Financial Aid Terminology

Cost of Attendance (COA):

  • The total amount (not including grants and scholarships) that it will cost you to go to school during the 2023-24 school year. COA includes direct costs (expenses paid directly to the college, such as tuition and fees; housing and meals) and indirect costs (such as books, supplies, transportation and personal expenses).

Expected Family Contribution (EFC):

  • The amount you and your parents are expected to contribute toward your educational costs. For federal aid purposes: the federal EFC is a number used by Wesleyan to calculate the amount of federal student aid you are eligible to receive. It is based on the financial information provided in your Free Application for Federal student Aid (FAFSA).

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan:

  • Loans that the U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on while you’re in school at least half-time, for the first six months after you leave school (referred to as a grace period*), and during a period of deferment (a postponement of loan payments).

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan:

  • Loans that the borrower is responsible for paying the interest on during all periods. If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, your interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).

Federal Parent Loan (PLUS):

  • A federal loan program that allows parents of dependent undergraduate students who have no adverse credit history to apply for up to the Cost of Attendance each year, less any financial aid. The borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status.

Federal Pell Grant:

  • A grant provided by the federal government to qualified undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need and have a federal Expected Family Contribution (EFC) below a threshold designated annually by the U.S. Department of Education, based upon the amount of program funds appropriated by Congress. Must complete FAFSA annually for renewal consideration.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG):

  • A grant provided by the federal government to qualified undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Priority is given to Pell Grant recipients and funds must be awarded by the school in lowest federal EFC order. Awarding is contingent upon funding and may not be renewed from year to year.

Federal or Institutional Work-Study:

  • A student aid program that provides part-time employment while the student is enrolled in school to help pay for educational expenses. The student must seek out and apply for work-study jobs at Wesleyan. The student will be paid directly for the hours they work; these funds will not automatically be credited to pay for institutional tuition or fees. The amount you earn cannot exceed the total amount awarded by the school for the award year. The availability of work-study jobs varies by school. Please note that Work-Study earnings may be taxed in certain scenarios; however the income you earn will not be counted against you when calculating your Expected Family Contribution on the FASFA.

Grants and Scholarships (Gift Aid):

  • Student aid funds that do not have to be repaid. Grants are often need-based, while scholarships are usually merit-based. Occasionally you might have to pay back part or all of a grant if, for example, you withdraw from school before finishing a semester. If you use a grant or scholarship to cover your living expenses, the amount of your scholarship may be counted as taxable income on your tax return.


  • Borrowed money that must be repaid with interest. Loans from the federal government typically have a lower interest rate than loans from private lenders. Federal loans, listed from most advantageous to least advantageous, are called Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Parent PLUS Loans. You can find more information about federal loans at

Net Price:

  • An estimate of the actual cost that a student and his or her family need to pay in a given year to cover education expenses for the student to attend a particular school. Net price is determined by taking the institution's cost of attendance and subtracting any grants and scholarships for which the student may be eligible.

Origination Fees:

  • An upfront fee charged by a lender for processing a new loan application. It is compensation for putting the loan in place. Origination fees are quoted as a percentage of the total loan.

Private or Institutional Loan:

  • A nonfederal loan made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, state agency, or school.

Self-Help Aid:

  • Financial aid in the form of loans or student employment. Loans can be used to pay the remaining net costs after gift aid is deducted. Student employment work-study earnings generally are not deducted from billed costs but can be used to help you cover indirect costs. These earnings are paid in the form of wages to students.