Financial aid, FAFSA, CSS Profile, scholarships, COA, the net price versus sticker price, EFC, 
and more!
All of these college financial aid terms are confusing and complicated. SOAR Consulting works with each family’s specific circumstances to help them make
sense of the financial aid forms, tips, and strategies.

SOAR consulting clients receive professional advice, including:

Tips and advice for financial planning and savings: 529 plans, Coverdell Plans, or pre-paid tuition plans. 

Maximizing your aid eligibility through honest and simple techniques

How grandparents’ contributions, trust funds, retirement accounts, and even student employment affect the family’s EFC and final costs

Federal versus private students loans, including PLUS (parent loans) and home equity lines of credit

How to handle assets and cash that exceed the Family Asset Protection Allowance

Estimating the family’s EFC so that financial plans can be made before senior year of high school

Explanation of federal grants, work-study, scholarships, and loans

Whether your child needs to complete the FAFSA, the CSS Profile, or both

When to apply for financial aid to meet all deadlines

SOAR Scholarship Consulting senior year package clients also receive the added bonus service of personalized scholarship searches. After conducting searches based on the student’s interests, college list, intended major, sports, and any achievements to filter scholarship just for him/her, specific scholarships opportunities are sent to students either monthly or quarterly

After college applications are submitted, so many seniors are able to complete several every month, which increases their chances of earning a scholarship!

Financial Aid Terms

Important Financial Aid Terms

Financial aid does not need to be confusing, and it won’t be if you begin by understanding the common financial aid terms below.

To avoid making a mistake when going through the financial aid process, get answers from your school counselor or a college financial aid counselor whenever you have questions.

Academic Scholarships

Financial awards are given to students for high academic achievement.

Athletic Scholarships

Scholarships awarded to student-athletes by NCAA Division I and II colleges, NAIA Division I colleges, and some two-year colleges.

[financial aid]

Budget Number

The estimated total cost of a year of college at a specific institution, as determined by the chief financial aid officer.

Congressional Methodology

The mathematical formula, determined by Congress, is used to calculate estimated family contribution (EFC).

Estimated Family Contribution

The amount of money a family can be expected to contribute to a student’s educational expenses, as determined by plugging the information given on the FAFSA into a formula.


The free federal financial aid form that students applying for financial aid are required to complete annually. The FAFSA may be completed online or paper copies may be obtained in virtually all high school guidance offices and college financial aid offices.

Financial Aid Appeal

The process by which a college financial aid office may review a student’s eligibility for financial aid, upon request of the student

Financial Aid Award Letter

A letter sent to students by financial aid offices, listing and describing the funds, if any, for which they qualify.

Financial Need

The difference between the budget number (defined above) and the estimated family contribution (also defined above). In other words, the estimated cost minus the funds the family can afford to provide.

Full Need

Colleges and universities which meet full need provide as much financial aid as a student requires, as determined by the FAFSA and the full cost of attendance.


Refers to the difference between financial need and financial aid offered.

Gift Aid

Money awarded to students that do not require repayment, primarily grants and scholarships.


A form of gift aid. A term often used as a synonym for a scholarship.

Institutional Financial Aid

Financial aid is given to a student by the college or university he/she attends, as opposed to money from external sources.

Merit Scholarships

Scholarships awarded for academic or other achievements.

Need-Based Financial Aid

Funds awarded to students who have demonstrated financial need.

Parent Loan

An unsubsidized student loan does not require students to demonstrate financial need.

Pell Grant

A need-based federal award offered to students from low-income families

Renewable Award

An award can be renewed during subsequent academic years if stated criteria are met.


A financial award that need not be repaid.

Scholarship Search Websites

Websites at which students may search for scholarships for which they may qualify. A list of such sites may be found at

Self Help Aid

Loans and work-study funds.

Stafford Loan

Fixed-rate, relatively low-interest student loans.

Student Loan

Government or private loans are given to students to cover their educational and living expenses.

Subsidized Loans

Student loans with low-interest rates as a result of a government subsidy. Subsidized loans require a demonstration of need.

Unmet Need

The amount of established need not covered by a student’s financial aid package.

Unsubsidized Loans

Student loans are not subsidized by the government.


A program that allows students to earn money working on campus or in the local community.

Personalized Help with Financial Aid and Scholarships