Student Financial Aid

How Financial Aid Works

Glossary of Terms

Academic Rank
Your academic grade level during the financial aid award period. Undergraduate academic rank is based on the number of credit hours you have successfully completed at the time we award your financial aid. Also see Federal Direct Loan Borrowing Limits.
Rank Credit Hours
01 0 - 29
02 30 - 59
03 60 - 89
04 90+

Interest on Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Graduate PLUS Loans, and Parent PLUS Loans will accumulate, or accrue, if you choose to defer interest payments until after graduation. This means that the interest will be capitalized (added on to the principal balance) whenever you enter repayment or your deferment ends.

Aggregate Loan Limit
The maximum amount that you may borrow in your lifetime on Federal Direct Loans. For more information click here.

Assumed Aid
If you received any aid in the previous school year which was to be applied specifically toward tuition and fees, Student Financial Aid will assume these to be renewable funds and will indicate an assumed award for the upcoming year. Read more about assumed aid.

The total cost of attending school for one academic year, including tuition, books and supplies, and living expenses (Click here for Ohio State's most recently published estimated expenses). Student Financial Aid calculates standard budgets for all students yearly.

Consolidation allows a borrower to combine several existing loans into one new loan with a new payment schedule to simplify loan repayments. Another benefit may include a lower interest rate. See for more information.

Failure to repay a loan in compliance with the terms of the promissory note. If the records show that you are in default, you will not be able to be awarded or to receive financial aid until you resolve the default with the lender(s).

Deferment of Loans
An approved postponement of loan repayment for a specified period.

Dependent Student
Your dependency status is determined based on questions asked on the FAFSA. If you believe your dependency status should be changed, you may appeal to SFA. Your appeal may be approved if extenuating circumstances exist. As long as you are determined to be dependent, your parent(s) and step-parent(s) must also report their income(s) and sign the FAFSA. See also Independent Student.

A payment; for example, a payment from a loan program to your account for a specific semester is a disbursement.

Disclosure Statement
A statement mailed directly to the borrower from the servicer informing the borrower of the loan amount, applicable fee(s) and rebate(s), and the disbursement plan. It also gives information on how to cancel all or part of the loan money already credited to the borrower's account.

Eligible Citizen
You must be one of the following to receive federal student aid:
  • U.S. citizen
  • U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swain’s Island)

Eligible Non-Citizen
You must be one of the following to receive federal student aid as a non-citizen:
  • U.S. permanent resident who has an I-551, or a conditional permanent resident with a Conditional Green Card I-551C
  • Citizen of the Freely Associated States: the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands
If you’re not in one of these categories, you must have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) showing one of the following designations:
  • “Refugee”
  • “Asylum Granted”
  • “Cuban-Haitian Entrant”
  • “Conditional Entrant” (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980)
  • Victims of human trafficking, T-visa (T-2, T-3, or T-4, etc.) holder
  • “Parolee” (You must be paroled into the United States for at least one year and you must be able to provide evidence that you are in the United States for other than a temporary purpose and that you intend to become a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.)
If you have only a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence (I-171 or I-464), or if you’re in the United States on certain visas, including an F1 or F2 student visa, a G series visa (pertaining to international organizations), or a J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa, you’re not eligible for federal student financial aid. Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are eligible only for certain federal aid programs. These applicants should contact the financial aid office for more information. For more information about other types of visas that are not acceptable, check with the financial aid office.
EN Grade
A failing grade assigned when a student ceases to attend class. EN's may be assigned from week 0 (never attended) through week 7 (the 60% point of the term) and indicate, for financial aid purposes, that the student has unofficially withdrawn from the course. EN hours will be counted as attempted but not successfully completed and therefore will affect your Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Enrollment Status
Undergraduate Full Time 3/4 Time Half Time Part Time
Credit Hours 12+ 9-11 6-8 1-5
Graduate/Professional Full Time 3/4 Time Half Time Part Time
Credit Hours 8+ 6-7 4-5 1-3
Note: Post-candidacy Ph.D. students are considered full time with 3 credit hours.

Entrance Counseling
An online session that provides basic facts about Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and explains borrowers' rights and responsibilities.

Exit Counseling
An online session during which Federal Direct Loan borrowers who are graduating, leaving school or dropping below half-time enrollment receive important information about their repayment obligations and their rights and responsibilities. If you are graduating and have a Perkins Loan, you must also complete an Online Exit Interview at the Office of Financial Services website.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
The amount that you and your family will be expected to contribute toward your educational expenses (budget), as determined by the federal government from the information on your FAFSA. If you would like to get an estimate of your EFC, try the Quick EFC calculator at For a more in-depth description of the calculation and to get worksheets that show how the EFC is calculated, go to or call (800) 4-FED-AID (433-3243).

