A large part of college planning is understanding the variety of words and phrases that colleges and universities use to describe the process. The words and definitions below are intended to help your understanding of these basic terms.
Is a word missing from this list? Please email bcornell@astoriak12.org

AAOT (Associate of Art of Oregon Transfer Degree): A state approved two-year degree that is intended to prepare students to transfer as a junior to a college or university in the Oregon University System.
ACT (American College Testing): A test which assesses high school students' educational development and their ability to complete work at the college level. A multiple choice test which covers the areas of English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. Writing is optional (but recommended). For more information, to complete practice tests, or to register for the ACT, visit actstudent.org
AP (Advanced Placement): A program developed by the College Board in which students can test to demonstrate knowledge through a standardized curriculum. (Astoria High School does not currently participate in an AP program)
Acceptance Rate: The percentage of applicants a college accepts for admission.
Accreditation: Certification that a college meets the standards of a state, regional or national association.
Admission: The process by which students gain acceptance into colleges or universities. Systems vary from institution to institution.
Associate's Degree: An undergraduate academic degree usually lasting two years.
Award Letter: Official notification of the type and amount of financial aid a college is offering the student.
Bachelor's Degree: An undergraduate academic degree usually lasting four years.
Binding Commitment: If students are accepted under an early decision (see below) program, the applicant must withdraw all other applications and enroll at that institution. (Also see non-binding below).
College-Prep: Courses that have been approved by the Oregon University System as ones which prepare students for a college curriculum. The universities in the Oregon University System require the completion of 14.0 credits (grades C or higher) in college prep courses, University of Oregon requires 16.0. To see a list of approved courses at AHS, refer to page 7 of the Educational Planning Guide.
Common App: An application that allows students to apply to multiple schools (mostly private) through one application. Visit www.commonapp.org for more information or to apply.
COMPASS: A standardized test which is often used as a placement test for several community colleges (including Clatsop Community College). For more information, click here.
Cumulative GPA: A calculation of all grades and credits earned over one's high school career.
Deferred Admission: Many students who apply Early Action or Early Admission may find that they are neither accepted, or denied, but deferred to regular admission. This would indicate that the applicant will be placed into the pool with all other applicants.
Demonstrated Need: The difference between what the student's family can contribute toward college expenses and the actual cost of attending college.
Early Action: A type of admission process in which students apply to colleges and universities at an earlier date than the regular admission deadline. This process is usually non-binding (see below).
Early Admission (also known as Early Decision): A type of admission process in which students apply to colleges and universities at an earlier date than the regular admission deadline. This process is usually binding (see above), which means students can only apply to one school and are committed to that school if they are accepted.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount of money a family is expected to contribute to a student's education. This calculation is a result of completing the FAFSA (see below) and is used by colleges, universities, and some scholarships to determine financial need.
Fee Deferral: Allows the applicant to avoid paying the fee at the point of admission, but does not waive the fee entirely. Fee deferral is available for the Oregon University System schools through the AHS Counseling Office.
Fee Wavier: Gives the student the ability to not pay a fee associated with an application or test. Fee waivers are available for the SAT and ACT tests through the AHS Counseling Office. Use of an SAT fee waiver allows a student to use fee waivers for many college applications as well.
Financial Aid: Money that is given to students for the purpose of pursuing a postsecondary education. It can be in the form of loans, grants and work-study. Some forms of financial aid are free (grants), some require a work requirement (work-study) and some require paying the money back (loans).
Financial Aid Package: Colleges use the EFC (see above) to calculate the amount of financial aid a student qualifies for and compile an award letter which is sent to the student (can be either through mail or electronically). Financial Aid packages must be approved by the student through the process that is outlined by the college, and by the deadline outlined by the college, in order to receive the funds.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): This process provides eligibility information to colleges and scholarships. It is essentially a third party which calculates the EFC (see above) primarily by using student and parent income information, and provides this information to colleges. Colleges use the EFC to create Financial Aid Awards. The FAFSA must be completed online at fafsa.gov.
