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Help - Glossary

The following glossary listing contains definitions/descriptions of terms that are related to Federal student aid Title IV programs and/or acronyms..

The terms are listed according to alphabetical order. You can select the All link to view a listing of all of the glossary terms, or you may select the letter equal to the first letter of the term.


  • IA

    Information Assurance
  • IBR

    Income-Based Repayment Plan
  • IBS

    Institutional Base Salary
  • ICC

    Institutional Capital Contribution (Perkins)
  • ICR

    Income-Contingent Repayment Plan
  • IFAP

    Information for Financial Aid Professionals (web site)
  • IG

    Inspector General
  • IHE

    Institution of Higher Education
  • IIS

    Institutional Improvement Specialist
  • Immediate Need

    The amount of FSA program funds a school needs to make disbursements within three business days following the date the school receives the funds. This definition of immediate need applies to all FSA program funds (other than Perkins Loan funds), regardless of whether the school draws down funds by electronic funds transfer (EFT) through the ACH or through FEDWIRE.
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)

    A federal agency abolished when the Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003 and its responsibilities were split into three different agencies. (See U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.)
  • Immigration Status

    The status conferred on a noncitizen under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended, 8 U.S.C. 1182.
  • Improper Payment

    Any payment made or that was made in an incorrect amount (including overpayments and underpayments) under statutory, contractual, administrative, or other legally applicable requirements and includes any payment to an ineligible recipient, any payment for an ineligible service, any duplicate payment, payments for services not received, and any payment that does not account for credit for applicable discounts. (See Overaward and Overpayment.)
  • In School

    The period during which borrowers are enrolled in a postsecondary educational program. For purposes of eligibility for loan deferments, a student must be enrolled at least half-time as an eligible student to be considered "in-school."
  • Inadvertent Overborrowing

    An overpayment that occurs when a student inadvertently has received FSA loan funds in excess of annual or aggregate loan limits and is no longer eligible for FSA funds. A school must determine that a borrower's receipt of loan funds in excess of an annual or aggregate loan limit was inadvertent before the borrower may regain FSA eligibility.
  • Inadvertent Overpayment

    Occurs when a school disburses FSA funds to a student who is no longer in attendance, for example, when a school makes a scheduled disbursement on Monday to a student who dropped out on the previous Friday. Inadvertent overpayments are included in Return calculations as Aid that could have been disbursed rather than Aid that was disbursed.
  • Incarcerated Student

    A student who is serving a criminal sentence in a federal, state, or local penitentiary, prison, jail, reformatory, work farm, or other similar correctional institution. A student is not considered incarcerated if that student is in a half-way house or home detention or is sentenced to serve only weekends.
  • Incarcerated Student Limitation

    The requirement that no more than 25% of a school's regular students be incarcerated for the school to be eligible to participate in the Title IV programs. A public or private nonprofit school can ask the Department to waive this limitation in certain circumstances.
  • Incentive Compensation Prohibition

    The requirement that a school not provide any commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based in any part, directly or indirectly, upon success in securing enrollments or the award of financial aid to any person or entity engaged in any student recruitment or admission activity or in making decisions regarding the award of Title IV, HEA program funds.
  • Incentive Repayment Program

    Steps a school (in the Perkins Program) may take to encourage a borrower to make regular payments. Included are reducing a loan's interest rate by up to 1% if the borrower makes 48 consecutive monthly payments; and discounting (Reducing) the balance a borrower owes on a loan if he or she pays the loan in full before the end of the repayment period. With the Department's approval, a school may establish any other repayment incentive options that reduces default and replenishes the funds available to lend to students.
  • Incompatible Duties

    Internal control systems rely on separation of function or duties to reduce the chance of errors or fraud. Duties are incompatible if they should be separated for control. For example, one person should not be in a position to both embezzle funds and to hide the embezzlement by changing the recorded accountability.
  • Increased Unsubsidized Eligibility for Health Professions Students

    To replace loan funds that otherwise would have been available under the former HEAL Program, schools can award increased Direct Unsubsidized Loan amounts to graduate or professional students who are enrolled at least half-time in a health professions discipline that was eligible under the HEAL Program, or in certain naturopathic medical programs.
  • Incurred

    A word used by accountants to communicate that an expense has occurred and needs to be recognized on the income statement even though no payment was made. The second part of the necessary entry will be a credit to a liability account.
  • Independent Auditor

    A certified public accountant or a government auditor who meets the Government Auditing Standards qualification and independence standards, including standards related to organizational independence.
  • Independent Student

    A student who qualifies as an independent student under section 480(d) of the HEA. A student who satisfies one of the following criteria:
    • is 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year;

    • is an orphan, in foster care, or a ward of the court, or was an orphan, in foster care, or a ward of the court at any time when the individual was 13 years of age or older;

    • is, or was immediately prior to attaining the age of majority, an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship as determined by a court of competent jurisdiction in the individual's State of legal residence;

    • is a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States (as defined in subsection (c)(1)) or is currently serving on active duty in the Armed Forces for other than training purposes;

    • is a graduate or professional student;

    • is a married individual;

    • has legal dependents other than a spouse;

    • has been verified during the school year in which the application is submitted as either an unaccompanied youth who is a homeless child or youth or as unaccompanied, at risk of homelessness, and self-supporting; or

    • is a student for whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence by reason of other unusual circumstances.

