Understanding Financial Aid

Financial aid can be confusing! The below definitions may help you to understand some common financial aid terms.

Shorthand used to describe an academic year for processing purposes in Connect Carolina. Aid year 2019 refers to Academic year 2018-2019 (Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Summer 2019). Aid Year 2020 refers to Academic year 2019-2020 (Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Summer 2020). Aid year 2021 refers to Academic year 2020-2021 (Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Summer 2021).

Period of enrollment that covers fall, spring and summer. For example, the academic year 2018-2019 includes fall 2018, spring 2019, and summer session I and II 2019 terms.

A packaging policy awarding eligible students with grant and work study to meet full need. Also includes academic programming and interventions. You can read more about the Carolina Covenant here.

Stands for Cost of Attendance; serves as a student’s budget, including tuition, fees, room, board, etc. Total of all aid cannot be greater than COA.

A separate application for financial aid found on the College Board website; UNC uses this form to evaluate a student for university-based funds, including the CCI laptop grant and University Grant

A student who is dependent upon their parents for financial aid purposes; must include parental information on FAFSA, CSS PROFILE, and any other financial aid documents. Rules for dependency can be found here.

When financial aid is sent to a student’s account (student bill) at the Cashier’s Office.

Expected Family Contribution; can be considered a measure of your family’s financial strength. Is determined by the FAFSA each year.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid; must be completed each year for federal and state aid consideration.

Funds offered to students to assist with educational costs. Can include Grants, Loans, Employment Opportunities (work-study), or scholarships. Typically used to refer to aid that requires the submission of the FAFSA.

A figure that represents a student’s eligibility for need-based aid; is determined by subtracting a student’s EFC (produced by the FAFSA) from the total Cost of Attendance.

A student who has already earned a bachelor’s degree and is pursuing additional education in specific field in a graduate, or grad professional school program.

Half-time enrollment for the academic year is defined as 6 hours for undergraduate, and 4.5 hours for graduate/professional school enrollment. If you are enrolled in less than half-time you are not eligible for federal loan programs. Additionally, if you drop below half-time enrollment borrowed loans can begin to go into repayment.

Any student that qualifies for one of the dependency questions on the FAFSA or who has been granted an independent appeal (including homeless designations); will NOT be required to provide parental information. Rules for dependency can be found here.

Aid that is awarded to a student based upon their accomplishments or characteristics during a holistic review of the admissions application. Criteria can include some of the following, such as GPA, SAT score, ACT score, community service, leadership, entrepreneurship etc.

Aid that requires a student to qualify by having financial need.

Tool that can be used to get an aid estimate of what your financial aid package may look like before you receive an aid offer. It is based on the institutions cost of attendance and packaging policy. The estimate is as accurate as the information that is entered in the tool.

Aid that does not require a student to have financial need. Can include Federal Loans, Private Loans, and scholarships that do not include a financial need component.

In the case of a single-parent household or divorced parents, this refers to the biological parent of a student with whom the student does NOT live with.  Many other colleges that use the CSS Profile may ask for information from this parent via what is called the Non-Custodial Parent Profile. Carolina does not require the submission of this information.

Any type of funding for college costs that is coming from outside of UNC-Chapel Hill, Federal, or State funding sources. Outside scholarships must be reported to our office.

When our office collects information to determine if we can offer more aid to a student within Federal Student Aid Guidelines due to a change in circumstance.

Subsidized Loans are loans for undergraduate students with financial need, as determined by your cost of attendance minus expected family contribution and other financial aid (such as grants or scholarships). Subsidized Loans do not accrue interest while you are in school at least half-time or during deferment periods.

Located on the Student Services Center in Connect Carolina; is posted within the Financial Aid item section. Indicates we are missing a document from the student or can serve as an instructional item.

Your total income is your adjusted gross income (AGI) + untaxed income.

A student who is seeking a bachelor’s degree.

When a student is given permission by the university to be enrolled less than full-time (12+ credit hours) in any given semester.

Direct unsubsidized loans are available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students and they do not need to demonstrate financial need to qualify for the loan. PLUS, or parent loans, are also unsubsidized.

The process by which a financial aid office confirms the accuracy of the information submitted on the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile. Students are randomly selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education. Required to be completed before an award can be offered to a student and/or funds can be released.

When a student drops all courses after university census date, and will no longer be an enrolled student.

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