1 A B C D E F G H I L M N O P R S T U V W

1098-E: A federal tax statement indicating the total interest paid by the borrower on university or federal loans over the calendar year. These statements may be provided by the university, or your lender or servicer. 1098-E Online Information

1098-T: A federal tax statement indicating qualified tuition and fees paid to the university over the calendar year. This statement will be provided by the university. 1098-T Online Information


Accrual Date: The date on which interest begins to accumulate on a loan.

Accrued Interest: Interest that has accumulated on the unpaid balance of the loan principal.

ACH Payment: A type of online payment made using a U.S. checking or savings account and requiring the entry of a bank routing number and the checking or savings account number. Some banks may use different routing numbers for processing 'e-check' payments and regular paper checks.

Activity Restriction (Hold): A status placed on a student record by a USC office or department. It can prevent a student from registering for classes, receiving a transcript or diploma, or accessing other university services.

Agency Billing: The forwarding of a student tuition bill to an outside agency or sponsor for payment. USC students sponsored by a company; a local, state, federal or international governmental agency; or branch of the U.S. military may be eligible to have all or a portion of their bills sent directly to the sponsor. See also: Tuition Reimbursement.


Borrower: A person receiving a loan. A borrower signs and agrees to the terms in the promissory note and is responsible for repaying the loan.

Buckley Waiver: The Buckley Waiver form grants permission for the university to disclose certain details of your student account to parents or other designated persons in accordance with FERPA guidelines. (See also: FERPA)

Bursar: The university representative or department responsible for student accounts or the collection of student payments.


Campus-Based Programs: Limited federal financial aid administered by the school. It includes: Federal Work-Study, and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants.

Capitalization of Interest: Addition of unpaid interest to the principal of a loan. It increases both the borrower's total debt and, typically, the amount of each monthly payment.

Confirmation Payment (Housing): The deposit paid to USC Housing to reserve a student's housing assignment. Students must submit this deposit at the time they sign their housing contract or they will lose the housing assignment. 

Consolidation Loan: A loan that allows the student to combine several federal student loans into one, lowering the monthly payments and simplifying and extending the terms of repayment.

Cost of Attendance: An estimated total amount it will cost to attend a college or university for one academic year. The amount includes tuition, books, housing, food, supplies, and limited travel to and from school, and is used in calculations of students' financial need.

CSS (College Scholarship Service) Profile: A financial aid application used to determine undergraduate students' eligibility for university need-based aid. To apply visit USC's CSS school code is 4852.


Default: Failure to repay a loan according to the agreed terms, for six consecutive months. If you default on your loan, the federal government can collect the funds through wage garnishment, litigation, credit bureau notification, and withholding of income tax refunds. In addition, defaulting will affect your ability to receive Title IV student aid in the future.

Deferment (Loans): A method of postponing payments for such reasons as returning to school (after the grace period has expired), academic fellowship, unemployment or economic hardship. If you are unable to obtain a deferment, you may be able to receive a forbearance.

Deferment (Student Accounts): Postponement of tuition and fee payments. The three types of deferement are: Financial Aid, Cashier's Short-Term Deferment, and Tuition Reimbursement Deferment. For more information: Visit the Deferments on a Student Account page or the Schedule of Classes. (Click on the Registration Procedures link for the current term).

Deferment (Expired or Rebilled): Expiration of a deferment, when the amount deferred becomes due and payable.

Delinquency: Failure to repay a loan according to the terms of the promissory note. Late fees are often assessed on delinquent accounts, and serious delinquency results in default.

Dependent Student: A student considered financially dependent on a supporting person (usually a parent). (For additional information, see Independent Student.)

Direct Deposit / ACH Service: (See eRefund)

Direct (Stafford) Loan (Subsidized): A federal student loan offered on the basis of financial need. The government pays the interest while the student is in school at least half-time and during grace and deferment periods.

Direct (Stafford) Loan (Unsubsidized): A federal student loan offered to undergraduate and graduate students regardless of financial need. Interest begins accruing from the time the loan is disbursed.

Disbursement: The release of student aid funds (such as loans, grants or scholarships) to student accounts. Loan disbursements may be canceled by the Financial Aid Office, lender or borrower by contacting the lender or the guarantor.

Disclosure Statement: A statement of the actual cost of the loan, including all estimated interest and loan fees.


E·bill: A monthly e-mail notification sent to any student with a balance due or any activity on his or her student account (with a few exceptions). The notice advises the student that a new monthly billing statement is available for viewing and/or printing on the system. Notices are also sent to alternate e-mail addresses and guest user e-mail addresses.

E·check: See ACH payment.

Emergency Loan: Short-term loans in small amounts. No deferments or cancellations are available for Emergency Loans. For more infomation click here.

