Jump to other news and events
Purdue signature

A-Z Index            


Financial Aid Definitions


Purdue University has a strong tradition of helping students finance their undergraduate education.  The following definitions should help students/families understand some of the terms used in financial aid programs.

Types of Aid

Scholarships and Grants: Sometimes referred to as “gift aid”, scholarships and grants are financial aid that does not have to be repaid or earned through employment and is awarded on the basis of merit and/or need.

Educational Loans:  Loans are a type of “self-help” aid that is borrowed money to help cover the costs of attending college and must be repaid.  Student loan programs offer low interest rates and are not repaid until after students graduate (or drop below half-time status).  Parent loan programs offer the parents the opportunity to borrow to assist with educational expenses. 

Federal Work-Study (FWS):  FWS is a federal funded aid program designed to help students offset some education costs through part-time employment opportunities.  Student Employment is considered another "self-help" type of financial aid. 


Estimated Cost of Attendance: is used to determine your need for financial aid and to prepare an aid package budget. This includes estimates for fixed costs such as fees and tuition and allowances for variable costs such as books and supplies, housing and food, transportation, dependent care and personal expenses (including expenses that are not billed by the University).

Tuition/Fees: are estimated on the financial aid eligibility notice and are to be paid directly to the University. This Financial Aid Eligibility Notice is not a tuition/fees bill. You will receive a bill for the amount due from the Bursar’s Office after you register for classes. Electronic bills for the fall term are emailed to students in July. The due date is always the first day of classes.

Books/Supplies: an expense allowance for the materials required for class.

Housing/Food: is an expense allowance for food and shelter while living on campus, off campus or commuting from home during the period of enrollment. Expenses for housing and food and how they are paid will vary depending on where you will live only. Charges for University housing are assessed by the University according to the type of housing and meal plan selected and are billed by the Bursar.

Transportation: a personal expense allowance for travel back and forth from permanent place of residence and around campus.

Dependent Care: an expense allowance for students with dependents who may incur dependent care expenses to enable them to attend classes.

Personal Expenses: a personal allowance for miscellaneous expenses such as clothing, laundry, recreation, cell phones and personal hygiene.

Loan Fees: an expense allowance based on fees charged to the loan borrower.

Calculating Aid Eligibility

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): represents the amount you and your parents (if classified as a dependent student), or you (if classified as an independent student) and your spouse (if married) are expected to be able to provide to help meet your expenses for the enrollment period. You will not receive a bill for the EFC. Your EFC was calculated using a federal formula based on information you and your family provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and other documents submitted to our office.

Parental Contribution (PC): represents the parent portion of the EFC for dependent students.

Student Contribution (SC): represents the student portion of the EFC.

Total Financial Aid Eligibility: is the sum of the assistance for which you are eligible.

Total Financial Need: is calculated by subtracting the EFC, total financial aid eligibility, and estimated other aid from the estimated cost of attendance.

Unmet Financial Need: is the difference between your need and total aid that is considered in meeting your financial need.

Award Messages: provide information and/or conditions of a particular type of aid, assumptions we have made in determining your eligibility, actions you need to take, reasons for revisions, etc. Read these messages carefully and take any action that may be required. These messages are found on your myPurdue account under the Financial tab, “Award Messages” link. Students also should check the “Important Messages” link regularly.