Content Skip to content.
San Diego State University

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Glossary

Use these definitions to help you understand terms and concepts related to financial aid and scholarships.

General terms

  • Academic Progress: To continue receiving financial aid each year, you must pass a minimum percentage of units each semester with a minimum GPA.  Read more about the satisfactory academic progress requirements.
  • Academic Year: A 9-month period made up of the fall and spring semesters.
  • Adverse Credit History: A summary of your financial strength and your ability to repay future loans.  To qualify for a Parent PLUS or Grad PLUS Loan, the borrower cannot have an adverse credit history.
  • AidLink: SDSU's secure, web-based, self-service system that enables you to monitor the status of your financial aid and SDSU scholarship applications.  An AidLink account is created for you automatically once you complete the FAFSA or apply for an SDSU scholarship.
  • Alternative Loan:  Alternative,  private loans are credit-based consumer loans offered by financial institutions but must be certified by SDSU.  They are more expensive then federal loans and should only be used when you have exhausted all other options.
  • Capitalization: Unpaid interest added to the loan principal, which increases the principal amount of the loan and its total cost.
  • Census: The official count of student enrollment.  The census date is usually 1 week after the semester deadline for adding a course.
  • Cost of Attendance (COA): Cost of Attendance (COA) is the estimated cost to attend SDSU during the 9-month academic year. While your individual costs may vary, the COA reflects a modest, adequate living allowance. Your individual circumstances, discretionary expenses, or spending styles may not be the same as the standard COA. 
  • CSAC: The California Student Aid Commission is a California state agency that is responsible for awarding the Cal Grant programs, the Middle Class Scholarship, and the Chafee Grant.
  • Direct Deposit: (eRefund) is the only way to receive financial aid and scholarship funds that are available to you after your awarded funds have paid university charges of basic tuition and fees, out-of-state tuition and on-campus housing.  Sign up online through Student Account Services.
  • Disbursement: The payment of financial aid and scholarship funds to help pay university charges and/or direct deposited to your designated bank account. Usually, you receive one disbursement each semester. 
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The EFC is not an actual amount that you pay to the university; it is a calculation of how much you and your family are expected to contribute throughout the academic year to help pay for your educational expenses.
  • FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid should be completed by students of all class levels to be considered for all types of state and federal aid: grants, work study, student and parent loans. and some scholarships.
  • Full-Time Enrollment: A minimum of 12 units for undergraduate and teaching credential students; a minimum of 9 units for graduate students.
  • Grade Point Average (GPA): The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships uses your cumulative GPA as calculated by the Office of the Registrar to determine your eligibility for certain forms of aid.
  • Grant: Financial aid, often based on financial need, that does not need to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school).
  • Half-Time Enrollment: A minimum of 6 units for undergraduate and teaching credential students; a minimum of 5 units for graduate students. 
  • Less Than Half-Time Enrollment: Fewer than 6 units for undergraduate and teaching credential students; fewer than 5 units for graduate students.
  • Net Price / Net Price Calculator: Net price is the net cost to you, or net price of attending SDSU. It is the approximate cost you and your family should expect to pay from your own funds. The Net Price Calculator will help you determine this cost.
  • NSLDS: National Student Loan Data System is a centralized database which stores information on federal grants and loans you've received. You can access NSLDS using your Federal Student Aid PIN.
  • Outside Resource: Any type of financial assistance or reimbursement that you receive from a donor outside of the university or from another university department. Outside scholarships, prepaid tuition plans, a stipend, internship or traineeship payments are examples of outside resources.
  • Perkins Loan: A low interest federal loan with a fixed interest of 5 percent during repayment.
  • PIN - Federal Student Aid PIN: Your electronic personal identification number issued by the U. S. Department of Education that serves as your electronic signature for the FAFSA.  It also allows you access to your information in various U. S. Department of Education systems so that you can complete your application each year, sign promissory notes for your federal loans and monitor your student loan borrowing.
  • Private Loan: See Alternative Loans, above.
  • Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP): To continue receiving financial aid each year, you must pass a minimum percentage of units each semester with a minimum GPA.
  • Scholarship: Free money awarded to you based on academic merit (ability, skill or high grades) and/or financial need.
  • SDSU Scholarship: SDSU scholarships are made possible by contributions from generous donors to recognize and support student achievement. Each SDSU scholarship requires a separate application and essay.
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG): A federal grant program for undergraduates with exceptional financial need. You are considered automatically by completing the FAFSA.
  • Verification: The process used to document or verify that the data you reported on your FAFSA is accurate. Through your AidLink record, we will contact you for documentation that supports income and other information you reported.
  • Work Study: A federally funded work program that allows you to work part time, usually on campus.

