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  • 1098-T

    An Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form that all educational institutions, such as MIT, are required to complete at the end of the calendar year for each enrolled student who was billed and/or paid tuition.


  • Academic year

    A period of time colleges and universities use to measure a quantity of study. The MIT Academic Calendar is available from the Registrar’s Office.

  • Accrued interest

    Interest that accumulates on the unpaid principal balance of a loan.

  • Adjusted gross income

    An Internal Revenue Service (IRS) term referring to wages, salaries, interest, dividends, etc., minus certain deductions from income as reported on a federal income tax return.

  • Aggregate loan limit

    The total amount of money that can be borrowed from a loan program over a student’s period of study.

  • Annual loan limit

    The amount of money that can be borrowed from a loan program during one academic year.

  • Annual percentage rate (APR)

    A rate that reflects the total cost of borrowing money over the life of the loan, considering not only the interest rate but also the effect of other loan fees.

  • Appointment

    A graduate research or teaching appointment covers tuition partially or fully, provides a salary, and typically covers student health insurance, as well as other benefits. Salary rates are set each year by individual departments within ranges established by the collective bargaining agreement between MIT and the MIT Graduate Student Union.

  • Assets

    When used as a financial term, assets mean tangible items of monetary value.

  • Authorized user

    An authorized user is a person—most often a family member, parent, or spouse—who is designated by a student to have access to their monthly bill and make payments using MITPay.


  • Borrower

    The person who, by signing a promissory note, agrees to the terms of a loan and therefore is legally responsible for its repayment.

  • Budget

    The estimated price to attend a college or university for one year. The budget is used to determine financial aid eligibility. It includes tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, personal, and travel expenses.

  • Business/Farm Supplement

    A supplement to the CSS Financial Aid Profile application used to collect financial information from self-employed parents, or from parents who own any part of a business or farm.


  • Cancellation

    The release of a borrower’s obligation to repay all or a designated portion of principal and interest on an education loan. Also called discharge or forgiveness of a loan.

  • Capitalization

    The addition of unpaid interest to the principal balance of a loan. Compounding is another term used for capitalization.

  • Co-borrower

    A person other than the borrower who, by signing a loan promissory note as a backup, agrees to assume responsibility for repayment if the borrower fails to repay. The term is generally used interchangeably with co-signer and endorser.

  • Collection costs

    Expenses charged to an individual whose account is in collection for failure to bring the account current.

  • College Scholarship Service (CSS)

    A division of College Board, which is a national nonprofit association that offers services in the areas of college admissions, assessment, guidance, financial aid, and enrollment. The CSS provides the financial aid services, including the CSS Profile and the Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC).

  • Community service

    A service performed by an individual or organization to benefit the public and its institutions. While the term is often used as a synonym for volunteering, community service work can be paid or unpaid.

  • Consolidation

    The process of combining eligible education loans into a single new loan.

  • Constitution Day

  • Credit balance

    The amount of credit in an account in excess of the charges.

  • Credit bureau

    An organization that tracks credit histories and issues credit reports. There are three main credit bureaus in the United States: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

  • Credit report

    A very detailed snapshot of an individual’s financial history.

  • Credit score

    A measure of creditworthiness based on your financial history. It is most often represented as a three-digit number ranging from 300 to 900, and is sometimes called a FICO score. You can develop a good credit score by paying bills and loans on time.

  • Creditworthy

    A term used to describe an individual whose track record of timely repayments on debts indicates that he or she is likely to continue to manage future credit obligations well.

  • CSS Profile

    An online financial aid application produced by College Board’s College Scholarship Service (CSS) and used by private institutions such as MIT to award their institutional financial aid.


  • Default

    The failure of a borrower to repay according to the terms agreed to when the promissory note was signed.

  • Deferment

    A postponement of payment on an education loan that is allowed under certain conditions.

  • Delinquency

    The failure to make scheduled loan payments when due.

  • Dependent

    As a financial term this refers to an individual who relies on another person, usually parent(s), for financial support.

  • Direct deposit

    A secure electronic transfer of payment into a bank account.

  • Direct Grad PLUS Loan

    A federal loan available to graduate and professional students. You must be enrolled at least half time, pass a standard credit check, and may not be in default on a prior education loan to be eligible. The maximum annual loan limit is the cost of attendance minus any other financial assistance you receive.

