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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.


  • P

    Dear Colleague Letter designation for Pell Grant Program letters (published before January 2013)
  • PA

    Payment Analyst (in Performance Improvement and Procedures Service Group)
  • Pace of Completion

    The quantitative component (along with the qualitative component, i.e. grades) of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). The minimum amount of academic credit/hours a student must complete to remain on track to finish the academic program within SAP limits. See Satisfactory Academic Progress.
  • Packaging

    A school's process for determining the type and amount of assistance (from all sources) that will be offered to a student.
  • PAN

    Payee Account Number
  • Paper Secondary Confirmation

    The process for documenting that a student is an eligible noncitizen used when a student doesn't pass automated secondary confirmation or when a school has conflicting information. Paper secondary confirmation is accomplished by use of the G-845 form and supporting documents.
  • Parent

    A student's biological or adoptive mother or father or the student's stepparent, if the biological parent or adoptive mother or father has remarried at the time of application.
  • Participant Support Costs

    Direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences, or training projects.
  • Participating Institution

    An eligible institution that meets the standards for participation in federal student aid programs in subpart B and has a current program participation agreement with the Department.
  • Pass-Through Charges

    Cost of housing or education supplies (books and materials) assessed by a third-party but paid (with a student's authorization) from a student's FSA funds if the school has entered into a contract with the third party to provide institutional housing and/or bookstore services.
  • Pass-Through Entity

    A non-Federal entity that provides a subaward to a subrecipient to carry out part of a Federal program.
  • Past Performance and Affiliation Standards

    The financial responsibility standards that look at schools' and affiliated officials' past performance (34 CFR 668.174) as it relates to the Title IV programs.
  • Pastoral Counselor

    A person who is associated with a religious order or denomination, is recognized by that religious order or denomination as someone who provides confidential counseling, and is functioning within the scope of that recognition as a pastoral counselor.
  • Payee

    An entity designated by the grantee to request and manage federal funds on its behalf. The grantee and payee can be the same entity.
  • Payee (in G5)

    The recipient (organization or individual) of Department of Education funds responsible for accounting for those funds. The payee may be a single entity, such as a college or a central finance office, that requests funds and prepares financial reports for several organizations within its system.
  • Payment (in G5)

    Funds deposited into payees' accounts. The payment must be disbursed within three business days.
  • Payment Analyst

    Formerly Reimbursement Analyst. An FSA employee who ensures that schools subject to heightened cash management have accurately determined FSA eligibility of, and payment to each student, with sufficient funds in the school's G5 account, and submits documentation to that effect.
  • Payment Data

    An electronic record that is provided to the Department by an institution showing student disbursement information.
  • Payment Methods

    The methods through which the Department provides funds to schools, including the advance payment method, the reimbursement payment method, and the cash monitoring payment methods.
  • Payment Period

    The academic period or period of enrollment established by an institution for which financial aid is disbursed. Payments for all federal student aid programs except FWS must be made on a payment period basis.
  • Payoff Amount

    The total required to pay off a loan. It includes the loan principal, capitalized interest, accrued interest, late charges, and other charges, fees, and costs allowed by the applicable regulations.
  • Payoff Date

    The date on which a loan payoff calculation is based.
  • PBO

    Performance-Based Organization
  • PC

    Parental Contribution
  • PDF

    Portable Document Format
  • Peak Enrollment

    Occurs when at least 25 percent of a school's students start classes during a given 30-day period. A school is given some leeway under the excess cash rules during this period.
  • Peer Review

    A monitoring program in which the audit documentation of one CPA firm is periodically reviewed by independent partners of other firms to determine that it conforms to the standards of the profession.
  • Pell Eligible Flag

    The field in the ISIR that alerts schools to an applicant's Pell Grant eligibility status. A Y confirms that a student's EFC and undergraduate or qualifying graduate status make him or her eligible for a Pell Grant and that the record has been included in the payment system database. This flag does not take into account whether students have reached their Pell lifetime eligibility used limit.
  • Pell Formula

    The formula used to calculate an eligible student's annual Pell Grant. The formulas used for individual students are differentiated by a student's enrollment status and program type.
  • Pell Grant Payment and Disbursement Schedule(Pell Disbursement or Payment Schedule)

    A table showing the annual awards that three-quarter, half-time, and less-than-half-time students at term-based institutions using credit hours would receive for an academic year in the Pell Grant Program. This table is published annually by the Department and is based on
    • a student's expected family contribution (EFC), as determined in accordance with title IV, part F of the HEA;

    • a student's attendance costs as defined in title IV, part F of the HEA; and

    • the amount of funds available for making Federal Pell Grants.

