Glossary of Financial Aid Acronyms

Many acronyms exist in the financial aid (or “finaid”) industry. In case you encounter one of these, we’ve provided the list below to help you understand the language.

  • COA (Cost of Attendance) – The total cost of attending a post-secondary institution which includes items such as: tuition, room and board, books, transportation and personal expenses.
  • COMA (Commonwealth) – This is a state funded need-based grant program for residents of Virginia who are enrolled in at least 6 credit hours.
  • DRN (Data Release Number) – This unique number appears on a student’s SAR and must be provided to any school wishing to receive FAFSA data that was not originally listed on the form.
  • ED (U.S. Department of Education) – Government agency that oversees all federal aid programs.
  • EFC (Expected Family Contribution) – Amount of money that student and his or her family is expected to contribute toward educational costs. The EFC is determined by the data provided on the FAFSA.
  • FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – This is the form that must be completed and submitted to determine a student’s eligibility for federal aid.
  • FAT (Financial Aid Transcript) – A record of all aid received by a student at a particular school.
  • FDLP (Federal Direct Loan Program) – Also known as DL. DL or FDLP are used in referring to the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. Loans are made directly from the government rather than commercial lenders. FDLP replaced the FFELP (Federal Family Education Loan Program), which used banks, credit unions as lenders.
  • FSEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) – Also known as SEOG. A federal grant awarded to the neediest undergraduate students. Amounts can range from $100 to $4,000 per year.
  • FWS (Federal Work Study) – Federal aid program that provides on and off campus jobs to students.
  • FAA (Financial Aid Administrator) – College employee working in the financial aid office.
  • FAN – (Financial Aid Notification) – Communication sent to students via e-mail when they have been awarded.
  • GED (General Education Development) Certificate – A certificate received by a student who passes an approved high school equivalency test.
  • GPA (Grade Point Average) – An average of a student’s grades that have been converted into numeral form. Usually 4.0 = A, 3.0 = B, 2.0 = C.
  • ISIR (Institutional Student Information Record) – Electronic output data that is sent to schools listed on a student’s FAFSA.
  • MIL (Missing Information Letter) – Communication sent to students via e-mail to inform them that additional information is needed to complete their FAFSA.
  • MPN (Master Promissory Note) – The promissory note a student or parent signs when taking out a Stafford or PLUS loan. It is promise to repay the loan.
  • PTAP (Part-time Assistance Program) – A grant that is a state funded need-based program for eligible Virginia residents attending 8 credits or less.
  • PIN (Personal Identification Number) – A number used to authenticate a user of computer or telephone system.
  • PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) – Federal, guaranteed loan for parents of dependent undergraduate students
  • SAR (Student Aid Report) – A student’s EFC is presented on the SAR. It is the federal output document that results from completing the FAFSA.
  • SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress) – Every student must maintain satisfactory academic progress toward their degree or certificate in order to remain eligible for federal aid. Every school will create a quantitative and qualitative measurement.
  • SSN (Social Security Number) – This is a unique nine-digit number assigned to every U.S. citizen that identifies location of birth or registration.
  • VMSDEP (Virginia Military Survivors and dependents Education Program)– Provides educational benefits to spouses and children of military service members killed, missing in action, taken prisoner, or who became at least 90% disabled as a result of military service in an armed conflict. Program waives tuition and fees in Virginia and is available for up to four years.
  • W-2 – All employers are required by the IRS to report wages earned by their employees through the W-2.