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Undergraduate Admissions

Financial Aid Glossary

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 who come from backgrounds of economic and educational disadvantage. The Fund's mission is to not only support educational initiatives but to also provide support services and leadership development activities that will improve student success. Rutgers' EOF program has turned the dream of earning a college degree into reality for more than 15,000 EOF graduates since its inception.

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 which 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. Using available resources to give each student the best possible package of aid is one of the aid administrator's major responsibilities. 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).

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 that has accrued over time. The cost of borrowing money.

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

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

Net Price Calculator: Estimate 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 they 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 are able to 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.

Package: The total financial aid offer made by a college or university consisting of one or more aid programs such as grants, loans, and work-study.

Pell Grant: Usually available to undergraduate students only. Eligibility is determined by the Federal Pell Grant Program based on data submitted by the applicant and/or family. To apply for a Pell grant, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Priority Filing Date: The FAFSA or NJAFAA priority filing date for first-year students is December 1. The FAFSA or NJAFAA priority filing date for transfer students is February 1. Submitting your FAFSA or NJAFAA by the priority filing date ensures that 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 pay back the loan. It will include information on how interest is calculated and deferment and cancellation provisions. Read this document carefully and be sure to save it because you will need to refer to it when you begin repaying your loan.

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

Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans: For subsidized loans, the interest is paid on your behalf by the government while you are enrolled as at least a half-time student and during grace or deferment periods. For both 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 who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children. On May 9, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy extended the potential state financial aid eligibility to these students. See the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application (NJFAA) section above 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 both subsidized and unsubsidized loans, repayment of principal and interest begins six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time.

Unmet Need: The difference between a student's Cost of Attendance (COA) and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Work-Study: Part-time jobs, either on or off campus, that 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 receives a paycheck. Students can earn up to the total amount of work-study funds for which they're eligible.