Entrance Counseling: A required counseling session provided to student loan borrowers before they can receive their first federal loan disbursement. Counseling sessions may be offered online and/or in person. (See also: Exit Counseling)

eRefund: An electronic service that automatically processes eligible refunds by checking daily for a qualifying credit balance on your student account and refunding it to a specified bank account.

Exit Counseling: A required counseling session provided to student loan borrowers before they leave school. Counseling sessions typically cover loan borrowers' rights and responsibilities and may provide general money management tips. Counseling sessions may be offered online and/or in person. (See also: Entrance Counseling)

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount that a family (student and parents) is expected to contribute out of pocket to the student's education. The amount is determined by subtracting the student's financial aid eligibility from the Cost of Attendance.


FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): The application required from all students applying for financial aid and used to calculate a student's eligibility for federal aid funds. Apply online at USC's Federal School Code is 001328.

Family Rights and Privacy Act: See FERPA.

FAST (Financial Aid Summary and Tasks): Website where students can access their Financial Aid Summary and determine the currrent status of their application and aid. To log in click here.

FSA ID: The FSA ID is a username and password that must be used to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID confirms your identity when you access your financial aid information and electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents. If you do not already have an FSA ID, you can create one when logging in to, the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at,, and This has replaced the Federal Student Aid PIN.

Federal Direct Loan Program: The federal program under which students may borrow educational loans directly from the federal government, rather than banks and lending institutions. It provides one stable source of funding, low interest rates and other benefits not available through private lenders. It replaced FFELP in 2010.

Federal Direct Loan (Subsidized): A federal student loan offered on the basis of financial need. The government pays the interest while the student is in school at least half-time and during grace and deferment periods.

Federal Direct Loan (Unsubsidized): A federal student loan offered to undergraduate and graduate students regardless of financial need. Interest begins accruing from the time the loan is disbursed.

Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP): The federal program under which private financial institutions provided federally backed loans to students and their parents. Loans made under this program included Direct (Stafford) Loans, PLUS loans, and Consolidation Loans. It was discontinued in 2010 and replaced with the Federal Direct Loan Program.

Federal Pell Grant: A grant to qualifying undergraduates, based on the student's Expected Family Contribution, cost of attendance, student enrollment status and time in school. Provided primarily to full-time students, it is also available to qualifying part-time students at a prorated amount. For more information click here.

Federal Work-Study Program: See Work-Study.

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act): A federal law (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students." (See also: Buckley Waiver)

Financial Aid Summary: The total amount and composition of financial aid a student receives. It usually includes grants, scholarships, loans and work-study.

Flat Rate/Fee: A standard tuition amount charged for full-time enrollment. Most sessions offered by USC charge the flat rate for 12 to 18 units of undergraduate enrollment and 15 to 18 units of graduate enrollment. If you are taking fewer units than the range specifies, you are charged the per-unit rate. Refer to the Schedule of Classes for current per-unit and flat rates.

Forbearance: A method of postponing payments for six months to one year due to economic hardship. A forbearance period can be renewed annually for up to three years. If interest-only payments are not paid during a forbearance, interest accrues and is added to the loan balance at the end of the forbearance period.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid: See FAFSA.


Grace Period: The period, normally six months, between the date the student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment and the date on which loan repayment is required to begin.

Grant: Need-based aid that you do not have to repay. In addition to the Federal Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), and the state-funded Cal Grant, the university makes available almost $100 million of its own funds for grants and scholarships to students who demonstrate need and meet all eligibility requirements and deadlines.

Guarantor: An independent organization or state agency that guaranteed Federal Family Educational Loans for the government. (FFELP was replaced by Federal Direct Lending in 2010.)


Hold (Activity Restriction):A status placed on a student record by a USC office or department. It can prevent a student from registering for classes, receiving a transcript or diploma, or accessing other university services.

Holder: The financial institution that holds the title to an educational loan. This can be the original lender or a secondary market.


Income-Sensitive Repayment: A loan repayment schedule based on the borrower's actual or projected income. The loan amount must be repaid, but the size or number of monthly payments may be adjusted. This is a borrower benefit typically limited to federal loans.

Independent Student: A student who meets one or more of the criteria listed below. Undergraduate students who do not meet at least one of these are considered dependent. (Graduate students are considered independent.)

An individual who is at least 24 years old by December 31 of the award year, An orphan or ward of the court. A veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, A graduate or professional student. An individual with legal dependents other than a spouse, A student for whom the school's financial aid office determines and documents an independent status, based on a professional judgment of the student's unusual circumstances.

Interest: The ongoing fee charged for the use of borrowed money.

Interest Rate: A proportion of a loan charged to the borrower as interest, typically expressed as an annual percentage of the outstanding loan amount. Interest rates for federal student loans are fixed for the life of the loans and are typically much lower than those for private loans.


