Financial Aid Terms

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): this is the basic form that must be filled out for all students who wish to participate in Federal student aid programs such as Stafford and Perkins Loans, as well as Pell Grants.

The FAFSA application is free to fill out and generally does not require professional preparation.
Student Aid Report (SAR):  The SAR is a printout that you will receive in the mail (or via email) once your FAFSA has been processed.  Your SAR will contain all of the information that you submitted on your FAFSA, and will let you know what Federal Student Aid you may qualify for.
Student Aid Eligibility: (taken from  Eligibility for federal student aid is based on financial need an on several other factors.  The Financial Aid Office will determine your eligibility by ensuring that all students:

  1. Demonstrate financial need (except for certain loans)
  2. Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, pass an ability-to-benefit (ATB) test approved by the U.S. Department of Education, meet other standards your state establishes that the Department approves, complete a high school education in a home school setting that is treated as such under state law, or have satisfactorily completed six credit hours or the equivalent course work toward a degree or certificate.
  3. Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program.  
  4. Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  5. Have a valid Social Security Number
  6. Register with the Selective Service if required.  You can use the electronic FAFSA to register, you can register at, or you can call 1.847.688.6888
  7. Maintain satisfactory academic progress once in school
  8. Certify that you are not in default on a federal student loan and no not owe money on a federal student grant
  9. Certify that you will use Federal Student Aid only for educational purposes.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC):  You will find this listed on your SAR.  It is an amount of money that the Federal Government says you and your family are capable of contributing to college expenses each year.  The EFC is based on many different circumstances, including family size and income.
Financial Need: is the difference between the estimated cost of attendance and the amount the student is expected to contribute to the cost of their education.  The amount a student is able to contribute to their education is determined by the FAFSA and is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
Independent Student:  for federal aid eligibility, you are an independent student if at least one of these criteria applies to you:

  1. You are 24 years old or older (born before Jan 1, 1987 for the 2010-2011 FAFSA).
  2. You're married on the day you apply for financial aid (even if you are separated but not divorced).
  3. You are or will be enrolled in a master's or doctoral degree program (beyond a bachelor's degree) at the beginning of the academic year your FAFSA is for.
  4. You're currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
  5. You're a veteran of the U.S. Armed forces.  (A "veteran" includes students who attended a U.S. service academy and were released under a condition other than dishonorable).
  6. You have children who will receive more than half their support from you during the FAFSA academic year.
  7. You have legal dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half their support from you now and through June 30, 2011.
  8. When you were age 13 or older, both your parents were deceased and you were in foster care or a dependent or ward of the court.
  9. As of the day you apply for aid, you are an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.
  10. As of the day you apply for aid, you are in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.
  11. At any time on or after the July before you file your FAFSA, the director of an emergency shelter program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless.
  12. At any time on or after the July before you file your FAFSA, the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

Dependent Student:  if you answer "no" to all of the questions above you are considered a dependent student.

Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan: the basic building block of most financial aid packages.  The interest rate and terms for the Direct Subsidized Loan is 4.5% (for Undergraduates).  Direct Subsidized Loans for Graduate Students and Direct Unsubsidized loans for all students is 6.8%.  Students must beat least part time (6 credit hours for Undergrad Students & 3 for Grad Students) to be eligible, and they must show financial need.  the borrower is not charged interest while still in school, nor during the grace and deferment periods.  Students are eligible to borrow as listed below.

    Subsidized   Dependent Student Total   Independent & Dependent Students whose parents can't get PLUS Total
First Year (Undergrad)   $3500   $5500   $9500
Second Year (Undergrad)   $4500   $6500   $10500
Third Year & Beyond (Undergrad)   $5500   $7500   $12500
Grad & Professional Students (all years)   $8500       $20500

Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan: Students must be at least part time (6 credits for Undergrad students & 3 credits for Grad students) - the interest rate is 6.8% for all Graduate Student (subsidized and unsubsidized) and Undergraduate Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.  The borrower is responsible for all interest on the loan including while in college and during all grace and deferment periods.  The lender is the U.S. Government and the loan will be paid back to the U.S. Government.  Students are elgiible to borrow as listed above.
Direct Parent Plus Loan:  This loan is a Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students and can be borrowed from the Department of Education through the Direct Loan Program with a fixed interest rate of 7.9% (for loans disbursed after July 1, 2006).  The borrower is responsible for paying all interest and repayment begins 60 days after then 2nd disbursement -or - the parent borrower may elect to delay repayment until six months after the student is not enrolled at least half-time (this option is only available to borrowers whose funds were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008).  You must renew your credit decision each year, but unless an endorser is required on your loan, or your student changes schools, you will only need to fill out one Master Promissory Note at  Each academic year, you will be required to complete a Plus Request Form (*LINK TO FORMS PAGE*) which is located here.  Just fill this form out and return it to your financial aid representative indicating how much you would like to borrow for the next academic year.  To be eligible for a Direct Plus Loan for Parents (taken from

  1. The parent borrower must be the student's biological or adoptive parent.  In some cases, the student's stepparent may be eligible.
  2. The student must be a dependent student who is enrolled at least half-time (6 credit hours) at a school that participates in the Direct Loan Program.  Generally, a student is considered dependent if he or she is under 24 years of age, has no dependents, and is not married, a veteran, a graduate or professional degree student, or a ward of the court.
  3. The parent borrower must not have an adverse credit history (a credit check will be done).  If the parent does not pass the credit check, the parent may still receive a loan if someone (such as a relative or friend who is able to pass the credit check) agrees to endorse the loan.  The endorser promises to repay the loan if the parent fails to do so.  The parent may also still receive a loan if he or she can demonstrate extenuating circumstances.
  4. The student and parent must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens, must not be in default on any federal education loans or owe an overpayment or a federal education grant, and must meet other general eligibility requirements for the federal student aid programs.  

Perkins Loan:  Federal loan made through participating schools to undergraduate degree-seeking students.  Offered to students who demonstrate financial need and are enrolled Full Time (at least 12 credit hours).  Repayment is made to Pfeiffer and the interest rate is fixed at 5%.  Funds available depend on the students financial need and the availability of funds at the college -  the annual award limit is up to $3000.



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