To use the A-to-Z Index, click on one of the letters in the alphabet for a list of links associated with topics that begin with that letter.
Academic Plan of Study (APS)
An Academic Plan of Study (APS) provides you and your Academic Success Coach with a road map to help you arrive at your destination–graduation or program completion–in a timely manner and with few detours.
Academic Success Coach (ASC)
Every student in a UW Flexible Option program is assigned an Academic Success Coach for personalized mentoring and advising. Your coach will be your personal point of contact with the program. He or she will work with you to create a learning plan and timeline customized to fit your goals and existing knowledge. Your coach will also help you prepare for assessments and help you choose the learning resources you need to succeed. These resources can include textbooks and a variety of online resources—as well as courses, structured internships, service projects, and work and practical experiences. Your coach will help you in other ways, too: with registration, understanding tuition, keeping track of important dates and deadlines, and preparing for graduation.
A financial aid academic year for UW Flexible Option programs is defined as a full calendar year (52 weeks) and 24 credit hour equivalencies. Your academic year does not end only when the calendar time has passed. You must also successfully complete the credit hour equivalencies. “Successfully complete” means finishing your competency set(s) with at least the minimum grade required to earn the credit hour equivalencies.
Interest that accumulates and is paid in installments at a later time (usually when the principal becomes due) rather than paid on a regular schedule from the time a loan is disbursed and interest begins. Accrued interest may be compound (interest computed on the sum of an original principal and accrued interest) or simple (interest computed on the original loan principal only).
Adding (a Competency Set)
When a registered student adds an additional competency set prior to or during a subscription period.
Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
The total of an individual’s income (wages, salaries, interest, dividends, etc.) on a tax return after all allowable deductions have been subtracted.
When a student’s enrollment has been cancelled by the university. A student may be administratively withdrawn for nonpayment of tuition or lack of academic engagement, including not completing the Goal Setting Assignment for all competency sets in which the student is enrolled.
Aggregate Loan Limit
The maximum Federal Direct Loan amount, subsidized and unsubsidized, students attending a postsecondary educational institution are allowed to borrow throughout their educational careers. Also known as “cumulative loan limit”.
An optional loan resource for college students, available through private agencies outside of UW Flexible Option and partner UW institutions, for educational purposes. This type of loan is not usually based on financial need. Deferment of loan principal may be allowed while the student attends school; however, the student may be responsible for the interest while in school.
The gradual reduction of a loan debt by periodic (usually monthly) installment payments of principal and interest.
Annual Loan Limit
The maximum Federal Direct Loan amount, subsidized and unsubsidized, college students are allowed to borrow during a specified loan period. The annual loan limit for a Direct Loan is determined by a student’s grade level, which in turned is based on how many credits, or credit hour equivalencies, a student has earned.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The actual rate of simple interest (interest computed on the original loan principal only) paid by the borrower of a loan.
Assessments are the tests, projects, and other activities used to measure your knowledge. Some assessments are based on tests and papers used by students in traditional classroom formats. Others may require observations of actual projects or experiences. Some competency sets include practice assessments so students can make sure they are prepared for the real thing. Students who come to their UW Flexible Option programs already proficient in required competencies can take assessments without having to study the suggested learning materials. As soon as you pass an assessment, you can move on to new competency sets and assessments, confident in your ability to demonstrate what you know to employers and others seeking your skills.
For federal financial aid purposes, assets are the property value and debt that must be reported on the FAFSA. These are financial holdings such as cash on hand in checking and savings accounts, trust funds, stocks, bonds, other securities, real estate (but excluding the family home), income-producing property, business equipment, and business inventory.
Eligible students may be able to receive a portion of their federal financial aid early to purchase required books and supplies. Such students will be notified by the UW Flexible Option Financial Aid Office via email to the student’s university email account.
An individual who agrees to take on the obligation of repaying a loan and accepts the terms of the loan by signing a promissory note. For financial aid purposes, students are borrowers of Federal Direct Loans, subsidized and unsubsidized, and parents of legally dependent undergraduate students are the borrowers of the Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). Graduate and graduate-professional students are the borrowers for both the Federal Direct Loan and the Graduate PLUS.
