Award Letter

Each student will receive an award letter either by mail or e-mail that gives a breakdown of their financial aid offer. You will be notified if your financial aid awards have changed via e-mail and may be viewed in  LOUIE at any time. An award letter reprint may be requested through our office. 


The process of evaluating a student’s FAFSA information and determining the types and amounts a student is eligible for, based on financial need, academic level, career type, and enrollment status. 

Cost of Attendance (COA)

A student’s total cost of attending NAU. It includes tuition and fees, room, board, books, transportation, and personal expenses. Students cannot be funded above their COA each year. If students incur certain additional costs during the academic year, they may file a Cost of Attendance Appeal to increase the COA, which may allow for additional aid.

Cost of Attendance Appeal

The Cost of Attendance (COA) is made up of direct and indirect costs related to your education expenses which include tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. If the school-related expenses exceed an item(s) within the COA, a student may submit a COA Appeal. The COA increased are considered on a case-by-case basis. 


Allows students to temporarily postpone payments on student loans. A student loan is considered to be deferment as long as they are enrolled at least half-time. After graduating, the deferment grace period is six months for the subsidized and unsubsidized loan and nine months for a Perkins loan. If a student has a subsidized or Perkins loan, interest will not accrue during the deferment. For unsubsidized loans, students the interest is accruing on the loan during the deferment. 


The process of financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans, etc.) being released pays for your NAU tuition and other university charges. Financial aid disbursements occur Monday through Saturday during each semester, starting on the first official disbursement day. 

Educational Aid Registration Permit (EARP)

Used for reduced tuition at NAU, ASU, UofA for eligible employees, employee’s spouse, and dependent children. Financial Aid processes EARP forms, Student and Departmental Account Services adjusts fees, and Human Resources can give information on eligibility, credit hour limits, fees, etc.

Enrollment Status

A student’s course load affects his/her financial aid. Students can be funded as full time, three-fourths time, or half time. The number of units for each load for financial aid purposes are as follows:

  • Undergraduate is full time with 12+ units, three-fourths time with 9-11 units, and half time with 6-8 units.
  • Graduate students are full time with 9+ units, three-fourths time with 7-8 units, and half time with 5-6 units.
  • Undergraduate students at less than half time (1-5 units) may only receive the Pell Grant. See Too Few Hours.

Entrance Counseling

An interactive online counseling session that must be completed before students can receive a federal student loan. Provides tips for being an educated borrower and managing educational expenses. This is school-specific, so counseling completed at one school does not transfer to another. 

Exit Counseling

An interactive online counseling session that should be completed after a student graduated. Explains the rights and responsibilities as a borrower. 

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

An amount, determined by a need analysis formula from the FAFSA, of how much the student and/or parents can be expected to contribute to the student’s educational expenses. This number is used to determine a student’s eligibility for federal, state, and institutional student aid.

Federal Work Study (FWS)

A campus-based, federally funded employment program for students with financial need, as determined by the FAFSA. Students earn a paycheck every two weeks by working on or off campus in FWS positions. The money does not have to be used to pay university charges. 

Financial Aid Administrator (FAA)

The Financial Aid staff. Anyone hired by an institution to administer federal student aid programs and to coordinate federal aid with state/institutional aid and outside financial resources.


Students who receive aid and earn all F’s in a term must go through a Return of Title IV calculation to determine if they owe any federal or state aid back. See Return of Title IV Funds.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The form that must be completed by students and/or parents in order to receive federal student aid. The FAFSA calculates the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and determines federal student aid eligibility. This free form found at The FAFSA must be completed each year and opens January 1. 

Gift Aid

Aid that does not have to be repaid or earned through work, if the student completes their classes. Generally, this comes in the form of grants or scholarships.

Grace Period

The time before a student must begin or resume repaying a federal student loan, after graduating or falling below half-time enrollment. Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized loans have a 6-month grace period. Federal Perkins loans have a 9-month grace period.


A form of gift aid. Each grant has different requirements and funding levels. NAU offers the following grants: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH), University Grant, and Financial Aid Trust Grant. 


Borrowed money that must be repaid, with interest, according to the terms of the signed master promissory note. Loans cannot be cancelled because a student did not like the education they received, did not get a job in their field of study, or because they have financial difficulty. Loans are legal obligations that must be repaid in the years after graduation.

