Skip to main content

This page is designed to help clarify the terms that are used most often in financial aid and student accounts. You may hear employees mentioning these terms, or you may see them in writing through letter and email correspondences. Hopefully this page will be a useful tool in helping you manage your financial aid.

Please feel free to contact us about any of the information listed below. Phone: 412-392-3930 or Email:

Academic Year: The period of time generally extending from late August to the beginning of May; at Point Park University this is equated to two semesters.

A/R (Accounts Receivable) Refund Check: A check mailed to the student or parent as a result of a credit balance on a student account. Credit balances are normally the result of excess financial aid, including student loan disbursements or an overpayment made on a student account.

Authorized Payer: A person(s) who is authorized by a Point Park student to view online student account information and make payments via PointWeb. Authorized Payers must be set up by the student through PointWeb. Parents and other third parties making payments cannot set themselves up as Authorized Payers.

Award Letter: An official document issued by a school's financial aid office that lists all of the financial aid awarded to the student. This letter provides details on their analysis of your financial need and the breakdown of your financial aid package according to amount, source and type of aid.

Board Charges: Charges assessed to students each academic semester for meals.

Books and Supplies: A budgeting term that represents the average cost of books and supplies for a typical student for an entire academic year. Does not include unusual costs for special groups of students (e.g. engineering or art majors).

Bookstore Charge: A charge that appears on a student account when a student purchases books and supplies at the Point Park University Bookstore using financial aid in excess of tuition, fee and room and board charges. Students who have credit balances on their accounts generated by excess financial aid can go directly to the bookstore to charge books and supplies during certain dates each semester. For more information and specific dates, visit the Student Accounts web page through this link: Bookstore Charges

Buckley Amendment: A release of information request used to grant permission to the Student Financial Services Office to discuss student account and financial aid details with parents or other individuals. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulates access to student records. This form can be found on the Student Accounts web page through this link: Buckley Amendment

Business Hold: A business hold is placed on a student account that is delinquent. A business hold prohibits students from registering for future semesters, from receiving official transcripts and/or receiving diplomas.

Cost of Attendance (COA) Budget: The total amount it should cost the student to go to school, including tuition and fees, room and board, allowances for books and supplies, transportation, loan fees, and personal and incidental expenses. Schools establish different standard budget amounts for students living on-campus, off-campus, and commuter students at different enrollment levels (full-time, part-time, etc).

Degree/Certificate Seeking Students: Students enrolled in courses for credit and recognized by the institution as seeking a degree, certificate, or other formal award. High school students also enrolled in postsecondary courses for credit are not considered degree/certificate seeking.

Direct Loans: The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program is the current federal loan program. To learn more about this program please visit our Direct Loan Information web page.

Disbursement: Disbursement is the release of loan funds to the school for delivery to the borrower. Funds are first credited to the student's account for payment of tuition, fees, room and board and other school charges. Any excess funds are then refunded to the student by check by the Office of Student Accounts. Point Park University will mail your refund; you cannot receive your refund in person.

Employer Reimbursed Tuition Agreement (Corporate Reimbursement): Employer reimbursement is often referred to as corporate reimbursement. This agreement permits eligible students to defer payment of the employer/corporate reimbursed portion of tuition charges for approximately six months past the tuition due date. This agreement must be completed every semester and submitted with a letter from the student's employer. A nonrefundable processing fee is charged each semester and must also be submitted with the agreement. For more information visit the Student Accounts web page through this link:
Employer Reimbursed Tuition Agreement

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount of money that the family is expected to be able to contribute to the student's education, as determined by the Federal Methodology need analysis formula used on the FAFSA. The EFC includes the parent contribution and the student contribution, and depends on the student's dependency status, family size, number of family members in school, taxable and nontaxable income and assets. If you have unusual financial circumstances (such as high medical expenses, loss of employment or death of a parent) that may affect your ability to pay for your education, talk with your financial aid counselor.

Federal Work-Study (FWS): Program providing undergraduate and graduate students with part-time employment during the school year. Eligibility for FWS is based on need. A student must complete a FAFSA to be considered.

Financial Aid: Grants, loans, assistantships, scholarships, fellowships, tuition waivers, tuition discounts, veteran's benefits, employer aid (tuition reimbursement), and other monies (other than from relatives/friends) provided to students to meet expenses. This includes federal Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans made directly to students.

