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What does it really mean?

While we always do our best to speak in plain English, there are some terms you are bound to run across as you navigate the financial aid application process. Here are some simple definitions to help you:

CSS Profile: College Scholarship Service Profile. RWU requires this form, which helps the University determine your need for financial aid.

Direct Loan: A low interest (6.8%) loan taken directly from the government. See subsidized/unsubsidized Stafford Loans below.

EFC: Expected Family Contribution. This is the amount the federal government estimates that your family can contribute toward your student’s education. Don’t be afraid of this number—it’s not necessarily cash out of pocket. Financing is available!

FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the application for federal financial assistance for your college tuition.

Grant: A sum of money provided by a government, local authority or public fund to finance educational study that does not have to be repaid. Your state may also offer grants and/or scholarships for residents pursuing higher education.

Merit-based aid: Financial aid awarded solely on a student’s academic achievements, regardless of need. This usually comes in the form of scholarships, which are included in your acceptance packet.

Need-based aid: Financial aid awarded based on the financial need of the student. Need-based aid comes in many forms which may include governmental grants; institutional grants from the University; a work-study arrangement; or loans, repayable at the end of your child’s college career.

Direct Parent Plus Loan: A Federal PLUS Loan allows eligible parents to borrow the total cost of undergraduate education including tuition, room and board, and any other eligible school expenses, minus any aid the child is receiving in their name; at 7.9% interest.

Pell Grant: A government grant for low-income students that does not have to be repaid. The amount varies by year and by need, with the maximum amount for the 2012-2013 academic year being $5,550.

Perkins Loan: A low-interest (5%) loan for students with exceptional need. The loan is government funded, but comes directly through the University. A maximum of $4,000 may be borrowed each year.

ROI: Return on investment; in terms of education—you want to know that your student will get a good education and be ready for a career upon graduation.

Scholarships: Financial aid grants that come from a variety of public and private sources, awarded based on specific criteria, anything from academic achievement to hometown. Scholarships, unlike some other forms of financial aid, do not have to be paid back.

Sticker Price: This is the published cost of attending a college or university, BEFORE any financial aid or scholarships are applied. At RWU very few students actually pay sticker price.

Direct Subsidized Loan: A federal loan awarded based on financial need. While a student is enrolled at least ½ time, they will not be charged interest before they began repayment or during periods of deferment.

Direct Unsubsidized Loan: A federal load that is awarded without regard to financial need. Any eligible student can take out unsubsidized Stafford Loans. Interest is charged from the time the loan is disbursed to the time the loan is repaid in full.

Work Study Employment: Federal Work Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The school pays the student directly for the hours worked.