Financial Aid Terminology

Alternative (Private) Loans: (Must be repaid) A non-federal education loan borrowed from a private lender such as a bank, credit union or other financial entity. This should be a student’s last resort of educational assistance. has a list of lenders that offer educational loans. If you do not see your bank listed, VWU will still be able to process an approved loan.

Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement: Each year the Department of Education requires a borrower (student or parent) to acknowledge that they are taking out a loan that will need to be repaid in accordance the requirements on the Master Promissory Note and the amount they have in outstanding loans. This is completed yearly on the website.

Award Notification: students who complete the FAFSA will receive a package showing what their estimated cost will be and their financial aid that they are eligible for (as long as all the requirements are met for each award). This is the cost and financial aid for the current year only.

Cost of Attendance: Your estimated cost of attendance includes:

  • Direct Cost: Expenses paid directly to VWU (ie: Tuition, fees, residential housing/board)
  • Indirect Cost: Expenses incurred as a result of attendance that the student/family may incur (ie: Books, transportation, personal expenses). Please contact the VWU Financial Aid Office, if there are other items that you would like us to consider for your cost of attendance (ie: Childcare, computer purchase, additional transportation cost)

Default: When you fail to make on time monthly payments on your student or parent loans. If you are delinquent on your student or parent loan repayment for 90 days, your loan servicer will report the delinquency to the three major national credit bureaus. You will also lose access to deferment, forbearance and other benefits of the Federal Loan program. If you are having difficulty making your loan payments contact your Loan Servicer IMMEDIATELY.

Deferment: Allows you to postpone paying back your federal loans in certain circumstances (economic, unemployment, etc), only if you have not yet defaulted on your loans. Interest does not accrue on Subsidized Loans during a deferment, but it does on all other federal loans. To start the deferment process, please contact your Loan Servicer.

Entrance Counseling: if you accept the subsidized and/or unsubsidized loans on your award notification, you are required to complete entrance counseling online
at Entrance counseling will introduce you to the many aspects of Direct Loans, including interest rates, repayment plans, loan eligibility, etc. Until entrance counseling is completed, the government will not disburse your subsidized and/or unsubsidized loan money. If you have borrowed subsidized and/or unsubsidized loans in the past, the entrance counseling is good for 10 years.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The EFC is an index number that financial aid staff use to determine how much financial aid you will receive to attend their school. The EFC is calculated according to a formula established by law from the information on the FAFSA.

Extenuating Circumstances: If you are facing some sort of extenuating circumstances, you may be eligible for additional aid. Please contact the Financial Aid office
at 757.455.3345 or for further information. Examples include but aren't limited to loss of job, change in job, death of a parent, parental divorce.

Federal Direct Student Loans: (Must be repaid) Loan funds provided to the student by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. Repayment of principal begins six months after the borrower ceases to be enrolled in at least a six credit hours in either the fall or spring semester. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the required annual application. There are two types of Federal Direct Student Loans:

  • Subsidized: Students with financial need can qualify for a subsidized loan, and the government pays the interest on the loan while the student remains enrolled at least half time.
  • Usubsidized: Students who do not demonstrate financial need qualify for an unsubsidized loan and interest accrues while the student is in school. A minimum of $2,000 of the yearly Direct Student Loan amount is an unsubsidized loan.

Federal Grad PLUS Loan: (Must be repaid) Loan funds provided to Graduate Students by the
U.S. Department of Education, through VWU. This federal program allows graduate students with no adverse credit history to apply for up to their Cost of Attendance each year, less any other scholarships, grants and/or loans. To be eligible, the student must be enrolled at least half time (six credit hours in a semester) in an eligible program of study and first borrow the maximum allowable through the Federal Direct Student Loan program. Repayment of principal and interest begins 30 to 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed with deferment and forbearance options available.

Federal Parent Loan (PLUS): (Must be repaid) A federal loan program that allows parents who have no adverse credit history to apply for up to the Cost of Attendance each year, less any financial aid. PLUS loans must be repaid with interest.

Federal Pell Grant: (Does not need to be repaid) A grant provided by the federal government to qualified undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional need and have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) below a threshold designated annually by the U.S. Department of Education, based on the amount of program funds appropriated by Congress.

Federal School Code: number assigned to a college/university by the Federal Government that is entered by the student on their FAFSA so that institution will receive a copy of your FAFSA. VWU's school code is 003767.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): (Does not need to be repaid) A grant provided by the federal government to qualified undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Priority is given to Pell Grant recipients and funds must be awarded by the school in lowest EFC order. Awarding is contingent upon funding and may not be renewed year to year.

Federal Word-Study (FWS): (Does not need to be repaid) A program that provides part-time employment to students attending institutions of higher education who need the earnings to help meet their costs of postsecondary education and encourages students receiving FWS assistance to participate in community service activities. Awarding is contingent upon funding, may not be renewed year to year, and requires the completion of the FAFSA each year. FWS jobs are not guaranteed. Students must apply for positions starting the first Monday in August. Selection for positions is at the discretion of each department. Students receive paychecks every two weeks for hours worked. They can endorse the check over to assist in paying their student account. The amount of the work study award is not automatically deducted from tuition cost.