  • Pell Grant Pending Disbursement List

    This list is automatically generated by COD and sent to a school's SAIG mailbox. It produces a listing of anticipated disbursements Disbursement Release Indicator (DRI) set to false and actual disbursements (DRI) set to true with dates set 8 to 30 days in the future. The list can be used to monitor anticipated disbursements nearing disbursement dates to either set the DRI to true for confirmed eligible students, or to cancel the award for ineligible students. The list also can be used to monitor awards scheduled for upcoming disbursements to determine current eligibility.
  • Pell Grant Reconciliation Report

    Sent annually by COD just prior to the close of the award year (September 30), the report provides a one-record per student summary of the total YTD Pell Grant disbursements in COD. Pell Grant Reconciliation Reports can also be ordered by a school through the COD web and are useful for both monthly and year-end reconciliation.
  • Pell Grant Verification Status Report

    Provides a list of students selected by the CPS for verification who have either a blank or W verification status in COD. Students whose verification status is "W" must be updated to be reconciled. Students whose verification status is blank" must be updated to be disbursed. COD automatically sends the report to the school's SAIG mailbox on a monthly basis through the last day of December for the award year ending on July 31.
  • Pell Grant Year-to-Date (YTD) Record

    Contains detailed award and disbursement information at a transaction level. Pell Grant YTD Records are created only upon school requests. They can be requested on a per student, or all students, basis and they are a good tool for reconciling of student Pell data and rebuilding a school's corrupted data base. On an "all student" basis, the Pell Grant YTD Record shows the number of recipients at the school; the number of award and/ or disbursement records that were accepted, corrected, and rejected; and, for certain edit codes, the number of times a school received that specific edit code on a response document.
  • PEPS

    Postsecondary Education Participation System
  • Percentage of Period Completed

    For Return of Title IV Funds purposes, the percentage determined by dividing the number of days or clock-hours in a payment period or period of enrollment, as applicable, completed by a student before he or she withdrew by the total length of the payment period or period of enrollment in days or clock hours.
  • Percent of Scheduled Award Used by Award Year (in Pell)

    The percent of his or her Pell eligibility a student has used in an award year. The percentage is calculated by summing all of the accepted disbursement records for a student within an award year across all schools and dividing that amount by the Scheduled Federal Pell Grant Award for the student for the award year.
  • Performance Goal

    A target level of performance expressed as a tangible, measurable objective, against which actual achievement can be compared, including a goal expressed as a quantitative standard, value, or rate. In some instances (e.g., discretionary research awards), this may be limited to the requirement to submit technical performance reports (to be evaluated in accordance with agency policy).
  • Performance Period

    One of the award periods in G5. The period between the FSA program award begin date and the FSA program end date. During this period, schools can draw down cash. Once the performance period ends, the closeout process begins. During the performance period:
    • schools may request payments;

    • schools may modify payment requests;

    • schools may adjust drawdowns; and

    • changes may be made to the Federal Student Aid (FSA) program's grant awards authorizations.

  • Performance Testing

    Process of testing the degree to which a system or a component accomplishes its designated functions within given constraints in regards to processing time and data transfer rates.
  • Period of Enrollment

    The period for which a federal education loan is intended. The period of enrollment must coincide with a period established by the school for which institutional charges are generally assessed (e.g., semester, trimester, quarter, length of the student's program or academic year). The period of enrollment is also referred to as the loan period.
  • Period of Performance

    The time during which the non-Federal entity may incur new obligations to carry out the work authorized under the Federal award. The Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity must include start and end dates of the period of performance in the Federal award.
  • Perkins Loan Selection Criteria

    In awarding Perkins Loans a school must give priority to those students with exceptional financial need (as defined by the school). A school's Perkins selection procedures must be in writing, uniformly applied, and kept on file at the school.
  • Perkins Promissory Note

    The legally binding document that is evidence of a borrower's indebtedness to a school.
  • Personal Property

    Property other than real property. It may be tangible, having physical existence, or intangible.
  • Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

    PII means information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, either alone or when combined with other personal or identifying information that is linked or linkable to a specific individual. Some information that is considered to be PII is available in public sources such as telephone books, public Web sites, and university listings. This type of information is considered to be Public PII and includes, for example, first and last name, address, work telephone number, email address, home telephone number, and general educational credentials.

