Glossary of Terms
This page maintains a series of commonly used terms on this website and their definitions. Click on any of the terms below to get its definition.
An institution that has been evaluated by an outside agency on it's mission, core values, academics, faculty, and admissions standards and met or exceeded all expectations.
A college entrance exam consisting of four timed sections (science, math, reading, and English) and an optional writing section.
- ACT Student Account
An online account that allows students to register for the ACT.
- Active Duty
Serving full-time with the military and able to be deployed at any time.
A mental disorder in which an individual feels compelled to use a substance regardless of the consequences.
- Advanced Placement
Courses that are higher level than those traditionally offered to high school students. After the completion of each course, students may register for and take Advanced Placement (AP) tests to gain college credit.
- Air Force Officer Qualifying Test
A standardized aptitude test that is used to determine if an individual is qualified to be an officer in the United States Air Force.
- Alma Mater
An institution, typically postsecondary, from which a student has graduated.
An eating disorder in which an individual dangerously reduces their caloric intake in order to lose weight.
Advanced Placement; a rigorous course offered to high school students in a variety of subjects after the completion of which students may elect to take an exam to earn college credit.
- Application Fee Waiver
A form that provides students from low-income backgrounds financial assistance with their college applications.
A combination of paid on-the-job training and classroom training, often lasting four years, that prepares an individual to work in a certain profession.
- Armed Forces Qualifying Test
A selection of scores from the math and English sections of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.
- Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
Also referred to as ASVAB; a test given to potential military enlistees to determine if they are qualified to serve and what specialty would be best for them.
- Articulation Agreements
Official agreements between two institutions (typically a community college and a four-year institution) that allow for the simple transfer of credits from one institution to the other.
- Associate’s Degree
A credential given to students who complete a two-year curriculum, often at a community college.
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery; a test given to potential enlistees to determine if they are qualified to serve in a particular branch of the U.S. military and for what position they are best suited.
Without a defined timeline.
- Baby Boomers
Individuals who were born following the end of World War II, between 1945 and 1965.
- Bachelor’s Degree
A credential given to students who complete a four-year curriculum at a liberal arts college, a research university, an arts college, or a conservatory.
- Binge Drinking
A recurring habit of alcohol consumption in which an individual's blood alcohol content reaches .08 or higher.
- Binge Eating Disorder
An eating disorder in which an individual consumes an excessive amount of food.
- Blood Alcohol Content
The percentage of alcohol found in an individual's bloodstream.
A building or institution with a physical presence.
An eating disorder in which an individual eats and then promptly induces vomiting in an attempt to lose weight.
A treasurer; an individual who manages money for a postsecondary institution.
- Capitalized Interest
The amount of interest that accumulates while a student is in school and during grace and deferment periods that is added to the total loan amount, for which the student is financially responsible.
A credential given to a student who completes an educational program that lasts up to two years and demonstrates competency in a specific trade.
- Certificate program
A program that lasts no longer than two years and is offered by both community colleges and vocational schools. Students who earn a certificate have shown that they are competent in their area of study.
A credential given to an individual who passes an exam that covers the skills required to perform a specific trade.
An illness that is ongoing or long-lasting.
College-Level Examination Program; tests that provide students with college credit at certain postsecondary institutions if they attain a passing score.
- Club Sports
Non-NCAA-regulated sports that are organized and run by students. Club teams compete both regionally and nationally against other school's club teams.
Enrolled at multiple postsecondary institutions at the same time; typically at both a four-year and a two-year institution, generally with the intention of earning enough credits to gain full admission to the four-year institution.
A set amount of money that an individual is required to pay for medical services at the time of service.
Cost of Attendance; the full cost of a year of college including tuition, housing, books, travel, and other educational expenses.
The way that an individual and their insurance company split costs for medical coverage after the individual has met their deductible, typically described by a percentage or ratio.
- College Board
The organization that develops, maintains, and administers the following standardized tests: the PSAT suite of exams, the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, AP tests, and CLEP tests.
