Academic Year - The time between the beginning of the fall semester, usually in late August/early September, through the end of the spring semester, usually in late April/early May. The Academic Year at Franklin & Marshall consists of two (2) semesters of approximately 15 weeks each and several semester breaks. It does not include summer course study.

Award Year - July 1 of one year through June 30 of the following year. The same as a fiscal year. 

Billed Costs - Expenses incurred by a student at the College for which there is an actual cost billed by the College's Business Office. Billed costs include tuition, room, meal plan, and student service fees. Both Billed Costs and Non-Billed Costs (see below) comprise the Cost of Education. Financial Aid goes toward the sum total of Billed and Non-Billed Costs, not any one specific Billed Cost.

Certification (as in Certifying a loan) - The responsibility of Franklin & Marshall to verify a student's and/or parent's eligibility for their requested amount of a federal direct student loan, federal direct parent PLUS loan, or a private education loan. Certification is performed by the Student Loan Coordinator in the Office of Financial Aid.

College Work Option - A need-based, campus work-study program. This program, unlike Federal Work-Study, is funded by the College. Visit Student Employment.

Cost of Education (COE) - Also known as Cost of Attendance, this is the total cost of educating an F&M student for an entire academic year. The COE includes actual Billed Costs and estimated Non-Billed Costs. The COE includes Billed Costs of tuition, room, meal plan, and student fees as well as Non-Billed Costs of transportation, books, supplies, loan fees, and miscellaneous expenses. The COE is used as a best benchmark of expense for use in determining true financial need.

CSS Profile - The financial aid application serviced by the College Board that Franklin & Marshall uses to collect additional financial indicators not included on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Profile employs use of Institutional Methodology (see below).

Dependents - Spouse, children, and other household members for whom the parent or independent aid applicant provides more than half support.

Dependent Student - A student who does not qualify as an Independent Student. See "Independent Student" definition below.

Direct Costs - see Billed Costs, above.

Disbursement - When funds from a lender are released to the College's Student Accounts Office to pay down a student's college bill; as in "The F&M Student Accounts Office received your Federal Direct Loan disbursement today from 'Fill-In-Blank Lender Agency,' thereby paying down your overall College bill."

Early Decision - An admission program with earlier deadlines for admission and financial aid applications as well as earlier notification of the admission committee's decision and financial aid package, if applicable. ED is a binding commitment of interest in the College. If a student is admitted ED, they are expected to enroll shortly following their admission notification, well before the regular May 1 deadline.

Early Read - A special service program offered only to students intent on applying Early Decision who wish to have an early estimate of out-of-pocket expense. Contact your admission regional dean for more information.

Eligibility - The amount of financial need for which you qualify, as determined by the aid need-based aid formula.

Entrance Counseling - A mandatory information session that takes place before you receive your first federal direct student loan that explains your responsibilities and rights as a student borrower.

Exit Counseling - A mandatory information session that takes place before you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment that explains your federal direct student loan repayment responsibilities and when repayment begins.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) - This is the number that’s used to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid. This number results from the financial information you provide in your FAFSA form, the application for federal student aid. Your EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR).

F&M Loan - is a College-funded, need-based financial aid loan program. Student eligiblity is determined by the Office of Financial Aid. The loan features are:

  • Fixed interest rate of 4.5%.
  • Principal and interest are deferred while you are enrolled full-time.
  • Interest will begin six (6) months from the date you are no longer enrolled full-time.
  • 10-year standard repayment.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) - A form that can be prepared annually by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for federal student financial aid such as grants, loans, and work-study. Completing the application correctly enables the Federal Methodology to calculate for the student and family an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) toward the education of the student. There is no fee charged to the student for completing, submitting, or processing the application.

