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Award Letter

A document, paper, or electronic, that indicates the names and types of awards given to a student and their amounts.

Cost to Attend

Also called Cost of Attendance or Cost of Education. The total estimated cost to attend school for one year, including tuition, fees, room and board, allowances for books and supplies, transportation, personal and incidental expenses. More information.

Data Release Number (DRN)

A four-digit number assigned to all Title IV federal student aid applications and appears on the Student Aid Report. DRN's allow a school to access and update, if requested, a student’s application data.


A temporary suspension of a borrower's monthly loan payments.

Direct Costs

A component of Cost to Attend only including tuition, fees, and room and board.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)

The process of your lender electronically sending your loan funds directly to the College to be applied to your student account.

Entrance Counseling

An online debt management session prior to the first disbursement of federal loans to explain borrower rights and responsibilities regarding loan funding. More information.

Exit Counseling

An online debt management session prior to graduation or withdrawal to review borrower terms and obligations of student loans. More information.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

An index that colleges use to determine financial aid eligibility as determined by Federal Methodology need-analysis formulas.

Federal Methodology

The formula used in determining a student’s need for federal financial aid assistance.

Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID)

A username and password issued by the U. S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid Program that identifies someone authorized to access a student's personal information on FAFSA, Federal Student Aid, and other Department of Education websites. FSA IDs are issues to both students and parents or guardians who must fill out the FAFSA or participate in federal loan programs.

Financial Aid

Any form of financial assistance, including scholarships, federal and state grants, loans, and work-study employment.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

A standard federal application used to determine eligibility for financial aid. The FAFSA should be completed early every year. The College of Idaho’s federal code is 001617. More information.

Gift Aid

Grants, scholarships, or other awards that do not have to be paid back. Related to Self-Help Aid.

Grace Period

A period of time, typically six to nine months, after borrowers graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, before loan payments begin. The grace period is intended to give borrowers enough time to find employment or complete their transfer to another institution.

Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR)

The FAFSA information sent by the government to schools. The ISIR contains the EFC and other information submitted on the FAFSA.


Money that is borrowed and has to be paid back, typically with interest charges. More information.


The cost of attendance minus the EFC. Need indicates how much additional funding beyond the EFC, like scholarships or loans, is required to pay for college.


See Award Letter.

Personal Identification Number (PIN)

The previous name for the Federal Student Aid ID. The PIN was replaced on May 10, 2015.

Private Education Loan

A non-need-based loan borrowed from a private lender. These loans are not federal loans.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

 A method used to define successful completion of coursework and to establish and maintain eligibility for financial aid loans, grants, and scholarships.


Gift aid given to students for certain criteria, including merit, talent, need, and other reasons set by the awarding organization. More information.

Self-Help Aid

Loans or work-study awarded to the student. Related to Gift Aid.

Student Aid Report (SAR)

The report sent to students that summarizes the information included in the FAFSA. The SAR lists the EFC, indicates if a student may be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and notes any eligibility issues. The SAR is the student version of the ISIR.

Subsidized Loan

A need-based loan on which the government pays the interest while the borrower has enrolled at least a half-time and during the six month grace period after graduating or otherwise leaving school.

Unsubsidized Loan

A non-need-based loan. The borrower is always responsible for paying the interest on the loan. Interest accrues while attending school. Interest can be paid or accrued and capitalized.


The process of comparing the information on the FAFSA to certain documents, such as federal tax returns. The process may identify the need for corrections to the information provided on the FAFSA. Students may be selected for verification by the FAFSA processing center or by the school. More information.


A federal and state self-help aid program with limited funding that provides students with part-time employment during the school year. Eligibility is based on need. Money earned is not counted as income for the subsequent year’s need-analysis process. More information.