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Financial Aid Glossary of Terms

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Many different terms are used in financial aid. For your reference and understanding, this glossary contains a list of the most common financial aid terms at Rio Salado College.

Note: current high school or secondary home school students are not eligible to receive Federal Student Aid funds. The Ability to Benefit examination is not an option to become eligible for current high school or secondary home school students.

Anticipated Disbursement Date – The date that sometimes displays or a lender has on file that signifies the date students' funds are anticipated to be disbursed. It is important to note that the anticipated disbursement date is not the date students' funds arrive for processing. Instead, it is an approximation of when funds will be disbursed to Rio Salado College for processing. The best way to determine if your funds have arrived is to check your account summary on When your account is credited, your funds have arrived, and any excess Federal Student Aid funds will be refunded to you via MSRP.

Alternative Loan (also known as a Private Loan) – Is a consumer loan that college students may seek from a private lenders to supplement education costs. The student's ability to obtain a private loan is typically based on his/her credit score and ability to secure a co-signer on the loan. Alternative loans typically carry higher rates of interest than federal loans. Rio Salado College will only certify private loans up to the annual Cost of Attendance. The total amount of aid that a student receives cannot exceed the Cost of Attendance.

Award Period or Award Year - The time period during an academic year in which financial aid is processed. At Rio Salado College, the award year is made up of Fall Semester, Spring Semester, and the following Summer Semester. Rio Salado College offers students 50 start-date options per award year. The start date(s) selected by a student determines which semester(s) are in the student's award period or award year.

Book Advance – The book advance allows students to use a portion of anticipated financial aid to purchase textbooks and supplies from any business. Each semester, Rio Salado College will initiate a book advance that eligible students can use to purchase text books and supplies for upcoming classes. To qualify, the student must have a projected financial aid award, and have sufficient aid to cover his or her outstanding student account balance. Students who qualify to receive a book advance have the right to opt out of the process, in which case, funds designated as Book Advance monies will be included with the student's financial aid refund. In most cases, book advances will be posted to eligible students' accounts with Rio Salado College approximately 6 business days before the start of the student's semester block. The funds will then be routed to students through the Maricopa Student Refund Program (MSRP). Students should allow 4 – 6 business days from the date the book advance is posted at Rio Salado College for the book advance to be received by Citi Prepaid Services. Students will receive an email notification when Citi has received and processed the book advance. If the book advance posts on a Friday or holiday, allow additional time.

Borrower - The person who obtains and receives a student loan to pay for college costs.

Budget- See Cost of Attendance

Capitalization of Loan Interest - The process of deferring interest payments as those payments come due. Deferring interest payments adds the accrued interest to the principal amount of the loan. Although capitalizing is a way to postpone interest payments, it adds to the amount of the principal and, consequently, increases both the interest (based on the higher principal) and the overall amount that must eventually be repaid.

"Complete" File – A student's is considered to have a "complete" file (complete financial aid file) after the Financial Aid office has received the student's FAFSA and reviewed and verified all requested submissions from the student's To Do List (see my.maricopa definition). Once a student's file is complete, the student's file is ready to be evaluated by staff in the Financial Aid Office, who review it and, once all submissions and FAFSA information is evaluated, will package the student for the Federal Student Aid that he/she is eligible to receive.

Consortium Agreement - An agreement that allows a student to take courses at two or more different colleges during the same semester and receive aid based on the combined enrollment at these institutions. As the "parent" school (the school where you receive your Federal Student Aid to pay for courses at other institutions), Rio Salado College may enter into consortium agreements with any of the Maricopa Community Colleges. As the "participating" school (the school in which you are attending classes, but not directly receiving Federal Student Aid to pay for those classes), Rio Salado College may enter into consortium agreements with any accredited school. If Rio Salado College is the participating school then the student is responsible to pay no later than the first day his or her class(es) start.

Cost of Attendance or COA (also known as Cost of Education or Budget) – The estimated maximum cost for the student to attend Rio Salado College. Costs factored into the COA include: tuition and fees, room and board, transportation, books, supplies, and other personal expenses. Loan fees, if applicable, may also be included in the COA. At Rio Salado College, different standard budget amounts are established for students living with parents and off-campus, in-state and out-of-state students and enrollment status.

