A-Z List


Academic Level

The number of units successfully completed (including transfer units) determines the academic level for students seeking their first undergraduate degree. (Undergraduate Unit Requirements per Academic Level — Freshman: 0-29, Sophomore: 30-59, Junior: 60-89, Senior: 90 plus)

Academic Year

A period of time schools use to measure a quantity of study. At SSU, the academic year is defined as the Fall and Spring semesters combined (August - May).

Accrued Interest

The interest that accumulates on the unpaid principal balance of a loan.


Refers to limit maximums within federal loan programs. There are annual (per academic year) aggregates, and overall cumulative aggregates.


The gradual reduction of a loan debt by periodic installment payments (usually monthly) of principal and interest.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

Amount of interest associated with a loan. It can change or remain the same during the year and term of the loan. If the interest rate is variable, the rate can change; if it is fixed, the rate will not change.


A request for reconsideration of financial aid disqualification based on failure to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements


The process of preparing financial aid funds to be disbursed to a student's account.



The person with the legal obligation to repay the loan.


Cal Grant

A state need based grant awarded by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). Eligibility is finalized by the institution at which the student will attend and expect payment.

Campus-based Aid

Financial aid programs where institutions have a limited pool of money to award to its students. Such programs include the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work-Study. Note that there is no guarantee that every eligible student will receive financial aid through these programs, because the awards are made from a fixed pool of money. Once the funds are exhausted, no new awards can be made.


The addition of unpaid accrued interest applied to the principal balance of a loan that increases the total debt outstanding.


California Aid Report — the means by which the California Student Aid Commission informs applicants of their eligibility for various Cal Grant programs.

Central Processing System (CPS)

The facility that processes applications for federal student aid, determining a student's eligibility for aid and conducting a series of quality control and eligibility checks on the application data.


A person besides the borrower who signs a credit agreement and is legally obligated to repay the loan if the borrower does not make payments.


Cost of Attendance — Also referred to as the student's budget. Total financial aid for the award period cannot exceed this amount. This is based on the housing plan for SSU reported on the FAFSA.


The facility that processes applications for federal student aid, determining a student's eligibility for aid and conducting a series of quality control and eligibility checks on the application data.


The California Student Aid Commission



A loan is in default when the borrower fails to pay several regular installments on time (i.e., payments overdue by 270 days) or otherwise fails to meet the terms and conditions of the loan. If you default on a loan, the University, the holder of the loan, the state government and the federal government can take legal action to recover the money, including garnishing your wages and withholding income tax refunds. Defaulting on a government loan can make you ineligible for future financial aid and can affect your credit rating.


An approved temporary suspension of loan payments based on certain events and criteria. If you decide to return to school at any time, and attend with an enrollment status of half-time or greater, your loans may return to deferment status. This additional deferment period ends when your enrollment drops to less than half-time. Your payments will begin the following month. If you do not qualify for a deferment, you may be able to get a forbearance. You cannot get a deferment if your loan is in default.


The failure to make scheduled monthly loan payments when they are due. Late fees may be charged. If the borrower misses several payments, the loan goes into default.

Direct Loans

The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (aka the Direct Loan Program) is the federal student loan program. Formerly, the federal government also provided student loans through the Stafford Loan Program. More information regarding Direct Loans can be found on our   Types of Aid – Federal Student Loans webpage and the Federal Student Aid website.


The process by which students are dropped from the courses in which they are registered for failure to pay their mandatory registration charges by the deadline.

Dream Act

The California Dream Act authorized state-funded financial aid for students who may not have legal immigration status at the time they apply for financial aid. More information regarding eligibility and how to apply can be found at our CA Dream Act Process and Aid webpage.

Drop (a course)

Opting to no longer be enrolled in a course prior to the last day to add and drop courses for a given semester.


Early Applicant

Filing a FAFSA on or before November 30th.


Expected Family Contribution — The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a measurement of your family's financial strength, and is used to determine your eligibility for need-based federal and state financial aid during one school year. You receive an EFC based on the processing results of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act application. Your EFC can be found on the first page of your paper SAR, or online at For Dream Act applicants, the EFC is on your California Aid Report (CAR) or online in WebGrants4Students.

Entrance Counseling

A self-paced tutorial requirement of all students interested in receiving Direct Loans for the first time at SSU. Content includes borrower's rights and responsibilities, which assist the student in understanding the terms and conditions of the loan(s). Borrowers are required to complete and pass a quiz at the end of the counseling.


Educational Opportunity Program — The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) provides a comprehensive array of services to support student success at Sonoma State University with graduation as a goal for all EOP students. EOP advisors provide academic, career, and personal advising to EOP students.


Enrollment Reservation Deposit — A required deposit toward your first semester mandatory registration charges.


Excessive Units — A term within the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements to maintain financial aid eligibility. For more details, visit the Disqualification section of the Satisfactory Academic Progress page.



