Academic Period

The time frame for which a student is enrolled; usually, it’s a semester, quarter, or trimester with specified start and
end dates.

Academic Year

The period of time utilized by the school to quantify the year's enrollment with specified start and end dates to support the student's eligibility for loan funds.

Accrued Interest

The amount of interest that accumulates on the unpaid principal balance of a loan. It is calculated daily.

Adjusted Gross Income

Taxable income from all sources, less IRS-approved adjustments.

Aggregate (Cumulative) Loan Amount

The total amount disbursed to a borrower under a given loan type throughout the student's academic career. This amount must not exceed total loan limits for an applicable loan program.

Alternative Loan

Private loans that are not backed by the federal government. They are offered by banks and other lenders to supplement federal student loans in order to help meet the full cost of education.


The process of gradually decreasing the loan balance through periodic payments of principal and interest over an extended period of time.

Annual Loan Limit

The maximum loan amount allowed by a lender (or a loan program) during a calendar or academic year.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

A computation of the cost of credit for a loan that takes into account all costs of a loan including finance charges, interest, and fees. It represents the true cost of a loan, which may be different from the interest rate.


Items of financial worth which may include your home, business, savings and checking accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate, trust funds, etc.

Award Letter

The official document issued by a school's financial aid office listing all the financial assistance offered to a student.

Award Year

The year in which financial aid is provided; it begins July 1 and ends June 30.