- College Board Account
Creating an online account allows students to register for Advanced Placement exams, the SAT, the PSAT/NMSQT, and fill out a CSS Profile for nonfederal financial aid.
- College Fair
A gathering of various college admissions counselors and/or alumni representatives who set up booths to answer questions about their university and recruit prospective students. Events are held at high schools and conference, convention, and community centers throughout the country.
A duty given to an armed forces officer by the President of the United States to serve in the military and defend the U.S. constitution.
- Common Access Card
A military identification card with an embedded chip that provides access to physical locations as well as Department of Defense restricted computers and websites.
- Common Application
A college application used by over 600 colleges that was created to streamline the application process for prospective students.
- Community Service
Voluntary participation in community development projects and programs.
Granting permission, typically to sexual contact, by explicitly saying "yes." Students who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot consent.
Also referred to as a co-pay; the amount of money that an individual is required to pay for medical services at the time of service.
- Corps of Cadets
An encompassing term for all students who are enrolled in a program that prepares them to join the military at either a college, university, or service academy.
- Cost of Attendance
The total cost of tuition, room and board, books, travel fees, and other school expenses for a full academic year at a postsecondary institution.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation; a lifesaving procedure that is used when an individual stops breathing or their heart stops beating.
- Credit Score
A number that is used by banks and lending institutions to determine how likely it is that an individual will pay off their debts. Credit scores affect not only loan possibilities, but the ability to open a credit card, rent a home, or buy a car.
- CSS Profile
An application for nonfederal financial aid used by over 400 colleges.
All of the required courses making up a program of study at an educational institution.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; an acknowledgement that many individuals who were brought into the United States as children did not knowingly break the law. Individuals can request DACA and have their immigration cases deferred for two years.
Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support; an agency maintained by the Department of Defense with the mission of providing educational resources and support to current service members and veterans.
- Date Rape
A form of acquaintance rape in which rape is committed by someone with whom an individual has had past romantic interactions.
The amount of money than an individual must pay towards medical services before their insurance company will take over payments.
The status of a loan after an individual misses 270 consecutive days of payments.
A period of time during which a student can temporarily postpone payment on a loan if they meet certain qualifications as outlined on the the Federal Student Aid website.
- Deferment Period
A length of time for which student may postpone payments on their loans.
- Department of Homeland Security
A department of the U.S. government that chiefly aims to reduce and prevent domestic terrorism; this department also encompasses U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
- Department of Defense
A branch of the government that develops military policies and oversees the armed forces.
- Department of Labor
A department of the U.S. federal government that oversees labor laws, fair wages, unemployment, occupational safety, and job training.
The physical need to continue using a drug so as not to experience the negative effects associated with stopping.
- Dependent Student
According to the federal student aid website, a dependent student is “a student who does not meet any of the criteria for an independent student. An independent student is one of the following: at least 24 years old, married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran, a member of the armed(...)
Individuals who rely on others for financial support, such as children or spouses.
The movement of soldiers to locations around the world where they are needed to fulfill a mission; not all missions involve combat.
The act of forcibly removing a noncitizen who is illegally living in a country and sending them back to their country of origin.
- Diploma Mill
An illegitimate company that will give students a degree or certificate in exchange for payment.
- Direct Commissions
Commissions that are given to individuals who have not completed a formal commissioning program, such as ROTC, curriculum at a service academy, Officer Candidate School, or Officer Training School.
- Direct Loan
A group of four loans administered by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.
- Distance Education
Education that is not completed in the traditional classroom, but rather online, by mail correspondence, or videoconference.
- Division I
The best-funded NCAA division; student-athletes may be offered highly competitive athletic scholarships.
- Division II
A highly competitive NCAA division; student-athletes may receive a combination of athletic scholarships and merit- or need-based scholarships.
- Division III
The largest NCAA division; student-athletes are not awarded any athletic scholarships.
A credential given to students who complete the highest level of education available in their field, typically studying for at least three years beyond what is required for a bachelor's degree.
