Financial Aid Terminology & FAQs

What is Financial Aid?

Financial Aid is money provided to the student and the family to help them pay for the student's education or which is conditioned on the student's attendance at an educational institution. Major forms of financial aid include gift aid (grants and scholarships) and self-help aid (loans and work).

I don't think I qualify for Financial Aid, should I even bother applying?

You should apply. Every student who submits a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) might be eligible to receive at minimum a fixed interest rate non-need based unsubsidized Stafford loan.

Is there a difference in Financial Aid between undergraduate and graduate Students?

Yes. Undergraduate students may be eligible for federal grants and additional grant money from SNHU. Undergraduate day students have additional financial aid resources available to them.  Graduate level students are only eligible for Stafford loans

No one is helping me pay for college; that makes me an independent student, right?

The federal government determines your dependency status by asking a series of questions  on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).    If you indicate no to each of these questions, you are a dependent student.

When does SNHU receive my FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)?

SNHU will receive your FAFSA information from the federal government approximately 3-5 business days after they have processed your completed application.   You will receive an email from the federal processor when your information has been released to SNHU.

I have been selected for Federal Verification, did I do something wrong?

No.  Approximately thirty percent of all students who apply for financial aid are selected for Federal Verification. Visit the Student Award Guide for additional information about Federal Verification.

You offered me more federal loans than I need, why? 

At SNHU, you are offered the maximum amount of loans that you are eligible to receive. It is recommended that you borrow only what you need.   You may choose not to borrow the full amount you are offered by making an adjustment on your financial aid award letter.

How do I use Financial Aid to pay for my books?

You are required to pay for your books out of pocket. Subsequently, if the amount of your financial aid per term or semester exceeds the cost of your tuition and fees, you will be able to reimburse yourself for the cost of your books through the refund process.

I received financial aid refunds from my previous school, how does SNHU process these refunds?

Visit SNHU's refund page to find out about student account refunds.

I am coming back to school, how do I defer my loans?

Fill out the Enrollment Verification Request Form and fax it to our Registrars office at 603.629.4647.

My income this year is much less than last year, should I let you know?

Yes. You may request the Office of Financial Aid to review your current situation through the appeal process

Financial Aid Glossary:


A formal request to have a financial aid administrator review your aid eligibility and possibly use Professional Judgment to adjust the figures

Cost of Attendance (COA)

The total amount it should cost the student to go to school, including tuition and fees, room and board, allowances for books and supplies, transportation, and personal and incidental expenses.


A loan is in default when the borrower fails to pay several regular installments on time or otherwise fails to meet the terms and conditions of the loan.


Occurs when a borrower is allowed to postpone repaying the loan.  The most common type of deferment is a in-school deferment.

Dependency Status

Determines to what degree a student has access to parent financial resources.

Entrance Loan Counseling (ELC)

Students with educational loans are required to complete entrance loan counseling before they receive their first loan disbursement. 

Exit Loan Counseling

If a student graduates or is no longer enrolled at SNHU, they are required to complete exit loan counseling.  

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The Expected Family contribution (EFC) is the minimum amount of money that the family is expected to be able to contribute to the student's education, as determined by the Federal Methodology need analysis formula approved by Congress.  The EFC is calculated by results that are reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (see below).

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Form used to apply for Pell Grants and all other need-based aid. As the name suggests, no fee is charged to file a FAFSA.

Federal Methodology

The need analysis formula used to determine the EFC. The Federal Methodology takes family size, the number of family members in college, taxable and nontaxable income and assets into account.

Federal Processor

The organization that processes the information submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and uses it to compute eligibility for federal student aid.

Federal Verification

Verification is a review process in which the FAO determines the accuracy of the information provided on the student's financial aid application.

Financial Aid Package

The complete collection of grants, scholarships, loans and work study employment from all sources (federal, state, institutional and private) offered to a student to assist them with attending a college or university.  See Reviewing & Understanding your Financial Aid Award.

Financial Need

The difference between the COA and the EFC is the student's financial need, and is used in determining the student's eligibility for need-based financial aid.


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

Perkins Loan

The Perkins Loan is a federally-subsidized (no interest while in school), fixed low interest (5%) loan that is offered to full-time undergraduate day students.

PLUS Loan Program

The PLUS loan is a non-need credit based loan similar to a private student loan with the benefit of having a fixed interest rate and federal guarantee.

Promissory Note

A promissory note is a binding legal document that must be signed by the student borrower before loan funds are disbursed by the lender.


Scholarships are a form of financial aid given to students to help pay for their education that do not have to be paid back.

Selective Service

Male students who are US citizens and have reached the age of 18 and were born after December 31, 1959 must be registered with Selective Service to be eligible for federal financial aid. If the student did not register and is past the age of doing so (18-25), and the school determines that the failure to register was knowing and willful, the student is ineligible for all federal student financial aid programs. The school's decision as to whether the failure to register was willful is not subject to appeal. Students needing help resolving problems concerning their Selective Service registration should call 1.847.688.6888.

Student Aid Report (SAR)

Your SAR summarizes the data from your FAFSA and indicates your official Expected Family Contribution.

Student Aid PIN

The Federal Student Aid PIN is used to e-sign the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Student Academic Progress(SAP)

A student must maintain satisfactory Student Academic Progress in order to continue receiving federal aid.

Subsidized Loan

With a subsidized loan, such as the Perkins Loan or the Subsidized Stafford Loan, the government pays the interest on the loan while the student is in school, during the grace period.

Unsubsidized Loan

A loan for which the government does not pay the interest. See Stafford Loan information.


For Federal financial aid purposes such as determining dependency status, a veteran is a former member of the US Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard) who served on active duty and was discharged other than dishonorably (i.e., received an honorable or medical discharge). You are a veteran even if you serve just one day on active duty - not active duty for training - before receiving your DD-214 and formal discharge papers. (Note that in order for a veteran to be eligible for VA educational benefits, they must have served for more than 180 consecutive days on active duty before receiving an honorable discharge.


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