  • Indirect Cost

    A cost that cannot be identified specifically with or traced to a given cost object in an economically feasible way.
  • Indian Tribe

    Any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska Native village or regional or village corporation as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. Chapter 33), which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians (25 U.S.C. 450b(e)). See annually published Bureau of Indian Affairs list of Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible to Receive Services.
  • Indirect Cost

    those costs incurred for a common or joint purpose benefitting more than one cost objective, and not readily assignable to the cost objectives specifically benefitted, without effort disproportionate to the results achieved. T
  • Individual Recipient Basis

    One of the ways a school can match its federal allocation in the FSEOG Program. In this approach a school ensures that every student's FSEOG award consists of 75% federal funds and 25% qualified nonfederal funds.
  • Infant or Toddler with a Disability

    An infant or toddler from birth to age 2, inclusive, who needs early intervention services for specified reasons, as defined in section 632(5)(A) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  • Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP)

    Federal Student Aid website ( that provides information to financial aid professionals about the Title IV federal programs.
  • Information Security

    Information security is the preservation of confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Each of these attributes is defined as follows: Confidentiality-ensuring that information is accessible only to those authorized to have access; Integrity-safeguarding the accuracy and completeness of information and processing methods; Availability- ensuring that authorized users have access to information and associated assets when required.
  • Information Technology Systems

    Computing devices, ancillary equipment, software, firmware, and similar procedures, services (including support services), and related resources.
  • Initial Allocation

    For the Campus-Based Programs, the amount that the Department first allocates to each participating school for an award year from new funds appropriated by Congress, according to statutory allocation formulas. An eligible school receives an initial allocation for each Campus-Based Program in which the school participates.
  • Initial Grace Period

    That period which immediately follows a period of enrollment and immediately precedes the date of the first required repayment on a loan. This period is generally nine months for Federal Perkins loans, Defense loans, and NDSLs made before October 1, 1980, and six months for Direct loans. A borrower is only entitled to one initial grace period.
  • Initiating Official

    The designated department official authorized to begin an emergency action under 34 CFR 668.83.
  • In-Kind

    Goods or services provided instead of money.
  • Input Controls

    Computer controls designed to provide reasonable assurance that transactions are properly authorized before processed by the computer, accurately converted to machine readable form and recorded in the computer, that data files and transactions are not lost, added, duplicated or improperly changed, and that incorrect transactions are rejected, corrected and, if necessary, resubmitted on a timely basis.
  • INS

    Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS is now part of Department of Homeland Security and known as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.)
  • Institution

    An institution of higher education, or a proprietary institution of higher education, or a postsecondary vocational institution as defined in 34 CFR part 600.
  • Institution-Affiliated Organization

    Any organization that is directly or indirectly related to a covered institution; and is engaged in the practice of recommending, promoting, or endorsing education loans for students attending such covered institution or the families of such students.
  • An institution-affiliated organization may include an alumni organization, athletic organization, foundation, or social, academic, or professional organization, of a covered institution. An institution-affiliated organization does not include any lender with respect to any education loan secured, made, or extended by such lender.

  • Institution of Higher Education

    One of three types of institutions eligible for participation in the Federal Student Aid programs. The others are a proprietary institution of higher education, and a postsecondary vocational institution. For a more information see 34 CFR 600.4.
  • Institutional Capital Contribution (ICC)

    In the Perkins Loan Program, the institutional funds a school must provide if the school receives a Federal Capital Contribution in an award year.
  • Institutional Control

    The designation of an institution as public or private, nonprofit or for-profit. By definition, an institution of higher education or a postsecondary vocational institution can be either public or private but is always nonprofit. A proprietary institution of higher education is always a private, for-profit institution.
  • Institutional Depository Account

    A school must maintain Title IV funds in a depository account. For a school located in a state, the depository account must be insured by the FDIC or NCUA. For a foreign school, the depository account may be insured by the FDIC or NCUA, or by an equivalent agency of the government of the country in which the institution is located. If there is no equivalent agency, the Department may approve a depository account designated by the school.
  • Institutional Liability

    Financial penalties or repayments that a school must pay to the Department as a result of incorrect school action or actions. A liability is the difference between the actual expenditures reported by the school in G5 for an Obligation Document Number for the award year and the final allowable expenditures as determined by the auditor, program reviewer, or hearing official.
  • Institutional Loan

