Financial Aid Glossary


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Academic Year
The enrollment period beginning on the first day of classes in the fall term and concluding on the last day of exams in the spring term. 

Add/Drop Period
The University of Maine allows students to add courses, to change sections within a course or to alter the grading option for a course through the first five class days of each semester.  Courses may be dropped over a much longer period, but students will receive no tuition refund for courses dropped after the tenth day of classes each semester.  The period of time at the beginning of a semester where the student has the opportunity to add or drop individual classes without penalty is called the Add/Drop Period. Click here to visit the Bursar’s Office Website for more information.

Aggregate Loan Limits
The aggregate loan limits represent the cumulative borrowing amounts allowed by the Department of Education. Click here for more information on aggregate loan limits.

Alternative Loan
Alternative loans are educational loans provided by private organizations called lenders. Most are credit-based loans, and some will require periodic payments of principal and interest once disbursed.  Interest rates and applications vary by lender. Click here for more information on alternative loans.

Annual Loan Limits
The annual loan limits for Federal Direct Stafford Loans is the total amount of loan eligibility that a student has within one academic year.  The annual loan limit is determined by an individual student’s grade-level, dependency status and total aggregate loan history. Click here for more information on annual loan limits.

Anticipated Resources
Anticipated Resources are outside aid that is generally not listed on a student’s award.  Students are able to report Anticipated Resources on their MaineStreet account to notify the Bursar’s Office that there are funds coming to cover a balance.  Providing this notification may avoid a late fee. Click here for instructions on completing Anticipated Resources.

Graduate assistantships normally require at least 20 hours per week devoted to teaching or research and are generally prohibited from working elsewhere in addition to the assistantship. For additional information regarding graduate assistantships visit the Graduate School’s website. Click here for the Graduate School’s website.

Award Letter
Also referred to as the “Financial Aid Award” or “Financial Aid Package”, this is notification of the various types, terms and requirements of the financial aid funds offered. The award is prepared and sent by the college, either by e-mail or regular mail. Click here for more award information.

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Borrower (loan)
A borrower is a student or parent who has applied, met specific requirements and received a monetary loan from a lender.  The individual initiating the request signs a promissory note agreeing to pay the loan lender back during a specified timeframe.  The borrower is legally responsible for repayment of the loan and is subject to any penalties of non-payment based on the agreed loan terms.

Borrower Rights and Responsibilities
A specified list of rights and responsibilities that loan borrowers are expected to understand and comply with. Click here for more information regarding Borrower Rights and Responsibilities.

The University of Maine System calculates both the direct costs and the indirect costs to create an annual budget for students based on what the average student will incur for costs over the academic year (these costs include tuition/fees, room/board, books/supplies, travel and loan fees).  The budget is calculated using an estimation of 30 credit hours per year for undergraduate students and 18 credit hours per year for graduate students. Click here for more information on budgets.

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A student is considered a cancellation if they have never attended classes for a given semester.

Capitalization of Interest
Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and Direct PLUS Loans start to accrue interest from the day the loan disburses to a student account.  Students have the option to pay the interest that is accruing on these loans while they are enrolled in school or can defer payment while enrolled in school and for a grace period once they are no longer enrolled.

If a student chooses not to pay the interest while in school, the interest is added to the unpaid principal.  Interest then begins accruing on the new principal amount.  This is called capitalization of interest.

The process of combining one or more loans into a single new loan.

Cost of Attendance
The total estimated cost of attending a college for one year. A cost of attendance budget usually includes costs for tuition and fees, room and board, books, travel, miscellaneous educational expenses and loan fees. Click here for more information on costs at the University of Maine.

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Default is a legal term which describes a borrower’s failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed upon when he/she signed a promissory note.

A deferment is a temporary suspension of loan payments for specific situations such as enrollment in school, unemployment, or economic hardship.

Degree Program
A degree student is active in a degree program (a course of study leading to an academic degree).

Department Scholarship
Academic scholarships are offered to students directly from university colleges and departments.  Some may require a separate scholarship application. Click here for more information on department scholarships.

Dependent Student
A dependent student is defined by the FAFSA.  A dependent student does not meet the criteria established for independent students and are required to submit parent information on the FAFSA.  Click here for more information on determining dependency status.