- DREAM Act
Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors; proposed U.S. legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to seek temporary residency and, upon completion of an associate's degree or military service, permanent residency.
Educators for Fair Consideration; a nonprofit advocacy group that aims to make postsecondary education, financial aid, careers, and immigration attainable for undocumented students.
Early Action; an application period earlier than an institution's regular deadline that considers students for college acceptance. Unlike early decision, students are not required to attend the school if they are accepted.
Employment Authorization Document; also referred to as a work permit or a document granting non-U.S. citizens permission to work within the United States on a temporary basis.
- Early Action Admission
An application period that considers students for college acceptance prior to the school’s regular admission deadline. Students are not required to attend the school if accepted.
- Early Decision Admission
An application period that considers students for college acceptance prior to the school’s regular admission deadline. Students may apply early decision to only one school and are legally required to attend the school if they are accepted.
Early Decision; a college application deadline for students who wish to be considered for acceptance prior to the institution’s regular admission deadline. Students can apply early decision to only one school and are legally required to attend the school if they get in.
Expected Family Contributions; the amount of money that a family is expected to contribute out-of-pocket toward one year of collegiate education.
Essential Health Benefits; medical expenses that must be covered by health insurance companies as mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
A course that a student may choose to take, but is not specifically required for graduation.
- Employment Authorization Document
Often referred to as a work permit or EAD; a document that allows non-U.S. citizens to temporarily work within the United States.
Emergency Medical Technicians; an individual who has been trained to provide emergency medical care. EMTs typically ride in ambulances and provide care when an individual calls 9-1-1.
Money that is donated to an institution for the purpose of investment; each year money can be removed from the endowment to provide financial aid to students, salaries to professors, and to pay for the facility upgrades, upkeep and repair.
The act of joining the U.S. military.
A syringe full of epinephrine that may be used when an individual is experiencing an extreme allergic reaction to reduce their symptoms.
- Expected Family Contribution
The amount a student’s family is expected to pay out-of-pocket to cover the total cost of attendance for one year of postsecondary study.
- Extracurricular Activity
A school activity that is completed outside of class time, including, but not limited to, clubs, sports, theater, art classes, band, student government, and community service.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid; it must be filled out by students and their families before the onset of every academic year if students wish to be considered for federal loans, grants, and work-study.
- Federal Direct PLUS Loan
A loan from the federal government given to professional and graduate students or to the parents of undergraduate students who qualify based on information retrieved from the student’s FAFSA.
- Federal Health Insurance Marketplace
A website where individuals can compare and contrast health insurance plans for which they qualify and purchase a plan of their choosing.
- Federal Pell Grant
A need-based award from the federal government given to students from low-income families who are interested in pursuing higher education.
- Federal Perkins Loan
A low-interest, need-based, federal loan given to both undergraduate and graduate students in which the lender is the student’s school and funds are limited.
- Federal Subsidized Loan
A federal loan given only to undergraduate students who qualify based on financial need determined by their FAFSA information.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
A need-based, first-come, first-served award distributed by a student’s school from federal funds.
- Federal Unsubsidized Loan
A federal loan given to both undergraduate and graduate students that is not based on financial need.
- Federal Work-Study
A federal program for students who demonstrate financial need in which students are assisted in finding part-time employment on or off campus that is related to their field of study.
Federal Emergency Management Agency; a government organization that responds to natural disasters.
- Financial Need
Calculated by subtracting a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the total Cost of Attendance (COA) at a particular school.
- Fiscal Year
The fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30.
A delay or reduction in the amount of monthly loan payments for up to 12 months.
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid
An application that must be submitted by students (and their families) before the onset of every academic year if they wish to be considered for federal loans, grants, and work-study.
- FSA ID
A U.S. Department of Education username and password combination for students and/or their parents that gives them access to their personal information and acts as a signature for the FAFSA and other online forms.
- Full-Time Student
An undergraduate, graduate, or vocational student who is enrolled for the full academic course load as outlined by their school.
- Gap Year
Time taken away from education, typically between high school and college, to travel, study independently, intern, volunteer, or work.
