Terms To Know


Academic year: A period of no less than 30 weeks of instructional time, normally two semesters.

Award Letter: A means of notifying successful financial aid applicants of the assistance being offered. The award letter usually provides information on the types and amounts of aid offered, as well as specific program information, student responsibilities, and the conditions which govern the award. Generaly provides students with the opportunity to accept or decline the aid offered. (See Financial Aid Notification)

Authorization: Scholarship authorization for payment towards student’s balance entered by the Financial Aid Office.


Bachelor's Degree: The degree given for successful completion of the undergraduate curriculum at a four-year college or university. Also called a baccalaureate degree.


Commuter Student: A student who does not live on campus; typically, "commuter" refers to a student living at home with his or her parents, but can also mean any student who lives off-campus.

Cost of Attendance (COA): Generally, this includes the tuition and fees normally assessed to a student, together with the institution's estimate of the cost of housing and dining, transportation and commuting costs, books and supplies, and miscellaneous personal expenses. In addition, student loan fees, dependent care, reasonable costs for a study abroad or cooperative education program, and/or costs related to a disability may be included, when appropriate. Also referred to as "cost of education" or "budget."

Credit (or Credit Hour): The unit of measurement some institutions give for fulfilling course requirements.

Custodial Parent: The parent with whom the dependent student lives, and whose financial information is used in the need analysis (FAFSA) when parents are divorced or separated.


Deferment (of loan): A condition during which payments of principal are not required, and, for Federal Perkins and Subsidized Federal Stafford and Direct Subsidized Loans, interest does not accrue. The repayment period is extended by the length of the deferment period.

Department of Education, U.S. (ED): The Federal government agency that administers assistance to students enrolled in postsecondary educational programs under the following programs: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Work-Study (FWS), Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Programs, and William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program.

Dependent Student: A student who does not qualify as an independent student and whose parental income and asset information is used in calculating an Expected Family Contribution (see Independent Student).

Disbursement: The release or payment of aid towards a student balance.

Direct PLUS Loan: Long-term loans made available to parents of dependent students. Interest rates are linked to 52-week Treasury bill rates, but may not exceed 9%. May be used to replace EFC; amount borrowed is limited to the cost of attendance minus estimated financial assistance.

Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Long term, low-interest loans administered by the Department of Education and institutions. Variable interest rate not to exceed 8.25%. Direct Unsubsidized Loans can be used to replace EFC.


Educational Benefits: Funds, primarily federal, awarded to certain categories of students (veterans, children of deceased veterans or other deceased wage earners, and students with physical disabilities) to help finance their postsecondary education regardless of their ability to demonstrate need in the traditional sense.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): This is an index number that college financial aid staff use to determine how much federal, state, and certain types of institutional aid you would receive.


Federal Pell Grant: A federal grant program for needy post secondary students who have not yet received a baccalaureate or first professional degree; administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

Federal PLUS Loan (FPLUS): Long-term loans made available to parents of dependent students. Interest rates may not exceed 9%. May be used to replace EFC; annual amount borrowed limited to the cost of attendance minus estimated financial assistance.

Federal Work-Study Program (FWS): A campus-based program; a part-time employment program which provides jobs for undergraduate and graduate students who are in need of such earnings to meet a portion of their educational expenses.

Financial Aid: General term that describes any source of student assistance outside the student or the student's family. Funds awarded to a student to help meet postsecondary educational expenses. These funds are generally awarded on the basis of financial need and include scholarships, grants, loans, and employment.

Financial Aid Award: An offer of financial or in-kind assistance to a student attending a postsecondary educational institution. This award may be in the form of one or more of the following types of financial aid: repayable loan, a non-repayable grant and/or scholarship, and/or student employment.

Financial Aid Package: A financial aid award to a student comprised of a combination of forms of financial aid (loans, grants and/or scholarships, employment).

Financial Need: The difference between the institution's cost of attendance and the family's ability to pay (i.e., Expected Family Contribution). Ability to pay is represented by the Expected Family Contribution for federal need-based aid and for many state and institutional programs.

Financial Need Formula: Cost of attendance minus Expected Family Contribution equals financial need (COA - EFC = Need).

Fiscal Year: This is an accounting year. It is a customized 12-month period used for accounting purposes. The dates for a fiscal year by Jackson State University standards are July 1 through June 30th.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The financial aid application document completed by the student, and the student's parents if applicable, that collects household and financial information. The FAFSA is the foundation document for all federal need analysis computations and database matches performed for a student.


Grant: A type of financial aid that does not have to be repaid; usually awarded on the basis of need, possibly combined with skills or characteristics the student possesses. Also see Gift Aid.