Direct Costs
Items which appear on a student’s bill are considered direct costs. These include tuition and fees, and can include room and board (if a student lives on campus).

Direct Loan
Loans made through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program are referred to as Direct Loans. Eligible students and parents borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education at participating schools. Direct Loans include subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loans (also known as Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans), Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans. Students repay these loans directly to the U.S. Department of Education. Click here for more information on Direct Loans.

Payment of loan proceeds by the lender to the college or during consolidation to the loan holders. During consolidation, this term refers to sending payoffs to the loan holders of the underlying loans being consolidated.

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Enrollment Adjustment
A student’s financial aid award is based on a student’s total enrollment. If a student changes the number of credits they are enrolled in, their financial aid award may be subject to adjustment.

Entrance Counseling
An educational session that first time Stafford and Graduate PLUS loan borrowers must complete before the loan funds can be disbursed. Click here for more information regarding entrance counseling.

Exit Counseling
Students with federal educational loans are required to receive counseling upon graduating or withdrawing (i.e., leave school), during which the borrower’s rights and responsibilities and loan terms and conditions are reviewed with the student. Click here for more information on exit counseling.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
The minimum amount a family is expected to contribute to a student’s education, based on family earnings, net assets, savings, size of family and number of students in college. Click here for more information on the EFC.

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FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
 This federal form is the required application for all federal and state financial aid. The FAFSA is often used by the colleges to determine eligibility for institutional funds. Click here to visit the FAFSA website.

FAFSA on the Web (FOTW)
The Electronic version of the FAFSA is called FAFSA on the Web.

FAFSA Correction
Students and parents who initially complete the FAFSA using tax estimates or who identify an error,  need to update their information by making a correction to their FAFSA. Click here to make a correction to the FAFSA.

Federal Processing Center
Completed FAFSA information is submitted to the Federal Processing Center.  Once processed the institutions listed on a student’s FAFSA are able to access the information.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
Grants awarded to undergraduate students who have exceptional financial need and have not completed their first baccalaureate degree. Priority must be given to Federal Pell Grant recipients with the lowest EFCs.

Federal Work-Study
This federal program provides part-time employment for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.  Click here to visit Student Employment’s website.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student’s educational records.  Under FERPA, directory information may be publicly shared by the University, unless the student specifically requests that directory information not be released.

In compliance with FERPA, the University of Maine will not release student grades, schedules, or financial aid information to parents, spouses or others, unless written permission is given by the student. Click here to complete the Student Consent to Release Information form.

Financial Aid Package
The total financial aid a student receives. Federal, state and institutional aid such as grants, loans, work-study, and scholarships are combined in a “package” to help meet the student’s need.

Fixed Interest Rate
On a fixed interest loan, the interest rate remains the same for the life of the loan.

An authorized period of time during which the lender agrees to temporarily postpone a borrower’s principal repayment obligation due to some hardship experienced by the borrower, such as unemployment. Interest continues to accrue and usually must be paid during the forbearance period. Forbearance may be granted at the lender’s discretion when a borrower is willing to repay the loan but is unable to do so at that time.

Full-time Enrollment
Certain aid programs require full-time enrollment. For undergraduate students, full-time enrollment is at least 12 credits; for graduate students, full-time enrollment is at least 6 credits.

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Grace Period
Specified period of time between the date a student graduates or drops below half-time status and the date loan repayment begins. There is only one grace period per federal student loan.

Grade-Level Loan Amounts
See Annual Loan Amounts.

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Half-time Enrollment
Half-time enrollment is at least six credit hours per semester for undergraduate students and at least 3 credit hours per semester for graduate students. Some programs such as the Direct Loan Program require that a student be enrolled at the University of Maine at least half-time.

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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 forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, or someone with legal dependents other than a spouse.  Click here for more information on determining dependency status.

Indirect Costs
Items which do not appear on your bill but are still a cost associated with being a student are considered indirect costs. These costs include room and board (if you live off campus), books and supplies, travel and miscellaneous educational expenses.

Interest (loan)
An amount, calculated as a percent of the principal loan amount that is charged for borrowed money. See fixed interest and variable interest.

Interest Rate
The interest rate is the annual percentage of the loan or credit card amount that is charged for its use. For Federal Direct Stafford and Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan interest rates, please see interest rates on loans.