    The definition of PII is not anchored to any single category of information or technology. Rather, it requires a case-by-case assessment of the specific risk that an individual can be identified. Non-PII can become PII whenever additional information is made publicly available, in any medium and from any source, that, when combined with other available information, could be used to identify an individual.

  • P-Note

    Promissory Note (also PN)
  • PII

    Personally Identifiable Information
  • PIN

    Personal Identification Number
  • PJ

    Professional Judgment
  • PL

    Public Law
  • Plain Language Disclosure (PLD)

    Document that summarizes the information contained in the Borrower's Rights and Responsibilities Statement. A PLD is provided to students (and parents borrowing on behalf of students) who attend schools that use the multiyear feature of the MPN. Since borrowers at these schools don't sign a new promissory note for each loan, a PLD is forwarded with each disclosure statement to remind Direct Loan borrowers of their rights and responsibilities.
  • PLD

    Plain Language Disclosure
  • POP

    Potential Overaward
  • Positive Assurance

    A statement as to what the CPA believes. An example is an opinion that the financial statements are presented fairly in conformity with U.S. GAAP. The opposite is negative assurance.
  • Post-Baccalaureate or Equivalent Medical Program

    A program offered by a foreign graduate medical school that requires, as a condition of admission, that its students have already completed their non-medical undergraduate studies and that consists solely of courses and training leading to employment as a doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathic medicine.
  • Post-Baccalaureate Program (in the TEACH Program)

    A program of instruction for individuals who have completed a baccalaureate degree, that
    • does not lead to a graduate degree;

    • consists of courses required by a state in order for a student to receive a professional certification or licensing credential that is required for employment as a teacher in an elementary school or secondary school in that state, except that it does not include any program of instruction offered by a TEACH Grant-eligible institution that offers a baccalaureate degree in education; and

    • is treated as an undergraduate program of study for the purposes of federal student aid.

  • Post-Deferment Grace Period

    That period of six consecutive months which immediately follows the end of certain periods of deferment and precedes the date on which the borrower is required to resume repayment on a loan.
  • PRHP

    Post-retirement Health Plans
  • Postsecondary Education Participants System (PEPS)

    Department system that maintains eligibility, certification, demographic, program review, financial and audit review and default rate data about institutions and lenders and guarantors participating in the Title IV programs.
  • Post-Withdrawal Disbursement

    For Return of Title IV Funds purposes, the amount of federal student aid funds a student is eligible to receive after withdrawing. It is equal to the amount by which the federal student aid earned by a student exceeds the total federal student aid disbursed to the student.
  • Posting

    Recording an entry in an account in the general ledger or in a subsidiary ledger.
  • Postsecondary Vocational Institution

    One of three types of institutions eligible for participation in the Federal Student Aid programs. The others are an institution of higher education, and a proprietary institution of higher education. For a more information see 34 CFR 600.6.
  • Potential Overaward Process (POP)

    Communication through which COD warns schools that have reported Pell Grant or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant disbursements to a student if COD calculates that (a) the reported Pell or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants disbursements for a student in an award year exceed 100 percent of the student's full scheduled award, or (b) a student might be receiving a Pell disbursements at two schools for the same period of time.
  • Poverty Guideline

    The income categorized by state and family size in the poverty guidelines published annually by the United States Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 9902(2).
  • PPA

    Program Participation Agreement
  • PRCN

    Program Review Control Number
  • Preaccredited

    A status that a nationally recognized accrediting agency, recognized by the Department to grant that status, has accorded an unaccredited public or private nonprofit institution that is progressing toward accreditation within a reasonable period of time.
  • Pre-Collection Activities

    In the Perkins Program, a series of contacts a school must make during a student's grace period that increase the likelihood that a student will begin satisfactory repayment on his or her Federal Perkins Loan.
  • Predispute arbitration agreement