Federal Direct Loan - A need-based and non-need based guaranteed student loan, the Federal Direct (formerly Stafford) Loan is awarded to students with federal eligibility as determined by the FAFSA.  Federal Direct Loan yearly award limits vary with increasing loan limits for each successive year studied. Undergraduate, first-year students may receive up to $3,500, second-year students $4,500, and third- and fourth- year students $5,500.  The maximum amount of subsidized loans that an undergraduate, dependent student may borrow in their career is $23,000. For full information on loan limits per year and over the course of enrollment, please visit:

Federal Eligibility - The amount of financial need for which a student has been determined to have according to the federal government formula. Federal eligibility is tested via information gathered from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Federal Methodology - A formula established by the U.S. Congress used to determine a student's federal Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for campus-based and Federal Direct Loan program purposes.

Federal Work Study (FWS) - A need-based, campus work-study program for which students must qualify according to the federal government's Federal Methodology.  Visit Student Employment.

Financial Aid - Money provided to enrolled Franklin & Marshall students, who are in good standing, that is put toward paying the total Cost of Education. Financial Aid can comprise of various amounts and combinations of loans, grants, work, and scholarships from sources such as the U.S. federal government, private outside agencies, and Franklin & Marshall College itself.

Financial Aid Letter - Students who are admitted to the College and who qualify for need-based financial aid will receive an aid package letter from the Office of Financial Aid included with their notification from the Office of Admission. The letter  outlines each type and amount of offered financial assistance.

FSA ID - The FSA ID is a username and password combination that serves as a student’s or parent’s identifier to allow access to personal information in various U.S. Department of Education systems and acts as a digital signature on some online forms. Your FSA ID confirms your identity when you access your financial aid information and electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents.  If you do not have an FSA ID, you can create one here.

Full-Time Status - At Franklin & Marshall, enrollment in three (3) or more courses per semester is concidered full time. Students who reduce their enrollment to less than three (3) courses in a semester are no longer eligible to receive institutional need-based funds.

Gift Aid - Any type of financial aid component which requires no repayment and no work to be performed. Federal and State Grants as well as F&M Institutional Grants and Endowed Scholarships are considered to be gift aid.

Grace Period - For the federal direct subsidized loan and F&M Loan, a period of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment when you are not required to make payments. You are responsible for paying the interest that accrues on unsubsidized loans during the grace period. If the interest is unpaid, it will be added to the principal balance of the loan (capitalized) when the repayment period begins.

Grant - Gift aid which requires neither repayment or any kind of work to be performed. Federal grant programs include the Federal Pell Grant, LEAP, and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG).

Half-time Status - At Franklin & Marshall,  enrollment in two (2) courses per semester is considered half-time.  Half-time status can affect need eligibility for federal aid programs such as the Pell Grant. Students must be at least half-time in order to receive a Federal Direct Loan, or PLUS Loan. Students who reduce their enrollment to less than three (3) courses in a semester are no longer eligible to receive institutional need-based funds.

Home Equity - The value of a home minus what is owed on the home.

Independent Student - A student who has attained age 24 by January 1 of the year prior to the aid year*, or who has not attained age 24 but:

  • is an orphan
  • is a ward of the court
  • is a veteran
  • is married
  • is a graduate or professional student
  • has legal dependents (other than a spouse) to whom more than half of their support is provided by the student
  • has other unusual circumstances in the Professional Judgment of the aid administrator

*For example:  A first-year student entering in the Fall of 2019 must have been born before January 1, 1996 to be considered an Independent Student.

Indirect Costs - see Non-Billed costs, below.

Institutional Methodology - A formula used by Franklin & Marshall to determine a student's family contribution. The CSS Profile financial aid application employs Institutional Methodology and determines the amount of expected family contribution, if any, above the federal EFC. Unlike Federal Methodology, Institutional Methodology includes Home Equity as an asset in its calculation and tends to be a more conservative measure of financial need. 

Interest Rate - The amount charged by a lender to a borrower for the use of money over a period of years. Interest rate is expressed as an annual percentage of the principal amount borrowed. It is calculated by dividing the amount of interest by the amount of principal. Interest rates often change as a result of inflation and Federal Reserve policies. For example, if a lender (such as a bank) charges a customer $90 in a year on a loan of $1000, then the interest rate would be 90/1000 *100% = 9%.