IRS Data Retrieval
The IRS Data Retrieval tool allows FAFSA applicants and parents to request and retrieve their tax data directly from the IRS.  Once this data is retrieved from the IRS, it can be transferred to the FAFSA application. Click here for more information on using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

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Late filer
Generally, a student is a late filer if they have not completed the FAFSA by the priority filing deadline OR submitted required additional documents for verification by the document deadline.

A financial institution, agency, or school that provides the money to make a loan to a borrower.

Less than Half-time Enrollment
Undergraduate students are considered less than half-time if they are enrolled in 5 credits or less, and Graduate students are considered less than half-time if they are enrolled in 2 or less credits. Students who are less than half-time are generally not eligible for most types of federal financial aid.

Lifetime Loan Amounts
See Aggregate Loan Amounts.

Loan Period
According to the loan agreement, for loans paid in regular installments, the length of time between installments.

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MaineStreet is the University of Maine’s student access portal.  Students are able to access their financial aid, registration, admission, billing and other important information.

MaineStreet Message Center
The MaineStreet Message Center allows different offices on campus to notify individual students of important information regarding their student accounts.  Students receive emails when they receive a new Message Center communication.

Master Promissory Note (MPN)
 A promissory note is a signed document containing a written promise to pay a stated sum to a specified person. All students borrowing Direct Stafford loans (and parent borrowing Direct PLUS loans) for the first time need to sign a Master Promissory Note.  The Master Promissory Note is good for up to 10 years and covers both the Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct loans the student may receive for the same enrollment period

Merit Scholarship
Administered by the Office of Admissions, The University of Maine’s merit scholarships are designed to acknowledge and attract excellent students to Maine’s only major research, land-grant and sea-grant university. Click here for more information regarding Merit Scholarships.

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National Student Clearinghouse
The National Student Clearinghouse is a database which lenders, loan servicers, guaranty agencies, schools, and students can access to verify student degree and enrollment information.

National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)
NSLDS is a database maintained by the Department of Education that holds data on students’ federal loan and grant history. Students who have just applied for aid won’t find any information on NSLDS yet. NSLDS receives data from schools, guaranty agencies and U.S. Department of Education programs. The NSLDS web site is generally available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Using their PINs, students can access information on federal loan and Pell Grant amounts, outstanding balances, and the status of loans and disbursements made. Students can access NSLDS at

Demonstrated eligibility for financial aid as determined by comparing a school’s cost of attendance with the expected family contribution. (Need = COA – EFC) Demonstrated need is a federal term and the dollar figure that establishes the maximum amount of need-based financial aid that can be provided to a student.

Need-Based Financial Aid
Resources made available to a student, based on demonstrated need.

Non-Degree Student
A non-degree student is a student that is not active in a degree program. Generally, non-degree students are not eligible for federal financial aid.

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On-time filer
A student is considered an on-time filer if they have completed the FAFSA by the University of Maine’s priority filing deadline and, if selected for verification, submitted additional documentation by the University of Maine’s document deadline.

Opportunity Maine
Refers to a Tax Credit for Educational Opportunity offered by the State of Maine to students who completed all coursework at and graduated from a Maine institution, who live, work and pay taxes in Maine and have student loans taken out after January 1, 2008. Click here for more information regarding Opportunity Maine.

Origination Fee
A charge for processing a loan to partially help offset administrative costs. It can be either a flat rate or a percentage of the amount borrowed.

Outside Scholarship
An outside scholarship is a scholarship awarded to a student by a donor, other than the university, federal or state government.  Students receiving outside scholarships are required to report the information to the Financial Aid Office through MaineStreet Self-Service.

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Pell Grant
The largest federal grant program. Eligibility and award amounts are determined by the college based on established federal guidelines.

Perkins Loan
Federally-insured loans funded by the federal government and awarded by the school. The loans feature a subsidized, low interest rate and are repayable over an extended period.

A Federal Student Aid PIN (Personal Identification Number), or PIN is a unique number assigned to students by the Department of Education. The PIN allows secure access to online resources and applications relating to student aid.

Parents of dependent students must also apply for a PIN so to complete the parent sections on the FAFSA.  Click here to get a PIN.