Grants: A form of financial aid that does not need to be repaid. Some grants are based on financial need where as other are based on merit (see below).
GPA (Grade Point Average): A measure of a student's achievement. A number value is assigned to each grade and averaged over a quarter, semester, and/or high school career (A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0, Pass and No Pass are not calculated). Grades at AHS are on a 4.0 scale and are unweighted.
Honors Classes: All honors courses at Astoria High School are indicated by the word "Honors" at the beginning of thier title. This does not include courses that begin with the word "Advanced".
Honors Program: At some four year colleges, students can apply to an Honors Program (or Honors College). Each college will have a different structure to their honors program and different admission standards.
International Baccaleaurette (IB): A program which offers a standardized curriculum for students with an international focus on learning and teaching. Astoria High School does not participate in this program.
Loans: Money give to a student that must be paid back. There are several types of loans, including low and zero interest loans that are given by the federal government, like the Perkins or Stafford. Applicants must complete the FAFSA in order to be eligible for federal loans. Private loans, offered through banks and credit unions, typically have higher interest rates.
Liberal Arts:  A course of study in college that provides a well-rounded education that includes arts, sciences, and the humanities as well as career choices.
Major: A student's primary focus during his/her undergraduate studies.
Minor: A student's secondary focus during his/her undergraduate studies. Students are not usually required to select a minor.
Master's Degree: An academic degree higher than a bachelor's degree but lower than a doctor's degree. Requires at least one year past the undergraduate degree, but may require several years depending on the course of study.
Merit-based: Scholarships and/or grants given for a student's specific talent, which could include academic, athletic or artistic talent. Does not necessarily take financial need into consideration.
Need-based: Awarded on the basis of the financial need of the student. Possibly determined by EFC (see above).
Non-binding: Early admission (see above) applications allow students to apply to more than one school and are not committed to that particular college or university.
Open Admissions: A non-competitive and unselective admission process that typically allows anyone with a high school diploma (or GED) to be admitted. Most community colleges in Oregon practice open admission. Also called Open Enrollment.
Oregon Promise: Beginning with the Class of 2016, high school graduates in Oregon who graduate with a 2.5 or higher GPA and attend an Oregon Community College will receive tuition assistance.  More information is located here: OregonPromise.
OSAC (Oregon Student Assistance Commission):  The state agency that oversees a growing number of scholarships and financial aid programs.  The OSAC scholarship is due Feb 15th (early bird) and March 1st (regular deadline).  Look for more information at www.getcollegefunds.org.
OUS (Oregon University System): Made up of the eight public universities in Oregon - Eastern Oregon University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Southern Oregon University, University of Oregon, Western Oregon University and Oregon Health and Sciences University.
Pell Grant: A federal grant program which is based on a family's income, the cost of the school of attendance, and enrollment status. The maximum Pell Grant amount for the 2010-2011 school year was $5,500. To apply, students must file the FAFSA (see above).
Perkins Loans: Typically considered the best type of loan one can receive and are reserved for students who demonstrate a high level of financial need. Interest rate, grace period, fees, and repayment options tend to be the most favorable, compared to other federal loan programs. For undergraduate students, there is a cap of $4,000 each year.
Personal Statements: Sometimes referred to as a college essay. Personal statements are essays that give admissions officers insights into your character, personality, and motivation.
Placement Testing: A test which gives students and their future college/university an idea of the appropriate level of classes in which to enroll. This is traditionally done at community colleges. Types of placement tests include COMPASS and Accuplacer.Priority Deadline:  Applications must be submitted by this date to be considered in the regular pool of candidates.
Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT): A test offered in the middle of October to give students an opportunity to assess their skills in the areas of Reading, Writing and Math in a similar format to the SAT test. At Astoria High School and in Oregon, all sophomores are given the opportunity to take this test for free. Juniors can qualify for the NMSQT program by scoring well on this test.PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test):  The PSAT/NMSQT is a practice test design to prepare students for the SAT.  Colleges do not usually use the PSAT score as admission criteria.
