Accreditation: Official recognition that a college, university or technical institution has met the standards of a regional or national association.
ACT®: A standardized test and college entrance exam administered by ACT, Inc. that assesses high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. Multiple-choice tests cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading and science. The optional Writing Test measures skill in planning and writing a short essay.
Advanced Placement Program (AP®): A program administered by the College Board that gives high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses in a high school setting. Thousands of colleges and universities worldwide award credit or advanced placement to students with a qualifying score on AP Exams.
Aid Package: A combination of financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans and/or work-study) determined by the financial aid office of a college or university. See also Award Letter.
AP®: See Advanced Placement Program.
Arts and Sciences: A college course of study that includes the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, foreign languages and fine arts.
ASSET®: A testing and advising program administered by ACT, Inc. for placing students into postsecondary institutions, such as community colleges.
Associate Degree: Awarded by a college or university after satisfactory completion of a two-year program of study.
Award Letter: A document issued to a student financial aid recipient that indicates the type, amount and disbursement dates of the funds awarded for various financial aid programs. See also Aid Package.
Bachelor Degree: Awarded by a four-year college or university after satisfactory completion of a program of study.
CLEP®: See College Level Examination Program.®
COA: See Cost of Attendance.
College Level Examination Program® (CLEP®): A credit-by-examination program that allows students the opportunity to demonstrate college-level achievement through a program of exams in undergraduate college courses. By receiving a satisfactory score, a student can earn from three to 12 college credits toward a college degree for each CLEP they take, depending on the exam subject.
College Savings Iowa™ 529 Plan: A qualified tuition program (QTP) tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. Sponsored by the Iowa State Treasurer, the plan is intended to help an individual or a family pay the costs of higher education. For more information, go to collegesavingsiowa.com. See also Qualified Tuition Program.
COMPASS: COMPASS, administered by ACT, Inc., measures students' skills in reading, writing, mathematics and English as a Second Language (ESL). Its results help postsecondary institutions, such as community colleges, make course placement decisions.
Cost of Attendance (COA): The total cost of attending a postsecondary institution for one academic year. The student's budget usually includes tuition, fees, room, board, supplies, transportation and personal expenses.
Credit Report: A report produced by a national consumer reporting agency that contains details about your borrowing history and money-management skills. Lenders use credit reports to determine if they should approve a loan and to set the terms (interest rate, fees and length) of the loan.
Dual Credit: See Dual Enrollment.
Dual Enrollment: A program that allows high school students to enroll in college courses for credit at eligible high schools, colleges and universities prior to high school graduation. College credits earned through dual enrollment can be applied toward high school and college graduation and can be transferred to colleges or universities.
EFC: See Expected Family Contribution.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount of money the government expects you and your family to contribute to your education. The EFC is determined by the information you report on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
FAFSA: See Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Financial Need: The difference between the family contribution as established on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the total cost of attending college. See also Expected Family Contribution.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): Form produced by the U.S. Department of Education that is required for students seeking aid by nearly all colleges and universities. This form is used to apply for all forms of federal aid and some forms of state and institutional financial aid. The FAFSA is a free form that may be completed without professional assistance via paper or electronic forms provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Complete the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
GPA: See Grade Point Average.
Grade Point Average (GPA): Indicates a student's overall scholastic performance. It is computed by assigning a point value to each grade.
Legacy: An applicant whose parents or grandparents are graduates of the college or university to which the student is applying.
Liberal Arts: A course of study that includes humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, foreign languages and fine arts.
Major: An area of concentration in a particular field of study. Usually students specialize in their majors during their junior and senior years at college.
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA): A voluntary organization through which the nation's colleges and universities govern their athletics programs.
National Merit® Scholarship Program: A scholarship program based mostly on scores from the PSAT/NMSQT.® Each year, National Merit students receive scholarships ranging from several hundred dollars to the full cost of attendance. See also PSAT/NMSQT.®
NCAA: See National Collegiate Athletic Association.
PLAN®: A guidance resource administered by ACT, Inc. that helps students measure their academic development, explore career/training options and make plans for the remaining years of high school and post-graduation years. Typically, PLAN is taken in the fall of a student's sophomore year.
Postsecondary Enrollment Option: The Postsecondary Enrollment Option program (PSEO) is a program through which 11th- and 12th-grade students can enroll part time in nonsectarian courses at eligible colleges and universities. A ninth- or 10th-grade student who is identified as gifted and talented according to the school district's criteria and procedures may also participate. Students should consult their school counselor regarding requirements.
Preliminary SAT®: See PSAT/NMSQT. ®
PSAT/NMSQT®: The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is a standardized test administered by the College Board that provides firsthand practice for the SAT® and SAT® Subject Tests. It also gives students a chance to qualify for National Merit Scholarship Corporation scholarship programs.
PSEO: See Postsecondary Enrollment Option.
QTP: See Qualified Tuition Program.
Qualified Tuition Program (QTP):A qualified tuition program (also known as a 529 plan or program) is a program set up to allow you to either prepay, or contribute to an account established for paying, a student's qualified education expenses at an eligible educational institution. QTPs are established and maintained by states (or by agencies and instrumentalities of a state) and eligible educational institutions. See also College Savings Iowa™ 529 Plan.
SAT®: A standardized test and college entrance exam administered by the College Board that measures a student's critical reading, mathematics and writing abilities. An essay is also included. For more information, go to www.collegeboard.com.
SAT® Subject Tests: Tests administered by the College Board that measure achievement in specific subject areas.
Transcript: Official record of a student's coursework at a school or college. A high school transcript is generally required as part of the college application process.
Undergraduate: A college student earning a bachelor's degree.
Verification: A process used to make sure that the information students report on their FAFSA is accurate. The federal government randomly selects one out of three applications for verification. Some colleges choose to verify all of their applicants. The process may require students provide the college(s) with a copy of signed tax forms, W-2 forms and a verification work sheet (provided by the college). A college cannot officially award financial aid until verification is complete.
W-2: A wage and tax statement used in the United States income tax system as an information return to report wages paid to employees and the taxes withheld from them.
Wait List: A list of applicants who may be considered for acceptance if there is still space after admitted students have decided whether or not they'll attend.
Work-Study: A federally funded program in which students take campus jobs as part of their financial aid package. To participate in a work-study program, students must complete the FAFSA. See also Free Application for Federal Student Aid.