    Loans specific to a college, university, or other post-secondary educational institution and made from institutional funds. Eligibility and loan characteristics will vary among institutions.
  • Institutional Methodology

    The formula a postsecondary institution uses to allocate the school's own financial aid funds and those federal student aid funds for which the student is eligible and over which the school has control.
  • Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR)

    An electronic record that the Department transmits to an institution that includes an applicant's FAFSA information; personal identification information; and EFC.
  • Intangible Property

    Property having no physical existence, such as trademarks, copyrights, patents and patent applications and property, such as loans, notes and other debt instruments, lease agreements, stock and other instruments of property ownership (whether the property is tangible or intangible).
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

    The system maintained by the Department's National Center for Education Statistics. Via the IPEDS website, schools report their graduation, completion, and transfer-out rates.
  • Interest

    The cost of borrowing money. Interest is an expense calculated as a percentage of the outstanding (unpaid) principal balance.
  • Interest-Only Payment

    A payment that covers only accrued interest owed on a loan and none of the principal balance. Borrowers eligible for interest-only payments are not prohibited from making additional or larger payments.
  • Interest Rate

    The annual interest rate that is charged on a loan. The price charged per unit of money borrowed per year, or other unit of time, usually expressed as a percentage.
  • Interim Disbursement

    A disbursement made prior to verification by a school to an applicant selected for verification, when the school believes the applicant's FAFSA information is accurate. A school is liable for any overpayment the student receives as an interim disbursement for which the student is later determined to be ineligible and any subsidized student financial aid the student received if the school does not receive a valid SAR/ISIR within the timeframe established under 34 CFR 668.60, that is not eliminated by adjusting other financial assistance or recovered from the student.
  • Internal Control

    A process, directed by a school's management and other personnel, designed to provide reasonable assurance that the objectives of the school are being achieved in the following categories
    • effectiveness and efficiency of operations including the use of the school's resources;

    • reliability of financial reporting, including reports on budget execution, financial;

    • statements, and other reports for internal and external use;

    • compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

    Internal controls consist of the control environment, risk assessment, control activities, information and communication, and monitoring. A necessary implication or subset of these objectives is the safeguarding of school and trust assets against unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition. Consequently, the definition of internal control, as it relates to safeguarding assets can be extended to include processes, directed by a school's management and other personnel, designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention of or prompt detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the school's assets.

  • Internal Control Deficiency

    Exists when the design or operation of a control does not allow management or employees, in the normal course of performing their assigned functions, to prevent or detect misstatements on a timely basis.
  • Internal Control Standards

    Standards that define the minimum level of quality acceptable for internal controls and provide the basis against which internal controls are to be evaluated.
  • Internal Control System

    The organization structure, operating procedures, and administrative practices that provide reasonable assurance that programs and administrative activities are efficiently carried out in accordance with the objectives of the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act of 1982 (FMFIA) and OMB Circular A-123, "Management Accountability and Control."
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

    A bureau in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It is responsible for collecting taxes and the interpretation and enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • International Accounting Standards Board (IASB)

    An organization whose members represent accounting bodies in member countries. The group is dedicated to bringing about the harmonization of international accounting standards.
  • International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB)

    The committee authorized by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) to issue International Standards on Auditing (ISA) and guidance.
  • International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)

    A set of accounting standards, developed by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), that is becoming the global standard for the preparation of public company financial statements. The IASB is an independent accounting standards body, based in London, that is unaffiliated with the AICPA.
  • IPA

    Income Protection Allowance, also Independent Public Auditor

    Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

    A Title IV Grant for dependents of soldiers who died as a result of service in the U.S. military in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. The program has a duration of 6 Scheduled Awards, which equals 600% Lifetime Eligibility (LEU).
  • Iraq Afghanistan Service Grant Indicator

    A field added to COD for Award Years 2011-2012 and forward. This indicator is checked by the school when entering the award on the COD website and notifies the Department of the school's desire to award the student Iraq & Afghanistan Service Grant.
  • IRC

    Internal Revenue Code
  • IRS

    Internal Revenue Service

    Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool
  • IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)

    The feature that allows students and parents who are using FAFSA on the Web and who have already submitted their federal tax return to electronically retrieve certain tax data from the IRS database for entry on their FAFSA.
  • IRS Request Flags

    The Student IRS Request Flag and Parent IRS Request Flag on the SAR/ISIR indicate whether the IRS data retrieval process was used and the result if used.

    Indian Self-Determination and Education and Assistance Act
  • ISIR Guide

    Annual ED reference publication that aid administrators use to interpret student information on the ISIR. It also explains codes and flags that appear in the FAA Information section of the ISIR. Located at:
  • ISP

    Internet Service Provider
  • IT

    Information Technology
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