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP): To be eligible for Federal Grants, Loans and Work Study and VWU grant and scholarships, students must continue to complete and pass 70% of the courses they register for and maintain a required cumulative GPA (Grade Point Average) based on their credit level.

Financial Need: the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) as established by the institution and the expected family contribution of that student (EFC). Though the cost of attending institutions does change between institutions, the expected family contribution will not change based on the school the student wishes to attend.

Forbearance: Allows you to temporarily suspend making principal payments or reduce your monthly payment for up to 12 months for your federal loans without going into default.
Interest will still be accruing on the loan(s). Contact your Loan Servicer for further information.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): An application used by U.S. Citizens and permanent residents to apply for financial aid from U.S. federal and state governments.
International students are not eligible for U.S. government aid, but schools may ask international students to submit a FAFSA to determine financial need. (Note: A social security number is required to complete the FAFSA.) The FAFSA needs to be completed each year after October 1. The application can be accessed at

Gift Aid: (Does not need to be repaid) Funds awarded to the student that do not have to be repaid, unless the student fails to meet certain terms, such as service requirement, specified as a condition of the grant. Gift aid includes awards with titles such as grants, scholarships, remissions, waivers, etc.

Master Promissory Note (MPN): An electronic Master Promissory Note needs to be completed the first year you accept your Federal Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized Student Loans or Federal Grad or Parent PLUS Loans. This is a legal document in which your promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest or fess to the Department of Education. Once a MPN is signed it is in effect for 10 years (unless it is a PLUS Loan with a co-signer, then it needs to be completed each year.

Net Cost: Amount of direct and indirect costs remaining after all gift aid (scholarships and grants) are subtracted.

Remaining Cost: Amount of direct and indirect costs remaining after all gift aid (scholarships and grants) and self-help aid (loans and federal work-study) or other funding sources are subtracted.

Remaining Need: difference between the VWU’s Cost of Attendance and the student’s Expected Family Contribution.

Room and Board: housing and meals. "Room and board" is typically one of the costs that colleges and universities will list in their annual estimated cost of attendance, in addition to tuition, fees, and textbooks and supplies. If students choose to live in on campus at VWU, they are required to have a meal plan which is included in the cost automatically.

Scholarship: (Does not need to be repaid) A type of gift aid awarded to the student that does not need to be repaid. Scholarship awards are typically based on merit or a combination of merit and need, such as academic excellence, talent, affiliation with various groups, or career aspirations. To be eligible for renewal of certain scholarships, the student may be required to maintain a specific GPA or enrollment status. Please reference the student financial aid website to see guidelines for the specific scholarship awarded.

Self Help Aid: Financial Aid in the form of loans or student employment.

  • Loans (need to be repaid) can be used to pay the remaining net costs after gift aid is deducted.
  • Work-Study (Does not need to be repaid) awards are generally not deducted from billed costs but can be used to help you cover costs by signing over paychecks in the Office of Finance to be applied to your student account.

State Grant: (Does not need to be repaid) Grants from Virginia for residents of Virginia. These grants awarded do not need to be repaid.

Tuition: an amount of money charged by a school per term, per course or per credit, in exchange for instruction and training. Tuition does not include the cost of textbooks, room and board, and other fees.

VWU Work and Learn Program: VWU has created a unique way for students to earn additional funds to assist in paying their cost. There are five pillars to the program:

  • Federal Work Study - (See full description above) This is a federal program and the student must meet the need requirements, complete an application and be hired for a job on campus. We require students to work an average of 10-12 hours per week. Students will be paid the higher of either the federal or state minimum wage and receive a biweekly paycheck that they can use for personal expenses or sign over in the Office of Finance to go towards their student account balance.
  • Campus Cooperative - Students receive a grant towards their VWU account in return we require them to work 10 hours a week in a position that will assist with institutional operations. To be considered for a position, a student must have filed a FAFSA (unless an international student), completed an application and hired for one of the many positions on campus. These positions can range from Tutoring, to assisting an office to working with Facilities Management or Dining Services.
  • Professional Partnership - Provides VWU students with a cooperative educational opportunity, gaining real world experience while working with employers in the community. Additionally, students earn academic credit, tuition credit, and cash income to contribute to their degree.
  • OPUS - developed to assist students wishing to continue their academic pursuits while satisfying their financial obligations to the University. Assisting operational areas of the University, Opus students work side by side with full-time staff completing various projects throughout campus and in turn receive a reduction of their account balance.
  • Resident Leadership - Resident Assistants (RAs), student leaders that are placed on every floor of our residential buildings. Responsibilities of the position include, but are not limited to, attending a Fall and Spring training session, assisting in opening and closing of residence halls, attending weekly meetings, fostering a community through unique programs and daily engagement of residents. RAs participate in a duty rotation within the assigned village, and various administrative tasks appropriate to the position.