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Financial Aid

Financial Aid



Your Student Financial Aid Resource Toolkit

Perhaps the the most significant obstacle that stands between most students and the achievement of their educational goals is funding. The concern over financial aid is likely the most prominent determining factor in post-secondary decisions. We at the CCAC believe that future goals and aspirations should take precedence over financial concerns and obstacles. The daunting truth about funding education is that it requires a great deal of calculation, an enormous amount of research, and diligent navigation through a tedious and confusing process. This process requires a tremendous amount of work for the student. Fortunately, The College & Career Access center is here to assist.   

What Makes the Process so Difficult?  Every Step Has an Acronym!!     

Simply stated, the CPS produces a SAR to collect information regarding your EFC (SAR should not be confused with a FAFSA). Once COA is calculated, EFC can be subtracted from COA. The difference between the COA and the EFC is a determining factor in your EFA. In order to translate this simple explanation, it may be beneficial to refer to the glossary below:

 Glossary of Acronyms

  • COA: Cost of Attendance. This is the total of expenses required to attend college. Inclusive in this cost are: tuition, cost of texts and materials, cost of housing and transportation, cost of meal plans, and other education costs that are considered reasonable. 
  • CPS: Central Processing System. This is the company contracted by the U.S. Department of Education to process the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • EFA: Estimated Financial Aid (or Assistance). This is the institution's estimation of the amount of assistance for which a student is eligible.
  • EFC: Estimated Family Contribution. This is the amount that is considered a reasonable expectation of what the student and family can provide towards the COA.
  • FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the form students must complete in order to apply for federal and state need-based assistance programs. 
  • FSA: Federal Student Aid. Financial aid from the federal government to assist in the payment of education expenses. Grants, loans, and work-study are types of federal student aid.
  • SAR: Student Aid Report. This is a report produced by the Central Processing System and sent to the student. It shows the student's calculated EFC.

Other Useful Acronyms and Terms

  • ACH: Automated Clearinghouse, may be used to streamline the electronic transfer of funds.
  • AGI: Adjusted Gross Income. This is the figure on federal tax returns that is used to perform a need-based analysis.
  • FWS: Federal Work-Study. This is a campus-based Title IV employment program.
  • PLUS: The PLUS Loan. This is a federal loan for parents of dependent undergraduate students and graduate/professional students.
  • GSL: Guaranteed Student Loan Program. This acronym is becoming more rare, as the GSL has been changed to the Federal Stafford Loan Program.

Types of Federal Student Aid to Factor into College Funding

Federal Pell Grant - The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain postbaccalaureate students to promote access to post-secondary education. Students may use their grants at any one of approximately 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant - The FSEOG Program provides need-based grants to help low-income undergraduate students finance the costs of post-secondary education. Students can receive these grants at any one of approximately 3,800 participating post-secondary institutions. The institution must give priority to students with “exceptional need” - those with the lowest Expected Family Contribution - and those who are also Federal Pell Grant recipients.

SMART Grants - National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grants, awarded to third, fourth, and fifth-year undergraduates who are majoring in technical fields, critical foreign languages, or a qualifying liberal arts program. The student must have at least a 3.0 GPA for all classes taken in the program as of the most recently completed payment period. To be eligible for either grant, a student must be eligible for a Pell Grant

TEACH Grants - The TEACH Grant Program provides grants of up to $4,000 a year to students who are completing or plan to complete course work needed to begin a career in teaching. Students must meet certain academic achievement requirements, generally, scoring above the 75th percentile on one or more portions of a college admissions test or maintaining a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25.

State Grants - The U.S. Department of Education offers three types of grants:

  • Discretionary Grants: awards are based upon a competitive process.
  • Student Loans or Grants: to assist students in funding college.
  • Formula Grants: use formulas determined by Congress. There is no application process.

Federal Work-Study - This program provides funds for part-time employment to assist needy students in financing the costs of post-secondary education. Students can receive Federal Work Study funds at approximately 3,400 participating post-secondary institutions. Hourly wages must not be less than the federal minimum wage.

Federal and Private Loan Types:

Federal Stafford Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized) 

Direct Subsidized Loans are for students with demonstrated financial need, as determined by federal regulations. There is no interest charged while an undergraduate student is in school at least half-time, during deferment (a period when loan payments are temporarily postponed), or during grace (the period, usually six months after you graduate or leave school, before you begin to make principal and interest payments). 

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are federal student loans that aren’t based on financial need. Your school determines the amount you can borrow based on the cost of attendance and other financial aid you receive. Interest is charged during all periods and will be capitalized (when unpaid interest is added to a student loan’s principal amount), even when you’re in school, during grace, and deferment periods. This increases your total federal loan cost.

Federal Plus Loans - are unsubsidized credit-based federal loans for parents of dependent students and graduate/professional students. PLUS loans can help pay for education expenses up to the cost of attendance - the amount of money your school estimates you’ll need to attend there one year - after your other financial aid is exhausted. Interest is charged during all periods and will be capitalized. This increases your total federal loan cost.

The Federal Perkins loan - The Federal Perkins Loan Program provides lowinterest loans to help needy students finance the costs of postsecondary education. Students attending any one of approximately 1,700 participating postsecondary institutions can obtain Perkins loans from the school.

Private Student Loans - are offered by banks and financial institutions and based on your credit profile. Your credit—and your cosigner’s credit—are evaluated, along with other information provided on your application. Applying for a private student loan with a creditworthy cosigner may increase your chances for approval and may help get you a better rate, since many students haven’t had time to build up their own credit.

With so many variables, formulas, and an extraordinarily complex system of funding guidelines, it is easy to become overwhelmed. CCAC advisors understand the level of preparation required to make the transition from secondary to post-secondary education. We We will assist in navigating the various financial aid planning steps efficiently and accurately.