Financial Aid Glossary

Financial aid has its own vocabulary. To help you speak the language, here are some commonly used terms.

Award Letter: Your award letter states the type and amount of financial aid that Milligan can provide if you accept admission and enroll to take classes.

Cost of Attendance (COA), also known as "budget": The total amount it will cost you to attend Milligan—usually expressed as a yearly figure. It's determined using rules established by law. The COA includes tuition and fees; on-campus room and board (or a housing and food allowance for approved off-campus students); and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and, if applicable, dependent care. It also includes miscellaneous and personal expenses, and may include a reasonable allowance for documented personal computer costs. Costs related to a disability are also covered. The COA includes reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs as well.

Demonstrated need: The difference between the cost of attending a college (tuition and room and board) and the Expected Family Contribution. A college that says it meets "full need" is referring to demonstrated need.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The EFC is a measure of your family's financial strength and indicates how much of your and your family's resources (for dependent students) should be available to help pay for your education. The EFC is calculated from the information you report on the FAFSA and is calculated based on a formula established by law. Your family's income (taxable and untaxed), assets and benefits (for example, unemployment or Social Security) are considered in determining your EFC. Your family size and the number of family members who will be attending a college or career school are also considered. Your EFC will appear on the Student Aid Report* (SAR) you receive after you file your FAFSA. The following formula is used to determine a student's financial need:

Cost of Attendance (COA)
– Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
= Demonstrated Financial Need

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): Form used to apply for Federal Pell Grants and all other need-based aid. As the name suggests, no fee is charged to file a FAFSA.

Financial Aid Package: The total amount of financial aid (federal and nonfederal) a student is offered by the college. It is intended to help you fill the gap between your ability to pay (EFC) and college costs (COA). It is based on your Financial Need (the difference between COA and EFC). Using available resources, the Student Financial Services Office will review and provide to each student the best possible aid package. Because funds are often limited, an aid package might fall short of a student's Financial Need. Also, the amount of federal student aid in a package is affected by other sources of aid received (scholarships, state aid, etc.).

Grants: Financial aid programs that do not have to be repaid. Eligibility determined by student’s financial need.

Institutional grant: A need-based grant given by the college you attend.

Loans: Low interest government-subsidized and unsubsidized loans to be repaid after student leaves school.

Merit scholarship: A scholarship most often given by the college you attend, which is awarded based on academic or other qualifications, not on financial need.

Net cost: The net cost is the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) and the financial aid package. The net cost figure tells you how much money you will need to obtain from your own resources and non-need-based loans to pay the tuition bill. It is a measure of your cash flow requirements and should roughly correspond to the expected family contribution (EFC). Milligan's Student Financial Services Office is glad to discuss the specific eligibility requirements for payment plans and non-need based loans (PLUS and Alternative) to assist you in meeting your expected family contribution.

Pell Grant: A need-based grant given by the federal government. You don't have to pay this back.

Satisfactory Academic Progress: To be eligible to receive federal student aid and most college aid, the student must meet and maintain the school's standards of satisfactory progress toward a degree.

Scholarships: Monetary recognition for full-time students with outstanding academic or personal ability who demonstrate academic promise and achievement.

Student Aid Report (SAR): Your Student Aid Report (SAR) summarizes all the information you provided on your FAFSA. Your SAR will contain your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), your financial need which is the basis used in determining your eligibility for federal student aid. Your EFC will appear in the upper right-hand portion of a paper or electronic SAR. Milligan uses the information from your SAR to determine if you're eligible for federal and other aid.

Verification: The federal government requires some students to verify the information reported on their FAFSA. Colleges are responsible for performing this verification and must do so before federal funds can be disbursed.

Work-Study Employment: On-campus jobs to give students an opportunity to earn money while in college. Most pay minimum wage.