Financial Aid


As you familiarize yourself with the financial aid process, we hope you’ll find the glossary below to be of help. As always, our staff is available to assist you in understanding and navigating this process.


  • Accrual Date

    The date on which interest charges on an educational loan begin to accumulate or accrue.

  • Alternative Student Loans

    Alternative or Private Student Loans offer loan assistance that is in addition to the federal loans a student may receive. These funds are generally offered through banks and credit unions and allow the student to borrow up to the cost of education less any other financial assistance they are receiving. Most lenders require students to apply with a credit worthy co-signer. Union College will work with a student’s chosen lender to meet their specific borrowing needs.


  • College Board

    A private nonprofit organization which offers a variety of resources, tools, and services to students, parents, secondary schools, colleges and universities in an effort to expand access to higher education. The College Board membership includes over 6,000 colleges, universities, and other educational associations. More detailed information is available on their website at

  • Comprehensive Fee

    The comprehensive fee includes tuition, fees, room, and board.

  • Cosigner

    This person assumes responsibility for the loan if the borrower should fail to repay it.

  • Cost of Attendance

    The estimated cost of attending this institution for one academic year. This amount includes the following:

    • Expected charges for one year of tuition and fees
      • Tuition - Charges assessed for classes
      • Fees - Charges assessed for other college services
    • Room and Board for resident students
    • Estimated living expense - allowance for rent, utilities, and food for off-campus living
    • Estimated transportation costs
    • Estimated books and supplies
    • Miscellaneous costs
  • CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service Profile)

    This form must be completed by all students who wish to be considered for Institutional scholarship assistance at Union. This application is made available through the College Board and can be accessed online.

  • Custodial Parent

    If a student's biological parents are divorced or separated, the custodial parent is the one with whom the student lived with the most during the previous 12 months.


  • Direct Costs

    Expenses the student/family pays to the College.

  • Direct Loan Program

    Student Loans provided by the U.S. Department of Education available to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Direct Loans include the following types of federal loans: Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct Parent Loans (PLUS). The Direct Loans carry a fixed interest rate and charge a small origination fee both of which are set by July 1 for the upcoming academic year. Annual maximums are $5,500 for first-years, $6,500 for sophomores, and $7,500 for juniors and seniors.


  • Early Decision (ED)

    A binding application process with earlier deadlines and notification dates than the regular admissions process. If admitted, ED candidates are committed to attend Union. You should apply ED only if Union is your first choice. Union has two ED options: ED I (application and credentials are due by Nov. 15, with decisions announced by Dec. 15) and ED II (application and credentials are due by Jan. 15, with decisions announced by Feb. 1). Once a student enrolls at the College, s/he must withdraw all applications to other colleges and universities.

  • Educational Loan

    A form of financial aid that must be repaid with interest.Educational loans have varying interest rates and repayment terms. Students and/or parents are required to sign a promissory note when accepting an educational loan.

    • Student Loan: Funds awarded to the student that must eventually be paid back to the lender by the student.
      • Federal Direct Student Loan: Loan funds provided to the student by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. Repayment of principal begins six months after the borrower ceases to be a student on at least a half-time basis. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the annual application. There are two types of Federal Direct Student Loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. Students with financial need can qualify for a subsidized loan, and the government pays the interest on the loan while the student remains enrolled at least half time. Students who don't demonstrate financial need qualify for an unsubsidized loan and interest accrues while the student is in school.
      • Private (Alternative) Loan: A loan from a commercial, state-affiliated or institutional lender used to pay for up to the annual cost of education, less any financial aid received. Private loans usually require the applicant to be creditworthy or have a co-signer and have varying interest rates, fees and repayment options. Repayment of interest (and often principal) generally begins immediately, with some lenders offering deferment options for in-school periods.
    • Federal Parent Loan (PLUS): A federal loan program that allows parents who have no adverse credit history to apply for up to the Cost of Attendance each year, less any financial aid. PLUS loans must be repaid with interest.


  • FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

    The Federal financial aid application that must be completed annually and is used to determine eligibility for federal student aid.

  • Financial Aid

    Scholarships, Grants, Loans, and Employment opportunities provided to the student and family to assist in funding the student's education.

  • Financial Aid Package

    A combination of grants, scholarships, student loans and work-study, designed to assist in meeting the student’s demonstrated need.

  • Fixed Interest Rate Loan

    A loan that carries the same interest rate for the life of that loan.


  • Gift Aid

    Funds awarded to the student that do not have to be repaid, unless the student fails to meet certain terms, such as service requirement, specified as a condition of the grant. Gift aid includes awards with titles such as grants, scholarships, remissions, waivers, etc. Gift aid can be awarded based on many factors, including (but not limited to) financial need, academic excellence, musical, and theatrical talent, affiliation with various groups, or career aspirations.