UW-MSN – University of Wisconsin Madison
UWC or UW-COL – University of Wisconsin Colleges
UWM or UW-MIL – University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
UWP or UW-PKS – University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Cancellation (Discharge) of a Federal Loan
The result of a borrower meeting specific requirements established by law that release the borrower from all obligation to repay a federal educational loan. Cancellation results in the principal and interest being paid by the federal government. Cancellation is not automatic, and the appropriate loan agency must be contacted for more information.
Capitalization (of Loan Interest)
The addition of unpaid interest to the principal balance of a loan. When the interest is not paid as it accrues during periods of in-school status, the grace period, deferment, or forbearance, your lender may capitalize the interest. This increases the outstanding principal amount due on the loan and may cause your monthly payment amount to increase. Interest is then charged on that higher principal balance, increasing the overall cost of the loan.
The is the point at which your enrollment is locked for tuition and financial aid purposes. At UW Flexible Option, the census date is the 10th day of the start of a subscription period.
Competencies are skills and abilities—the things you need to know and be able to do.
A “competency set” is a grouping of competencies that together define the skills and knowledge in an education area. For example, the set of competencies that identify leadership skills.
Credit Hour Equivalencies
Student progress is measured solely by assessing whether the student can demonstrate that he or she has a command on a specific subject, content area, or skill, or can demonstrate a specific quality associated with the subject matter of the program. A credit hour equivalency is the amount of learning equivalent to the amount of instruction, student work, and demonstrated knowledge expected in an equivalent traditional program.
Data Release Number (DRN)
The confidential four-digit number found on the Student Aid Report (SAR). Similar to the personal identification number (PIN) provided by a bank that enables a customer to access account information, a financial aid applicant needs to provide the DRN when communicating with the Federal Student Aid Information Center regarding FAFSA and SAR processing.
Default (on a Loan)
The failure of a borrower to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to when the promissory note was signed. For financial aid purposes, default is usually established once loan payments are more than 180 days past due. Defaults are recorded on the permanent credit record and can result in serious legal consequences for the borrower.
Deferment (of a Federal Loan)
A limited and specified period of time during which a borrower of a federal educational loan is not required to make regular monthly payments. To qualify for deferment, the borrower must meet one or more of a number of requirements established by law. Interest payments may or may not be postponed depending on the type of loan. Deferment is not automatic, and the appropriate loan agency must be contacted for more information.
Delinquent (on a Loan)
The failure of a borrower to make a loan payment by the due date. Delinquencies greater than 30 days are reported to national credit bureaus.
A college student who does not meet the criteria, as defined by federal law, to be considered an independent student for the purpose of receiving financial aid. A dependent student must report parental income and asset information on the FAFSA to be used in the calculation of the family contribution. The philosophy of the federal government is that the student and parents have the primary responsibility for funding the student’s postsecondary education, with financial aid being a supplement to the family contribution.
A release of financial aid funds to your student account, which are then applied to your tuition and fees. Any remaining balance, if applicable, will be issued as a refund check to you.
Dropping (a Competency Set)
When a student drops a competency set in which he or she is registered or enrolled but remains registered or enrolled in other competency sets. Note: When a student drops all competency sets in which he or she is registered or enrolled in, the student is considered withdrawn from UW Flexible Option.
Enrolled (in a Competency Set)
When a student is enrolled in one or more competency sets and the subscription period has begun.
Entrance Loan Counseling
A mandatory information session that takes place before you receive your first federal student loan, which explains your responsibilities and rights as a student borrower.
Exit Loan Counseling
Exit Loan Counseling explains your loan repayment responsibilities and when repayment begins.
