The universal language of the university can be, at times, confusing. We have put together a dictionary that defines everything from the FASFA to credit hours and more, so you can get your answers quickly. 




A.A. – Associate of Arts.

Accreditation – An endorsement given to educational institutions or academic degree programs by an organization that reviews qualifications.

ACT – A test required or accepted at all public and many private universities in Ohio. The ACT Assessment includes four sections — English, math, reading and science reasoning. Scores are used in college admissions, awarding scholarships and class placement, including honors programs.

Admission GPA – The GPA as re-calculated by the institution you are applying to; the GPA that the admission decision is based on.

Advanced Placement (AP) Program – A program that lets high school students study college-level subjects and receive advanced placement and/or credit upon entering college.

Alternative Loan – A loan other than a federal student loan that is used to pay for college expenses not covered by a student’s financial aid package.

Associate degree – Up to a three-year program in applied science (A.A.S.) or applied technology (A.A.T.) in technology majors meant to lead directly to a job. Typically, courses do not transfer to a four-year degree. Or, up to a three-year program of Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Science (A.S.) in programs that can transfer to four-year colleges and lead to a bachelor’s degree.

A.S. – Associate of Science.

Audit – To attend a class without receiving credit for the class.


Bachelor’s degree – A program lasting four to five years, including general education, a major and electives, leading to degrees such as a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in the humanities and arts or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in the natural sciences or professional/technical fields.

Borrower – A person legally responsible for repaying a loan and who has signed a promissory note.


CLEP – the College-level Examination Program (CLEP) offers tests for subjects often taken during the first two college years. Many colleges use CLEP scores to award college credit. Some private industries, businesses and other groups use CLEP scores to satisfy requirements for licensing, advancement and admissions to training programs.

Commuter Students – Students who live off-campus instead of in a college dormitory or other campus housing.

Consolidation – The combination of several types of federal education loans into one new loan that can simplify repayment.

Conversion Scholarship/Loan – Either a scholarship or loan that requires the recipient to provide certain services for prescribed periods or pay back the funds received with interest.

Credit-by-examination – A process in which students can earn credit for college-level knowledge by passing a test. The College-level Examination Program and the Advanced Placement Program allow students to earn college credit in this way.

Credit hour or clock hour – A unit of measurement for a school’s educational program. A class meeting for an hour on three days a week typically counts for 3 credit hours. Most community colleges, four-year colleges and universities use credit hours. Many private proprietary schools use clock hours.

CRN – Course registration number.


Degree – A certificate of completion of a course of study.

Degree Plan – A specific list of required courses and electives to be completed for a degree.

Diploma – A program lasting up to two years in a vocational or technical area to prepare for a job. This diploma is not the same as your high school graduation diploma.

Direct Loans – Loans made by the U.S. Department of Education. Students and parents can receive Direct Loans only if the school participates in the Direct Loan Program.

Doctoral degree – The most advanced degree that can be earned.

Dual credit – Courses that count for both high school and college credit. They can save time and money in pursuing a college degree.


Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – What the federal government formula says your family should be able to pay toward yearly college costs. The EFC amount is based on financial aid information submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid about your family’s income and assets.

Experiential Credit Transfer – A process whereby students can receive credit for learning that has occurred in a nonstandard or nontraditional environment. Not all institutions grant transfer credit for experiential credit.


FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP ) – The term for the federal loan program of Federal Stafford Loans provided by The Student Loan People and other lenders and insured by state agencies.

Fees – Course-related costs to attend college.

Financial Aid – Money that can come from state and federal governments, schools, private organizations, associations and companies to help pay the costs of a college education or technical training.

Financial Aid Package – The total financial aid award received by a student. It may consist of several types of aid, including grants, scholarships, loans, work-study and other aid. The student’s financial need, availability of funds, school aid policies and the number of students who need financial assistance all influence the financial aid package.

Financial Need – The amount of higher education expenses that a student’s expected family contribution (EFC) falls short of paying. Financial need equals the cost of education minus the EFC.

FLASH card – Kent State University ID.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA ) – The need analysis form which must be completed by all students applying for federal and state student aid.

Free electives – The elective requirement can be filled by taking any course desired.

Freshman – A student who has completed less than 30 hours of college credit.

