Financial Aid



Academic Year

This is the amount of the academic work you must complete each year, and the time period in which you are expected to complete it, as defined by your school. For example, at TAMUK, the academic year is made up of a fall and spring semester, during which a full-time undergraduate student is expected to complete at least 24 semester hours (usually called credits or credit hours) over the course of 30 weeks of instructional time. Academic years change from school to school and even from educational program to educational program at the same school.

For purposes of the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, an academic year is defined as one complete school year at the same school, or two complete and consecutive half years at different schools, or two complete and consecutive half years from different school years (at either the same school or different schools). Half years exclude summer sessions and generally fall within a 12-month period. For schools that have a year-round program of instruction, nine months is considered an academic year.

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

Your or your family's wages, salaries, interest, dividends, etc., minus certain deductions from income as reported on a federal income tax return. Commonly referred to as AGI.

Award Amount

Amount of aid a school expects to pay a student based on the student’s current grant and loan eligibility, enrollment, Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and the school's cost of attendance. 

Award letter

An official document issued by the financial aid office describing a student’s full financial aid eligibility for the academic year. This letter includes the student and parent contributions, the cost of attendance, and the amounts and types of financial aid available to the student. Financial aid award letters may be revised at the discretion of the financial aid office based on changes in family circumstance or additional information.  Students will be notified of their award letter via the university official email account.

Award Year

School year for which financial aid is used to fund a student’s education. Generally, this is the 12-month period that begins on July 1 of one year and ends on June 30 of the following year.


The process of adding unpaid interest to the principal balance of an educational loan, thereby increasing the total amount to be repaid.

Census date

Marks the end of the add/drop period for the semester to establish the “official enrollment” of a student for reporting purposes and financial aid eligibility.

Citizen/Eligible Non-Citizen

You must be one of the following to receive federal student aid:

U.S. Citizen

U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swain's Island)
U.S. permanent resident with an I-151, I-551, or I-551C (Alien Registration Receipt Card)
If you're not in one of these categories, you must have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the U.S.

Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) showing one of the following designations: 

Asylum Granted
Indefinite Parole and/or Humanitarian Parole

Cuban-Haitian Entrant, Status Pending
Conditional Entrant (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980)
Other eligible non-citizen with a Temporary Resident Card (I-688)

You can also be eligible based on the Family Unity Status category, with approved I-797s (Voluntary Departure and Immigrant Petition), or if you have a suspension of deportation case pending before Congress. Permanent residents of the Trust Territory of the Pacific (Palau) may be eligible for federal student aid. Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands are eligible for Pell Grants, SEOG, or Work Study only. You are NOT eligible for federal financial aid if you only have a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence (I-171 or I-464A), or if you are in the U.S. on an F1, F2, J1, J2, or G series visa.

Cost of Attendance (COA)

The estimated total amount it will cost you to go to school—usually stated for a nine month period (fall and spring). COA includes tuition and fees; room and board (or a housing and food allowance); and allowances for books, supplies, and transportation.  It also includes miscellaneous and personal expenses, including an allowance for the rental or purchase of a personal computer; costs related to a disability; and reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs. Your COA can be affected by your enrollment status.

Student’s awards cannot exceed the COA for a particular aid year. A student’s COA is typically based off the student being enrolled as a full-time student. If the student decided to be less than full-time, their COA will be reduced. This could cause the award offer to change.

Credit Balance

The amount remaining in a student’s account after payment of all billed charges. The credit balance is processed as a refund to the student by the Business Office.

Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows students and parents to access the IRS tax return information needed to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and transfer the data directly into their FAFSA from the IRS website. The Data Retrieval Tool is one of two options to satisfy the federal verification requirement (the other option is an IRS tax return transcript).


An authorized period of time during which a borrower may postpone principal and interest payments. Deferments are available while borrowers are in school at least half time, enrolled in a graduate fellowship program or rehabilitation training program, and during periods of unemployment or economic hardship. Other deferments may be available depending on when and what you borrowed.

Dependent Student

A student who does not meet any of the criteria for an 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, someone with legal dependents other than a spouse, an emancipated minor or someone who is unaccompanied by a parent and homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. 

Dependency Status

The definition of an applicant as dependent or independent of parent finances in determining financial aid eligibility. Questions on the FAFSA determine dependency status for federal aid purposes. Dependency status for financial aid is unrelated to dependency for federal tax purposes.

Direct Costs

Expenses billed directly to the student and payable to the university. Direct costs may include tuition and fees, and on-campus room and board. These are all items you pay directly to TAMUK.

Direct Loan

A federal student loan, made through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program that eligible students and parents borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education at participating schools. Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans are types of Direct Loans.

