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Financial Aid Dictionary

Confused by all of the financial aid terminology out there?

Figuring out how to pay for college can be confusing with so many unfamiliar terms. Our helpful financial aid dictionary should make things much easier.

5 Best Financial Resources for Students


Award Letter

This is a term used for an offer that states the type and amount of financial aid North Central University is willing to provide if you accept admission and register to take classes.

Award Amount

Amount of aid North Central expects to pay a student based on the student’s current grant and loan eligibility, enrollment, Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and the school’s cost of attendance.

Award Year

School year for which financial aid is used to fund a student’s education. Generally, this is the 12-month period that begins on July 1 of one year and ends on June 30 of the following year.



A financial plan that helps you track your money, make informed spending decisions, and plan for your financial goals.


FAFSA form

The free application for federal student aid.

Federal Student Aid

Financial aid from the federal government to help you pay for education expenses at an eligible college or career school. Grants, loans and work-study are types of federal student aid. You must complete the FAFSA form to apply for this aid.

Financial Aid Package

The total amount of financial aid (federal and nonfederal) a student is offered by NCU. The school’s financial aid staff combines various forms of aid into a “package” to help meet a student’s education costs.


Fees include paying for parking (optional) and are dependent on major and class selection.


Grants and Scholarships

Financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. Grants are often need-based, while scholarships are usually merit or performance-based. Grants and scholarships are normally directly applied to your student account and may have certain conditions in order to maintain your eligibility. See what scholarships are available through North Central.



Housing refers to where you will live during your time at North Central. This includes on-campus housing such as Carlson Hall, Miller Hall, or Phillipps Hall. Find out more about housing options at NCU here.


Meal Plan

North Central offers a variety of meal plan packages so you can get the right number of meals every week. There is also a Flex Plan, which allows you to put money on your ID so you can purchase meals in the cafeteria or snack bar. You’ll pick your meal plan during registration. Learn more about NCU’s meal plan here.


Room and Board

An allowance for the cost of housing and food while attending North Central.



Money awarded to students based on academic or other achievements to help pay for education expenses.  Scholarships generally do not have to be repaid. See scholarships available through North Central here.

State Aid

Financial aid from a student’s state of legal residence.



Tuition is the cost of the credits (classes) that you’re signing up for.

Total Estimated Cost Per Semester

The total estimated cost is the sum of the fees, housing, meal plan, and tuition that you’ve chosen for a single semester

Total Estimated Annual Cost

The total estimated annual cost is the sum of the fees, housing, meal plan, and tuition you’ve chosen for the entire year (two semesters).

Total Estimated Remaining Cost

The total estimated remaining cost is the sum of the fees, housing, meal plan, and tuition you’ve chosen for the entire year minus your total estimated award amount.



A federal student aid program that provides part-time employment while you are enrolled in school to help pay your education expenses. Check out student job openings at North Central here.

More information

Still have questions? Reach out to one of our helpful admissions counselors at 1.800.289.6222 or

For information about federal student aid from the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid, visit