Free Application for Federal Student Aid — An application that must be filed with the federal processor EVERY year in order to receive financial aid consideration. It is the basis on which all financial aid is awarded.


Financial Aid Office — The financial aid administrator for SSU students. The office to contact for questions related to applying for and receiving of financial aid.

Federal Methodology

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

Federal Processor

The U.S. Department of Education's application data processing facility for the FAFSA. The processor uses student information from the FAFSA to calculate the EFC and returns the student's eligibility information to SSU.

Fifth Year Undergraduate

Students who have received a bachelor's degree and who are pursuing a post-baccalaureate degree other than a master's, such as a credential, 2nd bachelor's, or pursuing pre-requisites for admission to a new post-baccalaureate program.

Financial Aid

Money provided to a student or student's family to help pay for a student's education. Financial aid can be in the form of gift aid (grants and scholarships) or self-help aid (loans and work-study).

Financial Need

The difference between the student's Cost of Attendance and EFC.

Financial Services Office

The SSU office that posts aid to students' accounts, generates statement of accounts, and issues refund checks.


The approved temporary suspension or reduction of loan payments due to a financial hardship during which interest continues to accrue. The borrower must continue paying the interest charges during the forbearance period. Forbearances are granted at the lender's discretion, usually in cases of extreme financial hardship or other unusual circumstances when the borrower does not qualify for a deferment. You cannot receive a forbearance if your loan is in default.

Freeze Date

FAO date per semester at which point students' enrollment is considered final once aid had disbursed.


Federal Student Aid ID — Your FSA ID serves as your electronic signature for the FAFSA and the Master Promissory Note (MPN). Also, your FSA ID gives you access to your personal records available on U.S. Department of Education website


For undergraduates and non-master's students, enrollment in a minimum of 12.0 units. For master's students, enrollment in a minimum of 8.0 units.


Federal Work-Study — Need-based financial aid employment program that provides part-time job opportunities for eligible students. It is an opportunity to offset educational expenses and provides valuable work experience. This is money that you have to earn, usually by working on-campus. You are paid once a month for the hours you work and you may earn up to the amount listed on your financial aid award offer for FWS.


Grace Period

The period after a student either graduates, leaves school (unofficially or officially), or drops below half-time enrollment before loan payments must begin.

Grade Level

Determined by the Office of the Registrar and based on number of units completed towards a degree. 0-29 Freshman; 30-59 Sophomore; 60-89 Junior; 90+ Senior.


Financial aid fund that is awarded to an applicant based on specific criteria. Grants generally do not have to be repaid. Usually requires a specific EFC and need.



For undergraduates and non-master's students, enrollment in a minimum of 6.0 units. For master's students, enrollment in a minimum of 4.0 units.


Less than half-time

For undergraduates and non-master's students, enrollment in 0.5 - 5.5 units. For master's students, enrollment in 0.5 - 3.5 units.

Loan Entrance Counseling

A self-paced tutorial requirement of all students interested in receiving Direct Loans for the first time at SSU. Content includes borrower's rights and responsibilities, which assist the student in understanding the terms and conditions of the loan(s). Borrowers are required to complete and pass a quiz at the end of the counseling.


Money that must be repaid with interest. Funds are to be repaid at a time based on the conditions of the loan. There are many different types of loans with different interest rates, repayment schedules, maximum borrowing limits, and interest accrual periods, so it is important for students and their families to thoroughly understand each specific loan offered.



Master Promissory Note — Used as the legally binding agreement for a Direct Loan. By signing, the borrower promises to repay the loan, with interest, in specified installments. The promissory note also includes any information about the grace period, deferment, or cancellation provisions, and the borrower's rights and responsibilities with respect to the loan. The MPN is a promissory note that can be used to make one or more loans for one or more academic years (up to 10 years).


MySSU — After you log into SSU’s Online Services portal there is a button for MySSU. MySSU is where you will find your To Do List, account information, view your financial aid, register for classes, etc. If you don't remember your User ID and password, go to the IT Help Desk, Schulz 1000, with a campus or photo ID to have your password reset.



Determined by taking the Cost of Attendance for one academic year and subtracting the EFC for that same year. If the difference is a positive number, then a student may have eligibility for need-based aid.



The process of certifying a loan and submitting to the U.S. Department of Education for approval.

Outside Resources

Funding received from outside sources that assist you in paying for your educational expenses. Examples of outside resources include, but are not limited to: faculty/staff tuition benefits, private donor scholarships, fellowships, assistantships, Americorp benefits and vocational rehabilitation benefits. Veteran’s Education benefits may not reduce federal or state financial aid eligibility, but must be reported to the Financial Aid Office. Receipt of outside resources must be reported to the FAO. Outside resources reduce your need and consequently may affect your eligibility for other financial aid. SSU will assume that outside resources received in the Fall semester will also be received in the Spring semester unless we are informed otherwise.


Financial aid awarded in excess of one's eligibility.


Financial aid paid in excess of one's eligibility.