Direct PLUS Loan

A loan available to graduate students and parents of dependent undergraduate students for which the borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status. This loan requires a credit check and an application must be completed at The interest rate is higher than other loans available to students, and borrowing limits are much higher.


Payment of federal student aid funds to the borrower by the school for use in meeting educational expenses. Financial aid funds and direct payments are disbursed to each student’s account (administered by the Business Office) to first pay any billed charges: tuition, fees and room & board. Any funds in excess of the billed charges constitute a credit balance. Students generally receive their federal student aid in two or more disbursements.

Disbursement Date

The earliest date federal student aid funds can be credited to a student's account at a school or paid to the student or borrower directly, as reported by the school.

Eligible Program

A program of organized instruction or study of a certain length that leads to an academic, professional, or vocational degree or certificate, or other recognized education credential.

Emancipated Minor

An individual (under the age of 18) who has legally been determined to be an adult by a court in his or her state of legal residence.


An endorser is someone who does not have an adverse credit history and who agrees to repay a Direct PLUS Loan if the borrower does not repay it.

Enrollment Status

The academic course load that a student is carrying for a defined academic period.  This normally relates to the number of credit hours taken by a student during a given academic period. Financial Aid defines enrollment statuses for each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer) award periods as listed below.  Please note that enrollment status for financial aid purposes may or may not match enrollment status as defined by the Registrar’s Office. 

Undergraduate Enrollment for Fall/Spring/Summer:

- Full-time status - at least 12 or more credit hours
- Three-quarter time status - at least 9 to 11 credit hours
- Half-time status - at least 6 to 8 credit hours
- Less-than-half-time status - less than 6 credit hours

Graduate Enrollment for Fall/Spring/Summer:

- Full-time status - at least 9 or more credit hours
- Three-quarter time status - at least 7 to 8 credit hours
- Half-time status - at least 5 to 6 credit hours
Entrance Counseling

A mandatory information session that takes place before you receive your first federal student loan that explains your responsibilities and rights as a student borrower.

Exit Counseling

A mandatory information session that takes place before you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment that explains your loan repayment responsibilities and when repayment begins.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

This is the number that’s used to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid. This number results from the financial information (income, assets, and family size) you provide in your FAFSA® form, the application for federal student aid. Your EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR). The EFC estimates how much of a college’s price tag you can, in theory at least, afford to pay.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid):

The basis for federal financial aid eligibility which must be completed by all U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and other eligible non-citizens who wish to be considered for financial aid (federal grants, loans and work-study). Apply online at

Federal Pell Grant

A need-based federal grant awarded to students who are pursuing their first undergraduate degree. Pell Grants may also be available for part-time study.  Pell Grant awards are prorated based on hours enrolled.

Federal School Code

An identifier that the U.S. Department of Education assigns to each college or career school that participates in the federal student aid programs. In order to send your FAFSA information to a school, you must list the school's Federal School Code on your application. TAMUK’s school code 003639.

Federal Student Aid

Financial assistance from the federal government to help you pay for education expenses at an eligible college or career school. Grants, loans and work-study are types of federal student aid. You must complete the FAFSA form to apply for this aid.

Federal Student Aid Programs

The programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 that provide grants, loans and work-study funds from the federal government to eligible students enrolled in college or career school. 

Federal Student Loan

A loan funded by the federal government to help pay for your education. A federal student loan is borrowed money you must repay with interest.

Financial Aid Advisor

A representative of the Financial Aid Office who reviews a student's application and awards aid, and helps the student in all aspects of the financial aid process.

Financial Aid Offer

The total amount of financial aid (federal and nonfederal) a student is offered by a college or career school. The school's financial aid staff combines various forms of aid into a “package” to help meet a student’s education costs.

Financial Aid Package

The total amount of financial aid (federal and nonfederal) a student is offered by a college or career school. The school's financial aid staff combines various forms of aid into a “package” to help meet a student’s education costs.

Financial Need

The difference between the cost of attendance (COA) at a school and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). While COA varies from school to school, your EFC does not change based on the school you attend. 


An authorized period of time during which the lender agrees to temporarily postpone a borrower's principal repayment obligation. Interest continues to accrue and usually must be paid during the forbearance period. Forbearance may be granted at the lender's discretion when a borrower is willing to repay their loan but is unable to do so.


The FSA ID is a username and password combination that serves as a student’s or parent’s identifier to allow access to personal information in various U.S. Department of Education systems and acts as a digital signature on some online forms.

Gift Aid/Grant

A type of financial aid award based on need or merit that is not repaid by the student.