Federally-insured credit-based loans for parents of dependent students and independent graduate students. Click here for more information on Direct PLUS Loans.

PLUS Loan Denial
If a parent is denied a Parent Direct PLUS Loan, the student can be treated as an independent student and may be eligible for additional Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

Amount borrowed, which may increase as a result of interest capitalization, and the amount on which interest is calculated. Also known as principal balance.

Priority Filing Deadline
All schools determine a filing date that students must submit a FAFSA by in order to be considered on-time to receive institutional aid of grants, scholarships and loans.  See on-time filers.

Promissory Note
A promissory note is a binding legal document a student signs for a student loan. It lists the conditions under which students borrow and the terms under which they agree to pay back the loan. It will include information on how interest is calculated and what deferment and cancellation provisions are available to the borrower. It’s very important to read and save this document because students will need to refer to it later when repayment begins or at other times when students need information about provisions of the loan, such as deferments or forbearances.

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The time during which a borrower actively makes payments on an education loan

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Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
To be eligible to receive federal student financial aid, students must meet and maintain the school’s standards of satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate offered by our institution. Click here for more information on Satisfactory Academic Progress.

School Code
When students complete the FAFSA, the school code for each school they are applying to, is required.  The University of Maine’s is school code is 002053.

Selective Scholarship
The University of Maine Office of Student Financial Aid administers a variety of scholarships. In some cases, the donor of a scholarship fund will specify certain selective criteria the recipient of the scholarship must meet. Applications are available on our website. Click here for more information on Selective Scholarships.

Selective Service Registration
In order to be eligible for federal student aid students must register with the Selective Service if:

  • You are a male born on or after Jan. 1, 1960, and
  • You are at least 18 years old, and
  • You are not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands or the Republic of Palau are exempt from registering. (Link to

Self-Certification (Private Education Loan Applicant)
An alternative loan borrower must submit a signed self-certification form to the lender.  This form, which is completed and signed by the student, must show the student’s cost of attendance, expected family contribution, estimated financial assistance, total aid and the maximum private loan amount allowed. Click here for the Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification form.

Self-Service on MaineStreet allows students to report to the Financial Aid Office if they plan on being less than full-time for a semester, changing housing plans (living on campus, living off campus or living with parents), report graduation term and report outside aid.

Special Circumstances
Students are encouraged to contact our office if special circumstances exist (such as change in the student’s or parents’ employment, loss of benefit or other type of income, changes in marital status or unexpected costs) that may impact their financial aid eligibility.

Stafford Loan
Long-term, low-interest loans administered by the Department of Education. The loans come in two forms – subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized loans are based on need; unsubsidized loans are not. The interest on the subsidized loan is paid by the federal government while a student is enrolled. If students receive an unsubsidized loan, they are responsible for paying the interest as soon as you receive the loan even while in school. Students may avoid paying the interest while enrolled by capitalizing the interest, but that will increase the loan amount.

State of Maine Grant
The State of Maine Grant is a need-based grant program for Maine residents. To apply, students must file the FAFSA by May 1 and meet the EFC requirements. Click here for more information on the State of Maine Grant Program.

 Student Aid Report
A federal output document, containing financial and other information reported by the student on the FAFSA, sent to a student by the federal application processor. The student’s eligibility for aid is indicated by the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is printed on the document.

A loan for which a borrower is not responsible for the interest while in an in-school, grace, or deferment status. Subsidized loans include Direct Subsidized, Direct Subsidized Consolidation Loans, Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans and Federal Subsidized Consolidation Loans.

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Three-Quarter Time Enrollment
Undergraduate students are considered to be three-quarter time if they are enrolled in 9 to 11 credits.

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University of Maine Grant
University of Maine Grants are awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need as determined by information provided on the FAFSA, specifically, the expected family contribution.

A loan for which the borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status. Interest on unsubsidized loans accrues from the date of disbursement and continues throughout the life of the loan. Unsubsidized loans include: Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Consolidation Loans, and Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal PLUS Loans, and Federal Unsubsidized Consolidation Loans.

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Variable Interest Rate
Percentage of principal that changes at specified times based on a predetermined formula.

A review process to ensure that the information you provided on the FAFSA is correct. The Financial Aid Office may ask you to submit documentation, such as income tax forms.

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