COVID-19 Updates and Information

Glossary of Terms

PAWS - PAWS is FSU’s student portal.  It is an information system that provides access to important student services.  Students use PAWS to accept or decline their financial aid, pay their e-bills, view their To-Do-List, register for classes, request transcripts, lookup grades, and more.

Direct cost – Direct costs are charges that will appear on a student’s bill from the University.  Direct costs include things like tuition, mandatory fees, and room (dorm) and board (meal plan), if applicable.

Indirect cost – Indirect costs are costs that are incurred as a result of attending classes and/or living away from home that do not appear on your bill from the University.  The biggest indirect cost is books.  Students who have more grant, scholarship, and/or loan proceeds than they need to cover their direct costs may use the excess funds to purchase books; however, books are purchased through the Bookstore and are billed and paid for separately.  Other indirect costs include transportation (gas money) and other personal expenses (school supplies, toiletries, etc.)

Cost of Attendance – The Cost of Attendance (COA) includes both direct and indirect costs.  The COA is not a student’s bill, and is for school use only.  The Financial Aid Office uses the COA when determining how much financial aid a person is able to receive for one year.  The total of a student’s grants, work-study, scholarships, and loans (both federal and private) cannot exceed the student’s COA for any given year.

EFC- EFC stands for Expected Family Contribution. The EFC is determined by FAFSA and is created based on a congressional formula that is subject to change each year.  The EFC is sent to the school where it is used to help create a student’s financial aid package and is for school use only.  An EFC is not an accurate indicator of what a student will owe the University or what a student will pay out-of-pocket.  For example, the cost of attendance for an out-of-state student is much higher than it is for an in-state student, but if an out-of-state student and in-state student have the same EFC, then they will still receive the same amount of federal aid, regardless of their cost of attendance or bill with the University.  One such case is of an out-of-state student with a 0 EFC.  If this student qualifies for $11,000 in financial aid for the year (the same as an in-state student), but their Cost of Attendance is $30,000 for the year, then they are responsible for financing or paying the difference ($19,000 per year) out-of-pocket.  Also, if a student has an EFC of 50,000, they will not have to pay $50,000 per year out-of-pocket, since the cost of attendance at FSU is much less than $50,000 for all types of students.

Financial Need – Financial need is the difference between a student’s Cost of Attendance and their EFC.  If the student has financial need, then they will be reviewed for grants, federal work-study, subsidized loans, and need based scholarships.  Students with no financial need will only be offered a student loan.

Grant – A grant is free money that does not need to be repaid.  A grant is a form of gift aid that is awarded to students who demonstrate financial need, and is not to be confused with scholarships, which are based on academic achievement.

Scholarship – A scholarship is free money that does not need to be repaid.  A scholarship can be given out by the University or be from an outside agency.  Scholarships are based on academic achievement and are different than grants, which are based solely on financial need.  Scholarships are awarded to a student based on their GPA (Grade Point Average) and test scores (SAT or ACT scores).  Some scholarships require a combination of demonstrated academic achievement and one or more of the following:  financial need, declared academic major, community service and volunteerism, participation in campus or community activities, leadership experience, and superior achievement in a specialized area that is demonstrated through audition, portfolio submission, work experience, and/or letters of recommendation.

Work-Study – Work-study is a job on campus.  Work-Study does not credit a student’s bill with the University.  Students who participate in work-study may earn up to a certain dollar amount by working on campus.  Students will only receive the amount of money that they earn based on the number of hours they have worked.  The pay rate for work-study is the federal minimum wage, and students receive funds via direct deposit every two weeks based on the number of hours they’ve worked in the prior two week period.  If a student has received federal work-study, then it will be listed on their award notification.  Students must have financial need and file their FAFSA before FSU’s March 1 priority deadline in order to qualify for federal work-study.  Federal work-study funds are extremely limited.  If a student is eligible for federal work-study, but it is not listed on their award letter, then they will be placed on a waiting list and contacted by the Financial Aid Office at a future date if funds become available.  Students do not need to have financial need in order to apply for a state work-study position.  State jobs are first come, first serve, and are posted on the Financial Aid Office’s website on the first day of classes each semester.

Loan – A loan is money that a student is borrowing and must be repaid in the future.  Loans are not free money.  Most loan repayment begins six months after a student graduates, withdraws from the University, takes a Leave of Absence (LOA), or drops below half-time (6 credits).  Federal loans have an origination (front-end processing) fee and accrue interest.  Some loans may incur interest while the student is attending.  All students qualify for a federal loan.  A student does not have to have financial need in order to be offered a federal loan, but financial need may determine the type of federal loan they are offered.  Students may only borrow a certain amount in federal loans each year.  The maximum federal loan a college freshman may borrow is $5,500 for the year, per federal regulations.  Federal student loans are called Stafford Loans, but may also be referred to as Federal Direct Student Loans.  There are two types of Federal Direct Stafford Loans:  Subsidized Loans and Unsubsidized Loans.  Subsidized loans require that a student have demonstrated financial need and are only available to undergraduate students.

Subsidized Loan – Subsidized Loan means that the government is paying interest on a student’s behalf.  If a student has a Subsidized Loan, then there is no interest accruing on that loan while the student is enrolled in a degree-seeking program for at least 6 credits.  For example, if a student is offered $3,500 in a Subsidized Direct Stafford Loan, then they will only owe the principle ($3,500) of that loan at the time of their graduation.  Interest will begin to accrue on a Subsidized Loan at the time a student ceases to be enrolled in school due to graduation, withdraw, LOA, or when they drop below 6 credit hours.

Unsubsidized Loan – An Unsubsidized Loan is an interest bearing loan.  An Unsubsidized Loan means that the borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status. Interest on unsubsidized loans accrue from the date of disbursement and continues throughout the life of the loan.  Students who accept unsubsidized loans are given the option to pay on the interest while they are in school or to defer the interest until later (interest capitalization).

Enrollment Status – A student’s enrollment status reflects the number of credit hours a student is currently enrolled in.  In order for an undergraduate student to be considered full-time, they must be registered for 12 credit hours or more.  In order for a graduate student (a student working on a Master’s or Doctoral Degree) to be considered full-time, they must be registered for 9 credits or more.  All types of students must be enrolled for six credit hours or more in order to be considered half-time.  Students must be half-time, six credit hours or more, in order to be eligible for federal student or parent loans or to be eligible to defer the interest on prior federal student loans.

MPN – MPN stands for Master Promissory Note.  All students or parents requesting a federal loan must complete an MPN before the funds are released to the school.  The MPN is your promise to repay these funds in the future and is a legal document.  MPN’s are completed online at  In addition to an MPN, students must also complete an Entrance Counseling at the same website in order for their federal loans to be processed.

SAP – SAP stands for Satisfactory Academic Progress.  The U.S. Department of Education requires all schools to create SAP standards.  Students must meet these standards in order to remain eligible for any type of federal aid, including student and parent loans.  If a student fails to meet the minimum required academic standards, then their financial aid will be suspended.  You can find out more about these standards in Step 6.