Acronyms are everywhere in our culture – even in Financial Aid. For new financial aid directors, it can be frustrating to hear and not understand different terminology when managing a department. With that in mind, here are our top-ten most common acronyms used by financial aid departments.


  1. FAFSA – Free application for Federal Student Aid. This is a very recognized document. Most new directors will understand that a FASFA is the required documentation by the Department of Education to determine This acronym is widely used by department staff and parents alike. Anyone attempting to or supporting someone getting into college will understand this.


  1. COA – Cost of Attendance. This represents a college’s total estimated expenses for one year including tuition, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and miscellaneous A school’s cost of attendance is used to determine each student’s eligibility for financial aid such as grants and loans.


  1. FERPA – Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the S. Department of Education.


  1. ECAR – Eligibility and Certification Report. This a snapshot of the school’s participation, programs, location, officials, etc. Targeted specifically to professionals and leaders in higher education and technology, expanding the knowledge base for institutional decision-making and


  1. FISAP – Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate in Campus-Based Programs. This one is applied by schools to bag funding for the upcoming year and to report Campus-Based Program expenditure for the previous award


  1. MPN – Master Promissory Note. Used to receive funds from the Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program and the Federal Direct Grad Plus Loan. This may be used for multiple loans for up to 10


  1. NSLDS – National Student Loan Data System. This is the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) central database for student aid. The system receives data from schools, guaranty agencies, the Direct Loan program, and other Department of ED


  1. COD – Common Origination and Disbursement. The system is a technical solution designed to accommodate the COD Process for Perkins, Pell Grant, Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant), and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant and Direct Loan


  1. SAP – Satisfactory Academic Progress. Federal regulations require the Office of Student Financial Aid to monitor the academic progress of students receiving financial


  1. R2T4 – Return to Title IV Funds. This refers to the calculation required when a recipient of Title IV aid withdraws from an institution during a payment period.


As a new financial aid director, the above acronyms are critical to understand. But remember, this industry has many, many more. These ten are the most common, we’ve found.


As the industry leader in third-party servicing, contact FA Solutions to help fill vacancies, process files, and contact students. You can thank us later. Learn more at