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Financial Aid Dictionary

Towson speakers

Here is a list of commonly used terms used when referring to financial aid.

  • Academic Probation: If a student's Grade Point Average (GPA) falls below a certain level (typically a 2.0), the university may place them on academic probation. Being on academic probation will put a student at risk of losing financial aid and being academically dismissed from the university.
  • Credit Hours/Units: Credits are awarded to students for completing certain classes, special tests, or activities. The cost of tuition is also based on the number of credit students are taking in a semester. Students must complete at least 120 college credits to earn a Bachelors Degree.
  • FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form is required for any student who wants to be considered for federal aid of any kind. 
  • Fees: Costs that are charged to all students to help cover some student services and campus amenities provided by the university.
  • Financial Aid: Resources used to pay for college including loans, scholarships, grants, and work awards.
  • Grants: Money used to help pay college costs, to fund special research projects, or to fund special programs.  Grants do not have to be paid back.
  • Loan: Money borrowed from the government or a bank to pay for fee associated with attending college. Most loans require repayment when a student stops attending college.
  • Room and Board: The cost of living in on campus housing (room) and having a meal plan for the university's dining hall.
  • Scholarship: Money given to students from a school, company, or organization to pay for college. Scholarships do not have to be paid back.
  • Semester: Typically 16 weeks in which students completes classes. Semesters run in Fall (late August to December), Spring (January to May), and Summer (late May to August).
  • Student Status: is determined by the number of credits a student takes during a given time. A full-time student typically takes 12 credits or more and a part-time student takes less than 12 credits.  Typically students who are full-time are eligible to receive financial aid
  • Tuition: The cost of classes. Some schools charge tuition based on how many credit units students are taking, while others charge a base rate per semester as long as students stay within a certain range of units.
  • Work Award: Another name for work study.
  • Work Study: A form of financial aid that allows students to earn money from a on campus job that will be used to pay a portion of their tuition and fees.
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