Full Time – Twelve (12) or more credit hours per semester for undergraduate students.


GPA – Grade point average; the average of your class grades, generally based on a 4.0 scale.

Graduate student - A student who has earned a bachelor’s degree and is working toward a master’s, doctoral or professional degree.

Grant - A financial aid award, usually based on financial need, to help pay the cost of higher education. A grant generally does not have to be repaid.

Guarantor - A state or nonprofit private agency that administers the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) in each state.


Half Time - Six (6) credit hours per semester for undergraduate students.


Institutional Aid - Various types of student financial assistance administered by the school.

Interest - A charge for a loan, usually a percentage of the amount borrowed.

Internship - A job in a student’s field of study; may be required in some academic programs and may include salary and college credit.


Junior - A student who has completed 60 to 89 college credit hours.


Lender - The organization (can be a school, bank, credit union, other financial institution or the U.S. Department of Education) that makes a loan.

Loan - Money borrowed to help pay for college costs. Loans must be repaid with interest.

Loan Forgivement - When the balance of a loan is no longer due, and is without negative impact on the borrower.


Major - The primary field of study chosen by a college student.

Minor - The secondary field of study chosen by a college student.

Master’s degree - A graduate degree that usually requires two or more years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree.


Need Analysis - A process used to determine how much students and their families can reasonably be expected to pay toward college expenses. Need analysis formulas are updated each year by the federal government and other organizations to reflect changes in the economy.

Nonresident - Any student who lives out of state or does not meet specific state residency requirements.


Perkins Loans - Low-interest loans made under the Federal Perkins Loan Program to undergraduate and graduate students through your school. You repay the school or the agent the school hires to service the loan. These loans are made based on financial need.

PLUS Loans - Loans made to parents to help pay college expenses.

Post-secondary - A term that means “after high school.” Post-secondary education can be received through study at a college, university, community college, technical college or trade school, on or off campus.

Prerequisite - A course that must be taken prior to enrollment in another course.

Principal - The total sum of money borrowed. Loan principal includes the original amount borrowed plus any interest that has been added to the loan.

Private University - A non-state-assisted college or university that relies on private funding, tuition and fees.

Promissory Note - A binding legal contract between a loan holder and a borrower. The promissory note contains the loan terms and conditions, including how and when the loan must be repaid. By signing, the borrower agrees to repay the loan.

Public Institutions - Post-secondary institutions that are supported in part by state funds.


Registration - Enrollment in classes.

Repayment Schedule - A statement the loan holder gives the borrower showing the amount borrowed, the monthly payment amount and the date payments are due.

Resident - A student who meets state residency requirements.

Restricted Electives - Courses or choices among a specified list of courses.

Rolling Admission - Policy in which a school sends out acceptance letters to students as they are accepted.


SAT I: Reasoning Test - A three-hour test typically taken as a junior or senior. The multiple-choice questions are divided into math and verbal sections. It is scored up to 800 for each section. Scores are used for admissions purposes and in awarding scholarships.

SAT II : Subject Tests - One-hour tests given in specific subjects such as mathematics, science, English or foreign languages. More selective schools require two or three for freshman placement.

Scholarship - A financial aid award to help pay for college. It does not have to be repaid and is generally based on skill, ability, talent and/or achievement.

Semester Hour - See Credit hour.

Senior - A student who has completed 90 or more hours of college credit but has not received a bachelor’s degree.

Sophomore - A student who has completed 30 to 59 college credit hours.

Stafford Loans - Loans made to undergraduate and graduate students under the FFELP and Direct Loan program. Borrowers can receive FFEL or Direct Stafford Loans regardless of financial need. Interest rates vary but cannot exceed 8.25 percent.

Subsidized Loan - A federal student loan based on financial need and other requirements.


Transcript - An academic record that lists the courses taken, grades received and credits or credit hours received.

Tuition - The amount that schools charge for instruction and for the use of certain school facilities such as libraries.


Undergraduate Student - A college student who has not yet earned a degree.

Unsubsidized Loan - A federal student loan not based on financial need.


Waiver - An arrangement under which a school does not charge specific costs if a student meets certain qualifications.

Work-study - Employment that lets students earn money to help pay the costs of higher education.