Student Loan Glossary

Our student loan glossary will help you understand student loan terms

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As you look into the different student loans available, you are likely to come across a slew of words you’ve never heard before. One loan may talk about obtaining a co-signor. Another may include options regarding amortization and capitalized interest. Yet another mentions that you can contact the bursar for further information. Not knowing what each term means can be hugely frustrating.

This student loan glossary will help you make sense of some of the more commonly used terms associated with student loans.

Accrued Interest

This is the interest that accumulates on a simple interest college loan. The interest on the unpaid principal balance is calculated daily and becomes the accrued interest.


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This is a process by which the education loan is gradually reduced to zero though payments that are scheduled regularly over a predetermined period of time.


The bursar is a member of the college administrative staff responsible for dealing with all billing and payment related to tuition fees and related expenses including student housing.

Cost of Attendance

Cost of attendance, which is part of college costs, is the total cost of direct and indirect expenses for one academic year before financial aid. It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room, board and living expenses.

Consolidation Loan

When you consolidate a loan, you combine multiples loans into a new single loan.

Cosigner (also known as Co-borrower)

A cosigner, also known as a co-borrower, is a creditworthy individual who takes on the responsibility of repaying the education loan if the student borrower defaults on the repayment. Students who have little or no credit history are required to have someone co-signing in order to be approved for an education loan.

Demonstrated Need

Demonstrated need is calculated as the difference between the Cost Of Attendance for a particular college and your expected family contribution.

Disclosure Statement

The disclosure statement is an official document that contains explicit details of the terms of the loan, including the interest rate, monthly payment amount, number of payments to be paid and the payment due date.


Loan forgiveness means you are no longer under any obligation to pay all or part of the loan. Disability, death and working in certain specified government or military service are some of the more common reasons for someone to qualify for student loan forgiveness.


A grant is a kind of financial gift aid that is awarded based on need. It does not need to be paid back.

Merit Aid

Merit aid, unlike need-based aid, refers to scholarships and other types of financial aid that are awarded to students based on their personal achievements in any academics, sports, the arts or another field.

Private or Outside Scholarship

This is a scholarship offered by a private entity other than the government or a college. It could be offered by an individual, a nonprofit organization or a corporation that promotes education.


A scholarship is a kind of financial gift aid that is awarded based wholly or partially on merit or proven ability in academics, athletics or the arts. It does not need to be paid back.


A transcript is the official record of your grades or your course work at a school or college. You will need to submit your transcript for some types of financial aid packages, especially those that are merit-based.

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