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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.


  • SAIG

    Student Aid Internet Gateway (successor to Title IV Wide Area Network [TIV WAN])
  • SAM

    System for Award Management (federal procurement systems)
  • SAP

    Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • SAR

    See Student Aid Report
  • SAR Acknowledgement

    An output document similar to the SAR but which has fewer and less detailed comments and can't be used for corrections as the SAR can. Students receive one when they apply electronically and don't provide an e-mail address.
  • SAS

    Direct Loan School Account Statement (also, AICPA Statements on Auditing Standards)
  • Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

    A required measurement of a student's academic progress towards their academic goal. Progress must be measured by both grade-based (qualitative) and time/pace of completion (quantitative) standards. For programs lasting one year or less, SAP must be assessed at the end of each payment period. For programs lasting more than one year, SAP must be assessed annually (corresponding with the end of a payment period). SAP must be measured cumulatively.
  • Satisfactory Repayment Arrangement

    For purposes of regaining eligibility for federal student aid funds, the agreement of an individual or borrower to make a predetermined number of on-time, voluntary monthly payments on a defaulted loan, or an overpayment of federal student aid. For the purpose of consolidating a defaulted loan, the making of three consecutive, voluntary, on-time, full monthly payments on a defaulted loan. The required monthly payment amount may not be more than is reasonable and affordable based on the borrower's total financial circumstances. A borrower may only obtain the benefit of this paragraph with respect to renewed eligibility once.
  • SAY

    Scheduled Academic Year
  • Scheduled Academic Year (SAY)

    A traditional academic year calendar as published in a school's catalogue or other materials. An SAY is a fixed period of time that begins and ends at a fixed time and is used to measure annual loan limit progression.
  • Scheduled Award (in the TEACH Program)

    The maximum amount of a TEACH Grant that a full-time student could receive for a year.
  • Scheduled Break

    An interruption in training that appears on a school's published calendar. In the Return of Title IV Aid, institutionally scheduled breaks of five or more consecutive days are excluded from the Return calculation as periods of nonattendance and therefore do not affect the calculation of the amount of earned FSA program funds.
  • Scheduled Federal Pell Grant Award (Scheduled Award)

    The amount of a Federal Pell Grant which would be paid to a full-time student for a full academic year.
  • School Closeout

    The process of identifying and submitting any outstanding records for an award year and returning any money for which there are no records to substantiate its use.
  • School Participation Teams

    Department of Education personnel in the regions and in Washington, DC, who are assigned a portfolio of schools. Each team is responsible for oversight functions for the schools in its portfolio. These functions include audit resolution, program reviews, financial statement analysis, initial eligibility and recertification, and method of payment.
  • School Serving Low-Income Students (low-income school) (in the TEACH Program)

    An elementary or secondary school that
    • is in the school district of an local education agency (LEA) that is eligible for assistance pursuant to title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA);

    • has been determined by the Department to be a school in which more than 30 percent of the school's total enrollment is made up of children who qualify for services provided under title I of the ESEA; and

    • is listed in the Department's Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits. The Department considers all elementary and secondary schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) in the Department of the Interior or operated on Indian reservations by Indian tribal groups under contract or grant with the BIE to qualify as schools serving low-income students.

  • School Transfer Profile

    The information a school provides to the NSLDS pertaining to its participation in the Transfer Student Monitoring Process. The profile designates the school's contact, email address where Alert Notification Messages should be sent, and Inform and Alert options.
  • Secondary Confirmation

    A type of citizenship match test done by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when primary confirmation does not satisfactorily resolve a student's status. If a student's eligible noncitizen status is not confirmed in DHS's automated Primary match, the student's record is held at DHS for up to three days to check other DHS databases for a match.
  • Secondary School

    A school that provides secondary education, as determined by (a) state law; or
    (b) the Department, if the school is not in a state. However, state laws notwithstanding, secondary education does not include any education beyond grade 12.
  • Section 529 Plans

