Glossary - A

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Academic Period

A measured term of enrollment such as a semester, quarter, trimester, or clock or credit hour.

Academic Year

This is a measure of academic work to be accomplished by a student. A school defines its own academic year, but federal statute and regulations set minimum standards to determine federal financial aid awards. For instance, the academic year must be at least 30 weeks of instructional time in which a full- time student is expected to complete at least 24 semester or trimester credit hours, 36 quarter credit hours, or 900 clock hours.

Accounting Period

A time period for which financial records are maintained and at the end of which financial statements are prepared.

Accrual Basis

The type of accounting under which incomes are recorded when earned (regardless of when cash is actually received) and expenses are recorded when liabilities are incurred (regardless of when cash is actually expended).

Accrued Interest

Interest on a loan that accumulates and is to be paid in installments later rather than being paid from the time the loan is made. Accrued interest may be compounded or simple. It is usually paid when the principal becomes due. Depending upon the type of loan, this interest is payable by the borrower or the federal government.

Accrued Salaries

Wages earned by students between the date that the students were last paid and the end of the accounting period being reported, but not yet paid to the students. The unpaid student wages are considered a school liability.

Achievement Tests

Tests required by some colleges to measure student achievement in areas of study such as Math, Science or English.


A test published by American College Testing to measure a student's ability in math, verbal comprehension, and problem solving. Typically, the test is taken during their junior or senior year of high school.


Average daily balance. The sum of unpaid principal balance outstanding on all qualifying loans at each actual interest rate for each day of the quarter, divided by the sum of the number of days in the quarter.


Taxable income after all allowable deductions are made, such as IRA deductions, moving expenses, self-employment taxes and health insurance, Keogh retirement plans, and alimony paid.

Aid Package

A combination of financial aid- scholarships, grants, loans, and/or work study determined by the financial aid office of a college.


The process of gradually repaying a loan over an extended period through periodic installments of principal and interest.


Annual Percentage Rate is the total annual cost of a loan including all fees and interest, expressed as a percentage.

Asset Protection

A sum subtracted from a family's total assets when determining the expected family contribution to college costs. This provides a safety net for families, and the allowance increases with the age of the parents.


The amount a family has in savings and investments. This includes savings and checking accounts; a business; a farm or other real estate; and stocks, bonds, and trust funds. Cars are not considered assets, nor are such possessions as stamp collections or jewelry. The net value of the principal home is counted as an asset by some colleges in determining their own awards but is not included in the calculation for eligibility for federal funds.

Average Daily Balance

The sum of unpaid principal balance outstanding on all qualifying loans at each actual interest rate for each day of the quarter, divided by the sum of the number of days in the quarter.


A specific amount of financial assistance to pay for education costs offered to a student through one or more financial aid programs. In addition, the approval of financial assistance to students, as in one function of an institution is to award campus-based financial aid to students who meet all the eligibility criteria.

Award Adjustmentor Revision

An action by a financial aid office resulting in an increase, decrease, program-source substitution, or cancellation of a student's financial aid award. This may be necessitated by factors such as a change in the student's enrollment status or a change in the financial circumstances of the student's family or the student.

Award Letter

Issued by a financial aid office listing all the financial aid awarded to the student. The award letter will include information about the cost of attendance and terms and conditions for the financial aid.

Award Packaging

Award Packaging (See Packaging)

Award Year

An award year begins on July 1 of one year and extends to June 30 of the next year. Funding for Federal Pell Grants and campus-based programs is provided based on the award year--for example, a student is paid out of funds designated for a particular award year, such as the 2006-2007 award year.