Federal Student Aid (FSA) Information Center
The government agency to contact with general questions about the federal financial aid application process. Some of the services provided by counselors at the FSA Information Center include assistance with completing the FAFSA, explanation of the SAR and how to make corrections, and assessment of the status of FAFSA and SAR processing. Call 1-800-433-3243 to reach a counselor at the FSA Information Center.
The general term that describes financial assistance offered to a student to help reduce the cost of postsecondary education. Programs can include scholarships, grants, loans, or work programs, and are funded by federal, state, and private sources. They are meant to supplement what the student (and parents, if dependent, or spouse, if married) is expected to contribute toward educational expenses.
The difference between the cost of a student’s postsecondary education and the dollar amount the federal government determines from data reported on the FAFSA that a student (and parents, if dependent, or spouse, if married) can contribute toward those costs. Eligibility for need-based financial aid programs is determined using the resulting amount.
The Flex Check-In (FCI) monthly activity allows students to stand back from what they are learning and frame it in ways that are meaningful to them. The Flex Check-In must be submitted by the 10th day of the subscription period. If students do not complete the FCI for a competency set, they will be automatically withdrawn from that competency set (see Administrative Withdrawals).
Forbearance (of a Federal Loan)
A limited and specified period of time during which a borrower of a federal educational loan, because of hardship, is permitted to postpone or reduce loan payments. Also, forbearance may be given for circumstances that are not covered by deferment. To qualify for forbearance, the borrower must meet one or more of a number of requirements established by law. Usually the borrower is charged for the interest that accrues on the loan during the forbearance period. Forbearance is not automatic, and the appropriate loan agency must be contacted for more information.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The standard federal form that a student attending a postsecondary educational institution must complete each award year to be considered for financial aid. The FAFSA collects income and asset data that allows for a determination of the expected family contribution amount. Once the applicant submits the FAFSA to the federal government’s processing center, the data is prepared for release to the schools and state agencies listed on the application. The school or agency is then responsible for determining the student’s financial aid eligibility.
Gift Aid or Gift Assistance
Funding for postsecondary education, such as grants or scholarships, that does not require repayment or a work obligation.
The time period that begins the day a borrower no longer qualifies for loan deferment at a postsecondary educational institution: the date of graduation, or the last day of attendance, or the date a student’s enrollment drops to below half-time status. The grace period is six months for Federal Direct Loans, subsidized and unsubsidized, and nine months for Federal Perkins Loans. During the grace period, repayment of loan principal (and, in some cases, interest) is not required.
Funding for postsecondary education, usually awarded on the basis of need, that does not require repayment or a work obligation. Federal Title IV grant programs include Pell Grant and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG).
For financial aid purposes, a student who meets one or more of the following criteria:
- Age 24 or older by December 31 of the award year for which aid is being pursued
- Orphan or ward of the court
- Active Duty member or Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
- Graduate or professional student
- Married prior to signing and filing the FAFSA
- Has legal dependents other than a spouse
- At any time since age 13 was in foster care
- As determined by a court in the student’s state of legal residence, is now or was upon reaching the age of majority either an emancipated minor or was in legal guardianship
- Is determined by a qualified third party to be an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or at risk of being homeless
- Deemed to be independent by the school’s financial aid administrator based on special circumstances. Contact the UW Flexible Option Financial Aid Office to discuss your special circumstance with a financial aid coordinator. (Note: The federal government does not consider a parent’s refusal to provide financial assistance or to provide the required FAFSA information a valid reason for this situation.)
Interest (on a Loan)
The fee a lender charges a borrower for using money. In regard to federal student loans, the interest that is accruing while the borrower is enrolled at least half-time, during the grace period and during any other approved deferment period, is: (a) paid by the federal government on the borrower’s behalf for the Federal Direct Subsidized Loan and Perkins Loan, or (b) billed to the student for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan. For all loan programs, once repayment of loan principal begins, interest is charged.
Learning Management System
The online system where students access learning materials, resources, and assessments to complete competency sets and/or projects.
The organization that furnishes loan funds, whether it be a bank, college, the government, or other establishment.