    Any agreement, regardless of its form or structure, between a school or a party acting on behalf of a school and a student that provides for arbitration of any future dispute between the parties.
  • Preferred Lender Arrangement

    An arrangement or agreement between a lender and a covered institution or an institution-affiliated organization of such covered institution under which a lender provides or otherwise issues education loans to the students attending such covered institution or the families of such students; and that relates to such covered institution or such institution-affiliated organization recommending, promoting, or endorsing the education loan products of the lender.
  • Prepaid Tuition Plan

    A savings vehicle that allows families to set aside funds for college expenses. Prepaid tuition plan funds are not considered Estimated Financial Assistance (EFA) in the packaging process, but such funds are considered an asset of the owner of the account, unless the owner of the account is a dependent student.
  • Preparatory Coursework

    Coursework required in order to be eligible for enrollment in an eligible program. Students may be eligible for Direct Loans for one consecutive 12 month period based on enrollment in coursework the school has documented is necessary for the student to enroll in a Title IV-eligible program.
  • Prepayment

    A loan payment made before it is due under the terms of the applicable promissory note.
  • Preschool-Age Child

    A preschool-age child is a child from infancy to the age at which his or her state provides elementary education.
  • Preventive Controls

    Preventive controls deter risks from being realized. Examples of preventive controls are documentation, approvals, authorizations, access controls, and file security.
  • Primary Accrediting Agency

    An agency that has the authority to accredit all of a postsecondary institution's programs. A school must have only one primary accreditor. (See also, Programmatic Accrediting Agency.)
  • Primary Confirmation

    A process by which the Department, by means of a matching program conducted with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), compares the information contained in a Application for Federal Student Aid or a multiple data entry application regarding the immigration status of a noncitizen applicant for federal student aid with records of that status maintained by the DHS in its Alien Status Verification Index (ASVI) system for the purpose of determining whether a student's immigration status meets the requirements of 34 CFR 668.33(a)(2) and reports the results of this comparison on an output document.
  • Primary Reserve Ratio

    A measure of a school's viability and liquidity, used when calculating the composite score. The primary reserve ratio is expressed as a fraction with the adjusted equity as the numerator and the total expenses as the denominator.
  • Prime Rate

    The interest rate lending institutions charge their most credit-worthy customers — also called also the prime interest rate. Interest rates on some Direct Loans are set in relation to the prime rate.
  • Principal

    The loan amount borrowed plus any capitalized interest.
  • Principal Balance

    The principal that remains unpaid on a loan.
  • Prior-prior year

    Two years before the first year in the award year and the year before what used to be the base year; e.g., for the 2017– 2018 award year, 2015 is the prior-prior year, and that is the tax year used for filling out the FAFSA.
  • Prior-Year Charges

    Institutional charges for tuition and fees, room, or board (and with permission, educationally related charges) incurred prior to the current award year. In general, FSA funds may only be used to pay for the student's costs for the period for which the funds are provided. However, with a student's authorization, a school may use current-year funds to satisfy prior award year for a total of not more than $200.
  • Prior-Year Recoveries

    Funds a school collects in a given award year from money disbursed in prior award years. Schools must adjust award expenditures and administrative cost allowances (ACAs) in an award years in which recoveries are made.
  • Private Education Loan

    A loan provided by a private educational lender that is not a federal student aid loan and that is issued expressly for postsecondary education expenses to a borrower, regardless of whether the loan is provided through the educational institution that the student attends or directly to the borrower from the private educational lender.
  • Proceeds

    The amount received from a loan or realized from a financial transaction.
  • Professional Counselor

    A person whose official responsibilities include providing mental health counseling to members of the institution's community and who is functioning within the scope of his or her license or certification.
  • Professional Degree

    A degree that signifies both completion of the academic requirements for beginning practice in a given profession and a level of professional skill beyond that normally required for a bachelor's degree. Professional licensure is also generally required. Examples of a professional degree include but are not limited to Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), Dentistry (D.D.S. or D.M.D.), Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.), Chiropractic (D.C. or D.C.M.), Law (L.L.B. or J.D.), Medicine (M.D.), Optometry (O.D.), Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.), Podiatry (D.P.M., D.P., or Pod.D.), and Theology (M.Div., or M.H.L.).
  • Program Income