    Qualified tuition programs that offer tax benefits and enable individuals to save money for a student's college education. They are covered in section 529 of the IRS tax code, hence the name.
  • Segregation or Separation of Duties or Function

    The requirement that schools must separate the functions of authorizing payment and disbursing or delivering funds so that no single person or office exercises both functions for any student receiving FSA funds.Separation of function is a preventive control.
  • Selective Service

    A federal agency system that collects the names of male U.S. citizens and male immigrant non-citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 on a list for potential conscription into the U.S. military. Males in this age group must register with Selective Service to receive Title IV aid. The CPS performs a match with the Selective Service System to determine if students are registered.
  • Selective Service Match Flag

    The result on a SAR/ISIR of the Selective Service (SS) match, which determines whether relevant applicants are registered with the SS.
  • SE9W

    A credit-hour program that has nonstandard terms which all terms are substantially equal in length, and each term is at least 9 weeks in length.
  • SEOG

    See FSEOG
  • SEOG First Selection Group

    Students with the lowest expected family contributions (EFC) who will also receive Pell Grants in an award year at a school. A school must make SEOG awards to all students in its first selection group before awarding SEOG funds to students in its second selection group.
  • SEOG Second Selection Group

    Students with the lowest EFCs who are not receiving Pell Grants. If a school has SEOG funds remaining after making awards to all its Pell Grant recipients for the award year, it may make SEOG awards to students in the second selection group.
  • Sequestration

    An automatic spending reduction that takes place when the appropriation bills passed by Congress to provide for total government spending exceed the limits set by Congress.

    Under sequestration, an amount of money equal to the difference between the cap set in the Budget Resolution and the amount actually appropriated is "sequestered" by the Treasury and not handed over to the agencies to which it was originally appropriated by Congress.
  • SFA

    Student Financial Aid
  • Show-Cause Official

    The designated Department official authorized to conduct a show-cause proceeding for an emergency action under 34 CFR 668.83.
  • SID

    Student Identifier in COD
  • Significant Risk

    An identified and assessed risk of material misstatement that, in the auditor’s judgment, requires special audit consideration.
  • Simplified Acquisition Threshold

    The dollar amount below which a non-Federal entity may purchase property or services using small purchase methods. The simplified acquisition threshold is set by the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
  • Simplified EFC Formulas

    A variation of the regular EFC formulas that does not use assets in calculating the EFC. The simplified formulas are used when an independent student or a dependent student's parents have income below a specific threshold (< $50,000) and meet one of a group of other criteria, such as not needing to file a Form 1040 U.S. tax return. See Automatic Zero EFC. For a detailed explanation of Simplified EFC Formulas and Tests see the Higher Education Act, as amended, Part F, Section 479.
  • Simplified Needs Test (SNT)

    Synonymous for Simplified EFC Formulas.
  • Significant Risk

    An identified and assessed risk of material misstatement that, in the auditor's judgment, requires special audit consideration.
  • Single Year (SY) Feature

    The option that allows schools or borrowers not to use the Multi-Year Feature of the Master Promissory Note. If a school or borrower chooses to use this feature, a new promissory note must be signed each academic year.
  • SME

    Subject Matter Expert
  • SNAP

    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • SNT

    Simplified Needs Test
  • SOA

    Statement of Account
  • Social Security Number (SSN)

    A nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents. Applicants submitting a FAFSA must have a valid Social Security Number. SSNs are matched with the Social Security Administration. Students from the Freely Associated States do not usually have SSNs, but may receive some forms of aid. See Freely Associated States for more information.
  • SOO

    Statement of Objectives
  • SOW

    Statement of Work
  • SPD

    School Participation Division
  • Special Combat Pay

    Pay received by a member of the Armed Forces because of exposure to a hazardous situation.
  • Special Journals

    Journals other than the general journal. Special or specialized journals include the cash receipts journal, the cash disbursements journal, the purchases journal, and the sales journal.
  • Special Purpose Equipment

    Equipment that is used only for research, medical, scientific, or other technical activities.
  • Specified year

