List of various Financial Aid terms and definitions.

Adverse Credit

A loan applicant has adverse credit when he/she has been 90 days or more delinquent on a debt or has been subject to a default determination, bankruptcy discharge, foreclosure, repossession, tax lien, wage garnishment, or write-off of a federal student aid debt.

Aggregate Loan Limit

An aggregate loan limit is the total amount that a person can borrow throughout his/her academic career. Aggregate limits vary by graduate/undergraduate career.

Alternative Student Loan

Alternative loans are private loan programs offered through banks for the purpose of supplementing a student’s financial aid package. They are not federally endorsed or guaranteed, but they must be approved by the Syracuse Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs to ensure the loan does not exceed your cost of attendance (budget) minus all other financial aid.

Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement (ASLA)

The Acknowledgment is an online session that will allow students and parents to see how much they have borrowed, preview what their monthly payments might be, and explain concepts such as capitalization and the difference between federal and private loans. It is new for 2021-2022 award year. The Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Borrowers of Federal Subsidized, Unsubsidized and PLUS loans will be required to complete the Informed Borrowing Confirmation process once each award year before receiving disbursement of their loan.

This requirement is in addition to Master Promissory Note (MPN) and entrance counseling requirements.

First-time borrowers (those who have no current loan balance) will:

  • Answer a few questions about their state, school, expected degree and field of study.
  • View summary information from the College Scorecard about total estimated school costs, graduation rate, total estimated student loan debt and estimated monthly Payments.
  • View general financial literacy information about borrowing student loans.
  • Check a box acknowledging they read and understood the information.

Returning aid recipients (borrowers with current outstanding loan balances) will:

  • View summary information about their loans and grants from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) as of the day they complete the acknowledgement. Information includes outstanding balance, estimated 10-year standard monthly payment based on the borrower's current balance, servicer information, loan limit information, grant summary and grant limit information.
  • Check a box acknowledging they read and understood the information.

Award Notice

A student’s award notice states the type and amount of financial aid offered to them if they accept admission and enroll.



When the interest on an educational loan is not paid, it is added to the principal balance, which increases the outstanding principal amount due on the loan. Interest that is capitalized has been added to the original amount of the loan and accrues interest, adding an additional expense to the loan.

Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance is determined each academic year. It includes tuition, fees, and allowances for housing, meals, books, supplies, travel, and personal expenses. The combination of your expected family contribution and the total amount of aid you are receiving cannot exceed the cost of attendance.

CSS/Financial Aid Profile

The College Scholarship Service / Financial Aid Profile is the application used to determine Syracuse University’s need-based aid.


Failure to repay your loan according to the terms of the promissory note. This can lead to legal action by the school, lender, state, or federal government to recover the money.


Deferments are a period of time during repayment in which the borrower, upon meeting certain conditions, is not required to make regular monthly payments. Deferment types include: in school, military, unemployment, economic hardship, graduate fellowship, and rehabilitation training. Interest does not accrue on subsidized loans during deferments.

Entrance/Exit Interview

Counseling sessions that are required for federal student loan borrowers. The entrance interview is required before receiving the first loan disbursement; the exit interview takes place before you leave school.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The Family Contribution, also referred to as Expected Family Contribution (EFC), is used to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. The EFC is based on the financial information you provided on your financial aid application(s) (e.g. income, assets, number in household, siblings in college). It is not necessarily the amount of money your family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of aid you will receive.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

A FAFSA is the application for federal need-based aid.

Federal Aid

Federal aid is financial aid that is funded and regulated by the U.S. Department of Education. A FAFSA must be completed annually in order to determine eligibility for federal aid. The amount of federal financial aid is determined annually based on federal regulations, student eligibility, and the availability of funds.

Federal Direct PLUS Loan

The Federal Direct PLUS Loan is a loan parents can obtain to help pay for the cost of education for their dependent undergraduate children. In addition, graduate and professional degree students may obtain PLUS loans to help pay for their own education.

Federal Direct Subsidized Student Loan

A subsidized Direct student loan is available to undergraduate students who are enrolled at least half-time. Students must have financial need to receive a subsidized Direct loan and the U.S. Department of Education will pay the interest that accrues.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan

An unsubsidized Direct loan is available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree students who are enrolled at least half-time. You do not have to demonstrate financial need, and you are responsible for paying the interest while attending school and during the grace period.

Federal Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students. Eligibility is determined by completing a FAFSA.

Federal Perkins Student Loan

The Federal Perkins Loan Program provided low-interest loans to help needy students finance the costs of college. Perkins loans were awarded based on financial need and the availability of funds. Federal Perkins Loans are no longer available.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

An FSEOG is awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. Priority is given to federal Pell grant recipients. The award, determined by the Office of Financial Aid, is based on financial need and the availability of funds.

Federal Work-Study

Federal Work Study is a part-time employment program available to undergraduate and graduate students while they are enrolled. Students can work on- or off-campus, and wages vary depending on the position. Work-study is awarded based on financial need and the availability of funds. The student receives a weekly paycheck for hours actually worked. Work-study funds do not appear as a credit on the student’s bill.