Loan glossary

  • Accrue: The amount of interest that accumulates over time.
  • Activation, Loan:  The process you complete to request your student loan.  You activate (request) the loan by following the instructions online through your AidLink account.  You may activate any amount, up to your maximum eligibility for the year.
  • Adverse Credit History: A summary of your financial strength and your ability to repay future loans.  To qualify for a Parent PLUS or Grad PLUS Loan, the borrower cannot have an adverse credit history.
  • Capitalization: Unpaid interest added to the loan principal, which increases the principal amount of the loan and its total cost.
  • Consolidation: The process of combining several loans with multiple payments into a single new loan with one payment.
  • Default: Failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to in the promissory note. You may experience serious legal consequences if you default.
  • Deferment: A postponement of payment on a loan that is allowed under certain conditions.
    • For subsidized federal loans, interest does not accrue during deferment.
    • For unsubsidized loans, interest will continue to accrue during deferment. Any unpaid interest that accrues during the deferment period may be added to the principal balance (capitalized) of the loan.
  • Direct Loan: A federal loan borrowed directly from the U. S. Department of Education. Subsidized Direct Loan, Unsubsidized Direct Loan, Grad PLUS Loan, and Parent PLUS Loan are types of Direct Loans.
  • Endorser: Someone who does not have an adverse credit history and agrees to repay the loan if the borrower does not repay it. Sometimes used by borrowers to obtain a Grad PLUS Loan or Parent PLUS Loan. Also, an endorser may be needed when applying for an Alternative or Private Loan.
  • Grace period: A 6-month period before the first principal payment must be made on a subsidized or unsubsidized loan. The grace period begins the day after the student ceases to be enrolled at least half time.
    • Note: The grace period interest subsidy is temporarily eliminated on subsidized loan amounts borrowed July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014. Interest will accrue and capitalize if not paid during the loan's grace period.
  • Grad PLUS Loan: A federal loan borrowed directly from the U. S. Department of Education.  The graduate borrower is responsible for paying the interest while enrolled in school and during repayment.
  • Interest: The expense of borrowing money that is calculated as a percentage of the amount borrowed.
  • Loan: An amount of money that you borrow and repay at a later date, usually with interest.
  • Loan Activation: The process you complete to request your student loan. You activate (request) the loan by following the instructions online through your AidLink account.  You may activate any amount, up to your maximum eligibility for the year.
  • Loan Entrance Counseling: A required, federally-regulated counseling session that all first-time student loan borrowers must complete before receiving a loan. You can complete this requirement online following the instructions in your AidLink account.
  • Loan Exit Counseling: A required, federally-regulated counseling session that you must complete before beginning student loan repayments after you graduate or are no longer enrolled at least half time.
  • Loan fee: An expense of borrowing a loan; it is deducted from the loan amount thus reducing the amount of funds received at each disbursement.
  • Loan Proration: If you are a senior, graduating at the end of the fall semester, the amount you may borrow is prorated (reduced) based on the number of units for which you are enrolled.
  • Master Promissory Note (MPN) - Student: A legal agreement you sign the first time you borrow through the Direct Loan program. It is your promise to repay all of the loan funds you may receive throughout your education.  In most cases, you sign the MPN only once as it is good for 10 years. The MPN states the terms and conditions of the loan, including repayment, interest rate, deferment policy and cancellations.
  • Master Promissory Note (MPN) - Parent:: A legal agreement the parent borrower signs promissing to repay all of the loan funds received. The MPN can be used to make one or more loans for one or more academic years, up to 10 years. Usually, a parent borrower will sign one MPN per child.  The MPN states the terms and conditions of the loan, including repayment, interest rate, and deferment policy.
  • Parent PLUS Loan: A federal loan borrowed directly from the U.S. Department of Education. The qualifying parent borrower is responsible for paying the interest while the student is enrolled in school and during repayment.
  • Principal: The original amount of the loan.
  • Principal balance: The amount of a loan at any given time. Capitalized interest may be included.
  • Repayment: The period during which a borrower is obligated to make payment on his or her loan(s).
  • Subsidized: A loan the federal government subsidizes by paying the interest while you are enrolled in school.
  • Unsubsidized: A loan that collects interest, even while you're enrolled in school.
Photo: Students on campus walkway