Money borrowed to assist with the financing of a student’s postsecondary education. By signing a promissory note, the borrower promises to repay a specified amount under prescribed conditions. The lender usually charges interest for use of the money, and the amount borrowed is typically repaid with interest over a period of time.
The agent designated to track and collect a loan on behalf of a lender.
Master Promissory Note
The contract between a lender and a borrower that contains the terms and conditions governing the loan program, including the repayment obligations. It becomes legally binding when signed (executed) by the borrower. The borrower promises to repay the loan, with interest, in periodic installments.
National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)
A system of the federal government that houses a student’s federal educational loan borrowing history. All lenders are required to report a student’s loan information to this database system.
Need Analysis (Federal Need Analysis Methodology)
The federally regulated method of determining the family contribution for a student applying for financial aid. The need analysis formula uses income and asset information, as provided on the FAFSA, to calculate the dollar amount the government expects that a student (and parents, if dependent, or spouse, if married) can contribute toward postsecondary educational expenses.
Any form of monetary assistance awarded by a postsecondary educational institution on the basis of a student’s demonstrated financial need. Need is established by subtracting the family contribution amount, as calculated from the FAFSA data, from the average cost of attendance amount. If a positive amount remains, the student may be eligible for a number of need-based aid programs.
Non-Term Financial Aid
Federal financial aid can be administered in three different formats: Standard Term, Non-Standard Term, and Non-Term. How aid is administered is dependent on the characteristics of the program. Non-Term financial aid is defined by having courses that do not begin and end within a set period of time, courses that may overlap throughout academic programs, have payment period dates that extend based on student progress within the program, and contain self-paced and independent study courses that may overlap terms. UW Flexible Option is administered under Non-Term financial aid regulations. Traditional semester-based programs that begin in the fall, spring, and sometimes summer generally are administered aid under Standard Term regulations, which follow different regulations than Non-Term.
An academic year is generally divided in two equal payment periods. The first payment period is half of the weeks AND half of the credit hour equivalencies. The second payment period is the remaining weeks AND remaining credit hour equivalencies. A financial aid payment period for UW Flexible Option programs is 26 weeks and 12 credit hour equivalencies.
A federal grant program offered to high-need students who are working toward a first bachelor’s degree at a postsecondary educational institution. It is designed to assist students with the least ability to contribute toward their basic educational expenses. This grant is considered gift assistance and does not require repayment or a work obligation.
PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) Loan
A federal loan program, a PLUS loan may be borrowed by a parent on behalf of the undergraduate child or by a graduate student on his or her own behalf. Interest accrues on the loan from the point of disbursement. A FAFSA must be filed to determine other aid eligibility before a PLUS loan will be processed.
Principal (of a Loan)
The amount of money borrowed through a loan, excluding interest or other charges (unless they are capitalized).
The credit balance, often the result of financial aid fund disbursement, exceeding the charges a student owes to UW Flexible Option for a particular subscription period. Financial aid must first be used to pay for tuition and fees. If excess remains, a refund will be released to the student in the form of a paper check.
Registered (in a Competency Set)
When a student has registered for one or more competency sets but the subscription period has not yet begun.
Repayment (of a Federal Loan)
The process of paying back an educational loan to the lender in periodic (usually monthly) installments of principal and interest. A choice of repayment plans or consolidation may be available. A federal educational loan must be repaid even if the student doesn’t complete a school’s program of study or doesn’t obtain employment after completing the program of study.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
A satisfactory rate of competency set and program completion. By law, postsecondary educational institutions whose students receive federal financial aid funds (known as Title IV funds) must create policies for monitoring a financial aid recipient’s level of academic progress toward a degree or certificate within a given period of time. Items for consideration can include a student’s GPA, the completion rate or pace, and/or the number of subscription periods it is taking a student to complete a program.
For financial aid purposes, the federal ID number assigned to postsecondary educational institutions by the U.S. Department of Education.
