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The 7 Most Common Federal Student Aid Acronyms

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common-financial-aid-acronymsBy Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS

Dealing with the Federal Student Aid process can be stressful for first-time students, and it does not help that the process incorporates many acronyms. It can be quite confusing for new Federal Student Aid users, so the below list will highlight the major acronyms, provide what they stand for, and briefly describe their function/use.

  1. FSA is Federal Student Aid. This is any aid that is provided by the Department of Education to college students. It should only be used for educational purposes. There are numerous kinds of FSA, including loans, grants, and work-study.
  2. ED is the Department of Education. Not to be confused with the DoE (Department of Energy), this is the governing body that regulates education in this country. The ED uses tax payer money and other sources to fund the FSA programs.
  3. NSLDS is the National Student Loan Data System. This database is used by loan borrowers, servicers, and schools to house loan information. Students can find their loan servicer, see their loan status, and see their aggregate loan debt on this database.
  4. FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the application that all students who wish to receive FSA will have to fill out prior to receiving any aid. As the name states, it is free to fill it out, and must be filled out each Award Year that you wish to receive FSA.
  5. EFC is the Expected Family Contribution. This number will determine how much FSA you are eligible for each Award Year. The higher your EFC, the less FSA you will be eligible for. Your EFC will be determined based on the financial information you provided on your FAFSA.
  6. COA is the Cost of Attendance. This number is determined by the school you are attending and is considered the maximum cost of your attendance at that school. It includes tuition, fees, room and board, books, transportation, and all other educational expenses.
  7. MPN is your Master Promissory Note. This is a legally-binding document that you must sign in order to receive an FSA loan. It provides you with the terms and conditions of your loan, including repayment and your rights and responsibilities as a loan borrower. You must provide two credible references on your MPN.

The list above is by no means all-inclusive, but it does touch on many of the major acronyms that you will run across during your time as a FSA user. If you run across an acronym that you are not familiar with, you can either contact an FSA advisor at your school, or you can visit a website such as the ED’s FSA website to find an answer to your question.

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