Independent Student: A student who:

(a) will be 24 years of age by January 1 of the aid year;
(b) is an orphan or a ward of the court;
(c) is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces;
(d) is currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training;
(d) is married;
(e) is a graduate or professional student;
(e) has legal dependents other than a spouse; or
(f) presents documentation of other unusual circumstances demonstrating independence to the student financial aid administrator.


J Number: Number assigned to each student upon admissions to Jackson State University.


Legal Dependent (of Applicant): A biological or adopted child, or a person for whom the applicant has been appointed legal guardian, and for whom the applicant provides more than half support. In addition, a person who lives with and receives at least half support from the applicant and will continue to receive that support during the award year. For purposes of determining dependency status, a spouse is not considered a legal dependent.

Loan: An advance of funds evidenced by a promissory note and requiring the recipient to repay the specified amount(s) under prescribed conditions.


Merit-based Aid: Student assistance awarded because of a student's achievement or talent in a particular area, such as academics, athletics, music, etc.


NetID: Password set by the student in their PAWS Account.

Need-based Aid: Student assistance awarded because a student's financial circumstances do not permit him or her to afford the cost of a post secondary education.


Packaging: The process of combining various types of student aid (grants, loans, scholarships, and employment) to attempt to meet the full amount of a student's need.

Parent Contribution: A quantitative estimate of the parents' ability to contribute to postsecondary educational expenses.

Parent Plus Loan (PLUS): Long-term loans made available to parents of dependent students. Interest rates may not exceed 9%. May be used to replace EFC; annual amount borrowed limited to the cost of attendance minus estimated financial assistance.

PAWS (Personal Access to the Web Services): Portal that provides access to the student JSU account.

Promissory Note: The legal document which binds a borrower to the repayment obligations and other terms and conditions which govern a loan program.

Purge: Before the start of each academic semester a student must reconcile their balance. If the balance is not reconciled within the 10th day of classes you will be purged from the class roster.


Repayment Schedule: A plan that is provided to the borrower at the time he or she ceases at least half-time enrollment. The plan should set forth the principal and interest due on each installment and the number of payments required to pay the loan in full. Additionally, it should include the interest rate, the due date of the first payment, and the frequency of payments.

Residency: Official place of residence. For university purposes students that graduated from high school, Community College in the state of Mississippi will be considered a Mississippi resident.


SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress): Minimum academic standards that a student must maintain in order to continue to receive financial aid.
Scholarship: A form of financial assistance that does not require repayment or employment and is usually made to students who demonstrate or show potential for distinction, usually in academic performance.

Student Aid Report (SAR): The official notification sent to a student as a result of the Central Processing System (CPS) receiving an applicant record (via FAFSA) for the student. The SAR summarizes applicant information, an Expected Family Contribution for the student, and displays other special messages related to the student's application. In some instances the SAR may need to be submitted to the financial aid office at the school the student plans to attend, but only if the school requests it.

Student Contribution: A quantitative estimate of the student's ability to contribute to postsecondary expenses for a given year.

Subsidized Loan: 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. Subsidized loans are awarded based on financial need and may not be used to finance the family contribution.


Taxable Income: Income earned from wages, salaries, and tips, as well as interest income, dividend income, business or farm profits, and rental or property income.

Title IV Programs: Those federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. Includes: the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work-Study, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Stafford Loan, Federal PLUS Loan, Direct Loan, Direct PLUS Loan, and SSIG.

Tuition Payment Plans: A strategy by which payment for present costs of postsecondary education is extended into a future period of time.


Unmet Need: The difference between a student's total cost of attendance at a specific institution and the student's total available resources.

Unsubsidized Loan: With this loan, the government does not pay the interest while the student is enrolled. The student has the option to either pay the accruing interest monthly or allow the interest to capitalize. Required payments do not begin until 6 months after the student drops below half-time enrollment. Unsubsidized loans are not based on financial need and therefore may be used to finance the family contribution.

Untaxed Income: All income received that is not reported to the Internal Revenue Service or is reported but excluded from taxation. Such income would include but not be limited to any untaxed portion of Social Security benefits, Earned Income Credit, welfare payments, untaxed capital gains, interest on tax-free bonds, dividend exclusion, and military and other subsistence and quarters allowances.


Verification: The process of the University checking the information that the student reported on the financial aid application. This is done by requiring the student to complete an institutional form and requiring the student to submit various documents such as student and parent tax forms and W2 statements.


Jackson State University is designated as a "higher research activity” institution by the Carnegie Foundation

Jackson State University | 1400 John R. Lynch Street | Jackson, MS 39217 | 601-979-2121
A Military-Friendly University