Federal Direct Loan Program
Students and parents may borrow money from the federal government through Ohio State to help with their educational expenses. This loan program includes Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, the Graduate PLUS Loan, and the Parent PLUS Loan (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students). A FAFSA is required every year you wish to be considered for these loans.

Financial Aid
All forms of financial assistance available to meet the cost of attendance including scholarships and grants (called "gift programs"), work programs and loans (called "self-help programs").

Financial Need
The difference between the cost of education (budget) at Ohio State and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This amount may be higher or lower depending on the costs at the institution.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The application that you must complete for the U.S. Department of Education to determine your EFC and for Ohio State to award your need-based financial aid. We encourage you to file the FAFSA online at by your priority deadline.

Gift Aid
Funds awarded to students on the basis of academic merit, special talent, and/or financial need to help with college costs. Students have no obligation for repayment. Few financial aid packages are composed entirely of gift aid; most include some form of self-help assistance.

Grace Period
The period of time between when you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment and when your loan repayments begin. For Federal Direct Stafford Loans, the grace period is six months; for Perkins Loans, nine months.

Gift aid awarded to a student on the basis of financial need. See the Grants page for more information.

Independent Student
For academic year 2015-2016, you are considered an independent student if at least one of the following applies to you:
  • you were born before January 1, 1992
  • you are married at the time of filing the FAFSA
  • you will be enrolled in a Master's or doctorate program at the beginning of the 2015-2016 award year (please note that summer term begins the new award year at Ohio State)
  • you are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training
  • you are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • you have children who will receive more than half their support from you between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016
  • you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than half their support from you, now and through June 30, 2016
  • you have been, at any time since you turned age 13, an orphan (both your parents are deceased), a dependent or ward of the court, or in foster care
  • you are or were as determined by a court in your state of legal residence, an emancipated minor
  • you have received a determination on or after July 1, 2014 that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless and at risk for being homeless
Loan Acceptance
If you have a Master Promissory Note (MPN) on file with the federal processor, you will need to accept, reduce, or decline your Federal Direct Loan on your Student Center, accessible via Buckeye Link, by phone, or in person before funds may be released to you.

Merit-Based Aid
Gift aid awarded to a student for superior academic performance or talent, typically demonstrated by grade point average or performance in a given field.

Origination Fee
A processing fee that will be automatically deducted by the federal processor from each gross disbursement of a Federal Direct Stafford or PLUS Loan.

The total combination of scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans awarded to you based on your financial and academic eligibility.

Personal Identification Number (PIN)
On May 10, 2015 Federal Student Aid will replace the PIN with an FSA ID. For more information on obtaining your FSA ID please visit

Private Loan
Additional loan funding for unmet college expenses from private lenders. Requirements and repayment terms vary. A credit check is usually required. Ohio State will certify your eligibility for you if needed. Please visit the Private Loan page for more information.

Promissory Note
The binding legal document you sign when you get a loan. It lists the terms under which you are borrowing and the repayment terms to which you are agreeing, including information about interest rate, deferment, and cancellation provisions. You should read and keep this document for your records. For Federal Direct Stafford Loans and PLUS Loans, one Master Promissory Note (MPN) is needed for the first-time borrower. Each federal loan awarded thereafter must be accepted on your Student Center, accessible via Buckeye Link.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
Among other requirements, you must maintain satisfactory progress toward a degree or certificate in order for you to continue to receive financial aid. The percentage of hours you successfully complete (as a percentage of hours attempted), the length of time needed to obtain your degree, and your grade point average are all taken into consideration.

Gift aid awarded to a student on the basis of superior academic performance or talent.

Self-Help Program
A program which allows a student to earn funds (Federal Work-Study Program) or to borrow funds (loan programs) to help with college costs.

Student Aid Report
A summary of information you have provided on the FAFSA. (Click here to learn how to make corrections.) If your SAR information is complete and accurate, the school(s) will use it to determine your financial aid.

Awarded on the basis of financial need, a subsidized loan is one for which the government pays the interest while you remain in school at least half time.

Transient student
A student who is enrolled in a degree-granting program at one institution who enrolls for a short period, usually one term, at another institution. Transients student are not eligible for federal or state student financial aid.

An unsubsidized loan is one for which you are responsible for the interest that accrues once the loan has been made until it is paid in full. It is not awarded based on need, but award amounts are limited by program maximums and cost of attendance.

The process by which Ohio State confirms the accuracy of the information you put on the FAFSA. This process ensures students receive all the aid for which they are qualified; it also prevents students from receiving aid for which they are not eligible. See the Verification page for more information.


First File the FAFSA