Default - Failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to when you signed a promissory note. The consequences of default are severe. If you default on a loan, the holder of the loan and the federal government can take legal action to recover the money, including garnishing your wages and withholding income tax refunds. Defaulting on a government loan will make you ineligible for future federal financial aid, unless a satisfactory repayment schedule is arranged, and can affect your credit rating.

Deferment (Student Loan) – The act of postponing student loan payments. For example, students who are attending at least half-time with Rio Salado College can request an In-School Deferment to have the holders of their previously borrowed loans student obligation to repay these prior loans. There are other loan deferments and payment options for students having difficulty repaying their loans.

Dependent Student- For purposes of Federal Student Aid eligibility, students who do not meet the federally determined criteria to be considered independent of parent income. Students who are Dependent must include parent's income information on the FAFSA application. If a dependent student is selected for verification then they are required to provide parent's federal income tax documents and/or other verification documents.

Direct Loan Program (William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program) – a Federal Student Aid program for federal student loans. Under this program , the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. Rio Salado College participates in the Direct Loan Program.

Drop/Add Period- The period of time of each course in which a student is eligible for a full refund. Rio Salado College's only disburses Federal Student Aid funds to student accounts after the Drop/Add Period has passed for classes that the student has begun.

Eligible Non-citizen - Someone who is not a U.S. citizen but is eligible for Federal student Aid. Eligible non-citizens include U.S. permanent residents who are holders of valid green cards, or holders of form I-94 who have been granted refugee or asylum status and certain other non-citizens:
  • T-Visa Holders only (T-1, T-2, T-3, etc).
  • U.S. permanent resident with an Alien Registration Card (I-551).
  • Conditional permanent residents with an I-551C card.
  • Have an Arrival Departure Record (I-94) from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) with any of the following labels: Refugee, Asylum, Parole, Victim of Human Trafficking, Cuban-Haitian entrant.

Enrollment Status - The status used by the financial aid office to determine student eligibility for Federal Student Aid programs. Enrollment is constantly monitored throughout the financial aid process at Rio Salado College. Types of statuses include:
  • Full time (12 or more credit hours).
  • Three-quarter time (9-11 credit hours)
  • Half time (6-8 credit hours)
  • Less than half time (1-5 credit hours).
Students must be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for student loans. For students who qualify for a Pell Grant, Pell Grant funding will adjust according to the enrollment status for eligible students.

Entrance Counseling- An online counseling session that explains the students' rights and responsibilities for federal student loans. It is a federal requirement for students to complete entrance counseling. Federal rules also allow schools to establish their own entrance counseling requirements. Rio Salado College requires every student loan borrower to complete this every award year. Rio Salado College will not disburse student loan funds until after student have completed entrance counseling and the Financial Aid Office has verified that results that the student has successfully completed entrance counseling. To complete your entrance counseling session for Rio, please click here.

Expected Family Contribution or EFC – As calculated from your responses to on the FAFSA, the amount of money that your household is expected to be able to contribute to the student's education. The EFC is determined by the Federal Methodology need analysis formula approved by Congress. The EFC includes the student contribution as well as the parent contribution for dependent students. The EFC depends on the student's dependency status, family size, number of family members in college, taxable and nontaxable income and assets.

Exit Counseling- An online counseling session that explains the students' rights and responsibilities for federal student loans. It is a federal requirement for student loan borrowers to complete exit counseling when they graduate or drop below half-time enrollment. To complete your exit counseling session for Rio, please click here.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) – Federal legislation enacted to protect the privacy students' educational records. In order for a third party (such as your spouse or parent – anyone who is NOT the student) to gain access to your educational records, both you and the third party must provide written consent. In addition to a general FERPA for the release of student records, Rio Salado College requires the completion an additional FERPA Release before the Financial Aid Office will release financial aid information to anyone other than the student. This form must be completed each academic year. In addition to the release form, the Financial Aid Office at Rio Salado College requires valid copies of all parties' state identification to be on file in order for a FERPA Release to go into effect. The collection of state identification for FERPA Release forms much also be collected once each academic year.

