Glossary of Financial Aid Terms
There are many terms used throughout this website — as well as the world of financial aid — that may be unfamiliar to you. Below are commonly found terms and definitions to help you understand the financial aid process better.
The Federal Student Aid Glossary is another useful tool.
Academic Year – The academic year runs from September to September for quarter-based programs and August to August for semester-based programs.
Full-time students must complete a minimum of 2 semesters or 3 quarters with 12 credits in each term. For students participating in co-operative education programs, a 3-month co-op assignment is considered equal to a quarter with 12 credits of academic instruction.
Award Letter – If you submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will receive several separate award notifications. The first will be a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the federal government's Pell Grant Program. The SAR is very important because it is your proof that the federal government processed your FAFSA. In addition, it tells you which colleges are going to receive your information. The second will be a letter from Drexel stating the types of financial aid and explaining the types and amounts of Drexel University and federal funds you may receive.
If you are a Pennsylvania resident and have submitted the FAFSA, you will receive a letter from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) stating your eligibility for a Pennsylvania state grant. Be sure to check that Drexel University is listed as the first school on your SAR. Do not forward this letter to the Financial Aid Office; keep it for your own records. PHEAA will also send a copy of your award letter to the Drexel University Financial Aid Office.
If you are not a resident of Pennsylvania and you apply for state aid through your state agency, you will receive separate notification from that agency. You will receive notification of loan approval amounts and disbursement dates for the loan checks from the lending agency for the Federal Stafford Loan.
Entrance and Exit Interviews – Federal regulations require all student borrowers to complete entrance and exit loan counseling. The purpose of the interviews is to explain your rights and responsibilities of borrowing and to remind you of the importance of repaying the funds that have been borrowed.
Expected Family Contribution – Your expected family contribution (EFC) is the number that's used to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid. This number results from the financial information you provided in your FAFSA application. Your EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR).
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – To help you, the U.S. Department of Education offers a variety of student financial aid programs. But before filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the Web, you should be aware of the following criteria:
- Students who are not U.S. citizens are subject to different regulations which may require supporting documentation depending upon financial aid sought. You will be contacted if this applies to you. U.S. citizens may also be required to document their citizenship status.
- To be eligible for aid from federal and state government sources, students must be classified either as U.S. citizens or as eligible noncitizens. Students are considered to be eligible for financial aid if one of the following conditions apply:
- U.S. permanent resident with an Alien Registration Receipt Card ("green card"), I-151 or I-551.
- Conditional permanent resident (I-151C).
- Other eligible noncitizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I94) from the U.S.
- Immigration and Naturalization Service showing any one of the following designations: (a) "Refugee," (b) "Indefinite Parole," (c) "Humanitarian Parole," (d) "Asylum Granted," or (e) "Cuban-Haitian Entrant."
- In order to be eligible for financial aid, you must have a valid Social Security number. A computer match will be performed between the Social Security number on your financial aid application and the number on file with the Social Security Administration. To allow for timely processing of your financial aid application, copy your Social Security number and your name onto your application exactly as they appear on your Social Security card. Financial aid applicants who have legally changed their names, through marriage or by court order, must have their cards updated with the Social Security Administration. These steps are strongly recommended to avoid unnecessary delays.
- Some families may experience a significant change in their financial situation between the calendar year (used in calculating need) due to divorce, death of a wage earner, loss of a job, or loss of benefits. In such cases, the student's eligibility for financial aid can be reevaluated based on the family's current financial situation. To request a reevaluation, contact the Drexel University Financial Aid Office at 215-895-2537.
FM (Federal Methodology) – This tool, established by government statute, is used to calculate a student's eligibility for financial aid assistance, including Pell Grants, direct loan programs, state aid programs, and some institutional and private aid programs. FM measures the need of applicants with two basic considerations in mind: the expenses related to the total cost of education and a student's resources, including both parent and student financial situations. Most aid is determined by need. Financial need is the difference between educational cost and total family contribution.
Educational Expense Budget – Family Contribution = Financial Need
The cost of education to attend Drexel University is the sum of tuition, fees, books and supplies, transportation, personal expenses, and room and board for dormitory students.
Grants – Grants and scholarships are types of gift aid that do not have to be repaid. They may take the form of University scholarships, federal or state grants, or outside scholarships.
Independent Student – An independent student is one of the following: at least 24 years old, married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran, a member of the armed forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, or someone with legal dependents other than a spouse.
Loans – All loans must be repaid. Therefore, when deciding whether to borrow, you should examine your need for assistance and your future ability to repay. Unlike consumer loans, student loans have longer terms of repayment and in most cases are not repayable until you leave school. Interest rates vary from program to program but are usually lower than rates on loans made to the general public. The precise terms of the loans are contained in the promissory notes that borrowers must sign. The descriptions given here are summaries of terms available at the time of printing and are subject to change.
Promissory Note – Several weeks after receiving your financial aid award letter from Drexel, if eligible for a loan, a letter instructing how to complete the Master Promissory Note (MPN) for new borrowers or a Stafford Loan or loan application for Stafford Loan will be mailed to you. Follow the instructions in the letter and complete the few remaining items and return the MPN and PLUS to the address provided on the form (please do not send any forms to Drexel University). The school section will already be completed. Keep the "borrower copy" for your records. A signed MPN is required only once and remains valid for up to 10 years. The Stafford Loan is thus renewed automatically for eligible returning students, and will be confirmed each year by a Statement of Disclosure sent to you from your lender. You must, however, first submit a FAFSA each year.
SAR (Student Aid Report) – Received after the FAFSA is filed, the SAR may include important information about the status of your application including missing information and/or missing signature that must be completed.
Scholarships – Scholarships and grants are types of gift aid that do not have to be repaid. They may take the form of University scholarships, federal or state grants, or outside scholarships.
Work-Study Program – The Federal College Work-Study program at Drexel is designed to promote the part-time employment of college students who have demonstrated financial need and who require the wages from employment to pursue their educational objectives.
Verification – Verification is a process required by the federal government to verify the data submitted on the FAFSA for a percentage of financial aid applicants. If you are selected for verification you will receive a letter from Drexel with a verification form and instructions to return appropriate tax returns. Please do NOT submit any information until Drexel requests it. Financial Aid will not be disbursed to your account until the verification process is complete.