College Essay

Accreditation is the recognition of a college or university by any of the regional or national accrediting bodies, indicating that the institution as a whole has been judged to be meeting its objectives.
ACT is a group of tests administered by ACT and required or recommended by most colleges as part of the admission process. The tests measure educational development in English/writing, mathematics, reading, and science and are given at specified test centers throughout the year. ACT scores range from 1-36. Taking the ACT Plus Writing provides students with two additional scores. They receive a Writing Test subscore and a combined English/Writing score. To register go to 

Admit/Deny is a philosophy that admits students without regard to their financial need, but provides financial assistance only to those whose academic records are strong. If accepted, the student has the option to attend the institution, but she or he must find alternative ways of paying for their education.

Aid package is a combination of aid (possibly including a scholarship, grant, loan, and work) determined by a college financial aid office.

Candidates Reply Date is a policy among subscribing institutions that permits students to wait until May 1 to choose, without penalty, among offers of admission and financial aid.

COMPASS is a comprehensive computer-adaptive testing system from ACT that helps place students into appropriate college courses and maximizes information needed to ensure student success.

Deferred Admission allows students to begin a semester, or even a year, later than originally planned. If you want to take a year off after high school, it is usually best to apply to colleges in your senior year, and then notify a college of your desire to attend later than the upcoming semester. Colleges will sometimes require a deposit from a student to hold her or his place in a later freshman class.

Early Action, like it's cousin early decision, permits you to apply to a college or university of your choice and receive a response early in the senior year. Early action programs do not require a commitment that you will attend the particular institution until May 1, and are therefore referred to as nonbinding. Some colleges and universities require that you limit yourself to one early action program. Read each school's application instructions carefully to see if this is the case.

Early Admission is a plan by which colleges admit students, usually exceptionally strong ones, at the end of their junior year.

Early Decision requires a commitment from you at the time you submit your application. If you apply under an early decision program, you promise that, if accepted, you will matriculate to that college. You may only apply early decision to one college or university. Students applying early decision typically submit their application by the end of October and receive a decision in mid-December. Decisions to apply early decision must be well reasoned and you must obtain your college counselor's permission to do so. Financial aid offers will be made at or near the time of acceptance. If admitted, you must enroll unless your financial aid award is inadequate.

Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is the estimated amount of money a family can spend for one year of a student's educational expenses. It is important to remember that the cost of attending college includes much more than the tuition of a particular school. It includes room and board, fees, books, transportation and other personal expenses. All of these factors are generally considered in the federal and institutional methodology that determines a student's EFC.

Federal Direct Loan Programs are loans made by the federal government directly to qualifying students and parents through participating colleges.

Federal Pell Grant is financial assistance awarded by the federal government on the basis of need and designed to provide the "floor" of an aid package for postsecondary education. The grant may be used toward tuition, room and board, books, or other educational costs, and requires no repayment.

Federal Perkins Loan Programs are loans funded by the federal government and awarded by the institution. The loans feature low interest rates and are repayable over an extended period of time.

Federal PLUS (Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students) Program provides low-interest federal loans to credit-approved parents of eligible undergraduate students. Repayment begins 60 days after loan funds are disbursed. Loans are available from participating banks, lending institutions, and participating Direct Lending schools.

Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan Program provides low-interest federal loans to eligible students through banks and lending institutions. It is based on need, and the interest is paid by the federal government for qualifying students while they are enrolled at least half-time. Repayment begins after the student leaves school.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application required for students to be considered for federal student financial aid. Go to to fill out the form online or call 800-433-3243 to obtain a paper FAFSA form or electronic filing information. The FAFSA is processed free of charge, and it is used by most state agencies and colleges.

Grade Point Average (GPA) is an indicator of the student's overall scholastic performance. The GPA is computed by multiplying the number of grade points earned in each course (generally, A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0) times the number of course hours/credit hours, then dividing the sum by the total number or course hours/credit hours carried.

Grants are awards based on financial need that do not require repayment. Grants are available through the federal government, state agencies, and educational institutions.

Honors program is any program offering opportunity for superior students to enrich their educational experience through independent, advanced, or accelerated study.

Major is the subject of study in which the student chooses to specialize; a series of related courses, taken primarily in the junior and senior years.

Merit Based financial aid is awarded according to a particular student's talents or achievements. Art, music, drama, academic, athletic and other scholarships which recognize a student's strengths are considered merit based awards. They are usually not dependent on the financial situation or that of his or her family.

Need refers to the difference between the cost of attending a particular college or university and the student's EFC. In essence, it is the amount of financial aid you will "need" in order to attend that school.

Need Based financial aid is awarded according to a student's, and his or her family's, ability to pay their education.

Open admission is the policy of some colleges of admitting virtually all high school graduates, regardless of academic qualifications such as high school grades and admission test scores.

PIN (U.S. Department of Education) is a personal identification number by which students and parents can electronically "sign" the Free Application for Federal Student aid (FAFSA) and access federal aid information. To obtain a PIN, eligible students and parents should visit (students and parents should get their own PINs.)

Regular Decision is the way most students apply to colleges. Typically, students will apply for admission by January 1, and be notified by April 1. If you apply to a college under its regular decision program, you are not required to notify it of your intention to enroll until May 1. If you feel pressure to decide whether to attend a particular institution, or whether to submit a deposit, before May 1, consult the Director of College Counseling immediately.

Rolling Admission is a particular kind of regular decision program. You submit your application by the recommended deadline, and the college immediately begins its consideration of your candidacy. Generally, you will be notified of the college's decision within two to four weeks of its receiving your complete application. Again, you do not have to notify the school of your intent to enroll until May 1. Rolling admission programs, once very common, are becoming rare.

SAT is a test of verbal, written and mathematical abilities given by the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) throughout the year and required or recommended by many colleges as part of the admission process. To register go to Go to the Testing Information page for more information.

Scholarships are nonrepayable awards to students based on merit or merit plus need.

Student Aid Report (SAR) is the information you will receive approximately 2-10 days after your FAFSA has been submitted. It will report the information from your application and, if there are no questions or problems with your application, your SAR will report your Expected Family Contribution (EFC.)

Transcript is the official record of high school or college courses and grades, generally required as part of the college application.

Wait List is an admission decision option utilized by institutions to protect against shortfalls in enrollment. Wait lists are sometimes made necessary because of the uncertainty of the admission process, as students submit applications for admission to multiple institutions and may receive several offers of admission. By placing a student on the wait list, an institution does not initially offer or deny admission, but extends the possibility of admission in the future, before its admission cycle is concluded.