Federal Student Aid (FSA) Programs (also known as federal financial aid, financial aid or Title IV Programs) - Financial aid programs that are administered by the U.S. federal government. Rio Salado College participates in the following Federal Student Aid programs:
  • Pell Grant Program
  • Federal Work Study Program
  • Stafford Loan Program
  • Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Program.
In addition, we participate in Arizona's Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) Program.

Federal Work Study - Need-based work program designed to provide part-time employment for undergraduate or graduate students with financial need.

Financial Aid Package (also known as an aid package, award or financial aid offer) - The amount of financial assistance offered to a student to help reduce the cost of post-secondary education. Types of awards can include a combination of scholarships, grants, and loans.

Financial Aid Notification or FAN (also known as an award letter) – A letter sent to students informing them of the financial assistance they qualify to receive. This notice includes types and amounts of aid being offered, standard budget, family contribution, minimum required credit hours, residency, award period, and terms and conditions.

Financial Need – A federal formula to determine the student's financial need. Financial Need is the difference between the COA and the EFC (COA – EFC = Financial Need). This is the financial gap between the cost of attending the school and the student's financial resources (as determined by the FAFSA). Eligibility for need-based financial aid programs is determined using this formula.

Forbearance, Student Loan – An agreement between the lender and the student loan borrower that results in a temporary postponement or reduction of repayment amount on a previously borrowed student loan. Forbearance may be available to you if you have experienced a financial hardship such as unemployment or are in a situation that your monthly minimum repayment amount exceeds a defined percentage of your monthly income.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - The application used to apply for Federal Student Aid Programs including Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, and all other need-based aid. The student's eligibility to qualify for Federal Student Aid programs is based on the results of the FAFSA, and is based on a number of factors. Completion of the FAFSA is required each academic year that the student requests access for Federal Student Aid.

Grace Period - A six-month period after you leave school and before the first payment of your Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized Stafford Loan(s) must be made. The grace period begins the day after the borrower ceases to be enrolled at least half time. Students are entitled to one grace period.

Grant - A type of financial aid based on financial need. Students do not have to repay grants. The grants available at Rio Salado College include Pell Grants, and, on a very limited basis, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), and Arizona's Leveraging Education Assistance Partnership (LEAP) Grant.

Independent Student - For purposes of Federal Student Aid eligibility, an independent student is one who, by federally determined rules, meets one or more of the following criteria:
  • 24 years old as of January 1 of the upcoming academic year.
  • Married prior to signing and filing the FAFSA.
  • Have children who receive more than half their support from the student, and will continue to receive such support during the the award year.
  • Have legal dependents (other than a spouse or child) who live with you and receive more than half their support from you and will continue to receive such support during the award year.
  • A veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
  • An orphan, foster child or ward of the court effective at age 13 or older even if the status has changed later.
  • Are or were, upon turning age 18 an emancipated minor (released from control of their parent or guardian) or in legal guardianship, both as adjudicated by a court in their state of legal residence.
  • An unaccompanied homeless youth or an unaccompanied youth who is self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

A parent refusing to provide support for their child's education is not sufficient for the child to be declared independent.

Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) – The file that the U.S. Department of Education sends to the schools that you ask to receive your FAFSA. The ISIR contains all of your FAFSA data. After the U.S. Department of Education processes a student's FAFSA, the student receives a Student Aid Report, and the schools that the student lists on the FAFSA will receive the student's ISIR.

Be sure to request you request to contains all of your FAFSA

Interest – money charged to the borrower for the privilege of using the lender's money. Interest is usually calculated as a percentage of the principal balance of the loan. The percentage rate may be fixed for the life of the loan, or it may be variable, depending on the terms of the loan. All federal loans issued since October, 1992 use variable interest rates that are pegged to the cost of US Treasury Bills.

Loan - A type of financial aid which must be repaid with interest.

Master Promissory Note (also known as an MPN) – a legally-binding contract between a lender and a borrower. The promissory note contains the terms and conditions of the loan, including how and when the loan must be repaid even if the loan is sold to another lender or servicing agency.

my.maricopa – The student's window to view all activities associated with financial aid processing at Rio Salado College. In addition, students can register for classes and view grades by visiting To access your account you must login using your MEID (Maricopa Enterprise ID) and password.

