Glossary of Terms

SAI (Student Aid Index):

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

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid):

The form that most colleges require families 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.

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.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan:

A federal loan awarded to any student who completes the FAFSA; it is not 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.

Federal PLUS Loan:

The Parental Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) allows a parent to borrow the difference between the cost of education and financial aid received.

Federal SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant):

Typically ranges from $500 to $750 per year and is directed toward students with exceptional financial need. Priority is given to Pell Grant recipients.

Federal Work-Study:

This program provides part-time jobs for undergraduate students with financial need to help with their education expenses. Houghton University pays the student directly for the hours worked.


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

Merit-based Aid:

Financial aid based entirely on a student’s academic achievements, regardless of financial need. Merit-based aid usually comes in the form of scholarships.

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 grant program targeted to low-income students with the most financial need. Pell amount varies by year and by need, providing a maximum of $7,395 per year for full-time students for the 2023-2024 year. Students must apply via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Perkins Loan:

A low-interest (5%) loan program administered by Houghton University. Recipients were selected on the basis of exceptional financial need. The program was eliminated by the federal government after the 2017-2018 award year.

Prior-prior Year:

Refers to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) being available at the end of 2023, and using the previous year's tax information to complete the FAFSA. For example, the 2024-2025 FAFSA will be available at, and will use 2022 tax information.


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 awards for up to $5,665 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 after completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and listing a college in New York state. Then go the NY Higher Education Services Corporation site ( to complete the application.