Financial Aid Dictionary

Academic Year - This is the amount of the academic work measured in credits that you must complete each year, and the time period in which you are expected to complete them. For financial aid purposes, an academic year at UChicago consists of the Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters.

Assets - Financial resources other than income that are held by the parent and/or student. Examples: Real estate other than the primary home, owned businesses, substantial checking.

Cost of Attendance (COA) - The estimated total cost of attending a college or university for one academic year, including tuition, fees, room and board, books, and personal expenses. For the University of Chicago, this includes all direct and indirect costs.

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) - The Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) is an increase in financial aid or tuition costs that accounts for inflation or changes in the cost of living. This adjustment ensures that financial aid packages remain relevant to the current economic environment.

Custodial Parent – In the case of a divorce, the parent that retains primary custody of and provides the majority of financial support for a child.

CSS Profile - The CSS Profile is an additional financial aid application required by some colleges and universities to determine eligibility for non-federal financial aid, such as institutional grants and scholarships.

Demonstrated Need – Calculated by subtracting the parent contribution from the total cost of attendance. UChicago meets students’ full demonstrated need.

Direct Costs – Costs that are paid directly to the University. These costs appear on your bill.

EFC - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a measure of how much a student and their family are expected to contribute towards the cost of education. It is calculated based on the financial information provided in the FAFSA.

Employment - Students are able to work at on-campus jobs while attending UChicago. Students are paid at least the city of Chicago minimum wage and are limited to 20 hours per week.

Enrollment Status – Students must be enrolled full time (300 units) to receive institutional financial aid.

FAFSA - The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that students and their families need to fill out to apply for federal financial aid for college or graduate school.

Federal Direct Loan Program - The Federal Direct Loan Program provides low-interest federal student loans directly from the U.S. Department of Education to eligible students and parents. There are two main types of loans within this program: Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans.

Federal Stafford Loans - Loans provided by the United States government and Department of Education.

Financial Aid Notification – The letter provided by the Office of Financial Aid that outlines the student financial aid package.

Financial Aid Package - A financial aid package is the total combination of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study opportunities offered to a student to help them cover the cost of attending college. The package is typically outlined in the student's award letter from the college or university.

Gift Aid – Financial aid that does not require repayment. Gift aid is typically packaged in the form of grants and scholarships.

Grant - A grant is a type of financial aid that does not need to be repaid. It is typically awarded based on financial need or other criteria, such as academic achievement or demographic factors.

Indirect Costs – Costs that a student might incur during the course of the academic year but are not paid directly to the University.

Merit-Based Aid - Merit-based aid is financial assistance awarded to students based on their achievements, talents, or academic performance, rather than their financial need.

Merit Financial Aid – Financial aid that is based on criteria other than the family’s ability to contribute (i.e. academic performance, athletics, community involvement).

My.UChicago – The student portal at UChicago. All financial aid materials should be uploaded directly to My.UChicago.

Need-Based Aid - Need-based aid is financial assistance awarded to students based on their demonstrated financial need as determined by the FAFSA or other financial aid applications.

Need-Based Financial Aid – Financial aid that is based on a family’s ability to contribute to educational costs. Variables such as income, assets, and family size are used to calculate student need.

Net Price - Amount of direct and indirect costs remaining after all Gift Aid is applied.

Non-Custodial Parent – In the case of a divorce, the parent who does not have primary custody of the child and does not provide the majority of financial support. UChicago does not require information from the non-custodial parent for financial aid eligibility determination.

Parent Contribution – The result of the review of a family's financial documents. The parent contribution is a number that the calculation deems a reasonable amount that the family could contribute toward educational expenses.

Pell Grant - The Pell Grant is a need-based federal grant awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. The grant amount depends on the EFC and the cost of attendance.

Priority Deadline - The deadline by which it is recommended that students submit their financial aid requirements in order to have a financial aid package in place when admissions decisions are released (prospective students) or when the first bills go out (current students). This deadline only affects the timing of the award notification and does not affect financial aid eligibility.

Private (or third-party) Loan - A student loan provided by a lender outside of the U.S. Department of Education.

Refund - If a student's total financial aid is greater than their total billed charges, the University will refund the credit balance to the student via paper check or direct deposit (if applicable).

Scholarship - A scholarship is a form of financial aid awarded to students based on various criteria, such as academic merit, athletic ability, community involvement, or specific talents. Scholarships can be offered by colleges, private organizations, corporations, or foundations.

Special Circumstances - A change in family financial circumstances (i.e. loss of income, large out-of-pocket medical costs, death or incapacitation of a primary wage earner) that will affect their ability to pay educational costs.

Student Aid Index - The result of filling out the FAFSA. The Student Aid Index (SAI) will determine a student's eligibility for federal student aid.

Subsidized Loan - A subsidized loan is a type of federal student loan where the government pays the interest while the student is in school at least half-time and during certain periods of deferment.

Unmet Need - Determined by subtracting the parent contribution from the University cost of attendance. The difference is the family's unmet need that UChicago then meets with financial aid.

Unsubsidized Loan - An unsubsidized loan is a federal student loan where the student is responsible for paying all the interest, including while in school and during deferment periods.

USHIP - The University Student Health Insurance Plan. All students are required to be covered under a health insurance plan. If a student does not have coverage from a parent or guardian, they can enroll in USHIP.

Verification - The U.S. Department of Education selects a certain percentage of FAFSAs each year for a process called verification. This involves the student filling out an additional form and sometimes providing our office with additional documentation.

Work-Study - Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a program that provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay for educational expenses.