A student's natural or adoptive mother, father, or the spouse of a parent who remarried if the spouse's income and assets would have been taken into account when calculating a dependent student's Expected Family Contribution.



Pell Grant

Federal Grant named after U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell and originally known as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant program. Pell Grant awards and amount are determined by the EFC.


Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students — PLUS Loans are for parents and step-parents of dependent students. Borrowers must meet credit history and debt burden requirements. PLUS Loans are always unsubsidized, and interest begins accruing after the first disbursement. Repayment begins 60 days after the second disbursement. After your first disbursement is made, your loan will be assigned to a servicer. To find your loan servicer's contact information, please visit the Who’s My Student Loan Servicer? page at Delayed Repayment Option: If requested, repayment can be delayed until six months after your student drops below half-time or graduates. You must request this by contacting your loan servicer. Parents or step-parents who would like to apply for a PLUS Loan must fill out a PLUS Loan Application each academic year. Refund of excess financial aid checks consisting of PLUS funds will be made payable to the parent-borrower and mailed to the parent's home address unless the borrower specifies the refund should go to the student.


The full amount borrowed. During repayment, it refers to the portion of the original amount still owed (not including interest).


Adjust award amount based on enrollment level. Grants such as Pell, SUGEOPG and Cal Grant are subject to proration.



Financial aid in excess of charges on a student's account at the time the aid is disbursed.

Residency Status

The Office of Admissions determines your residency status from the information you provided on your application for admission. Residency status is not associated with your financial aid dependency status. For information on establishing California residency, visit the Office of Admissions.



Satisfactory Academic Progress — Federal and state regulations require that students receiving financial aid have a responsibility to make satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or credential objective in order to remain eligible for financial assistance. SAP requirements at SSU are listed on the Satisfactory Academic Progress page of our website. The requirements listed on the page apply for all periods of enrollment at SSU independent of the receipt of financial aid. SAP for all students is determined at the end of each semester.


Student Aid Report — The summary results of a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and contains your EFC. When you receive your SAR, check it for any mistakes. If you find a mistake, make the necessary correction(s).


A competitive assistance program, generally based on merit and not on need.

Seawolf Service Center

The University office where students/parents conduct financial transactions, including paying student charges and returning unwanted financial aid funds.


Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant — A federal need-based grant. Limited funding available. Awarded to the earliest applicants with the lowest EFC.


SSU identification number — University-issued student identification number, not a Social Security Number.

Statement of Account

Generated monthly to reflect outstanding balances/owed to the University.

Subsidized Loan

A term used to describe a type of need-based loan where the federal government pays (subsidizes) the interest while a student borrower is enrolled at least half-time.


State University Grant — A state need-based grant intended to offset the Undergraduate, Credential Program, or Graduate/Post-baccalaureate Tuition Fee for California residents. Specific EFC is required to qualify.


Tax Return Transcript

The Tax Return Transcript is a document required for income verification when a student’s financial aid application is required to be verified. After a tax return is processed by the IRS, the Tax Return Transcript can be requested by the tax-filer online at by clicking on “Get Your Tax Record.”


For undergraduates and non-master's students, enrollment in 9.0 to 11.5 units.

To Do List

Admitted applicants and continuing students will receive an email notification when To Do List items are requested. You MUST view your To Do List through MySSU by clicking the "details" link in your "To Do List" near the top of the right-hand column. More information regarding To Do List items may be found on our To Do List Notifications webpage

Total Withdrawal

To completely withdraw from all courses for a given semester after courses have begun.

Tuition Fee

Undergraduate, Credential Program, or Graduate/Post-baccalaureate Tuition Fee — Mandatory registration charge assessed to all students enrolled at a California State University. Formerly known as the State University Fee (SUF).



Undergraduate — A student pursuing an initial bachelor's degree.

Unsubsidized Loan

A term used to describe a type of non-need-based loan where the student borrower is responsible for the interest that accumulates while enrolled at least half-time.



A review process in which the FAO requests documentation to verify the accuracy of your FAFSA or California Dream Application data. During the verification process the student and parent will be required to submit documentation for information listed (or not listed) on the financial aid application. Financial aid applications are randomly selected by the federal or state processor for verification. Schools may select additional students for verification. If any discrepancies are uncovered during verification, the financial aid office may require additional information to clear up the discrepancies.


A veteran is a student who participated in active service in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard and was released under a condition other than dishonorable. This includes a student who attended a United States military academy but withdrew in good standing, as well as a student who is not a veteran now, but will be a veteran by the financial aid application deadline each year (June 30th). If your service was only for training purposes (e.g., National Guard, Reserves, or a ROTC student), you are not considered a veteran for federal financial aid purposes.



A probationary status relating to Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements to maintain financial aid eligibility. For more details, visit the Financial Aid Warning section of the Satisfactory Academic Progress page.

Withdraw (from a course)

To withdraw from a course after the last day to drop, thereby receiving a grade of W for that course.