General Education Diploma; a certificate given to non-high school graduates who pass a series of high school equivalency tests.
Graduate Management Admission Test; a standardized test that measures an individual's ability to be successful in an MBA program and is therefore required for admission into business school.
- Good Samaritan
Laws dictating that an individual may report a medical emergency involving the illicit use of drugs or alcohol without any consequences to themselves.
Grade Point Average; a number that indicates a student’s academic performance in school, calculated by adding up a student’s final grades in all classes and then dividing by the number of classes the student has taken.
- Grace Period
The amount of time after a student graduates, drops below-half time enrollment, or leaves school before they need to begin repaying their loans.
Money awarded to a student to pay for school and school-related expenses that does not need to be repaid.
Graduate Record Examination; a standardized test often required for admission to graduate school.
- Half-Time Student
An undergraduate, graduate, or vocational student who is enrolled for at least half of the academic course load as outlined by their school.
- High School Diploma
A credential given to students who complete a high school curriculum.
High School Equivalency Test; a series of exams taken by an individual who has not graduated from high school in order to earn a credential comparable to a high school diploma.
- Honors Program
A college program that requires participating students to take higher-level courses that the rest of the student population as well as participate in extracurricular activities and sometimes complete individual research projects.
International Baccalaureate; an international honors curriculum that holds students to the same academic standards in all countries where it is implemented.
The Institute of International Education; a nonprofit organization that studies and manages international educational programs and scholarships.
Intramural; sports that are not regulated by the NCAA but organized and run by students who are interested in a fun and laid back extracurricular experience in which they compete with other students at their institution.
Vaccines that provide immunity against certain diseases.
Health care providers that contract with an individual's insurance company to provide discounted services.
- Independent Student
According to the federal student aid website, “an independent student is one of the following: at least 24 years old, married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran, a member of the armed forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, someone with legal dependents other than a spouse, an(...)
- Individual Ready Reserve
The Individual Ready Reserve is made up of former active duty or reserve soldiers who are no longer working with the military but need to fulfill their service commitment. They can be called back to active duty or reserve status if the military needs someone of their specialty, typically in(...)
Money that is added to the principal amount of a loan (the amount that needs to be repaid) that is paid to the lender in exchange for borrowing money, calculated as a percentage of the outstanding balance of the loan.
- Interest Rate Factor
The interest rate (percentage in decimal form) divided by the number of days in a year.
- International Baccalaureate
Also referred to as IB; an international curriculum that is implemented identically in all countries and schools where it is offered.
A temporary position lasting anywhere from a month to a year in which an individual works for a company to learn about both the specific position and the field of work and to complete on-the-job-training.
- Intramural Sports
Also referred to as IM sports; sports that are not regulated by the NCAA or coached by professionals, but organized and run by students who are looking for a low-key extracurricular experience in which they compete against other students at their school.
Individual Ready Reserve; composed of former active duty or reserve soldiers who are no longer serving actively with the military but need to fulfill their service commitment. These soldiers may be called back to active duty or reserve status during times of war.
- Ivy League
A collection of eight institutions known for their highly selective admissions standards and academic excellence. Members include Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale(...)
- Junior Military Colleges
A group of five institutions that offer two-year ROTC programs leading to associate's degrees and pre-service academy preparation programs in a fully-immersive military environment.
- Lateral Transfer
Transferring from one institution to another of the same type (two-year to two-year or four-year to four-year, for example).
Anyone of Latin American origin or descent.
An organization or agency that provides a student with a loan.
A blanket term used to describe anyone who self-identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, or questioning.
A credential given to an individual who passes an exam over the skills necessary to perform a specific profession; attaining and maintaining a license may be a legal requirement in certain fields.
Money that is borrowed from a lender (bank, credit union, or the U.S. Department of Education) and will need to be paid back with interest.
- Loan Forgiveness
The remaining balance on a loan may be discharged if an individual has made a qualifying number of payments or participates in a loan forgiveness program.