Grace Period

The period between the time a borrower leaves school or drops below half-time and the time they are obligated to begin repaying their loans - usually six or nine months, depending on the type of loan.


Financial aid, often based on financial need that does not need to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund). 

Guaranteed Student Loans

The name for Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans that were made prior to 1992.

Guaranty Agency

A state agency or a private, nonprofit organization that administers Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans.

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, an emancipated minor or someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Get additional information to determine your dependency status.

Indirect Costs

Expenses incurred as a result of attendance that the student/family may pay to a third party (merchant, landlord, transportation, etc.) other than the university. These costs are estimated costs as your personal indirect costs may vary.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) - the IRS will issue an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to a resident or non-resident alien who is required to file a tax return but does not have and is not eligible for a social security number so he or she may file the necessary tax return. Individuals with ITINs enter it on their tax returns wherever a SSN is required. The ITIN is for federal tax purposes only, and does not entitle individuals to Social Security benefits and does not change the holder's immigration status.


A loan expense charged for the use of borrowed money. Interest is paid by a borrower to a lender. The expense is calculated as a percentage of the unpaid principal amount of the loan.

Interest Rate

The percentage at which interest is calculated on your loan(s). Interest rates are determined every July 1 for the upcoming academic year.

IRS Verification Non-Filer Letter – is proof from the IRS which provides evidence that a person did not file a tax return for a specific tax year.  There is no record of a filed Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ for the year you requested.

Legal Guardianship

A relationship created by court order, through which the court appoints an individual other than a minor's parent to take care of the minor. A legal guardian is not considered a parent on the student's FAFSA form. In fact, a student in legal guardianship does not need to report parent information on the FAFSA form because he or she is considered an independent student.


The organization that made the loan initially; the lender could be the borrower's school; a bank, credit union, or other lending institution; or the U.S. Department of Education.

Loan Period Begin Date

Date classes are (or were) scheduled to begin for the period covered by a federal student loan.

Loan Period End Date

Date classes are (or were) scheduled to end for the period covered by a federal student loan. 

Loan servicer

An organization that manages loan payments and administrative functions on behalf of the lender. Students can look up the loan servicer by logging into the National Student Loan Data System (

Master Promissory Note (MPN)

A binding legal document that you must sign when you get a federal student loan. The MPN can be used to make one or more loans for one or more academic years (up to 10 years). It lists the terms and conditions under which you agree to repay the loan and explains your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.  It’s important to read and save your MPN because you’ll need to refer to it later when you begin repaying your loan or at other times when you need information about provisions of the loan, such as deferments or forbearances.

Merit aid/non-need-based aid

This is money awarded without regard to financial need. It can be based on academic achievement, artistic abilities, leadership skills, or any other characteristic.


Based on a student's financial need. Example: A need-based grant might be awarded based on a student's low income.

NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System):

NSLDS is a federal database of financial aid information. It includes loan & grant summaries, as well as information about the loan servicer for Direct Subsidized or Direct Unsubsidized Loans.

Origination Fee

A fee charged by the federal government and deducted from loan proceeds before disbursement to partially offset administrative costs of the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).


An overaward occurs when the student receives more aid than he or she was eligible to receive. This usually results from changes in the student's aid package or changes in enrollment from one semester to the next within the same academic year. 

Pell Grant

A need-based federal grant awarded to students who are pursuing their first undergraduate degree. Pell Grants may also be available for part-time study. Pell Grant awards are prorated based on hours enrolled.


The total sum of money borrowed plus any interest that has been capitalized.

Private Loan

A nonfederal loan made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, state agency, or school.


The college administrator whose office manages enrollment, class registration, and academic standing.

Repayment Plan

The amount of monthly payments and total repayment period for a loan. The Standard Repayment Plan consists of equal monthly payments over a period of ten years. Borrowers can switch to another repayment plan that better fits their monthly finances by contacting the loan servicer. There is never a financial penalty for making early loan payments or paying more than the minimum required amount.

Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4)

Federal regulations require the financial aid office to apply a formula established by the U.S. Department of Education, titled R2T4, to determine the amount of federal aid a student has earned as of the student’s withdrawal date.  The amount of the federal financial aid returned to federal aid programs is determined by the amount of time a student spends in academically related activity.  After 60% of the term has passed, students have earned 100% of the federal financial aid disbursed to them.

Students withdrawing from any course(s) in the term prior to the completion of 60% of the quarter/semester may find that funds are owed to the university as a result of the R2T4.

Students who stop engaging in academically related activities during the term, without officially withdrawing from the courses, are subject to the R2T4 calculation. In such cases, the last date of academically related activity, as determined by the university, is used as the withdrawal date for the term.

