Financial Aid Terms

 The list below includes some of the terms you will encounter when navigating the financial aid process. Of course, we also encourage you to contact our student financial services advisor with any questions you have or anything that you still don’t quite understand.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid):

The form that most colleges require students to submit in order to apply for financial aid.  The form required for federal government need-based funding, including Pell Grants and Direct Loans.  Houghton's FAFSA code is 002734.

EFC (Expected Family Contribution):

An amount derived from the FAFSA that students are expected to contribute to the extent that they are able toward their educational costs.

 Federal Direct Subsidized Loan:

A federal loan for students with demonstrated financial need, as determined by federal regulations.  No interest is charged while a student is in school at least half-time and during deferment periods. All federal loans must be repaid.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan:

A federal loan that is not awarded based on financial need.  Interest is charged from the time the loan is disbursed to the time the loan is repaid in full.  Any eligible student can take out Direct Unsubsidized Loans.


Money provided by a government, local authority, public fund or institutional fund to finance higher education.  Grants do not need to be repaid.

 Need-based Aid:

Financial aid based solely on financial need – the assets and income of the prospective student and his or her family.  Need-based aid includes government grants, institutional grants, loans, and work-study, among other forms.

Pell Grant:

A federal grant program targeted to low-income students with the most financial need.  Pell amount varies by year and by need, providing a maximum of $5,730 per year for full-time students for the 2014-2015 year.  Students must apply via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Like all grants, Pell Grants do not need to be repaid.


Financial aid funds that come from a variety of public, private, and institutional sources.  Scholarships are awarded based on specific criteria, and like grants, do not have to be repaid.

TAP (Tuition Assistance Program – New York State):

The New York State TAP program provides annual grant awards for up to $5,165 to eligible, full-time undergraduate students. The applicant must be a New York state resident, meet income eligibility requirements, and attend college in New York State. Apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and listing a college in New York State.

Back To Top