    Gross income earned by the non-Federal entity that is directly generated by a supported activity or earned as a result of the Federal award during the period of performance except as provided in §200.307 paragraph (f). (See §200.77 Period of performance.) Program income includes but is not limited to income from fees for services performed, the use or rental or real or personal property acquired under Federal awards, the sale of commodities or items fabricated under a Federal award, license fees and royalties on patents and copyrights, and principal and interest on loans made with Federal award funds. Interest earned on advances of Federal funds is not program income. Except as otherwise provided in Federal statutes, regulations, or the terms and conditions of the Federal award, program income does not include rebates, credits, discounts, and interest earned on any of them.
  • Program Offered in Modules

    A program in a payment period or period of enrollment, in which one or more courses in the program do not span the entire length of the payment period or period of enrollment.
  • Program Participation Agreement (PPA)

    The agreement between the Department of Education and a school that affirms the school has been approved to participate in the federal student aid programs. A program participation agreement conditions the initial and continued participation of an eligible institution in any federal student aid program on compliance with the all applicable regulations, and any additional conditions specified in the program participation agreement that the Department requires the institution to meet. An institution's program participation agreement applies to each branch campus and other location of the institution that meets the applicable requirements of this part unless otherwise specified by the Department.
  • Program Records

    A school's application for federal student aid funds and other records that document
    • a school's eligibility to participate in the federal student aid programs;

    • the eligibility of a school's educationalprograms for federal student aid program funds;

    • the school's administration of the federal student aid programs in accordance with all applicable requirements;

    • the school's financial responsibility;

    • all information included in any application for federal student aid program funds made by the school; and

    • the school's disbursement and delivery of federal student aid program funds.

  • Program Review

    A routine investigation by the Department of schools to ensure that they are properly administering the Title IV programs. Program reviewers will, among other actions, analyze school records, identify weaknesses, and set forth corrective measures.
  • Programmatic Accrediting Agency

    An agency that accredits only individual educational programs that prepare students for entry into a profession, occupation, or vocation. A school may be accredited by one or more programmatic accrediting agencies. Cf. primary accrediting agency.
  • Promissory Note

    A legally binding contract between a lender and a borrower that contains the terms and conditions of the loan, including how the loan is to be repaid. It becomes legally binding when signed (executed) by the borrower. Most federal education loans are made under a Master Promissory Note (MPN).
  • Proof of Cash

    A reconciliation of the general ledger cash balance at both the beginning and end of a period, combined with a reconciliation of cash deposited for the period with the cash receipts journal, and a reconciliation of checks for the period with the cash disbursements journal.
  • Property

    Real property or personal property
  • Proprietary Institution of Higher Education

    One of three types of institutions eligible for participation in the Federal Student Aid programs. The others are an institution of higher education, and a postsecondary vocational institution. For a more information see 34 CFR 600.5.
  • Proration

    Assigning institutional charges or Title IV assistance to a specific time period. For example: Title IV assistance can be prorated to the period for which it is received or the period for which it was intended; institutional charges can be prorated to the period in which they are incurred or the amount retained by the school for a period.
  • Prospective Employee

    An individual who has contacted an eligible institution for the purpose of requesting information concerning employment with that institution.
  • Prospective Student

    An individual who has contacted an eligible institution requesting information concerning admission to that institution.
  • Provisional Certification

    The status that the Department may permit a proprietary or private nonprofit school to participate under for up to three years. The Department may permit a school to participate under provisional certification if the school is not financially responsible because it does not satisfy the general standards, has an unacceptable audit opinion or has a past performance problem that has been resolved. In such cases the school will need to
    • submit to the Department a letter of credit, payable and acceptable to the Department, for a percentage (10%–100%) of the FSA program funds received by the school during its most recent fiscal year and

    • demonstrate that it has met all of its financial obligations and was current on its debt payments for its two most recent fiscal years.

  • PRR

    Program Review Report
  • PTE

    Pass-through Entity
  • Public Interest Work

    Work performed for the welfare of the nation or a community rather than work performed for a particular interest or group.
  • Public Property

    All public property, including thoroughfares, streets, sidewalks, and parking facilities, that is within the campus, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus.
  • Published Length of a Program

    The length of an individual academic program in weeks of instructional time and credits or clock hours as described in a school's literature, and accreditation documents and agreements with the Department.
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