  • Disbursement

    Payment of financial aid to a student’s account by a school.

  • Discharge

    The release of borrowers from their obligation to repay all or part of their loans. Also referred to as cancellation.

  • Disclosure statement

    A statement showing the terms and conditions of a loan.


  • Entrance counseling

    A mandatory information session to explain a borrower’s rights and responsibilities, which takes place before a new borrower at a school receives a loan. The counseling can be in-person or online.

  • Estimated Cost of Attendance

    The estimated cost of attendance is a budget that we use for every student who applies for financial aid. It is the estimated total cost of attending MIT for one academic year, and it incorporates direct costs such as tuition and fees, as well as indirect costs for things such as personal expenses and books.

  • Exit counseling

    A mandatory information session for a borrower who graduates, withdraws, or attends less than half time to explain the borrower’s loan repayment responsibilities, including when repayment begins. The counseling can be in-person or online.


  • Family contribution

    We determine the family contribution based each family’s financial circumstances. The amount is assessed by a careful review of individual circumstances, as provided by your family, and reflects what your family can reasonably be expected to contribute toward your education.

  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

    A federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, including financial information. This law applies to all students who are at least 18 years old, and to schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

  • Family Financial Responsibility

    The MIT family financial responsibility is a measure for how much you and your family can be expected to contribute to the cost of your education for the upcoming year. It is a combination of the parent contribution and the student contribution.

  • Federal Direct Consolidation Loan

    A federal loan that combines several types of federal student loans into one loan with one monthly payment.

  • Federal Methodology (FM)

    The system used to determine a student’s eligibility for federal student financial aid.

  • Federal Student Aid PIN

    An electronic personal identification number that serves as an identifier to allow a federal student aid applicant to access personal information in various U.S. Department of Education systems. It also acts as the applicant’s digital signature on some online forms.

  • Federal Student Financial Aid

    Programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act that provide grants, loans, and work-study funds from the federal government to eligible students. Detailed information about federal student aid programs is available at

    Federal student aid for MIT undergraduates includes:

    • Federal Pell Grants
    • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
    • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
    • Federal Direct Subsidized Loans
    • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
    • Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans
    • Federal Work-Study

    Federal student aid for MIT graduate students includes:

    • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
    • Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loans
    • Federal Work-Study
  • Fellowship

    A fellowship is a funding award to a graduate student that covers tuition partially or fully, provides a stipend to help defray living expenses, and may also cover student health insurance.

  • Financial hold

    A notation on a student record resulting from a student account balance from a prior term, a past-due MIT loan, unpaid Institute charges, or a returned check. A financial hold prevents a student from registering or receiving a diploma, and may also cause MIT student services to be revoked.

  • Financial need

    The difference between the cost of attendance and the expected family contribution.

  • Fixed expenses

    Fixed expenses are those which do not change from month to month. This can include your rent, utilities, credit card bills, and other monthly payments.

  • Flexible expenses

    Flexible expenses are costs that are easily changed, reduced, or eliminated. Spending money on entertainment and clothing are flexible expenses. Even expenses that must be incurred, like groceries, are considered flexible because the amount you spend can vary.

  • Forbearance

    A temporary suspension or reduction in monthly loan payments granted to borrowers who are willing but unable to make loan payments due to certain types of financial hardships.

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

    The FAFSA is an online application for all federal student aid, including grants, loans, and work-study. The FAFSA gathers the information required to determine need and eligibility according to the Federal Methodology.

  • Full need

    Full need means that we meet 100% of your family’s demonstrated need through scholarships, grants, and student employment.


  • Grace period

    A payment-free period that follows the student’s graduation, withdrawal, or in some instances dropping below half-time enrollment status. Grace periods vary by loan program, but typically are six to nine months.

  • Graduated repayment plan

    A loan repayment plan with lower payments at first, increasing about every two years.

  • Grant

    A form of financial aid that does not need to be repaid and that is ordinarily awarded on the basis of financial need. Sometimes used interchangeably with the term scholarship, though scholarships are generally awarded on the basis of merit. At MIT, the MIT Scholarship is a need-based grant.


  • I-9 Form

    A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services form that all U.S. employers are required to collect from all employees, including U.S. citizens, no later than the first day of work. Also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification Form, it is used to verify your identity and legal authorization to work and is required of all paid employees in the United States. All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire.