Prior to withdrawing, students should contact the financial aid office to determine the amount of federal aid that must be returned. Federal student aid may not cover all unpaid charges due to the university upon the student’s withdrawal.

Room and Board

The expected cost of student housing (room) and food (board).

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

A school’s standards for satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate offered by that institution. To keep getting financial aid every semester, you must move forward in your program of study.

You must meet all three criteria:

  • 2.0 cumulative institutional GPA for undergraduates and a 3.00 cumulative institutional GPA for graduate students
  • Must have a cumulative passing rate of at least 67 percent of all attempted credit hours
  • Credit hours that do not exceed 150 percent of the minimum number of hours required to graduate

SAP Status

  • GOOD – Eligible status. Student is meeting the minimum SAP standards or has no academic history. Student is eligible to apply for financial aid.
  • WARN – (Warning)  Eligible status. Student did not meet minimum SAP standards for GPA and/or completion rate in the previous evaluation period. Student is still eligible to apply for financial aid but must reach all minimum standards by the end of their next academic term to maintain eligibility.
  • UNSAT – (Unsatisfactory)  Ineligible status. Student did not meet minimum standards for GPA and/or completion rate in the previous evaluation period after being placed on a warning status. Student is not eligible to apply for or receive financial aid.
  • MTF – (Maximum Time Frame)  Ineligible status.  Student has attempted more than 150% of the published program length towards a degree (including all transfer hours). Student is not eligible to apply for or receive financial aid.


Money awarded to students based on academic or other achievements to help pay for education expenses.  Scholarships generally do not have to be repaid. Colleges or individual departments offer scholarships, as do thousands of nonprofit groups, businesses, and other organizations.

Self Help

Financial aid in the form of loans or student employment. Student employment earnings (including Work-Study awards) are generally not deducted from billed costs but can be used to help you cover indirect costs and are paid in the form of wages to the student. 

Special Circumstances

Unusual situations affecting a family’s finances that were not reported on the FAFSA or on family tax documents, which may affect financial aid eligibility upon review by financial aid officers.

State Grant

State funded program provides grant aid to state residents who demonstrate the highest level of financial need as determined by the results of the FAFSA. Amount varies and is based on enrollment status. 

Student Aid Report (SAR)

A summary of the information you submitted on your FAFSA form. You receive this report (often called the SAR) via email a few days after your FAFSA form has been processed or by mail within 7-10 days if you did not provide an email address.  If there are no corrections or additional information you must provide, the SAR will contain your EFC, which is the number that's used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid.

Subsidized Loan

A loan based on financial need for which the federal government generally pays the interest that accrues while the borrower is in an in-school, grace, or deferment status, and during certain periods of repayment under certain income-driven repayment plans. Subsidized loans are only for undergraduate students and are awarded based on financial need.

Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

These are need-based Federal grants which are administered by the University. Students who are enrolled part-time may be eligible.

Tax return transcript

An official IRS document confirming data from the federal tax return. A tax return transcript is one of two options to satisfy the federal verification requirement (the other option is using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool).

Title IV Aid

Title IV (TIV) (federal) financial aid funds are awarded under the assumption that a student will remain in classroom attendance for the entire period (semester) for which the funds were awarded.

Unsubsidized Loan

A loan for which the borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status. Interest on unsubsidized loans accrues from the date of disbursement and continues throughout the life of the loan. These federal loans are available to undergraduate or graduate students, and there is no financial need requirement, so anyone can use them. Historically, interest rates on unsubsidized loans are slightly higher than those for subsidized loans.  Still, unlike subsidized loans, interest on unsubsidized loans starts adding up from the day you take out the loan.


The process your school uses to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA form is accurate. Your school has the authority to contact you for documentation that supports income and other information that you reported.


Unless and until a student completes 60% of the term in which financial aid was awarded, the student will be required to return all or part of the federal financial aid originally awarded for the term.  In addition to potentially affecting current semester financial aid, drops and withdrawals are considered unsuccessfully completed coursework when determining SAP and will impact completion rate. If you drop below the necessary completion rate you may lose eligibility for financial aid in future terms.  Students who plan to change their enrollment by withdrawing or dropping courses should contact our office to discuss how this could affect their financial aid eligibility. 


A federal student aid need-based program that provides part-time employment while you are enrolled in school to help pay your education expenses.  Students who qualify and are interested in seeking student employment must demonstrate financial need by submitting a FAFSA.  All students (undergraduate and graduate) must be registered at least half-time in a degree-granting course of study and be meeting our institution's satisfactory academic progress policy. Student must maintain an overall minimum institutional GPA of 2.0 for undergraduates and 3.0 for graduates