    The calendar year preceding the first calendar year of an award year, i.e., the base year; or the year preceding the base year.
  • Speech Language Pathologist with a Master's Degree

    An individual who evaluates or treats disorders that affect a person's speech, language, cognition, voice, swallowing and the rehabilitative or corrective treatment of physical or cognitive deficits or disorders resulting in difficulty with communication, swallowing, or both and has obtained a postgraduate academic degree awarded after the completion of an academic program of up to six years in duration, excluding a doctorate or professional degree.
  • SPOC

    Single Point of Contact
  • SSA

    Social Security Administration
  • SSA Citizenship Code

    Code on SAR indicating the results of the citizenship match with Social Security Administration (SSA). The data for this field comes from the SSA Citizenship Flag field in the ISIR record layout.
  • SSAE

    AICPA Statements on Standards for Audit Attestation Engagements
  • SSI

    Supplemental Security Income
  • SSN

    Social Security number
  • SSN Match

    A CPS data match performed to confirm a student's identity and citizenship status, as part of the process of establishing student eligibility. See Social Security Number.
  • SSN/Name/Date of Birth Change Report

    A report sent to all schools, separately for each program, whose students in the Pell Grant, Direct Loan, and TEACH Grant programs have had changes to their identifiers (SSN, name, or date of birth).
  • SSS

    Student Support Services (A Title IV TRIO program), also Selective Service System
  • Stalking

    Conduct directed at someone that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.
  • Standard of Conduct

    In managing Title IV funds, a school must exercise the level of care and diligence required of a fiduciary.
  • Standard Term

    An academic or payment period that is generally 15 to 17 weeks long. Semester-based academic calendars traditionally have two terms, in the fall and spring, and trimester-based academic calendars traditionally have three terms, in the fall, spring, and summer.
  • State

    A State of the Union, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau. The latter three are also known as the Freely Associated States. An institution is physically located in a state if it has a campus or other instructional site in that state.
  • State Education Agency

    The State board of education; or an agency or official designated by the Governor or by State law as being primarily responsible for the State supervision of public elementary and secondary schools.
  • Statement of Financial Position

    One of the main financial statements of a nonprofit organization. This financial statement reports the amounts of assets, liabilities, and net assets as of a specified date. This financial statement is similar to the balance sheet issued by a company.
  • Statutory Interest Rate

    The maximum annual interest rate (under the Higher Education Act) that may be charged on a FSA loan.
  • STEM

    Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
  • Stored Value Card

    A prepaid debit card that can be used to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine (ATM) or to purchase goods from a merchant. A school may use stored-value cards as a way to make direct payments to students of FSA credit balances. We distinguish a stored-value card from a traditional debit card by defining a stored-value card as not being linked to a checking or savings account.
  • Student Aid Application

    An application approved by the Department and submitted by a person to have his or her EFC determined under the Federal Pell Grant, ACG, National SMART Grant, Federal Perkins Loan, FWS, FSEOG, Federal Stafford Loan, or William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan programs. See Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
  • Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG)

    The internet-based tool that allows Federal Student Aid trading partners to securely exchange batch data with Federal Student Aid Application Systems. Through SAIG, organizations are eligible to enroll to exchange and access data with:
    • CPS (ISIR batch data, FAA Access to CPS Online services)

    • COD (Exchange Direct Loan, Pell, Iraq Afghanistan Service Grant, TEACH Grant batch data, COD Online services)

    • FISAP (eCampus-based access)

    • NSLDS (Enrollment Rosters, Electronic Cohort Default Rate (eCDR), NSLDS Online services)

    • FMS (Lender Reporting System/Guaranty Agency Financial Reports)

    • CSB (Direct Loan Delinquency Reports, Borrower Services)

  • Student Aid Report (SAR)

    A report provided to an applicant by the Department showing the applicant's FAFSA information and the amount of his or her EFC. SARs are the paper or electronic (eSAR) output documents that are sent to students or printed from the FAFSA on the Web and FAA Access to CPS Online Web sites. SARs and ISIRs contain the same processed student information in different formats.
  • Student Ledger Account

