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Financial Aid Glossary

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.

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


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 www.collegeboard.org

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

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

Cost of Attendance
The total amount needed to attend school, including billable expenses such as tuition and fees, room and board, as well as allowances for books and supplies, transportation, and personal and miscellaneous expenses a student may incur while participating in campus activities or academic activities.

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 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 freshmen, $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.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
The amount of resources a family is expected to contribute toward the cost of attending Union. The expected family contribution is calculated from the information provided on the financial aid applications. It is generally a combination of both a parent and a student contribution and considers all of the following: the student's dependency status, family size, number of family members enrolled in college, taxable and nontaxable income, and assets.


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.


Grant (or Scholarship)
A financial aid award, based on financial need or merit, which does not have to be repaid.


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.


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.


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 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 upon receipt of the Express TAP application.

Noncustodial Profile (NCP)
If a student’s biological parents are separated or divorced, Union requires information from each parent. The noncustodial parent must complete the CSS Noncustodial Profile through the College Board.

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.


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


Parent Contribution (PC)
The amount of resources parents are expected to contribute toward educational expenses as measured by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and/or the CSS Profile.

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.

Perkins Loan
A federal need-based loan with a fixed interest rate of 5% and which allows students to borrow up to $5,500 a year. Eligibility is determined through the FAFSA analysis and awarded by the financial aid administrator to students with exceptional financial need. Repayment begins nine months after the student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment. Effective September 30, 2015, eligibility is limited to students who have received a Perkins loan prior to this date.

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 (or Grant)
A financial aid award, based on financial need or merit, which does not have to be repaid.

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

Student Contribution
The amount of resources the student is expected to contribute to his or her education as measured by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and/or CSS Profile.

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.


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 Higher One 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. Payment options include check or electronic debit from a checking or savings account. (For more information, call (800) 635-0120 or visit https://tuitionpaymentplan.com/union)


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 Scholarship
Need-based scholarship awarded to students who demonstrate need as measured through the FAFSA and 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.


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.


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.

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.