Award Letter

A letter or email sent to a student explaining his/her financial aid offer. You will be notified via email if your financial aid awards have changed. You may view your awards in LOUIE at any time. An award letter reprint may be requested through our office.


The process of evaluating a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) information and determining the types and amounts of financial aid a student is eligible for. Awards are made based on financial need, academic level, career type, and enrollment status. This is also known as "packaging."

Cost of Attendance (COA)

A student’s total cost of attending NAU for one academic year. It includes tuition and fees, room, board (meals), books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. Students cannot be funded above their COA each year. 

Cost of Attendance Appeal

If a school-related expense exceeds that item's allowance in the COA, a student may submit a Cost of Attendance Appeal to request that his COA be increased, which may allow for additional aid. COA increases are considered on a case-by-case basis.


A period of time when student loan payments are not required. A student loan is considered to be deferment as long as the student is enrolled at least half time. After graduating or dropping below half-time enrollment, the deferment grace period is an additional six months for subsidized and unsubsidized loans, and nine months for a Perkins loan. If a student has a subsidized or Perkins loan, interest will not accrue during deferment. For unsubsidized loans, interest accrues deferment.


The process of financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans, etc.) being released to a student's account to pay for tuition and other university charges. Financial aid disbursements occur Monday through Saturday, beginning 10 days before the first day of each semester or summer session.

Educational Aid Registration Permit (EARP)

Used for reduced tuition at NAU, ASU, and UofA for eligible employees, employee’s spouse, and dependent children. 

Enrollment Status

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

Academic career

Full time

Three-quarter time

Half time


12+ credit hours

9-11 credit hours

6-8 credit hours


9+ credit hours

7-8 credit hours

5-6 credit hours

A Pell grant may be awarded to undergraduate students enrolled less than half time.

Entrance Counseling

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

Exit Counseling

An interactive online counseling session that must be completed after a student loan borrower graduates or drops below half-time enrollment. This counseling provides information about repaying a student loan and the rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

An amount, based on information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and a federal need analysis formula, used to estimate a student's and/or families financial strength. This amount is used to calculate the amount of federal, state, and institutional financial aid a student is eligible to receive. The EFC is reported on the Student Aid Report (SAR).

Federal Work Study (FWS)

A federally funded employment program for students with financial need, as determined by information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students earn a paycheck every two weeks by working on or off campus in FWS positions. The money earned does not have to be used to pay university charges.


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. FAFSA processing calculates the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and determines federal student aid eligibility. This free form is found at The FAFSA must be completed each year and opens January 1.

Gift Aid

Financial aid that does not have to be repaid or earned through work, as long as 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. Federal Direct 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. 


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. Several repayment options are available and forgiveness is possible for some service employment categories. See our Loan Repayment and Consolidation page.

Master Promissory Note (MPN)

A legal document that serves as a lending contract for a student or parent borrowing a federal student loan. It documents the student's or parent's promise to repay the funds and the terms and conditions for repayment. A single MPN may be used for several loans and at different institutions.

Merit Scholarships

Tuition scholarships offered to incoming freshmen based on academic achievement. Incoming freshmen are automatically evaluated for these scholarships upon their admission to the university.

National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)

The U.S. Department of Education’s database for Title IV grants and loans. Information comes from schools, loan servicers, and the Department of Education. All Title IV aid awarded is listed on students’ record 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 up to the student's Cost of Attendance. The funds are loaned by the U.S. Department of Education. Parents first submit a PLUS Application, which includes a credit check, at If the credit check is approved, the parent(s) must also complete a Master Promissory Note. If denied, the student is then eligible for additional unsubsidized loan funds.

Private/Alternative Loan

A loan from a private 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 specific lenders.


Refunds are sent to a student if the total charges owed to the university are less than their financial aid disbursement. Processing time for a refund by Direct Deposit is approximately 3-5 days. By paper check via U.S. mail, to the student's refund address in LOUIE, the refund timeline is approximately 10-15 days.


The act of repaying a student or parent loan. This term also refers to the period of time when a student or parent is required to make payments on a loan, e.g., "in repayment."

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)

Standards of performance and progress required to maintain eligibility for federal and institutional financial aid. 

Self-Help Aid

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

Student Aid Report (SAR)

A summary of the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), delivered to the student via email within a few days or by mail within 7-10 business days after the FAFSA is submitted. This report contains the student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is used to determine financial aid eligibility. 

Student Wage

Student employment governed only by university policy and standard wage and labor laws. Students do not have to demonstrate financial need.

Subsidized Loan

A loan, in the student's name, that 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 as long as the student is enrolled at least half time and during the grace period.

Title IV Federal Student Aid

Financial Student Aid programs, administered by the Department of Education, authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). Title IV funds offered at NAU are: 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, Federal Direct Loans – subsidized and unsubsidized, and Parent and Grad PLUS loans.

Tribal Financial Need Analysis (FNA)

A form completed by the student, the NAU Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, and the student's tribe to determine funding eligibility. The school provides information about the student's Cost of Attendance and other financial aid, then the tribe determines how much it is able to contribute toward the student's educational costs.

Unofficial Withdrawal 

Students who stop attending their classes but do not withdraw from them must have their academic record evaluated to determine if the financial aid they received was earned, or if a portion of it must be returned to the source. This evaluation is called a Return of Title IV  calculation.

Unsubsidized Loan

A loan, in the student's name, that is not based on financial need. It is available to both undergraduate and graduate students. Interest begins accruing after disbursement and continues to accrue during the grace period and 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 if the student chooses to do so.


A federally required review process to confirm the accuracy of information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Verification is one component of NAU's efforts to accurately award financial aid to students based on their need and to maintain compliance with federal regulations. If selected for verification, students will be notified after the university receives their FAFSA information.

Winter Aid

Financial aid is not awarded separately for winter session. To use financial aid for a winter session course, a student must have enough spring financial aid to pay spring semester charges as well as winter session charges. A student must submit a Winter Session Intent form to be evaluated for eligibility.


Students who withdraw from all of their classes must have their academic record evaluated to determine if the financial aid they received was earned, or if a portion of it must be returned to the source. This evaluation is called a Return of Title IV calculation.