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Financial Aid Terms

Financial Aid


An academic year is a period in which school is in session, consisting of at least 32 weeks of instructional time. The school year typically includes a fall term (August through December), a spring term (January through May) and a summer term (May through July).
An offer letter is an official document issued by the Financial Aid Office that lists all of your offered financial aid, including source and amount details. You’re not required to sign or return the letter.
College of The Albemarle’s (COA) Business Office is responsible for the billing and collection of college charges, and the disbursement of federal and state financial aid.
Campus-based aid is a federal program administered by COA. The federal government provides COA with a fixed annual allocation, which is offerded by the Financial Aid Office to deserving students. Programs include the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant and the Federal Work-Study program. Funding is limited and there’s no guarantee that every eligible student will receive financial aid through these programs.
The cost of attendance is the average cost to attend college for one academic year (fall through spring). It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses.
A loan is in default when the borrower fails to pay several regular installments on time, or otherwise fails to meet the terms and conditions of a loan. If you default on a loan, legal action may be taken to recover the money, including garnishing your wages and withholding income tax refunds. Defaulting on a government loan can affect your credit rating, and will make you ineligible for future federal financial aid unless a satisfactory repayment schedule is arranged.
Deferment occurs when a borrower is allowed to postpone repaying a loan. If you have a subsidized loan, the federal government pays the interest charges during the deferment period. If you have an unsubsidized loan, you are responsible for the interest that accrues during the deferment period. Most federal loan programs allow you to defer loans while enrolled in school at least half time. You can’t get a deferment if your loan is in default.
If you fail to make a loan payment on time, you’ll be considered delinquent and late fees may be charged. If you miss several payments, the loan goes into default.
An eligible non-citizen is someone who is not a U.S. citizen, but is still eligible for federal student aid. Eligible non-citizens include U.S. permanent residents who are holders of valid green cards, U.S. nationals, holders of Form I-94 who’ve been granted refugee or asylum status, and certain other non-citizens. Non-citizens who hold a student visa or an exchange visitor visa aren’t eligible for federal student aid.
An indication of whether you’re a full-time student (12 credits or more), three-quarter-time student (9 to 11 credits), half-time student (6 to 8 credits), or less than half-time student (1 to 5 credits). This includes fall, spring and summer semesters. The North Carolina Community College Grant requires 15 or more credit hours to be considered at Full-time Plus enrollment status.
The amount of money that your family is expected to be able to contribute to your education, as determined by the federal methodology need analysis formula approved by Congress. The EFC includes both parent and student contributions, and is based on your dependency status, family size, number of family members in college, and taxable and non-taxable income and assets. The difference between the cost of attendance and the EFC is considered your financial need, and is used to determine your eligibility for need-based financial aid.
The federal FWS program provides part-time employment during the school year based on financial need.

The FAFSA is the form used to apply for Pell Grants and other need-based aid. As the name suggests, there’s no fee to file the FAFSA.

Online FAFSA Applications

The FSA ID is a username and password that has replaced the Federal Student Aid Personal Identification Number (FSA PIN) and must be used to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID confirms your identity when you access your financial aid information and electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents.


The grace period is the period of time in which you don’t need to start making loan payments. Each of your direct subsidized and direct unsubsidized loans has a six-month grace period that starts the day after you stop attending classes or drop below half-time enrollment. While you don’t have to make payments during this grace period, interest does continue to accrue on any unsubsidized loan. PLUS loans don’t have a grace period.
A GPA is an average of a student’s grades, converted to a 4.0 scale (4.0 is an A, 3.0 is a B, 2.0 is a C and 1.0 is a D). Grades of W, PA, PB and PC don’t affect an existing GPA. Federal Satisfactory Academic Progress requires that all grades be included in the GPA calculation, regardless of repeats or fresh start exclusions allowed by a college, and regardless of the source of payment.
A grant is a type of financial aid based on financial need that you usually don’t have to repay. You may have to repay part of your grant if you withdraw completely from a semester, as calculated by the Federal Return of Title IV Funds policy.
An MPN is a legally binding agreement that requires you to repay your loan. The MPN must be signed by the student borrower before loan funds are disbursed by the lender. It contains the terms and conditions of the loan and explains how and when it must be repaid. Please keep the MPN and any other loan documents in a safe place for future reference.
Need is the difference between the cost of attendance and the student’s resources. The process of determining your need is known as need analysis.
Financial aid that is need-based is based on your level of financial need. Examples of Need-Based Aid are the Federal Pell Grant, FSEOG, and Federal Work Study. Please complete the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for need-based Financial Aid.
Non Need-Based Aid is offered to students based on academic and/or extracurricular achievements rather than financial need. Scholarships are the most common types of Non Need-Based Aid. Please complete the COA Foundation Scholarship Application to be considered for an award.
An outside resource is aid or benefits available from other sources, including outside scholarships, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) benefits and Veterans Affairs (VA) educational benefits.
An outside scholarship is one that comes from sources other than the school, federal government or state government.
A Pell Grant is a federal grant that provides funds based on a student’s financial need, as determined by the FAFSA.

To receive federal financial aid funds, students must meet the minimum academic requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education. Failing to maintain an academic standing consistent with the school’s SAP policy will make meeting graduation requirements unlikely as well.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements

A scholarship is a form of financial aid given to students to help pay for their education. Scholarships are a form of gift aid and don’t have to be repaid. Many scholarships are restricted to students in specific courses of study, or with academic or artistic talent.
A Statement of Educational Purpose is a legal document in which you agree to use financial aid for educational expenses only. You and/or your parent(s) must sign this portion of the FAFSA before federal need-based aid can be processed. Electronic signatures can be submitted using a secure FSA ID and password.
The SAR summarizes the information included in your FAFSA and indicates the amount of Pell Grant eligibility as well as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). If you’ve provided a current email address on your FAFSA, you’ll receive an email shortly after submission. If you didn’t provide a current email address, you’ll be mailed the SAR within several weeks of submission. Please review the information recorded on your FAFSA and correct any errors.
The FSEOG is a federal grant program for undergraduate students with exceptional need. FSEOG grants are offered by the Financial Aid Office. Qualified students must be Federal Pell Grant recipients. FSEOG funds are limited and are offered to eligible students who apply early.
The Business Office issues Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tax Form 1098-T to report amounts billed for qualified tuition and related expenses that you must pay to be enrolled at or attend an eligible educational institution.