Maricopa Student Refund Program (MSRP) – Financial Aid refunds are processed through the Maricopa Student Refund Program (MSRP). Student's have the choice to receive your refunds to an existing bank account via direct deposit, or to a personalized Visa® prepaid debit card issued by Citi® through the MSRP! This great new program is intended to give students faster and more convenient access to their financial aid and refunds. For student's who choose to receive a paper check, that option is still available, and will also be processed through Citi. If you have questions about your refund, you can view your student account at for additional information. If your refund has been posted to your student account, you should contact Citi Prepaid Customer Service at 866-326-8689 or for information about the payment.

National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS) - A system of the federal government which houses a student's federal educational loan borrowing history. All lenders are required to report students' loan information to this database system.

Pell Grant - A federal grant program offered to high-need students who are working toward their first undergraduate degree. Qualification is based on the student's EFC as reported on the FAFSA (or if selected for verification, the student's verified EFC), and the enrollment status based on actual classes that the student has currently underway.

Professional Judgment - Financial aid administrator discretion, based on special circumstances of a student, to change data elements used in determining financial aid eligibility for a student.

Program of Study- A degree, program or major plan of study. For purposes of Federal Student Aid funding, an eligible program must consist of at least 16 credit hours of study. Students must designate an eligible program of study before being awarded Federal Student Aid. Designating a program of study does not obligate you in any way to a certain education path. Rio Salado College offers many flexible programs with course offerings that easily transfer to other programs. Please speak with Academic Advisement if you need assistance.

Refund (also known as Excess Financial Aid) – The excess amount of a financial aid package available to students after Federal Student Aid funds have been applied to the tuition, fees and other charges on a student's account. Rio Salado College's Cashiers Office mails refunds after Federal Student Aid funds have been posted to the student's account. All disbursements are made in accordance with Rio Salado College policy: no Federal Student Aid Funds are disbursed until after:

  • The student's financial aid package has been processed.
  • The drop/add period for eligible classes has passed.
  • Grades for all prior terms have been posted.
  • Adherence to Block Calendar has been met.
  • Each student's Satisfactory Academic Progress has been verified.
  • Remember, you will only receive the portion of your Federal Student Aid funds for those classes which you have started. If your classes are staggered throughout the semester, your Federal Student Aid Funds will be staggered as well.
Satisfactory Academic Progress or SAP - A student must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress or SAP (or the terms and conditions of a previous appeal) in order to be eligible to continue receiving Federal Student Aid. To access Rio Salado's SAP Policy, click here.

Selective Service - Registration for the military draft. Male students who are U.S. citizens between 18 – 26 years of age and who were born after December 31, 1959, must be registered with Selective Service to be eligible to receive Federal Student Aid. Students needing help resolving problems concerning their Selective Service registration should call visit or call 1-847-688-6888. Rio Salado College is unable to process your request for Federal Student Aid until Selective Service matters are resolved by the student.

Subsidized Stafford Loan - A federally financed student loan made to students meeting eligibility requirements. The federal government does not charge interest on these loans while the borrowers are enrolled at least half time, during the grace period, or during authorized periods of deferment. Eligibility for a subsidized loan is based on need.

Unsubsidized Stafford Loan - A federally financed student loan made to students meeting eligibility requirements. Students need not demonstrate financial need. Interest is charged throughout the life of the loan. The borrower may choose to repay the interest charged on the loan or allow the interest to be capitalized when the loan enters repayment.

Verification - The process the U.S. Department of Education uses to make sure that the information reported on the FAFSA is accurate. Technical and administrative procedures are used by the educational institution to detect and resolve inaccuracies in the data supplied on the FAFSA. Evaluation of tax and asset documentation is required. If you have been selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education, Rio Salado College will request the information that you are responsible to provide by adding information to your 'To Do' list on Once you have provided the information, the college will evaluate the documents for processing.

  1. The grade received once a student formally removes themselves from a course or is administratively removed from a course after the course's drop/add period has passed. This grade is not considered as a satisfactory grade in Rio Salado College's SAP policy.
  2. The act of exiting one, several or all courses after the drop/add period has passed. If the student withdraws from all classes after the drop/add period has passed, the student may owe a balance with Rio Salado College for Federal Student Aid disbursed, but for which the student is no longer eligible. To learn more about the Return of Title IV Funds policy, which depending on the withdrawal date, can apply to students who have withdrawn from all classes, click here.