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Common Financial Aid Terms

To help you understand the financial aid process, procedures and documents, we have compiled a list of common financial aid terms.

As always, if you have questions, please contact a Harrison College financial aid analyst or call 888.500.1026.



APR – Annual Percentage Rate: The total cost of a loan, including interest rate and fees, expressed as a percentage of the original borrowed amount paid out every year for the life of the loan.

Accrue: To add up. If you obtain loans, the interest will add up or accrue over the life of the loan. That determines the total that you pay back to the lending institution.

Alternative Loan: A loan that comes from a private institution, such as a bank, rather than the federal education loan program. It can also be referred to as a private loan.

Army College Fund: A program that provides educational benefits to Army enlistees in certain jobs who earn a minimum score on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery.

Army Reserve Student Loan Repayment Program: A loan repayment program available to people in the Army Reserves.

Assets: Cash available in checking and savings accounts, income-producing property, and business equipment and inventory. This is part of the formula for considering Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

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Capitalization: Adding unpaid interest to the total debt of a loan. See also accrue.

Center for Leadership Development Scholarship: The Center for Leadership Development (CLD) offers scholarships to students each year who have participated in its programs.

Charles Cring Adult Learner Award: A scholarship given by Harrison College each year in honor of the founder of the school. Recipients must be first-time, full-time students.

Charles Cring Legacy Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded to a direct relative or step-relative (child or grandchild) of a Harrison graduate. Selected recipients receive an award of $1,500 disbursed in $500 increments over three successive quarters. Awards are not eligible for renewal.

Cosigner: A person who signs his or her name to a student’s loan and agrees to pay the debt if the student cannot.

Cost of Attendance (COA): For a Harrison student, it can include tuition, fees, books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, dependent care, purchase or rental of a computer and other miscellaneous expenses. COA is used to determine a student’s need for borrowing money or getting need-based financial aid.

Credit: A summary of a person’s financial strength, often used to determine if he or she can obtain private loans. It is based in large part on a person’s history of paying bills on time and their ability to pay back loans.

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Darcy Burthay Leadership in Nursing Scholarship: This scholarship is provided to recognize and honor nurses who are active in the health care community as RNs and are recognized by peers and supervisors as leaders in health care. Candidates should demonstrate leadership, exceptional passion for service and dedication to the profession of nursing. If selected, you will receive one scholarship per quarter, which could end up totaling $17,500.

Default: Failure to pay back a loan.

Deferment: Delay or postponement. Federal Loans may be deferred, or not paid back, for a period of up to three years if the debtor loses his or her job, goes back to school or serves in the Peace Corps or as a soldier in a war. Interest may still accrue. For alternative funding options, you will have to consult with the lender.

Dependent: A person who relies on others for financial support. In terms of financial aid, a student is a dependent if he or she is under 24, unmarried, not a veteran, does not support a child or other person more than 50%, and is not declared by a court to be independent.

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Expected Family Contribution (EFC): This is determined when you fill out the FAFSA and forecasts what your family should be able to contribute toward your education investment.

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Federal PLUS Loans: Federal loans which may be available to parents of dependent students who wish to borrow funds to help pay for their children's education.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): A federal grant program for students who demonstrate exceptional financial need (see definition of “Grant”).

Financial Aid: Refers to any assistance given in the form of money for educational expenses. The six most common types for Harrison College students are grants, loans, scholarships, work-study jobs, employer tuition reimbursement, and veteran or military assistance.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The application that everyone must fill out before being considered for any type of financial aid. It can be filled out online and a Harrison College financial aid analyst can help you through the process. If an Indiana resident, it must be completed by March 10 in order to qualify for state aid. There is not a deadline for federal aid. To complete it you need your Social Security Number and last year’s tax information.

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Grade Point Average (GPA): A number that reflects a student’s grades and must be kept at a certain level for some scholarships to be given or to be renewed.

Grant: Essentially, this is free money because grants do not have to be repaid. Many grants are need-based and come from the federal government to help with tuition.

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Harrison College Experienced Student Scholarship: This scholarship is designed for motivated students with prior college experience who are looking to return to school to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Harrison College Founders Nurses Scholarship: This $3,500 scholarship is provided to recognize up to eight graduates per year of the Harrison Associate Degree Nursing Program who wish to return to Harrison to work toward an RN-BSN degree. The scholarship will be divided across seven terms.

