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Financial Aid Glossary

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)All taxable income as reported on the U.S. income tax return. Used to determine eligibility for financial aid programs that include the Scarlet Guarantee, Garden State Guarantee, and the Expanded RU-N to the TOP programs.

Assets: You and your family's financial worth, including real estate (excluding the home you live in), businesses, stocks, bonds, and cash savings.

Central Processing System (CPS): The U.S. Department of Education's Central Processing System is the service that analyzes your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and provides information to the federal/state governments and to the colleges to which you have applied. The CPS will forward a Student Aid Report (SAR) informing you of your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Cost of Attendance (COA): The total amount it costs to attend a school. The COA includes tuition and fees; on-campus room and board (or a housing and food allowance for off-campus students); allowances for books, supplies, transportation; loan fees; and applicable expenses for dependent care, disability, and some miscellaneous charges.

Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF): The New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund was created to ensure meaningful access to higher education for those from economic and educational disadvantaged backgrounds. The Fund's mission is to support educational initiatives and provide support services and leadership development activities that will improve student success. Since its inception, Rutgers' EOF program has turned the dream of earning a college degree into reality for more than 15,000 EOF graduates.

Expanded RU-N to the TOPExpanded Rutgers University–Newark Talent & Opportunity Pathways (Expanded RU-N to the TOP) program provides a “last-dollar” award that covers the cost of annual in-state tuition and mandatory fees for New Jersey first-year and transfer students and caps the cost of in-state tuition and mandatory fees a year for families with annual adjusted gross incomes of $100,000 or below based on a sliding scale. In an effort to recruit outstanding undergraduate students from across the state, this award is offered after all federal, state, and internal/external scholarships and grants have been applied. Applicants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually to be considered for the Expanded RU-N to the TOP. If they qualify as an NJ Dreamer, students will complete the NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application.

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Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount you and/or your family are expected to contribute toward your educational expenses, as determined by a federally mandated formula that uses the information you provide on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The FAFSA is a form that can be prepared annually by college students in the United States to determine their eligibility for federal student financial aid.

Financial Aid Package: The total amount of financial aid (federal and non-federal) a student receives. The financial aid administrator at a postsecondary institution combines various forms of aid into a "package" to help meet a student's need. One of the aid administrator's major responsibilities is using available resources to give each student the best possible aid package. Because funds are often limited, a financial aid package might fall short of the amount a student is eligible for. Also, the amount of federal student aid in a financial aid package is affected by other sources of aid received (scholarships, state aid, etc).

Financial Need: The difference between your budget as established by Rutgers and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and/or New Jersey Eligibility Index (NJEI).

Garden State GuaranteeA “last dollar” financial aid award for New Jersey residents who attend an in-state, public, four-year institution full-time. Students must meet specific income requirements and complete the FAFSA or NJAFAA annually to determine eligibility. The award is applied to the cost of in-state tuition and fees not covered by other grants and scholarships. Eligible students must be in year three or four of their first undergraduate degree program. For more information: Garden State Guarantee - Scarlet Hub (

Gift Aid: A form of financial aid that does not have to be repaid or earned.

Grants: Financial aid that does not require repayment and is awarded to students based on financial need.

Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA): New Jersey state agency with the sole mission of providing students and families with financial and informational resources for students to pursue their education beyond high school.

Interest: A percentage of the principal amount of money accrued over time. The cost of borrowing money.

Last Dollar GrantAn aid program that pays the remaining in-state tuition and eligible fees after all other federal, state, institutional, and external grants and scholarships have been applied.

Loan: Borrowed money that must be repaid to the lender with interest.

Need-Based Aid: Aid programs for which you must demonstrate financial need to qualify.

Net Price Calculator: Estimate the cost of attendance with this interactive tool at

New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application (NJAFAA): Allows undocumented students to apply for state financial aid. You should complete this application if you are not a United States citizen or eligible noncitizen and meet all of the following criteria; attended a New Jersey high school for at least three (3) years; graduated from a New Jersey high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in New Jersey; registered for Selective Service (male students only); and can file an affidavit stating that you have filed an application to legalize your immigration status or you will file an application as soon as you are eligible to do so.

New Jersey Eligibility Index (NJEI): The amount you and/or your parents or guardians are expected to contribute toward your educational expenses as determined by the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA).

Outside Scholarship: A scholarship funded by sources outside the Office of Financial Aid. These sources include corporations, individuals, or university departments, schools, and colleges.

Pell Grant: Usually available to undergraduate students only. The Federal Pell Grant Program determines eligibility based on data submitted by the applicant and/or family. You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for a Pell Grant.

Priority Filing Date: The FAFSA or NJAFAA priority filing date for first-year and transfer students is February 15. Submitting your FAFSA or NJAFAA by the priority filing date ensures you will be considered for all available aid. Aid will continue to be awarded until all funds have been allocated.

Promissory Note: The binding legal document you sign when you receive a student loan. It lists the conditions under which you are borrowing and the terms under which you agree to repay the loan. It will include information on calculating interest and deferment, and cancellation provisions. Read this document carefully and save it because you must refer to it when you begin repaying your loan.

Scarlet GuaranteeA signature Rutgers–New Brunswick program designed to make college more accessible and affordable, offering a “last dollar” financial aid award that covers the cost of in-state tuition and eligible fees for qualified students who have earned less than 60 credits. For more information: Scarlet Guarantee | Rutgers-New Brunswick

Scholarship: An award granted based on grades and other academic achievement rather than solely on financial need.

Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans: For subsidized loans, the government pays the interest on your behalf while you are enrolled as at least a half-time student and during grace or deferment periods. For subsidized and unsubsidized loans, repayment of principal and interest begins six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time.

The New Jersey Tuition Equity Act (NJ DREAM Act): On December 20, 2013, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed this law which allows undocumented college students to pay in-state tuition rates. The law extends in-state tuition rates to students brought illegally to the U.S. as children. On May 9, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy extended these students' potential state financial aid eligibility. See the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application (NJFAA) section for eligibility criteria.

Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans: For unsubsidized loans, interest accrues within sixty days of disbursement and can be paid while you are in school or capitalized until you begin repayment. Capitalized interest is added to the principal amount outstanding. For subsidized and unsubsidized loans, repayment of principal and interest begins six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time.

Work-Study: Part-time jobs, either on or off campus, allow students to earn money for college expenses. Note that work-study funds are not credited to a student's term bill, but rather the student must work to earn the funds and receive a paycheck. Students can earn up to the total amount of work-study funds they're eligible for.