Glossary - D

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Data Release Number

Information on the Student Aid Report (SAR). This number is needed to identify the appropriate FAFSA data for release to additional schools (beyond the six schools possibly listed by the student in the original FAFSA submission).


Failure to repay a loan in accordance with the terms of the promissory note. Default can also occur if students fail to submit requests for deferments or discharges (cancellations) in a timely manner. For Perkins Loans: Failure of a borrower to make a loan-installment payment when due or to meet other terms of a signed promissory note or written repayment agreement. For FFEL and Direct Loans: Failure to make a loan-installment payment on (a) a loan repayable in monthly installments for 180 days or (b) for FFEL, a loan payable in less frequent installments for 240 days. There can be serious legal consequences for student-loan defaulters.

Deferment of a loan

A period of postponement during which repaying loan principal is suspended because of the borrower meeting one or more of a number of deferment requirements established by law. While the borrower does not pay interest on SUBSIDIZED loans during deferment, interest expenses continue to accumulate during deferment of an UNSUBSIDIZED loan. Compare FORBEARANCE (ON A LOAN).

Deferred Interest

Interest payments that are delayed while a borrower is not gainfully employed, as, for example, when the borrower is a student. This benefit is generally characteristic of federal and state guaranteed student loans.


You are delinquent if your payment is not received by the due date. Delinquencies greater than 30 days are reported to national credit bureaus.


In the Federal Family Education Loan Program, the process of a school transmitting loan proceeds to a borrower. See Disbursement.

Dependency Status

A student's dependency status determines to what degree the student is expected to have access to parental financial resources. An independent student is one who is 24 years old as of January 1 (e.g., born before January 1, 1984 for academic year 2007-2008), is married, is a graduate or professional student, has legal dependents other than a spouse, is a veteran, or is an orphan or ward of the court. All other students are considered dependent and, as such, must provide parental information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Dependent Student

A student who under federal criteria is considered financially dependent on his or her parents or guardians. Most full-time students are considered dependent until they are 24 years old.

Direct Loan (See Federal Direct Loan Program)

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.


The release of loan funds to the school for delivery to the borrower. Disbursements are usually made in equal multiple installments co-payable to the borrower and the school.


The release of a borrower from the obligation to repay his or her loan. After repayment begins, the borrower must meet certain requirements or conditions to be eligible for discharge from federal student loans. A loan cannot be discharged or cancelled because the borrower didn't complete the program of study at the school, didn't like the school or the program of study, or didn't obtain employment after completing the program of study.

Doctor's degree

An earned degree carrying the title of Doctor. The Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) is the highest academic degree and requires mastery within a field of knowledge and demonstrated ability to perform scholarly research. Other doctorates are awarded for fulfilling specialized requirements in professional fields, such as education (Ed.D.), musical arts (D.M.A.), business administration (D.B.A.), and engineering (D.Eng. or D.E.S.). Many doctor's degrees in both academic and professional fields require an earned master's degree as a prerequisite. First professional degrees, such as M.D. and D.D.S., are not included under this heading.

DRN (Data Release Number)

Data release number. Piece of information on the Student Aid Report (SAR) in the upper right hand corner of the first page (next to the printed EFC). This number is needed to identify the appropriate FAFSA data for release to additional schools (beyond the 6 schools possibly listed by the student in the original FAFSA submission).