternative,  private loans are credit-based consumer loans offered by external financial institutions (banks, credit unions, financial services companies, etc.) that must be certified by SDSU.  They can be more expensive to repay than federal loans, so you should carefully compare different loan products before borrowing.
  • Capitalization: Unpaid interest added to the loan principal, which increases the principal amount of the loan and its total cost.
  • Census: The date on which the university determines a student's enrollment for the semester. The census date is usually 1 week after the semester deadline for adding/dropping a course.
  • Cost of Attendance (COA): Cost of Attendance (COA) is the estimated cost to attend SDSU during the 9-month academic year. While your individual costs may vary, the COA reflects a modest, adequate living allowance. Your individual circumstances, discretionary expenses, or spending styles may not be the same as the standard COA. 
  • CSAC: The California Student Aid Commission is a California state agency that is responsible for awarding the Cal Grant, the Middle Class Scholarship, and the Chafee Grant.
  • Direct Deposit: (eRefund) is the only way to receive financial aid and scholarship funds that are available to you after your awarded funds have paid university charges of basic tuition and fees, out-of-state tuition and on-campus housing.  Sign up online through Student Account Services.
  • Disbursement: The use of financial aid and scholarship funds to pay outstanding university charges and/or the direct deposit of financial aid to your designated bank account. Usually, you receive one disbursement each semester. 
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The EFC is not an actual amount that you pay to the university; it is how much the U.S. Department of Education calculates from the information provided on your FAFSA that you and your family are expected to contribute throughout the academic year to help pay for your educational expenses.
  • FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid should be completed by students of all class levels to be considered for all types of state and federal aid: grants, work study, student and parent loans and some scholarships.
  • FSA ID: An FSA ID gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature. If you have to provide parent information on the FAFSA, your parent should also get an FSA ID.
  • Full-Time Enrollment: A minimum of 12 units for undergraduate and teaching credential students; a minimum of 9 units for graduate students.
  • Grade Point Average (GPA): The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships uses your cumulative GPA as calculated by the Office of the Registrar to determine your eligibility for certain forms of aid.
  • Grant: Financial aid, often based on financial need, that does not need to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school).
  • Half-Time Enrollment: A minimum of 6 units for undergraduate and teaching credential students; a minimum of 5 units for graduate students. 
  • Less Than Half-Time Enrollment: Fewer than 6 units for undergraduate and teaching credential students; fewer than 5 units for graduate students.
  • Net Price / Net Price Calculator: Net price is the net cost to you of attending SDSU. It is the approximate cost you and your family should expect to pay from your own funds. The Net Price Calculator will help you determine this cost.
  • NSLDS: National Student Loan Data System is a centralized database which stores information on federal grants and loans you've received. You can access NSLDS using your FSA ID.
  • Outside Resource: Any type of financial assistance or reimbursement that you receive from a donor outside of the university or from another university department. Outside scholarships, prepaid tuition plans, a stipend, internship or traineeship payments are examples of outside resources.
  • Private Loan: See Alternative Loans, above.
  • Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP): To continue receiving financial aid each year, you must pass a minimum percentage of units each semester with a minimum GPA and earn your degree or credential in a specified time.
  • Scholarship: Free money awarded to you based on academic merit (ability, skill or high grades) and/or financial need.
  • SDSU Scholarship: SDSU scholarships are made possible by contributions from generous donors to recognize and support student achievement. They are administered by various departments on campus and the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG): A federal grant program for undergraduates with exceptional financial need. You are considered automatically by completing the FAFSA.
  • Verification: The process used to document or verify that the data you reported on your FAFSA is accurate. Through your AidLink record, we will contact you for documentation that supports income and other information you reported.
  • Work Study: A federally funded work program that allows you to work part time, usually on campus.

Loan glossary

  • Accrue: The amount of interest that accumulates over time.
  • Activation, Loan:  The process you complete to request your student loan.  You activate (request) the loan by following the instructions online through your AidLink account.  You may activate any amount, up to your maximum eligibility for the year.