  • Grant

    Gift aid awarded based on financial need that does not need to be repaid.


  • Indirect Costs

    Expenses incurred as a result of attendance that the student/family may pay to a third party (merchant, landlord, etc.) other than the College.

  • Interest

    Amount charged to the borrower for use of the lender’s money; usually calculated as a percentage of the principal balance of the loan. The percentage rate may be fixed for the life of the loan or it may change at specified times (variable), depending on terms of the loan.


  • Loan

    A financial aid resource that must be repaid, with interest.

  • Loan Consolidation

    Combining multiple loans into a single new loan eliminating making several payments each month.

  • Loan Deferment

    Postponing repayment of principal and interest associated with a loan.


  • Merit-based Aid

    Awards that are based on academic, artistic or other criteria such as test scores, rank in class, grade point average, hobbies and/or special talents.


  • Need

    Financial need is the difference between the cost of attendance minus your expected family contribution as determined by the CSS Profile and/or the FAFSA.

  • Need-based Aid

    Financial aid resources for which your eligibility is based on need as measured by the CSS Profile and/or Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Applicants must apply annually for need-based awards.

  • Net Cost

    Amount of direct and indirect costs remaining after all gift aid (scholarship and grant) is subtracted.

  • Net Price Calculator (NPC)

    The tool used to estimate your net price to attend a particular college or university. Net price is the difference between the “sticker” price (full cost) for attendance, minus any grants and scholarships for which you may be eligible.

  • New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

    A need-based grant program for New York State residents. Award determinations are made by New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) upon receipt of the Express TAP application.

  • Noncustodial Parent

    If a student's biological parents are divorced or separated, the noncustodial parent is the one with whom the student did not reside with the majority of the time in the previous 12 months.


  • Offer Letter

    The official document issued by the Financial Aid Office that describes all of the financial aid offered for the academic year, terms and conditions for the financial aid, and information about the cost of attendance.

  • Out-of-pocket Cost

    Difference between the cost of attendance and all gift aid. Out-of-pocket cost can be covered through a variety of sources, including: savings, income, and educational loans.

  • Outside Scholarship

    A scholarship that comes from sources other than the school, and the federal or state government.


  • Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)

    A fixed-rate loan available to parents who maintain a satisfactory credit rating. Parents may borrow up to the full cost of attendance less the total amount of all other financial aid received.

  • Pell Grant

    A federal grant that provides funds based on the student's financial need. Eligibility is determined through the FAFSA analysis.

  • Presidential Scholarship

    A Union College merit-based scholarship awarded in recognition of outstanding academic and personal achievements. Presidential Scholarships are renewed for four years of full-time undergraduate study.


  • Scholarship

    Gift aid awarded to the student that does not need to be repaid. Scholarship awards are typically based on merit or a combination of merit and need, such as academic excellence, talent, affiliation with various groups, or career aspirations.

  • Self-help

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

  • Student Aid Index (SAI)

    The Student Aid Index is an eligibility index number that the financial aid office uses to determine how much federal student aid students receive. This replaces Expected Family Contribution (EFC) terminology used previously.

  • Subsidized Loan

    A federal student loan for which the government pays the interest on the loan while the student is in school, during the six-month grace period and during any deferment periods.

  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

    A federal need-based grant offered to those students who also qualify for the federal Pell Grant.


  • Tax Return Transcript

    An income tax document available from the IRS that summarizes the annual income tax information for the designated tax filer. This document may be required as part of the federal verification process for U.S. students.

  • Tuition Payment Plan

    Union College offers a convenient monthly payment plan through Cashnet that allows for payment of all fees in up to 10 monthly installments rather than one lump sum each term. The application process is simple, and the plan is interest-free. There is a small enrollment/application fee. Payments are only accepted via ACH (electronic check).


  • Union College Employment

    A campus employment program that provides part-time jobs to eligible students; eligibility is based on the CSS Profile and FAFSA analysis. Students generally work 7-8 hours per week.

  • Union College Grant

    Need-based grant awarded to students who demonstrate need as measured through the CSS Profile. This award is renewed each year provided the student completes the required financial aid applications by the application due date and continues to demonstrate a similar level of need.

  • Unsubsidized Loan

    A loan for which the borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status.


  • Verification

    A review process in which the Union Financial Aid Office verifies the accuracy of the information provided on the student's financial aid application in accordance with the regulations governing the federal financial aid programs.


  • W-2

    The W-2 is a form that the employer sends to an employee at the end of each year. This form summarizes the amount of wages earned and taxes paid by the employee. This is utilized during the verification process for U.S. students.

  • Work-Study

    A federally subsidized employment program that provides part-time, on-campus employment for eligible students who demonstrate financial need. Eligibility is determined through the FAFSA analysis; students generally work 7-8 hours per week.