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Financial Aid Terminology


Award Notification

Notification of a students financial aid eligibility is posted to the secure Financial Aid Student Toolkit (login through Blackboard).  

Academic Course Load

Undergraduate students should be registered for an average of 15 credit hours per term in order to graduate in four years.  Twelve (12) credits per term is considered the minimum full-time for any awards requiring full-time enrollment.

Budget/Cost of Attendance (COA)

Each institution must establish a budget that will be used to award student aid. Florida State University has budgets based on certain categories: In-State Undergraduate students, Out-of-State Undergraduate students, Commuter Undergraduate students, In-State Graduate students, Out-of-State Graduate students, Commuter Graduate students, In-State Law students, Out-of-State Law students and Medical Students. The budget (or Cost of Attendance) includes estimated costs for tuition (based on 15 credits per term), housing, food, books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses (laundry, toothpaste, clothing, etc.). A student’s actual expenses will vary, depending on the number of credits he/she enrolls for and the individual’s living expenses.


Default is failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to when you signed a promissory note. Default also may result from failure to submit requests for deferment or cancellation on time. The consequences of default are severe (i.e. garnishing of wages, bad credit, garnishing of tax refunds, etc.).


  • Tuition deferment: An extension of time to pay tuition due to the university. This must be granted by the university before the initial tuition deadline each term. Students must verify that tuition is paid or deferred by the tuition deadline. Failure to pay or defer tuition will result in a $100 late fee and possible cancellation of registration.
  • Loan Deferment A period of time during which a borrower who meets certain criteria may suspend loan payments.


Disbursement is the application of funds to the student's account. If funds are remaining after university charges are paid, then the student will have a disbursement to them, by either electronic funds transfer to the FSU Card/SunTrust Account, or through a check in the mail (per their designation on the Disbursement Authorization Statement).

Eligible non-citizen

Per federal guidelines, eligible non-citizens include:

  • U.S. nationals
  • U.S. permanent residents who hold either a I-151, I-551 or I 551 C card
  • or holders of I-94 forms with a notation of Refugee/ Asylum Granted/ Cuban-Haitian Entrant, Status Pending or conditional Entrant (if issued before April 1, 1980), or Parolee (if paroled for at least 1 year, with evidence provided to USCIS that residence is for other than temporary purpose). 

Note: The following statuses are ineligible for aid:

  • F, G, or J series visa holders
  • I-171 or I-464 holders

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

When a FAFSA is filed with the federal government, the federal processor uses a formula set up by federal regulation to determine an "Expected Family Contribution (EFC for short)". This is (in theory) the amount students and their families are expected to pay toward school expenses. The federal formula that takes into account many factors, including number of people in the family, number in college, state of residency (some states have a state tax or sales tax), and the age of the older parent. The EFC, per federal rules, is used in calculating the student's eligibility for aid, even if the family/parents cannot or will not contribute to the student's education. While costs at different schools will be different, the Expected Family Contribution will stay the same.

Federal Work-Study

Federal work study is a need-based work program, which allows the student to earn money while enrolled in school. This program is limited in funding and students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA early each year (as soon as possible after January 1) to be considered. 

Financial Need 

The difference between the Cost of Attendance (COA) at a college and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

This is the federal application that must be completed for consideration for federal, state and university grants, work-study and loans (including the Federal Stafford and Federal Loan for Parents -PLUS). The FAFSA data is used to determine a student’s need for need-based aid and EFC.

Loan Entrance Counseling 

Per Federal requirement, students are required to complete a loan counseling session before they receive their first loan disbursement to advise them of their rights and responsibilities as a borrower.  This requirement can be completed at www.studentloans.gov

Loan Exit Counseling

Per Federal requirement, students who have received a federal educational loan must complete Loan Exit Counseling upon graduation or termination of enrollment. FSU provides this session online through FSU Studentsfirst/FSYou!

Merit-based Financial Aid 

Aid awarded based on accomplishments, such as academic or athletic performance.

Need-based Financial Aid 

Aid awarded based on a student’s or family’s financial status.

Master Promissory Note (MPN)

This is the binding legal document you sign when you get a student loan. It lists the conditions under which you are borrowing and the terms under which you agree to pay back the loan. It will include information about your interest rate and about deferment and cancellation provisions. It is very important to read and save this document because you will need to refer to it later when you begin repaying your loan. The Master Promissory Note serves as a one-time promissory note for all of your loans at FSU, as long as they fall under certain conditions. Contact our office or your lender for any questions on the Master Promissory Note.

National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)

The National Student Loan database is a federal website that collects information on individual student loans. By using your Federal PIN, you can get information on federal loan or grant amounts, outstanding balances, status of loans, and disbursement. Note: NSLDS is not a real-time database. Agencies update NSLDS on a monthly schedule so the data shown may not reflect recent changes.

Satisfactory Academic Progress 

Per federal requirements, schools must establish minimum criteria that students must meet to show adequate academic progress to continue eligibility for aid. Click here for FSU’s Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements. [link to sat progress page]

Selected for Verification

A certain percentage of students who complete the FAFSA form will be selected by the federal processor for verification. The school will then request required documentation to verify the data reported on the FAFSA form. This may include data from federal income tax returns, verification worksheets and other documents. Notification of required information is posted to the student’s secure Financial Aid Toolkit for the 2012-2013 year (login through View your Status), or, for the 2013-2014 academic year onward, the To-Do list on Student Self Service available through my.FSU.edu

Student Aid Report (SAR)

Upon completion of your FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). If you complete the online application, this summary will be provided to you online. If you complete the paper application, this form will be mailed to you. It is important to review the information submitted and read all comments noted by the federal processor as additional information is sometimes required to complete processing. 

Verification Worksheet

A form sent by the school to students who are selected for verification upon completion of the FAFSA data. 


To officially withdraw from Florida State University you must contact the Withdrawal Office, A4300 University Center (580-644-1741). All courses attempted, including withdrawals, will be considered for Satisfactory Progress.


Updated: March 24, 2013