Glossary of Terms

Do you know your FAFSA from your CSS PROFILE? Your PLUS Loan from your Pell Grant? You're going to run into some financial aid terms over and over again, so this glossary will help you keep all the names, initials, and acronyms straight.

Academic Year

The school year, usually from the beginning of September through the end of May.

Billed costs

Costs directly charged by the College, such as tuition, fees, housing, meals, and health insurance. If you will not be covered by your family's medical insurance, you will be charged the medical insurance premiums of $2,488 (estimated).

College of the Holy Cross Loan

An institutional student loan program offering a fixed interest rate to students who demonstrate financial need.  The loan is awarded by the Office of Financial Aid based on demonstrated financial need, and the program is administered by the College with a limited amount of funds available each year.  The College of the Holy Cross Loan was created in response to the expiration of the Federal Perkins Loan Program.

Cost of Attendance

COA. Also known as the cost of education or "budget." The total amount it should cost the student to go to school, including tuition and fees, housing and meals, allowances for books and supplies, transportation, and personal and incidental expenses. Loan fees, if applicable, may also be included in the COA.

CSS Profile

A College Scholarship Service (CSS) application that allows you to be considered for need-based Holy Cross-funded financial aid. Visit the CSS Profile website to create a College Board account and complete your CSS Profile application. Incoming freshmen applicants should submit a CSS Profile application before November 15 for Early Decision or January 15 for Early Decision 2 and Regular Decision; upper-class students should submit by November 1.


For a child or other person to be considered your dependent, they must live with you and you must provide them with more than half of their support. Parents cannot both claim the same child as a dependent if they file separate tax returns.

Entrance Counseling

Entrance counseling reviews the borrower’s rights and responsibilities and the terms of the borrower’s loans. Borrowers must undergo entrance counseling before they receive federal student loans for the first time.

Expected Family Contribution

The expected family contribution (EFC) is a measure of the family’s financial strength. It is calculated based on the FAFSA and CSS Profile and is a minimum measure of the family’s share of college costs. It is used to determine the student’s eligibility for student financial aid in the calculation of financial need. Despite the name, it is not the amount of money the family will pay for college. Most families will pay more than the EFC because the financial aid offer may include loans and/or student employment.


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that collects your family's financial information to determine your eligibility for Federal aid programs. If you're applying for financial aid from Holy Cross, you must submit a FAFSA. To complete the application, see FAFSA's website. Incoming freshman applicants should submit a FAFSA before November 15 for Early Decision or January 15 for Early Decision 2 and Regular Decision; upper-class students should submit an updated FAFSA by November 1.

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan

Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students, which allow parents with good credit to borrow each year up to the cost of education minus financial aid.

Federal Direct Loan

A federally-funded student loan program, with an interest subsidy for qualifying students. To learn more about Federal Direct Loans, visit the Federal Student Aid website. 

Federal Methodology

A type of need analysis using the information presented on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal Methodology determines financial need for federal aid according to the regulations set by the U.S. Department of Education.

Federal Pell Grant

The largest federal aid program, in which students receive awards directly from the federal government. You must submit a FAFSA to be considered for a Federal Pell Grant.

Federal Perkins Loan

A low-interest federal loan. Holy Cross awards Perkins Loans from a limited fund based on students' financial needs. To learn more about managing a Perkins Loan, see the Perkins Loan section on the Bursar's website.  The federal government has allowed the Federal Perkins Loan Program to expire in 2017.  Therefore, no colleges may offer new Perkins Loans in the 2018-2019 academic year or beyond

Federal SEOG

The Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, a limited, federally-provided fund which Holy Cross allocates to its most needy students. Students eligible for Pell Grants will receive first consideration.

Federal Work-Study (FWS)

A federal program offered and administered by the College that provides opportunity for part-time employment to students with financial need to help pay non-billed costs. Funds are paid out through a paycheck, as earned.

Gift Aid

Gift aid can include awards with titles such as grants, scholarships, remissions, awards, waivers, etc. Gift aid can be awarded based upon many factors, including financial need and merit (academic, athletic, musical). Merit scholarships will be renewed each year provided that you continue to make good academic progress and maintain a satisfactory disciplinary record. Need-based grants can change each year based on changes in income, assets, and the number of dependents enrolled as undergraduate students in a college or university.


A type of financial aid based on financial need that the student does not have to repay.

Institutional Methodology

A type of need analysis using the information presented on the CSS Profile. Institutional Methodology provides a fair and equitable determination of a family’s financial need for Holy Cross funded aid.


Through the Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC), the College Board collects families' federal tax returns and other documents on behalf of the College of the Holy Cross.  The Financial Aid office can then review students' documents electronically, eliminating paper in the office, and securing families' personal data.

ROTC Incentive Grants

Grants covering standard room charges for four-year Holy Cross students participating in the Navy, Army, or Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps programs. For more on this, see "ROTC scholarships and stipends" on the Scholarships and Grants page.

Title IV

A category of federal educational aid that includes Federal Direct Loans, Pell Grants, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work-Study.