Harrison College Scholarship Foundation: This 501(c)(3) organization was formed in 2012 with the sole purpose of assisting Harrison and The Chef's Academy students in realizing their academic and career success through the provision of scholarships. More information can be found at [link]

High School Student Scholarship: The Harrison College High School Scholarship is available to high school seniors interested in pursuing their education at Harrison College.

Hoosier State Nurses Career Advancement Scholarship: This $3,500 scholarship is provided to honor and recognize nurses who are actively employed in the state of Indiana or whose primary residence is in the state or who attended a college in the state for nursing. The scholarship will be divided across seven terms of enrollment.

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Income: The amount of money received from any combination of wages, interest, dividends, sales, rental, business or farm profits, some welfare program funds, Social Security benefits and child support.

Independent: Someone who does not rely on someone else for money. You are independent during an academic year if you are/were at least one of the following: over 24 years old, married, supporting children or other more than 50 percent, orphan or ward of the court, a soldier or a veteran.

Interest: The amount it cost to borrow money expressed as a percentage. It adds up over the life of a loan based on a percentage of the borrowed amount.

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Lender: A person or organization that loans money.

Loan: Money that is borrowed and must be repaid, usually with Interest.

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Merit-Based Aid: Scholarships given based on academic or other talent-based qualifications.

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Named Scholarship: A financial award named after someone who left the money or was honored for some other reason.

Need: The difference between how much a student is expected to pay and the cost of going to school. This must be figured to determine what financial aid is available. The formula is COA – EFC = Need.

Need-Based Aid: Grants, loans, work-study jobs and scholarships that are given based on a student’s financial need.

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Out-of-Pocket Expenses: The amount of tuition, books and fees not covered by financial aid that a student must pay on his or her own.

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Pell Grant: A need-based federal grant that is given to college students. You must fill out the FAFSA to determine if you qualify for a Pell grant.

Principal: In financial aid, the amount of money borrowed through a loan. Interest is added to the principal.

Private Loan: A loan that comes from a private institution, such as a bank, rather than the federal education loan program. Can also be called an alternative loan.

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Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan: The Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan is an ideal solution for students who still need funds after they have maximized free money and federal loans. With this loan, students can borrow up to the full cost of their education, less other aid received. The Smart Option Student Loan helps students save money, build good credit and pay off their student loan faster.

The Smart Option Student Loan offers several benefits*:

  • Pricing that rewards good credit
  • May be applied for with a creditworthy cosigner to help the borrower qualify and/or receive a lower interest rate
  • The borrower may apply for cosigner release after successful completion of their education
  • A 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction is available for automatic debit
  • A 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction is available if the borrower provides a valid e-mail address and elects to receive all servicing communications via e-mail.

*Learn how to earn these benefits here.  

Student Aid Report (SAR): Provided by the federal government after you fill out the FAFSA. It reports how much the government believes a family can afford to pay for college.

Scholarship: Money awarded to students to help pay for education expenses, which – like grants – does not have to be paid back.

Self-Help: Financial aid, such as loans and work-study, that must be repaid or earned.

Spouses and Dependents of Service Members Scholarship: Harrison awards up to 10 scholarships during the months of November and May to eligible spouses and dependents of service members. You can apply online by September 30 for scholarships that will be awarded in November. The application process reopens in January with a deadline of March 31 for scholarships that will be awarded in May.

Stafford Loan: A loan made to college students through a federal loan program. Interest on the loan may be paid (may not accrue) while the student is enrolled at least half time depending upon the student’s financial need. For students without need, the interest accrues while they are attending school.

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Textbooks: The materials used in class. It’s important to include these fees in your financial planning.

Tuition: The charge for taking classes at a school.

Tuition Freeze: A program that makes sure a student’s tuition does not increase as long as he or she:

  • Remains a degree-seeking student in the program in which you he or she enrolled (which includes diplomas, certificates and associate and bachelor’s degrees)
  • Remains continuously enrolled throughout your program without taking time off


Tuition Reimbursement: A perk offered by some companies that allows an employee to return to school to achieve a higher degree or finish more classes without the employee paying tuition. In other words, the employer may reimburse the employee for any tuition payments.

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Working Moms Scholarship: The Working Moms Scholarship is provided to recognize and honor women who are balancing the demands of raising children and working to provide a better life for their families. Ten $2,500 scholarships will be awarded, and the award will be divided across the first three terms of enrollment.

Work Study: A federally subsidized program that allows a student to earn money in a job, either on- or off-campus, to help cover education expenses. Eligibility is need-based.

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