IRA - An Individual Retirement Account. Retirement withholdings are not included in the aid calculations unless they are being tapped for income.

LEAP (Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership) - The LEAP Program provides grants to states to assist them in providing need-based grants and community service work-study assistance to eligible postsecondary students. States must administer the program under a single state agency and meet maintenance-of-effort criteria.

Less-Than-Half-Time Status - At Franklin & Marshall, enrollment in one (1) course is considered less-than half-time. Less-than-half-time status will affect need eligibility for institutional and federal aid programs.

Loan - An advance of funds evidenced by a promissory note requiring the recipient of the loan to repay the specified amount(s) under prescribed conditions. Loans may be borrowed from the federal government, private banks, lending agencies, or individuals, usually with an interest rate which ensures that the money repaid in the future equals or exceeds the amount initially borrowed.

Master Promissory Note (MPN) - Also known as a Promissory Note, is required for Federal Direct Student Loan, Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan, and the F&M Loan. This is a legal document that a borrower (student or parent) signs when obtaining the loan. The MPN lists the conditions under which the loan is made and the terms under which the borrower agrees to pay back the loan.

Need - The difference between a specific student's determined amount of total available resources and the Cost of Education.

Need Analysis - A system used to estimate a student applicant's need for financial assistance to help meet his/her educational expenses.

Need-Based Employment - Students must have financial need as determined by the FAFSA and CSS Profile in order to qualify for Federal Work-Study or College Work Option. Need-based employment money is earned and NOT DEDUCTED from your bill. Visit Student Employment.

Non-Billed Costs - Expenses incurred by a student at the College for which there is NO actual cost billed by the College's Business Office because the costs vary from student to student. Non-Billed costs include books, supplies, transportation expenses, loan fees, and miscellaneous expenses. Both Non-Billed Costs and Billed Costs (see above) comprise the Cost of Education. Financial Aid goes toward the sum total of Non-Billed and Billed Costs.

NSLDS - National Student Loan Data System - The National Student Loan Data System is the U.S. Department of Education's central database for FEDERAL student aid. It receives data from schools, agencies that guaranty loans, the Direct Loan program, the Pell Grant program, and other U.S. Department of Education programs. NSLDS provides a centralized, integrated view of Title IV loans and Pell grants that are tracked through their entire cycle. The NSLDS Student Access web site is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (

Off-Campus Student - A student who is not living in College residential housing. Off-campus housing is considered a non-billed indirect cost and is accounted for in the total Cost of Education for a student in the same way as would be for an On-Campus Student.

Off-Campus Study (also Study Abroad) - Academic program opportunities where students may study at universities outside of the United States or other colleges and universities within the United States. Financial aid for study abroad is applicable and congruent with financial aid at Franklin & Marshall.

On-Campus Student - A student who is living in a College residence. On-Campus students are billed directly by the Business Office for their resident accommodations.

Origination - A loan fee charged by the lending agency that is passed on to the borrower. It is calculated on the amount borrowed for a Federal Direct Loan.

Parent - A student's mother, father, or an adoptive parent is considered to be the student's mother or father.

Parent Contribution - A quantitative estimate, according to the need analysis methodologies, of the parents' ability to contribute to postsecondary educational expenses. Note: This assessment measures ability, not willingness, to contribute. 

Payment Period - An institutionally defined length of time for which financial aid funds will be paid to a student.

Pell Grant - A Federal grant program that ranges from a minimum award to a maximum award. It is granted to students who meet certain criteria within their enrollment status. The Pell Grant payment schedule determines the award amount at the intersection between Cost Of Attendance (COA) and Expected Family Contribution (EFC). For more information, visit: Named for Senator Claiborne Pell.

PLUS Loan - A relatively low interest federal loan that can be borrowed by parents on behalf of their student. 