- Loan Servicer
A company that maintains loans (including billing, repayment plans, deferments, etc.) on behalf of the lender.
A sense of male pride and an attitude of strength, aggression, virility, and courage that influences male behaviors.
- Master’s Degree
A credential given to students who complete a two-year curriculum beyond that required for a bachelor's degree.
- Match School
A college where a students feels they have a good chance of getting accepted because their test scores and GPA fall within the average range for admitted students.
To enroll at a postsecondary institution.
Minimum Essential Coverage; the amount of health insurance that individuals are required to have under the Affordable Care Act. Failure to attain this coverage will result in a fine.
A government program that provides health insurance to low-income individuals legally residing in the United States.
A skilled professional or trusted adult who may offer career and educational advice and whom an individual can turn to with any questions or problems they may be having.
Scholarships or grants that are awarded to a student based on academic, artistic, athletic, or volunteer achievement and commitment.
- Military Occupational Specialty
A specific job within a branch of the U.S. military.
- Minimum Essential Coverage
The amount of health insurance that U.S. citizens are required to have under the Affordable Care Act without having to pay a fine.
Massive Open Online Course; an online class that is open to anyone whom wishes to register and the completion of which may result in a certificate.
- Muscle Dysmorphia
An eating disorder characterized by an individual's obsession with gaining muscle.
National Association for College Admission Counseling; an organization that promotes postsecondary education for students worldwide.
- National Association for College Admission Counseling
Also referred to as NACAC; an organization dedicated to spreading information about postsecondary education to students throughout the world.
National Collegiate Athletic Association; an organization that regulates three divisions of collegiate sports at over 1,200 institutions throughout the United States.
Loans, grants, and scholarships that are given to students based on financial need.
- Net Cost
The amount a student and/or their family will be paying out of pocket for school with loans, income, and work study each year. It is calculated by subtracting scholarships and grants from the total cost of attending an institution.
The highly-addictive active ingredient found in tobacco products.
The National Merit Scholarship Qualification Test, a qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship Program and an indicator of a student's future performance on the SAT.
Navy ROTC; an ROTC program for students who are interested in joining the Navy, the Navy Nursing Corps, or the Marine Corps.
An event that occurs before the start of the school year in which freshmen and transfer students learn about their new institution.
Over-the-Counter; medications for which an individual does not need a prescription.
The monthly cost of an individual's health insurance.
A specific course, or a collection of courses, that must be completed before students can enroll in higher level classes.
- Private Lender
A bank, credit union, state agency, or school that provides students with loans to pay for their education and/or other expenses.
- Private Scholarship
A scholarship funded by an organization other than the federal government, a state government, the student’s school, or an employer.
- Prospective Student
A student who is interested in attending a particular college, university, or vocational institution.
The Preliminary SAT is given to high school students at least once between their freshman and junior years and is an indicator of future performance on the SAT.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; a mental health condition that begins after an individual experiences significant trauma.
Residential Assistant; a trained student who oversees everyone who lives on a certain floor or in a certain building on campus.
- Reach School
A college that the applicant feels they have a chance of acceptance, but the school has competitive admission standards that they may not meet. Ivy League schools should always be considered reach schools.
The military observation of a specific region for the purpose of gathering intelligence.
The process by which a collegiate coach entices a student-athlete to attend their school and join their team.
- Registered Apprenticeship
An apprenticeship that is monitored by and meets all safety and educational standards set forth by the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Regular Decision Admission
The application period that most students use when applying to college; deadlines for regular decision admission often fall at the beginning of January.
Lower-level classes that are intended to help a student catch up to an appropriate academic level for their grade in school.
- Remedial Education
Remedial, or developmental, education prepares new college students who don’t possess the necessary success skills, based on their placement test scores, for college level courses.
- Residential Assistant
Also referred to as an RA; a student whose job it is to oversee all the students who live on a certain floor or in a certain building on campus.
- Reverse Transfer
Transferring from a four-year institution to a two-year or less than two-year institution OR transferring credits backwards from a four-year college to a community college in order to retroactively earn an associate's degree.
