Financial Aid Glossary

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    Academic Competitiveness Grant

    Federal scholarships of up to $1,300 for very needy first- and second-year college students who have taken tough courses while in high school or achieved a B grade-point average (3.0) during the first year of college.

    • How much can you get from the ACG program? Freshmen can get up to $750. Sophomores can collect up to $1,300.
    • How can you collect an ACG? Students must first fill out a FAFSA. If their school determines that they are so needy that they are eligible for a Pell grant (typically, that means having an Expected Family Contribution of less than about $4,000), they will automatically be considered for the ACG. They will be awarded the ACG if while in high school, they took "rigorous" courses. (For a list of what your state has decided to call "rigorous" courses, click here. Students who are freshmen in college will be considered if they have have earned a total GPA of 3.0. For the U.S. Department of Education's official information about ACGs, click here.
    • How will your ACG be paid? Awards are generally sent directly to your school, which deducts any money you owe and sends you a check for anything that's left.
    • [Back to Top]

      Accrue

      To accumulate or join together. The interest on unsubsidized Stafford loans keeps adding up, or accruing, while the student is in school or the loan is in deferment or forbearance. Students often don't realize this because lenders don't send them notices or bills before the loan comes due. See also capitalization. [Back to Top]

      ACG

      Academic Competitiveness Grants are federal scholarships of up to $1,300 for very needy first- and second-year college students who have taken tough courses while in high school or achieved a B grade-point average (3.0) during the first year of college.

      • How much can you get from the ACG program? Freshmen can get up to $750. Sophomores can collect up to $1,300.
      • How can you collect an ACG? Students must first fill out a FAFSA. If their school determines that they are so needy that they are eligible for a Pell grant (typically, that means having an Expected Family Contribution of less than about $4,000) they will automatically be considered for the ACG. They will be awarded the ACG if while in high school, they took "rigorous" courses. (For a list of what your state has decided to call "rigorous" courses, click here. Students who are freshmen in college will be considered if they have earned a total GPA of 3.0. For the U.S. Department of Education's official information about ACGs, click here.
      • How will your ACG be paid? Awards are generally sent directly to your school, which deducts any money you owe and sends you a check for anything that's left.
      • [Back to Top]

        Adverse

        Bad or unfavorable. Parents with what the federal government defines as "adverse credit" will be rejected for a PLUS loan. You will be rejected if you are more than 90 days late on any debt, or have defaulted on any federal education loan or have other serious financial problems, such as a bankruptcy in the past five years. Students whose parents are rejected for PLUS loans can take out larger Stafford loans. For general information about PLUS eligibility click here. The federal law defining adverse credit is here. [Back to Top]

        Alternative loan

        A loan that is not offered through the low-cost federal education loan programs. Also known as private loans, or signature loans, these are typically made by banks, other businesses, or schools. They tend to charge high interest rates. And they typically don't offer benefits such as forgiveness, deferral, or forbearance. [Back to Top]

        Appeal

        Students who feel a school's financial aid award is too low can contact the school's financial aid office and appeal for more money. Officially, this is called asking for a Professional Judgment Review. Technically, such appeals can be made at any time. But the earlier the better, since schools sometimes run out of financial aid money by late spring. In addition, high school seniors have the most choices and leverage if they appeal before committing to a school by the May 1 deadline. Schools will typically agree to increase aid only if the student can convince a financial aid officer of either (or both) of the following:



        Updated 7/24/08