Lender: The financial institution responsible for making the original loan to the borrower.

Lender Refund: The return of loan proceeds to the lender by the university, as required by federal guidelines if a student becomes ineligible for the loan after it was originally disbursed. A student may become ineligible by withdrawing from the university or otherwise dropping all classes for the semester; by dropping below the minimum number of academic units required; or by being academically disqualified.

Loan Cancellation: The termination of required loan repayments, due to the borrower's or student's death or permanent disability.

Loan Period: The school year or academic term – such as a semester, trimester, or quarter – for which a loan is designated.

Loan Principal: The total amount of money borrowed, including fees but excluding any interest charged.

Loans: Money borrowed from the federal government or lending institutions, that must be repaid with interest.


MPN (Master Promissory Note): See Promissory Note.


Need:The difference between a college or university's cost of attendance and the family's Expected Family Contribution.

Need Access Application:A financial aid application that undergraduate students may use instead of the CSS Profile and that helps determine their eligibility for university aid funds. Apply online at The discounted fee for USC students is $20.

Need Analysis: A determination of a family's financial strength. It takes into account the university's cost of attendance as well as a family's income, assets, family size and the number of children in college.


Origination Fee: An amount charged for borrowing money, typically a percentage of the amount borrowed.


Payment Plan:See USC Payment Plan.

Payoff Amount: The amount due for payment in order to fulfill the terms of a loan.

Per-Unit Rate: Tuition charged for each unit of enrollment. If you are enrolled in fewer units than the number required for the flat rate, you will be charged the per-unit rate. Refer to the Schedule of Classes for current per-unit and flat rates.

Prepayment: When a portion or the entire amount of the principal loan balance is paid before it is due. This will usually reduce the total amount of interest.

Prepayment Plan: A USC payment plan that allows for the prepayment of up to five (5) years of full-time tuition and mandatory fees at today's cost.

Promissory Note: The binding legal document (typically combined on the same form with the loan application) that the borrower signs to obtain a loan. It lists the borrower's rights and responsibilities under the loan agreement, including the terms under which the borrower agrees to repay the loan. It will include information about interest calculations, deferment and cancellation. Borrowers should read and save the promissory note, in case they need to refer to it upon entering repayment. Requirements for promissory notes may vary by loan.


Repayment: When a loan borrower must begin making payments on the loan. Repayment begins shortly after graduation or after the student drops below half-time enrollment. The standard repayment term is typically 10 years.

Repayment Schedule: A document setting forth the timing and amounts of the borrower's loan payment.

Required Informaton and Forms: Website where students can determine which documents are required in order determine their financial aid eligiblity.


Schedule of Classes: The USC guide to semester course offerings, policies, procedures, rules, regulations and requirements for graduation. Visit the Schedule of Classes online.

Scholarship: Gift aid usually granted on the basis of academic merit, personal or creative accomplishments, public service, athletic ability or leadership skills. In some cases, they may also be granted to meet exceptional financial need.

Secondary Market: A state or private agency that purchases loans from lenders.

Separation Date: The official date recorded by the school's registrar to indicate a graduation date, a drop to below half-time status or a withdrawal from the school. The grace period begins on this date.

Servicer: The organization that monitors and collects a loan on behalf of the holder. The servicer maintains the borrower's account records, sends billing notices and collects the loan according to the guidelines set forth by the federal government. The lender may also service its own loans.

Student Aid Report (SAR): A summary of the information submitted via the FAFSA to the Federal Processor. Applicants receive an SAR any time they submit a new application or amend an existing application.


Title IV: A section of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, that authorizes federal loan, work-study and grant assistance programs for students pursuing post-secondary education.

Treasury Bill: A financial note issued by the U.S. government to finance government spending. Used to calculate the interest rates on federal student loans.

Tuition Reimbursement: Some employers will reimburse you for your tuition at the end of each term.


USC ID: A ten-digit USC ID number assigned to all USC students and staff. The USC ID is used in place of the Social Security number (SSN) and helps protect users' privacy.

USC Payment Plan: A university payment plan that allows settlement of a student account (one semester at a time) in monthly installments. Students may use the USC Payment Plan to pay for tuition, fees, university housing, meal plans and other miscellaneous university charges.


Variable Interest Rate: An interest rate that fluctuates according to changes in financial indexes such as the U.S. Treasury Bill and the Prime Rate. They typically have a cap on how high they can rise.


Work-Study: A federal program that enables students to work part-time on campus to earn money for school. Financial aid applicants who demonstrate financial need and meet all deadlines and requirements will be considered for this program. Eligible students can work up to 20 hours a week (during the academic year) in an approved work-study job to earn the award amount. Students receive a biweekly paycheck, which may be used for living expenses and educational expenses.