Reserve Officer's Training Corps; a program that allows students to gain a college education while preparing for a career as a commissioned officer in the U.S. military.
- Safety School
A college that they applicant feels they are almost certainly guaranteed admission because their GPA and test scores fall above the average range for admitted students.
A college entrance exam consisting of multiple timed sections that test the student's knowledge of reading, writing, and math.
- SAT Subject Tests
One hour exams in a specific subject that students can submit to their prospective college to strengthen their application and help the school determine their eligibility to place out of introductory courses. Some schools require or strongly recommend submission of SAT Subject Test scores with(...)
Single-Choice Early Action; an early application period with a deadline before the school's regular admission deadline. Students are limited to applying to only one early action school during this period, but they do not have to accept an offer of admission.
- Score Choice
Picking and choosing among test days and submitting only the highest overall standardized test scores to a college or university.
- Selected Reserves
Consisting of both Army and Air National Guard and Reserve units for all branches of the military.
- Selective Service System
A register of all males who are eligible to be called into combat should the need arise; men must register with the Selective Service System when they turn 18 years old.
- Senior Military Colleges
A group of six institutions that offer fully-immersive four-year ROTC programs comparable to the experience one may have at a service academy.
- Service Academy
An educational institution affiliated with one of the five branches of the U.S. military that prepares students to become officers while earning their bachelor's degrees.
- Single-Choice Early Action
An application period that considers students for college acceptance prior to the school’s regular admission deadline, also referred to as Restricted Early Action. Students may only apply to one school during the early admissions period, though they do not have to accept the offer if they are(...)
- State Aid
Financial aid from a state government that is typically offered to residents who are planning on attending an in-state institution.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
A drug or substance that increases energy and alertness, but also increases heart rate and blood pressure.
A collection of the top scores from each section on the same standardized test (such as the SAT or ACT) taken on different test days, creating the highest overall score.
With a defined and well-structured timeline.
Teaching Assistant; a graduate student who works with a professor and teaches undergraduate classes at a university in return for discounted tuition.
Test Assessing Secondary Completion; a series of tests taken by an individual who did not graduate from high school in order to earn a credential comparable to a high school diploma.
- Tax Credits
Money that can be claimed to reduce the amount owed to the federal government in taxes.
- Teaching Assistant
Graduate students who teach undergraduate level classes and act as assistants to professors in exchange for discounted tuition.
The active ingredient in marijuana responsible for producing a high.
An extensively researched paper, which may involve performing an experiment or proposing an original point of view, that is submitted as a requirement for the completion of a degree.
- Title IX
A law preventing gender-based discrimination in education.
A specific vocation or skilled profession.
A document that is a student’s official academic record, containing all courses taken, grades and honors received, and degrees earned at a particular institution.
A collection of eight federal programs targeted at low-income, first-generation, and physically or learning disable students that aim to help each student attain their postsecondary educational goals.
- Tuition Equity
Allowing students who meet certain criteria to pay in-state tuition at a postsecondary institution; for example undocumented students are granted in-state tuition at some schools in some states if they are attending college in the same state where they graduated from high school or currently live.
- U.S. Department of Education
The branch of the federal government responsible for giving federal aid to educational institutions, federal financial aid to students, and implementing educational policies.
- Undocumented Student
A student who does not have legal authority to live in the United States and does not posess authorized immigration documents.
An organization developed to protect the interests of it's members, who are workers in the same professional field (e.g. teachers, metalworkers, or plumbers).
- Unregistered Apprenticeship
An apprenticeship that is not monitored by or held to the standards of the U.S. Department of Labor.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; a government agency within the Department of Homeland Security that monitors legal immigration proceedings for individuals wishing to become U.S. residents or citizens.
- Vertical Transfer
Transferring from a two-year or less than two year institution to a four-year institution.
An official authorization associated with an individual's passport that allows them to enter and vacation, study, or work in a foreign country for a specific amount of time.
A specific trade or profession.
An irrational fear or dislike of foreigners.