Pre-Approval - To be given approval by a lender to borrow a student loan for up to a certain amount. Pre-approval is a helpful tool when considering educational costs throughout the college selection process.

Principal - The loan amount borrowed.

Priority Period - The period between the beginning of the fall semester and mid-September when priority for seeking campus employment is given to students with demonstrated financial need who have been awarded need-based employment. Visit Student Employment.

Private Education Loan - A non-need based loan where students may borrow a maximum amount equaling the Cost of Education less financial aid.  Elm Select will provide you with a list of lenders most often used by F&M families. Once you are on their website,  select "Undergraduate" or "Parent Loans" in the drop down box for the loan type.

Professional Judgment - A Financial Aid Administrator's authority to adjust data elements used in Federal Methodology to determine need on a case-by-case basis with sound documentation.

Reauthorization - The legislative process generally carried out every 4 to 6 years in the case of the Higher Education Act of 1965 which instituted the use of Title IV aid programs. During Reauthorization Congress reviews and either renews, terminates, or amends existing programs.

Repayment - The period of time when a student borrower repays a loan. Repayment often has a limited length of time of no more than 10 years.

Self-Help Aid - Self-help financial aid is aid that the student earns through work or is required to pay back. Student loans and need-based employment are both self-help aid.

SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) - A federal grant awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need; these are students with the lowest Expected Family Contributions (EFCs). Priority is given to Pell Grant recipients.

Split Loan - If a student achieves their next yearly enrollment status between fall and spring semesters, they may receive a Split Loan. The fall semester loan limit amount will be representative of their former status (e.g., sophomore) and the spring semester loan limit will be representative of their new status (e.g., junior).

Status - As in a student's enrollment status at F&M; Full-Time, Half-Time, or Less-Than-Half-Time. Each status can determine or affect institutional and federal aid eligibility. Definitions for all are above.

Subsidized Loan - A loan supported with funds paid by the federal government to the loan lender. With Federal Direct Loans, the federal government makes interest payments to the lender on behalf of the student borrower during at least half-time enrollment and approved grace or deferment periods.

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

Title IV Funds - Federal student financial aid programs for student attending postsecondary institutions. These programs are authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, and administered by the Department of Education. Title IV programs include the Pell Grant, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Federal Work Study,  the Federal Direct Loan, the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), and LEAP.

Trustee Grant - Grant aid offered to needy students by the College to fill the gap between federal need based aid awards and overall need eligibility.

Undergraduate Student - A student who has not completed the requirements of a baccalaureate or first professional degree. Franklin & Marshall College provides an education strictly for the undergraduate student.

Unmet Need - The difference between a specific student's total available resources after financial aid has been awarded and the Cost of Education.

Unsubsidized Loan - A federal loan available to all undergraduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need. Franklin & Marshall College determines the amount you can borrow based on your cost of attendance and other financial aid you receive. Students qualify automatically for an "unsub" Federal Direct Loan by completing and submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The "unsub" loan is, by definition, not subsidized by the federal government, i.e., the federal government does not make interest payments on behalf of the student.  Interest instead accrues (accumulates) on the loan for the life of the loan, including while the student is in school. If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, your interest will accrue and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).

Variable Rate - This refers to a loan whose interest rate varies over the repayment term of the loan. For example: The interest rate for Federal Direct and PLUS Loans varies annually over the life of the loan.

Verification - The process of confirming the accuracy of the information submitted on financial aid applications by comparing specified documents, such as income tax returns and other supplemental worksheets, with data elements on the applications for financial aid.

Withdrawal or Leave of Absence - Students who withdraw or stop attending all of their courses prior to completing 60% of the term may only keep the federal financial aid they have earned up to the time of withdrawal. According to federal regulations, federal funds that were disbursed in excess of the earned amounts must be returned in the following order:
• Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
• Federal Direct Subsidized Loan
• Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan
• Federal Pell Grant
• Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)