  • Income-driven repayment plan

    A loan repayment plan with the monthly payment adjusted each year based on the borrower’s (and spouse’s) annual income.

  • Independent

    As a financial term this refers to an individual who does not rely on another person, usually parent(s), for financial support.

  • Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC)

    A service offered by the College Board that allows families applying for financial aid to submit documents such as federal tax returns and W-2 forms to the College Scholarship Service to be securely displayed online for participating schools.

  • Institutional Methodology (IM)

    A formula used by many colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, and private scholarship programs, including MIT, to determine an applicant’s need and eligibility for private, nonfederal student aid funds.

  • Interest

    A charge for a loan, usually a percentage of the amount loaned.

  • Interest rate

    The percentage at which interest is charged on a loan. A fixed interest rate is a constant rate of the amount borrowed; a variable interest rate is subject to change, anywhere from monthly to annually. It is normally tied to an index such as the U.S. prime rate, which is the interest rate banks charge to large corporations for short-term loans; U.S. treasury bills; or the London Interbank Offering Rate, or LIBOR.


  • Late charge

    A charge assessed to students for failure to pay the minimum amount due on their student account by the deadline, or for failing to make a timely student loan repayment.

  • Light load registration

    A term used at MIT to refer to registering for fewer than 32 units.

  • Loan

    Financial aid that is borrowed and must be repaid.

  • Loan fee

    A fee charged to a borrower by the lender and deducted from the loan proceeds before disbursement. Most often loan fees are deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement.

  • Loan holder

    The organization that holds the loan promissory note and has the right to collect from the borrower. Many banks sell their loans, so the initial lender and the current loan holder could be different.

  • Loan repayment options

    Special repayment features offered at the discretion of the lender. Some education loan programs have loan repayment options either to make payment more convenient and less expensive and/or to reward timely payment.

  • Loan servicer

    The agency employed by a lender to service student loans. Servicing can include billing, collecting and posting payments, processing requests for deferment, forbearance and cancellation, and responding to general borrower inquiries.


  • M-4

    The Massachusetts Employee’s Withholding Exemption Certificate, which allows employees to exempt themselves from having Massachusetts state tax withheld from their paychecks based on certain criteria.

  • Master Promissory Note (MPN)

    A binding legal document that a borrower signs, which contains a feature allowing the borrower to sign once to receive multiple loans under the same program in different academic years. The MPN lists the terms and conditions under which money is borrowed and explains the borrower’s rights and responsibilities.

  • Merit-based aid

    Financial aid that is awarded based on a student’s academic, athletic or artistic merit, or some other criteria, and does not depend on financial need.

  • Military scholarships

    Reserve Office Training Corps (ROTC) scholarships available from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force for students who are attending participating schools, including MIT. These scholarships often cover tuition, fees, books and supplies, and pay a subsistence allowance.

  • MIT Scholarship

    An MIT Scholarship is a need-based grant that can come from a variety of sources including endowment funds, gifts from alumni and friends, and general tuition revenues.

  • MIT Technology Loan (Tech Loan)

    A low-interest loan for international undergraduates. Tech Loans require a creditworthy co-signer and are awarded by, and repaid to, MIT.

  • MITPay

    MITPay is our online payment system where you can view and pay your bill. An account is automatically created for every MIT student.

  • Monthly Payment Plan

    Allows students and their authorized users to pay their bill in regular monthly installments. The plan makes paying a bit easier with five payments per term instead of one lump sum.


  • Need analysis

    The process that determines a student’s financial need by analyzing the biographical and financial information provided by the student and parents (or by a student and spouse).

  • Need based

    Need based means that we award financial aid entirely based on your family’s financial circumstances.

  • Need blind

    Prospective students are not disadvantaged in the undergraduate admissions process because of their financial need. We are one of only eight schools in the U.S. that is need blind and meets full need for all students, foreign and domestic.

  • Negative amortization

    A situation that can occur in loan repayment if the fixed repayment amount is less than the interest accruing each month.

  • Net price

    An estimate of the actual price the student and family will pay in a given year based on subtracting any grants or scholarships awarded to that student from the budget.

  • Noncustodial parent

    A term used in connection with separated and divorced parents to refer to the parent who does not have custody of the child, meaning the child does not live with this parent.

  • NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System)

    A database for federal student financial aid where federal aid recipients can locate information about the aid they’ve received. Students access NSLDS by using their federal student aid PIN.


  • Off-campus employment

    A term used most often in connection with student employment, which refers to working for any employer other than MIT.

  • On-campus employment

    A term used most often in connection with student employment, which refers to working for MIT.

  • Outside scholarships

    Any financial aid awarded to a student from a source other than MIT, such as community groups, high schools, corporations, foundations, or a parent’s employer.

  • Overaward

    The amount of financial aid awarded to a student that exceeds that student’s financial need.

  • Overpayment

    A payment made to MIT that far exceeds the actual amount that is owed. Overpayments exceeding $2,000 will be returned in their entirety to the payer via the original payment method at the expense of the payer.


  • Past due

    The amount that was scheduled to be paid in previous month(s), but was not. The past-due amount may also be called the delinquent or default amount.

  • Principal

    The sum of money borrowed plus any interest that is capitalized.

  • Private loan

    A non-federal education loan from a lender such as a bank, credit union, or state agency.

  • Promissory note

    A binding legal document a borrower signs each time they receive a loan. The promissory note lists the terms and conditions under which money is borrowed and explains the borrower’s rights and responsibilities.


  • Rehabilitation

    The process of bringing a loan out of default and removing the default notation on a borrower’s credit report.

  • Repayment schedule

    An overview of the borrower’s monthly payment, due dates, interest rate, total repayment amount, and length of time for repaying the loan.


  • Satisfactory academic progress

    An acceptable rate of student academic course completion using qualitative and quantitative measures.

  • Scholarship

    A form of financial aid that does not need to be repaid and is often awarded on the basis of merit. The MIT Scholarship is a need-based grant that does not need to be repaid.

  • Social Security number

    A nine-digit number assigned by the Social Security Administration that is often used as a form of identification. Everyone who works in the United States must have a Social Security number.

  • Stipend

    Research and teaching assistants receive a monthly stipend as well as a full-tuition scholarship. Stipend levels are established each year by individual departments within guidelines approved by the Academic Council in discussion with the Provost.

  • Student account

    Your student account is an exact record of your financial transactions with MIT, including charges and credits. This is where you can see exactly what you owe, your financial aid, and what you have already paid. You can access your student account through MITPay. If you need your family to access your student account you will need to designate them as authorized users in your account.

  • Student Aid Report (SAR)

    A summary of the information a federal student aid applicant submits on the FAFSA.

  • Student contribution

    The amount that a student can reasonably be expected to contribute toward their own educational expenses. For undergraduates, the student contribution is a combination of the summer savings expectation and student employment during the academic year. The typical amount students are expected to contribute is $5,400 per year.

  • Student employment

    A student job is considered a part of the financial aid award. A student will see a suggested amount, to be earned by working during the school year, listed in their financial aid award. Most undergrads work 6–8 hours per week during the term. Minimum wage is $15 an hour with most students making about $1,700 a semester. For more information, visit

  • Student information review form

    An MIT form that undergraduates, who are offered an MIT Scholarship, are required to complete in order to determine if their scholarships will be awarded from a particular donor’s fund or general funds.

  • Subsidized loan

    A loan in which there is monetary assistance granted to the borrower to assist with the interest expense.

  • Summer savings expectation

    The amount an undergraduate student can reasonably be expected to save from working over the summer.


  • TechCASH

    A spending program for MIT students, employees, and affiliates. Participants deposit money into their TechCASH account and then use their MIT ID to make purchases on campus and with a few off-campus vendors.

  • Truth in lending statement

    A document provided to loan recipients that explains the interest rate and other information regarding the loan the student has received. The statement is required by the Consumer Credit Protection Act.


  • Unsubsidized loan

    A loan in which there is no monetary assistance granted to the borrower to assist with the interest expense. The borrower may either pay the accruing interest monthly or allow the interest to be capitalized.


  • Verification

    A procedure whereby the school checks the information that the student reported on the financial aid application, usually by requiring a copy of the tax returns or other documents filed by the student and/or family.


  • W-4

    The Employee’s Allowance Withholding Certificate, a federal form that allows employers to withhold the correct amount of federal income tax from employees’ paychecks.

  • WebSIS

    WebSIS is MIT’s secure online system that allows enrolled students to view their academic, financial, and biographical records.