Financial Need: The difference between the Cost of Attendance (COA) and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the student's financial need, and is used in determining the student's eligibility for need-based financial aid.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): Form used to apply for Pell Grants and all other need-based aid. As the name suggests, no fee is charged to file a FAFSA. The Web site for FAFSA is

Half-Time Enrollment: Most financial aid programs require that the student be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for aid. Point Park University defines half-time as 6 credits per semester.

Late Fee: A monthly fee is assessed to all delinquent student accounts.

Off-Campus Housing: Any housing facility that is occupied by students but is not owned or controlled by the educational institution. Students living with a parent(s) or relative(s) are commuter students, which is a separate designation, and should note their housing status as "With Parent" on the FAFSA.

On-Campus Housing: Any residence halls owned or controlled by an institution within the same reasonably contiguous geographic area and used by the institution in direct support of, or in a manner related to, the institution's educational purposes.

Other Expenses: The amount of money (estimated by the financial aid office) needed by a student to cover expenses such as laundry, transportation, and entertainment.

Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA): This non-profit agency is responsible for administering the Pennsylvania State Grant as well as several other special programs. PHEAA is the sister company of American Education Services (AES), a loan servicing company. PHEAA's Web site is They can also be reached at 1-800-233-0557.

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership Discount (PDP): A tuition discount granted to students who are employees of companies belonging to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Students should check with their Human Resources Office regarding special discounts available to Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership companies. Students must submit a letter from their employer each semester.

Private Student Loans: Education loan programs established by private lenders to supplement the student and parent education loan programs available from federal and state governments. These loans are subject to credit checks by the lender. Many students require the assistance of a co-signer in order to be approved for these loans (also referred to as Alternative Student Loans). Click here to find more information about private student loans.

Required Fees: A fixed sum charged to students for items not covered by tuition. This includes university fees, activity fees and any specialized instructional fees required by academic departments.

Room Charges: Charges assessed to students each academic semester for University supported housing.

Scholarships: Grants-in-aid, trainee stipends, tuition and fee waivers, prizes, or other monetary awards given to undergraduate students.

Semester: A calendar system that consists of two sessions called semesters during the academic year with about 15 weeks for each semester of instruction. There may be an additional summer session.

Student Account: An account created for every Point Park student used to manage billing and payment of tuition and fees. Financial aid, including scholarships, grants and loans are credited to this account. Federal Work-study and Apprenticeships are not credited to the student account. Instead, eligible students are paid directly for hours worked. Students have access to their student accounts via PointWeb.

Student Account Financial Clearance: Financial clearance is granted when a student account is paid in full by the semester tuition due date through financial aid awards, payments, or a tuition payment plan. Financial clearance is needed each semester. A student cannot receive a current semester sticker on his/her ID card without having student account clearance. A current semester sticker is needed for students to have access to all Point Park University buildings and facilities.

Third Party Billing: Third-party payments include such things as Office of Vocational Rehabilitation students (OVR), Veterans Administration students (VA) and direct billings to companies across the country that provide tuition benefits to their employees.

Tuition: The amount of money charged to students for instructional services. Generally, full-time undergraduate students are charged per semester. Graduate students are charged per credit. Exceptions for specialized programs may exist.

Tuition Promissory Note (Payment Plan): An agreement that allows students to divide current semester tuition, fee and room and board charges into equal monthly payments over the course of each semester or year. This agreement must be completed every semester. A nonrefundable application fee is charged for participation in the payment plan and must be submitted with the agreement. For more information on payment plans, please visit the Student Accounts web page through this link: Payment Plans

Verification: Verification is a review process in which the Office of Financial determines the accuracy of the information provided on the student's financial aid application. The federal government randomly selects 30% of all applicants to have their FAFSA verified.

During the verification process the student and parent will be required to submit documentation for the amounts listed (or not listed) on the financial aid application. Common documentation may include the Verification Worksheet and IRS Tax Transcripts.

If there is an asterisk next to the EFC figure on your Student Aid Report (SAR), your SAR has been selected for verification.

If any discrepancies are uncovered during verification, the financial aid office may require additional information to clear up the discrepancies. Such discrepancies may cause your final financial aid package to be different from the initial package described on the award letter you received from the school. If you refuse to submit the required documentation, your financial aid package will be canceled and no aid awarded.