  • Adverse Credit History: Adverse credit history is a poor track record of repayment on one or more loans or credit cards as detailed in a credit check. To qualify for a Parent PLUS or Grad PLUS Loan, a borrower cannot have an adverse credit history.
  • Capitalization: Unpaid interest added to the loan principal, which increases the principal amount of the loan and its total cost.
  • Consolidation: The process of combining several loans with multiple payments into a single new loan with one payment.
  • Default: Failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to in the promissory note. You may experience serious legal consequences if you default.
  • Deferment: A postponement of payment on a loan that is allowed under certain conditions.
    • For subsidized federal loans, interest does not accrue during deferment.
    • For unsubsidized loans, interest will continue to accrue during deferment. Any unpaid interest that accrues during the deferment period may be added to the principal balance (capitalized) of the loan.
  • Direct Loan: A federal loan borrowed directly from the U. S. Department of Education. Subsidized Direct Loan, Unsubsidized Direct Loan, Grad PLUS Loan, and Parent PLUS Loan are types of Direct Loans.
  • Endorser: Someone who does not have an adverse credit history and agrees to repay the loan if the borrower does not repay it. Sometimes used by borrowers to obtain a Grad PLUS Loan or Parent PLUS Loan. Also, an endorser may be needed when applying for an Alternative or Private Loan.
  • Grace period: A 6-month period before the first principal payment must be made on a subsidized or unsubsidized loan. The grace period begins the day after the student ceases to be enrolled at least half time.
  • Grad PLUS Loan: A federal loan borrowed directly from the U. S. Department of Education. The graduate borrower is responsible for paying the interest while enrolled in school and during repayment.
  • Interest: The expense of borrowing money that is calculated as a percentage of the amount borrowed.
  • Loan: An amount of money that you borrow and repay at a later date, usually with interest.
  • Loan Activation: The process you complete to request your student loan. You activate (request) the loan by following the instructions online through your AidLink account.  You may activate any amount, up to your maximum eligibility for the year.
  • Loan Entrance Counseling: A counseling session that all first-time student loan borrowers must complete before receiving a loan required by federal regulation. You can complete this requirement online following the instructions in your AidLink account.
  • Loan Exit Counseling: A counseling session that you must complete before beginning student loan repayments after you graduate or are no longer enrolled at least half time. Exit counseling is required by federal regulation.
  • Loan fee: A processing fee charged by the U.S. Department of Education when borrowing a loan; it is deducted from the loan amount thus reducing the amount of funds received at each disbursement.
  • Loan Proration: If you are a senior and attend only one semester out of the year before graduating, the amount you may borrow must be prorated (reduced) under federal regulations based on the number of units for which you are enrolled.
  • Master Promissory Note (MPN) - Student: A legal agreement you sign the first time you borrow through the Direct Loan program. It is your promise to repay all of the loan funds you may receive throughout your education.  In most cases, you sign the MPN only once as it is good for 10 years. The MPN states the terms and conditions of the loan, including repayment, interest rate, deferment policy and cancellations.
  • Master Promissory Note (MPN) - Parent: A legal agreement the parent borrower signs agreeing to repay all of the loan funds received. The MPN can be used to make one or more loans for one or more academic years, up to 10 years. Usually, a parent borrower will sign one MPN per child.  The MPN states the terms and conditions of the loan, including repayment, interest rate, and deferment policy.
  • Parent PLUS Loan: A federal loan borrowed directly from the U.S. Department of Education. The qualifying parent borrower is responsible for paying the interest while the student is enrolled in school and during repayment.
  • Principal: The original amount of the loan.
  • Principal balance: The amount owed on a loan at any given time. Capitalized interest may be included.
  • Repayment: The period during which a borrower is obligated to make payment on his or her loan(s).
  • Subsidized: A loan the federal government subsidizes by paying the interest while you are enrolled in school.
  • Unsubsidized: A loan that accrues interest that you have to pay, even while you're enrolled in school.