UW Colleges school code: 003897
UW-Milwaukee school code: 003896 (Federal financial aid is anticipated to be available late spring 2016 for UW Milwaukee Flexible Option students)
Federal financial aid is not currently available for UW Flexible Option students seeking a certificate through UW-Parkside or UW-Madison.
A form of educational financial assistance that does not require repayment or a work obligation. A “merit-based” scholarship is awarded to a student who demonstrates potential for distinction, usually in academic performance. A “need-based” scholarship is awarded to a student who demonstrates financial need. Some scholarships may require both academic proficiency and demonstrated financial need.
Scholarship Search Services
Online systems available through the Internet that help students find sources of funding for postsecondary education. An applicant provides information regarding academic achievement, heritage, artistic talents, athletic ability, educational goals, and/or career plans. In turn, the data is transmitted to a national computer database, and soon after, the student is presented with a list of sources or organizations that offer scholarships for which the student may be eligible. In most cases, search services do not provide any awards directly to applicants. It is up to the student to follow through and apply for the scholarships.
Note: A student should be wary of any service that guarantees a scholarship, charges a large fee, or requires that a credit card or bank account number be provided, since the same information is available for low or no cost. Also, the U.S. Department of Education does not evaluate private scholarship search services. A student should check the reputation of a service by contacting the Better Business Bureau or a State Attorney General’s Office.
Selective Service Certification
Documentation that must be collected to verify that all male students (who were born on or after 1/1/60) are registered with Selective Service. If required by law, a student attending a postsecondary educational institution must register with the Selective Service before receiving federal financial aid.
Statement of Educational Purpose
A statement a student must sign in order to receive federal financial aid at a postsecondary educational institution. By signing, a student agrees to use federal financial aid (often referred to as Title IV funds) solely for educational expenses. The statement appears on the FAFSA.
Student Aid Report (SAR)
The official notification from the federal government that summarizes the information submitted on the FAFSA. The document is a paper document if the FAFSA was submitted on paper, and is a secure web document if the FAFSA was completed online. The SAR displays the entered data, the family contribution amount, and any special messages related to the student’s application. Students should review their SAR to ensure that it is accurate.
For credit-bearing programs, a subscription period is a three-month span of time during which you are able to access learning materials, complete assessments, and receive academic support. You can choose from two subscription options. The “All-You-Can-Learn” option allows you to master as many competency (skill) sets and pass as many assessments as you can for the three-month period. The Single Competency Set option allows you to study at a slower pace. As your current subscription period nears its end, you may subscribe to the next one without interrupting your studies.
A type of Direct Loan where the interest is paid by the federal government while the student is attending at least half-time.
Title IV Funds
Federal financial aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, and regulated and administered by the U.S. Department of Education.
A type of Direct Loan where interest accrues on the outstanding loan balance while the student is in school. Interest may be paid while the student is attending or may be capitalized.
Income (earnings) or resources that are not reported to the Internal Revenue Service and therefore not subject to federal tax, or are reported but excluded from taxation. Examples of untaxed income are child support, interest on tax-free bonds, some Social Security benefits, certain unemployment compensation, and military and other subsistence and quarters allowances.
U.S. Department of Education
The branch of the federal government that administers the federal financial assistance programs for students attending postsecondary educational institutions. These programs include: Pell Grant, Perkins Loan, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Work-Study, and all loans under the Federal Direct Student Loan Program.
Variable Interest on a Loan
Interest rates that change periodically (i.e., quarterly, annually, etc.). The interest rates for Federal Direct Loans, subsidized and unsubsidized, and Parent PLUS Loans borrowed before July 1, 2006, were variable rate loans.
The process used to check that the information reported on the FAFSA is accurate by comparing it to tax returns and other income and asset documentation.
When a student drops all competency sets in which he or she is enrolled in and is no longer enrolled in UW Flexible Option. Withdrawals can be initiated by the student or admistratively applied by the institution. (See Administrative Withdrawal)
The fee assessed to a student when he or she is withdrawn from the program within the first 10 days of a subscription period, either officially by the student, or administratively by the institution.