    A bookkeeping account maintained by a school to record the financial transactions pertaining to a student's enrollment at the school.
  • Student Loan Interest Statement (1098-E)

    Documentation of interest paid on a federal education loan provided by a financial institution, loan servicer, or school to the borrower.
  • Student Services

    Services that are offered to students that may include, but are not limited to, financial aid, library, peer guidance counseling, job placement, assisting an instructor with curriculum-related activities, security, and social, health, and tutorial services. Student services do not have to be direct or involve personal interaction with students. For purposes of this definition, facility maintenance, cleaning, purchasing, and public relations are never considered student services.
  • Student with an Intellectual Disability

    A student with mental retardation or a cognitive impairment characterized by significant limitations in
    • intellectual and cognitive functioning; and

    • adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills.

    A student who is currently, or was formerly, eligible for special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. 1401), including a student who was determined eligible for special education or related services under the IDEA but was home-schooled or attended private school.

  • Study Abroad Program

    A program in which a student enrolled in a U.S. school takes classes at a foreign one. A participating institution may establish study-abroad programs for which students may receive FSA funds. A study-abroad program is eligible if the home school awards academic credit for it and students in it remain concurrently enrolled at their home school.
  • Subsidiary Accounts

    Accounts outside of the general ledger which provide the detail for the balance reported in a general ledger account. (The account in the general ledger is known as the control account.) The total of the subsidiary accounts or records must agree to the balance in the general ledger control account.
  • Subsidiary Ledger

    Record of the details to support a general ledger account. The general ledger account is often referred to as the control account. For example, the accounts receivable subsidiary ledger provides the details to support the balance in the general ledger control account Accounts Receivable.
  • Subsidized Usage Period (Direct Loan)

    Except as provided for in Remaining Eligibility Period, a period of time measured in academic years and rounded down to the nearest quarter of a year calculated as: {Number of days in the borrower's loan periodfor a Direct Subsidized Loan divided by number of days in the academic year for which the borrower receives the Direct Subsidized Loan}
  • Substantial Gainful Activity

    A level of work performed for pay or profit that involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. A student must have a certification from a physician that they are unable to perform such to be classified as totally and permanently disabled for Title IV purposes. See Total and Permanent Disability, and Total And Permanent Disability Discharge.
  • Substantially Equal in Length

    Academic or payment periods are substantially equal in length if no period in the program is more than two weeks of instructional time longer than any other period in that program.
  • Substantial Misrepresentation

    Any misrepresentation on which the person to whom it was made could reasonably be expected to rely, or has reasonably relied, to that person's detriment.
  • Substantiate

    The act of accounting for funds already drawn. In the COD Process, institutions can substantiate funds by sending in an Actual Disbursement Record.
  • Successfully Complete

    Earning a passing grade and completing the instructional time associated with the credit or clock hours.
  • SULA

    Subsidized Usage Limit Applies (in the DL Program)
  • Suspension (of participation)

    The removal of a school's or third-party servicer's eligibility to participate in the federal student aid programs, for a specified period of time or until the school or servicer fulfills certain requirements.
  • Supplemental Allocation

    For the Campus-Based Programs, an additional amount of Campus-Based funds from the Department that is reallocated from the amount of unused Campus-Based funds returned from the previous award year by participating schools.
  • Suspension Period

    One of the award periods in G5. The suspension period is one month long and follows liquidation. Once an FSA program has entered the suspension period, no payment actions can take place without the approval of the program office. The Department program offices use this period to prepare for final closeout.
  • SY

    Single-Year feature of Direct Loan promissory notes
  • System for Award Management (SAM)

    A website operated by the General Service Administration's (GSA) Office of the Integrated Award Environment (IAE) that consolidates Central Contractor Registration (CCR), Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA), Federal Agency Registration (FedReg), and Excluded Parties List System (EPLS). An active SAM account is needed in order to submit an application for a federal grant, receive and manage federal funds or to register as a vendor or federal contractor.
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