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Student Financial Aid (SFA) Glossary

Federal grants (grants/educational assistance funds)
Grants provided by federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Education, including Title IV Pell Grants and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG). Also includes need-based and merit-based educational assistance funds and training vouchers provided from other federal agencies and/or federally-sponsored educational benefits programs. (Used for reporting on the Student Financial Aid component)
Financial aid
Federal Work Study, grants, loans to students (government and/or private), assistantships, scholarships, fellowships, tuition waivers, tuition discounts, employer aid (tuition reimbursement) and other monies (other than from relatives/friends) provided to students to meet expenses. This excludes loans to parents.
First-time student (undergraduate)
A student who has no prior postsecondary experience (except as noted below) attending any institution for the first time at the undergraduate level. This includes students enrolled in academic or occupational programs. It also includes students enrolled in the fall term who attended college for the first time in the prior summer term, and students who entered with advanced standing (college credits or postsecondary formal award earned before graduation from high school).
Full-time student
Undergraduate: A student enrolled for 12 or more semester credits, or 12 or more quarter credits, or 24 or more contact hours a week each term. Graduate: A student enrolled for 9 or more semester credits, or 9 or more quarter credits, or a student involved in thesis or dissertation preparation that is considered full-time by the institution. Doctor's degree - Professional practice - as defined by the institution.
Institutional grants
Scholarships and fellowships granted and funded by the institution and/or individual departments within the institution, (i.e., instruction, research, public service) that may contribute indirectly to the enhancement of these programs . Includes scholarships targeted to certain individuals (e.g., based on state of residence, major field of study, athletic team participation) for which the institution designates the recipient.
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), conducted by the NCES, began in 1986 and involves annual institution-level data collections. All postsecondary institutions that have a Program Participation Agreement with the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), U.S. Department of Education (throughout IPEDS referred to as "Title IV") are required to report data using a web-based data collection system. IPEDS currently consists of the following components: Institutional Characteristics (IC); 12-month Enrollment (E12);Completions (C); Admissions (ADM); Student Financial Aid (SFA); Human Resources (HR) composed of Employees by Assigned Position, Fall Staff, and Salaries; Fall Enrollment (EF); Graduation Rates (GR); Outcome Measures (OM); Finance (F); and Academic Libraries (AL).
Loans to students
Any monies that must be repaid to the lending institution for which the student is the designated borrower. Includes all Title IV subsidized and unsubsidized loans and all institutionally- and privately-sponsored loans. Does not include PLUS and other loans made directly to parents.
Military Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)
A program that funds up to 100% of an eligible servicemember's college tuition and course-specific fees. Available only to eligible servicemembers who are currently in active service as long as criteria limits are not exceeded and students are enrolled off-duty in an U.S. Department of Education accredited post-secondary institution. This military benefit is paid directly to the postsecondary institution by the individual's Armed service.
Net price
The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 defines institutional net price as "the average yearly price actually charged to first-time, full-time undergraduate students receiving student aid at an institution of higher education after deducting such aid." In IPEDS, average institutional net price is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state/local government, or institutional grant and scholarship aid from the total cost of attendance. Total cost of attendance is the sum of published tuition and required fees (lower of in-district or in-state for public institutions), books and supplies, and the weighted average for room and board and other expenses. Cost of attendance data are collected in the Institutional Characteristics (IC) component of IPEDS, and financial aid data are collected in the Student Financial Aid (SFA) component of IPEDS.
Off-campus (not with family)
A living arrangement in which a student does not live with the student's parents or legal guardians in any housing facility that is not owned or controlled by the educational institution.
Off-campus (with family)
A living arrangement in which a student lives with the student's parents or legal guardians in any housing facility that is not owned or controlled by the educational institution.
On-campus housing
Any residence hall or housing facility owned or controlled by an institution within the same reasonably contiguous geographic area and used by the institution in direct support of or in a manner related to, the institution's educational purposes.
Post 9/11 GI Bill
A federal education benefit program for veterans, who served on active duty after September 10, 2001. This Department of Veteran Affairs benefit provides up to 36 months of education benefits at an approved institution for the following college costs: tuition and fees, books and supplies and housing. The tuition and fees payment, which is the cost for an in-state student attending a public institution, is made directly to the postsecondary institution whereas payments for books and supplies and housing are sent directly to the student.
Scholarships
Grants-in-aid, trainee stipends, tuition and required fee waivers, prizes or other monetary awards given to undergraduate students.
State and local grants
Grant monies provided by the state such as Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships (LEAP) (formerly SSIG's); merit scholarships provided by the state; and tuition and fee waivers for which the institution was reimbursed by a state agency. Local government grants include scholarships or gift-aid awarded directly to the student. (Used for reporting Finance data for private for-profit institutions )
Title IV institution
An institution that has a written agreement with the Secretary of Education that allows the institution to participate in any of the Title IV federal student financial assistance programs (other than the State Student Incentive Grant (SSIG) and the National Early Intervention Scholarship and Partnership (NEISP) programs).
Transfer of Entitlement Option
A program through which any unused Post 9/11 GI Bill may be transferred to a spouse or dependent(s) as long as servicemembers or veterans meet the additional Department of Veterans Affairs criteria. Only Department of Defense (DoD) can approve transfer of benefits requests.
Yellow Ribbon Program
A voluntary program through which participating public and private institutions can provide veterans and eligible beneficiaries additional institutional aid to cover the costs of tuition and fees at their institutions. The Yellow Ribbon Program is a supplementary program to the Post 9/11 GI Bill coverage of in-state tuition and fees. The Department of Veterans Affairs matches the institutional aid provided beyond the in-state tuition and fees, but to certain limit each year.
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Current Survey Changes

Table 13. Proposed Minor Changes to Student Financial Aid (SFA) Form

Changed instruction/FAQ/screen (where applicable; additions in red, deletions with strikethrough, rewording in blue)

NEW FAQ. The SFA survey indicates that the maximum amount of DOD TAP awarded per fiscal year per student is $4500. What do I do if my DOD TAP average is greater than $4500 per student?
According to the 2014 final regulations set for the DOD Voluntary Education Programs - which include TAP (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOD-2013-OS-0093-0048) - each branch of military service can pay no more than $250/semester-unit (or equivalent) for tuition. Each service member is eligible for up to $4500 in aggregate for each fiscal year. If your institution’s DOD TAP average is greater than $4500 per student per award year, then you should:
- Ask your financial aid office or VA certifying official to sort out the military aid and remove any non-DOD TAP aid (e.g., ROTC scholarships, tuition reimbursements for advanced civil schooling, education-related incentive or bonus);
- Remove any non-Title 10 aid since TAP is a Title 10 program; and
- Make sure that you are including one disbursement period for that award year. Even though DOD TAP aid are reported for the Oct 1 – Sep 30 timeframe, which technically covers two fall periods; only include one fall disbursement period per award year.

SCREEN CHANGE: Adding Prior Year values to military aid screens.

The Student Financial Aid survey collects the count of students awarded different types of financial aid or military education benefits and the total amounts of aid awarded. The average dollar amount of aid awarded is then calculated. As required by the Higher Education Act (1965), as amended, IPEDS also collects data to calculate average net price at each institution for two groups of undergraduates: those awarded grant aid and those awarded Title IV federal aid.

Data collected include:

  • Counts of undergraduate students awarded aid and amounts of aid,
  • Counts of full-time, first-time undergraduate students awarded aid and amounts of aid, and
  • Counts of undergraduate and graduate students receiving military education benefits.

Contact: Audrey Peek, Survey Director

Student Financia Aid