The college admissions process can be confusing enough in its own right, but the conglomeration of acronyms and FAQs that parents and students are expected to master can further complicate the process and addle the brain.
To lighten your load, we have compiled a collection of the most often-used admissions and financial terms and acronyms. In addition, we’ve provided the answers to some general questions.
College Admissions and Financial Aid Abbreviations
AA – Associate of Arts Degree
ACT – American College Testing – Standardized test used for college admissions in the US.
AGI – Adjusted Gross Income – Gross income minus adjustments to income. Gross income includes your wages, dividends, capital gains, business income, retirement distributions as well as other income. Adjustments to Income include such items as educator expenses, student loan interest, alimony payments or contributions to a retirement account.
AS – Associate of Science Degree
BA – Bachelor of Arts Degree
BS – Bachelor of Science Degree
CDS – Common Data Set —A set of standards and definitions for higher education data that are collected under the collaborative arrangements made between higher education institutions and publishers, namely The College Board, Peterson’s, and U.S. News & World Report and used in higher education research.
CLEP – College Level Examination Program – Exams that test mastery of college-level material acquired in a variety of ways – through general academic instructions, significant independent study or extracurricular work.
COA – Cost of Attendance – A figure provided by colleges and/or college financial offices that estimates the total costs of attending that particular school for a period of one year. Included in the estimate are all reasonable expenses such as tuition, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation.
CSS – College Scholarship Service – A financial aid application that almost 400 colleges use to award grants and scholarships.
DD – Darling daughter
DE – Dual Enrollment
DRN – Data Release Number -A four-digit number that appears in the upper right-hand corner on the first page of your Student Aid Report (SAR). You will need this number if you choose to allow your college or career school to change certain information on your FAFSA form.
DS – Darling son
EA – Early Action – Non-binding admission option
ED – Early Decision -Binding admission option
EDII– Early Decision 2 -Binding admission option that is essentially the same as Early Decision, but with later deadlines.
EFC – Expected Family Contribution – An index number generated by financial aid forms that colleges use to determine how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school. This is a figure that represents what a family is expected to be able to afford to pay for one year of a child’s college costs. The EFC is usually the minimum that a family is expected to pay for college.
FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid – A form that can be prepared annually by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid.
FERPA – Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
FSA ID – Federal Student Aid ID
GMAT – Graduate Management Admission Test
GRE – Graduate Record Exam
HELOC – Home Equity Line of Credit
IB – International Baccalaureate – A two-year educational diploma program taught in schools in over 140 countries, primarily aimed at 16 to 18-year-olds. It provides an internationally accepted qualification for entry into higher education and is recognized by many universities worldwide.
IMHO – In My Honest Opinion
IPEDS – Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System – The federal government’s higher education data collection program conducted annually by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
LAC – Liberal Arts College
MA – Master of Arts Degree
MCAT – Medical College Admission Test
MS – Master of Science Degree
MSEP – Midwest Student Exchange Program – A multi-state tuition reciprocity program
NPC – Net Price Calculator – Online calculator that allows colleges to give prospects a personalized estimate of what their one-year net price to attend their school will be.
OOS – Out of State
OP – Original post(er)
PSAT – The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) – A standardized test administered by the College Board and co-sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) in the United States.
RA– Resident Assistant – Trained peer leader who supervises those living in a residence hall or group housing facility.
RD – Regular Decision
REA – Restrictive Early Action – Admissions decision. Students are only allowed to apply Restrictive Early Action to one college, but they may not cannot simultaneously apply Early Decision. However, students who apply Restrictive Early Action can still apply Early Action to other schools.
SAR – Student Aid Report – A paper or electronic document that gives you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid as well as listing your answers to the FAFSA questions.
SAT – Scholastic Aptitude Test – A set of standardized college admissions tests developed by the College Board, the principal one measuring mathematical and verbal reasoning, and others measuring knowledge in specific subject areas.
SREB – Southern Regional Educational Board – Academic Common Market
WUE – Western Undergraduate Exchange – Regional tuition-reciprocity agreement that enables students from WICHE ( Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) states to enroll in more than 150 participating two- and four-year public institutions.
College Admissions and Financial Aid FAQs
What is the Common App?
What are 529 Plans?
What is a Parent PLUS Loan?
What is a Pell Grant?
Federal Pell Grants are the largest source of federally funded grants. They are awarded solely based on your financial need (academic grades and extra-curricular activities aren’t a factor). The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2023-24 academic year was $7,395.
What is Merit Aid?
The general term for grants, scholarships, and discounts that a college awards to an admitted student without regard to financial need. Merit aid may be based on service, academic or athletic achievements, special talents such as music, where the student lives or other demographic characteristics.
What is Rolling Admission?
Decision about who gets accepted that is on a first-come-first-served basis.
There is no restriction on the number of schools a student can apply to under the Rolling Admission option.
What types of questions should be asked on a college tour?
What is Dual Registration?
Dual registration involves high school students enrolling in college courses for credit at the same time that they are completing their high school work. They receive credit for the courses at both the high school and college level. It is sometimes called dual credit, concurrent enrollment, dual enrollment or joint enrollment.
What is the Federal Work-Study Program?
This is a program that is open to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who demonstrate financial need when submitting their FAFSA. Students may be enrolled part-time or full-time, and eligibility is determined by information provided on the FAFSA and the specific college where the student will be enrolled.
Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.
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