Rank: An ordering of students based on cumulative rank. The smaller the number, the higher the rank and the higher the GPA.
Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarship Programs: Programs that provide scholarships and other financial incentives for college students to recieve officer's commissions in the US Army, the Army National Guard, or the Army Reserve when they graduate with a degree in their chosen college majors. For more information, visit www.armyrotc.com.
Residency Requirement: For public colleges and universities, a student's residency may affect the amount of tuition they are charged. For a list of state residency requirements, visit www.collegegold.com/applydecide/staterequirements. Also, see Western Undergraduate Exchange (below).
Retention Rate: The rate at which students return for their second year of college. An indicator of students' satisfaction.
Rolling Admission: Students are able to apply for admission at any time within a large window and are considered for admission when the application is received. The college/university usually doesn't have a set admission end date -- admissions are closed when all spots are filled.
SAT Subject Test: Some colleges and universities require a score on one or more Subject Tests for admission to demonstrate knowledge and skills in a particular subject area. For more information, visit TESTING.
Scholarships: Funds given to students toward education that do not require the student to pay back the funds. Scholarships come from a variety of sources, for a variety of reasons, and in a variety of amounts. Current scholarships advertised for AHS students are available at SCHOLARSHIPS.
Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT): One of two standardized tests required for admission into a four-year school (see also ACT). For more information, visit TESTING.
Section 529 plans: State-sponsored college savings programs. For more information, visit: http://www.finaid.org/savings/529plans.phtml
Stafford Loans: Federallly funded loans that require completion of the FAFSA. Interest rates and terms can vary depending on whether the loans are subsidized or unsubsidized. Stafford loan limits are based on whether a student is considered a dependent of his/her parents and his/her year in school. For instance, the maximum Stafford loan for a freshmen is $3,500 for a dependent student compared to $5,500 as a senior dependent student. Stafford loans can be both subsidized (see below) or unsubsidized (see below).
Standardized Test Scores: For the purpose of college admission, Standardized Test Scores are traditionally either the SAT test or ACT test.
Student Aid Report (SAR): After the FAFSA (see above) is complete, the SAR is compiled which provides students with their EFC (see above). Colleges use the SAR and EFC to compile the financial aid package.
Student-Faculty Ratio: The number of students at a college compared to the number of faculty. Some colleges see this as an indicator of class size and professor accessibility.
Student Loans: Funds for college that are given temporarily to help fund one's education and must be paid back. There are many different kinds of loans -- it's important that students research the type of loan and interest rates before committing.
Subsidized Loan: A loan in which the government pays the interest while a student remains enrolled in a qualified college or university. Usually these loans are reserved for students who demonstrate a financial need. The most common types of unsubsidized loans are Stafford (see above) and Perkins (see above) loans.
Transcript: An official record of classes a student has taken and the grades they have received. Usually students must provide a high school transcript with their college application.
Transfer Degree: Students complete the first two-years of a four-year program at a community college and finish at a college or university. In Oregon, students earning an AAOT (see above) are able to transfer to a Oregon University System (see above) school seamlessly.
Unsubsidized: Refers to a type of loan in which the student is responsible for the interest on the loan amount while in school (opposed to subsidized, see above).
Unweighted GPA: A grade point average that is calculated with all courses having the same weight regardless of honors or advanced status. Astoria High School uses this type of calculation model.
Wait-listed: This can occur when a student meets the admission requirements, but the college has already accepted the number of applicants it has room for. If a space becomes available, the applicant may be offered this spot, but not until after the May 1st deadline. For advice regarding this situation, visit: www.collegeboard.com/student/apply/letters-are-in/124.html
Weighted GPA: A grade point average that is calculated giving additional weight to honors or advanced classes. Astoria High School uses an unweighted GPA (see above).
Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE): An agreement between western states to offer reduced-rate tuition at public universities. Each school and state has specific requirements to qualify -- visit www.wiche.edu/wue.
Work study: A form of federal financial aid which requires completion of the FAFSA. The student must find a job on campus and complete the required hours of work, usually 10 to 15 per week. Students earn an hourly wage for their work.