Master Promissory Note (MPN)

A legal document that requires a student/parent borrowing a federal student loan to repay the funds after a certain amount of time. It may be used for several loans and at different institutions.

Merit Scholarships

Incoming freshmen are automatically considered for tuition scholarships upon their admission to the university.

National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)

The U.S. Department of Education’s central database for Title IV grants and loans. Information comes from schools, guaranty agencies, Direct Loans, and the Department of Education. All Title IV aid awarded is listed on students’ accounts and both students and schools can access this information.

Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)

Available to parents of dependent undergraduate students to assist in paying for educational costs after other financial aid has been awarded. The funds are borrowed directly from the U.S. Department of Education. Parents first file the PLUS Application. If their credit check is approved, they must complete a Master Promissory Note. If denied, the student is then eligible for additional unsubsidized loan money.

Private/Alternative Loan

Students in need of additional funding beyond the federal loans may choose to seek out a private or alternative loan. This is a loan from another lender, such as the student’s bank. Students apply through the lender and the lender submits the necessary paperwork to NAU, which then applies the funds to the student’s account. NAU cannot recommend one lender over another.


Refunds are sent to a student if the total charges owed to the university are less than their financial aid disbursement. Processing time for the refund money to either be direct deposited (approximately 3-5 days) or to receive a paper check by mail (approximately 10-15 days). 


A set period of time when student is required to make payments on the federal student loan(s).

Return of Title IV Funds

When a student withdraws from school without completing the period of enrollment, the school must determine the amount of Title IV funds earned by the student. Unearned federal student aid must be returned. A calculation is done for each student that withdraws or receives all F’s in the term (F-List). The next semester’s aid will not disburse until all owed money is returned to the school.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

If you are receiving federal financial aid or institutional gift aid, you are required to make progress toward your degree or certificate according to the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards set by Northern Arizona University. Your SAP standing is determined by:

  • cumulative GPA (2.0 undergraduate, 3.0 graduate)
  • pace of progress (successfully complete 67% of attempted credit hours)
  • maximum timeframe (complete degree within 150% of the published required units)
  • certificate program- 22 units 
  • bachelor’s degree- 150 units 
  • master’s degree- 45 units 

Self-Help Aid

Financial aid that must be repaid (loans) or is earned through employment (Federal Work Study).

Student Aid Report (SAR)

A document sent to students upon completion of the FAFSA. The SAR summarizes the information submitted on FAFSA. If students provide an e-mail address on the FAFSA they will receive an e-mail instructing them how to access the SAR online. Students who file the FAFSA online but do not provide an e-mail address, or who file a paper FAFSA, will receive a paper SAR in the mail.

Student Wage

Student employment governed only by university policy and standard wage and labor laws. It operates in an identical manner to FWS, except students do not have to demonstrate financial need to be hired. Opportunities for student wage employment can be found on Jobs for Jacks or contacting on-campus departments directly. 

Subsidized Loan

A subsidized loan is in the student's name, is based on financial need, and available to undergraduate students only. Interest does not accrue while in deferment status. The Department of Education pays the interest on this type of loan while you continue at least half-time enrollment. 

Title IV Federal Student Aid

Financial aid programs, administered by the Department of Education, authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). These programs include: Federal Pell Grant, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH Grant), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Work Study (FWS), Federal Perkins Loan Program, William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, and Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program (LEAP). 

Tribal Financial Need Analysis (FNA)

A form completed by the student, the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, and the student's tribe to determine funding. The school provides information on the students' cost of attendance and the federal/state aid they will receive, to determine how much the tribe is able to contribute towards the educational costs.

Unsubsidized Loan

An unsubsidized loan is also in the student's name. The interest on this type of loan begins after disbursement and during deferment. The student is not required to make payments on either the principal or interest while attending school at least half-time. However, there is no early-payment penalty should the student choose to do so. 


The process where the university is required to check the accuracy of information reported by the student and/or parent on the FAFSA. Students are notified that they have been selected for verification. They must complete the items requested in their To Do List in LOUIE, which will consist of the Dependent or Independent Student Verification form and submission of tax returns and/or W-2 forms if applicable.

Winter Aid

To receive financial aid for winter session, students must have enough spring financial aid to cover both the winter session and all of the spring semester. Students submit a Winter Session Intent form to Financial Aid which will be evaluated and approved or denied.