Financial Need

Financial need is the difference between the cost of attendance minus the expected family contribution.


Forbearance is a period of time during repayment in which the borrower is permitted to temporarily postpone making regular monthly payments. For example, forbearance may be granted if the borrower does not qualify for a deferment or is experiencing financial difficulty. Interest accrues during forbearances.

Gift Aid

Gift Aid is any grant and/or scholarship that is awarded to you. These funds do not have to be repaid.


Syracuse University offers need-based grants to students who demonstrate financial need. Eligibility is determined from information provided on the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and on availability of funds. Syracuse University grants do not have to be repaid. The Federal government also offers need based grants in the form of Pell, SEOG, and TEACH. File the FAFSA to apply.


Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP)

HEOPis a program for New York State residents that provides educational opportunity and academic support to students with strong academic potential and personal initiative who would otherwise be excluded from higher education due to circumstances of academic and economic disadvantage. Once admitted under the HEOP program, students participate in the SummerStart Program and receive counseling, tutoring, and other support services throughout their college career.




Loan Forgiveness Program

Under certain circumstances, the federal government will cancel all or part of an educational loan.

Master Promissory Note (MPN)

A Master Promissory Note is the binding legal document you sign when applying for a Federal Perkins, Direct, or PLUS 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. You should only need to complete one MPN per loan program during your educational career at Syracuse.

Merit Scholarships

Merit Scholarships are awarded to students at the time of admission to recognize prior academic achievement. Students do not need to apply for financial aid to be considered for scholarships; they are awarded regardless of financial need.

Monthly Payment Plan

This plan combines the elements of a deferred payment and a pre-payment program, and is administered by the Bursar’s office .

National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)

NSLDS is the database for federal student financial aid where you can find out about some federal grants and loans you’ve received.

New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

TAP is available to New York State residents who attend Syracuse University and are enrolled for at least 12 credit hours each semester. The FAFSA begins the TAP application process.

Noncustodial PROFILE (NCP)

If your biological parents are divorced or separated, or were never married to each other, then your noncustodial parent will need to file the CSS Noncustodial PROFILE (NCP) as part of your financial aid application. The NCP is an online application used to assess a noncustodial parent’s ability to contribute toward college expenses. Recognizing the sensitivity of financial circumstances, strict confidentiality between each parent’s information is maintained.

  • When you complete the CSS Financial Aid/PROFILE , you should report ALL parents. This means both biological or adoptive parents (whether they are together or not), parents who are deceased, and the spouses or partners of living parents.
  • You will report each of their relationship to you, and which parents the student lives with, or from whom you receive the greater support.
  • This information will be used as we determine which parent will complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE with  you and which should file the NCP.
  • Your noncustodial parent can log in to the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and begin the NCP at any time, but they may only submit it once you (the student) have selected a school that requires the NCP.

Determining the Custodial Parent

The custodial parent is defined as the biological/adoptive parent that the student lived with more during the 12 months prior to applying for aid, per federal regulations and Syracuse University policy.

If the student lived with neither parent during the prior 12 months, or lived equally with each parent, the custodial parent is the parent from whom the student received more financial support during the past 12 months, or during the most recent year that the student received support from a parent.

In determining custodial parent status, it does not matter which parent claims the student as an exemption for tax purposes.


Parent Loan

The Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) is a federally sponsored, low-interest loan available to parents and step-parents of undergraduate students.

Permanent Resident

A Permanent Resident is a non-United States citizen who has been given permission to permanently reside in the United States and has been issued the United States Permanent Resident Card.


The amount of money borrowed by the student. Interest is charged on this amount.



Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Federal regulations and Syracuse University policies require that all financial aid recipients must make steady progress toward completion of their degree requirements. Student receiving funding from the NYS TAP program must also maintain SAP to continue receipt of funds. Read more on SAP Policies .


Self-help is the portion of your financial aid award that consists of student loans and Federal Work-Study (FWS).

Student Aid Index (SAI)

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is an eligibility index number that your college’s or career school’s financial aid office uses to determine how much federal student aid you would receive if you attended the school. This number results from the information that you provide on your FAFSA® form. This number is not a dollar amount of aid eligibility or what your family is expected to provide. 

Student Support Services Program (SSSP)

SSSP is a program authorized by the U.S. Department of Education as a TRIO program. The program identifies and provides academic support services for students who are admitted to the University but are educationally “at risk” due to economic circumstances, academic background, and/or their status as a first-generation college student. Students enrolled in SSSP receive advising, counseling, tutoring, and other supportive services throughout their college career.

Student Aid Report (SAR)

After you apply for federal student financial aid, you’ll get your FAFSA results in an email report within a few days after your FAFSA has been processed. This is your student aid report and will contain your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Student Loan

Student loans are a source of financial aid that you are required to repay after you graduate or cease to be enrolled half-time.


The Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) provides grants to students who intend to teach in an elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families. Grant recipients agree to teach for at least four years, within eight years of finishing their teacher preparation program, and to teach high-need subjects in designated schools.