Know the Lingo

Accreditation: Accreditation is the recognition that an institution maintains standard requisites for its graduates to gain admission to other reputable institutions of higher learning or to achieve credentials for professional practice.

The goal of accreditations is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meet acceptable levels of quality.

Accuplacer: The purpose of Accuplacer tests is to provide you with useful information about your academic skills in math, English, and reading. The results of the assessment, in conjunction with your academic background, goals, and interests, are used by academic advisors to determine your course selection. You cannot “pass” or “fail” the placement tests, but it is very important that you do your very best on these tests so that you will have an accurate measure of your academic skills.

ACT Aspire: The ACT Aspire (formerly called pre-ACT, ACT Plan, or ACT Explore) is an online testing system for students in grades 3-8 as well as early high school. These tests assess English, math, reading, science and writing contents for all grades. The assessment is used to highlight progress towards ACT College Readiness Standards and Benchmarks and is aligned to what students are learning in school.

Admissions & Scholarship Index: Admissions and scholarship decisions can be based on an index of GPA and ACT scores at some of our institutions of higher education. The score may also be used for placement. For more information please contact the institution of your choice to determine if this is applicable.

Advanced Placement Program (AP): The advanced placement program is a service of the College Board that provides high schools with course descriptions in college subjects and Advanced Placement Examinations in those subjects. High schools teach the courses and give the examinations to interested students. Those who pass the exams are eligible for advanced placement or college credit.

Applied Associate Degree (A.A.S.): An A.A.S. is a two-year program that provides broader knowledge in fields ranging from Biomanufacturing and Computer Information Systems to Dental Hygiene and Digital Media. The in-depth knowledge and skills acquired in an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree prepares students for employment in a career track with advancement opportunities.

Associate Degree (A.A., A.S.): An associate degree is a two-year program that provides the academic foundation for transfer to a four-year bachelor’s degree program. The associate of Arts (A.A.) and the associate of Science (A.S.) cover the curriculum taught in the first two years of a four-year program of study.

Bachelor’s Degree/baccalaureate (B.A., B.S.): A bachelor’s degree is achieved through a four-year program that provides in-depth, specialized knowledge in a major field of study.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees prepare students for employment in fields from Accounting to Theatre, or for further studies.

Certificate: A certificate is generally a one-year program that leads directly to entry-level employment in a specific occupation such as aviation pilot, diesel mechanic, or respiratory therapist.

Community College: A community college is a two-year college that serves the residents of a local or regional area. Most of these colleges admit all or most of the students who apply. Some programs, such as Nursing, may be more selective. Students receive an associate degree after two years of successful full-time study. Additionally, many technical programs of study are taught at these colleges. Many students who enter general education programs (equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program) transfer to a four-year college or university.

Concurrent Enrollment/Dual Enrollment (CE, DE): The concurrent enrollment/dual enrollment program makes college courses available to eligible high school students during their junior and senior years. Students earn both high school credit and regular college credit which is recorded on a college transcript.

Credit Hour: A credit hour is a unit used to measure the amount of schoolwork a student has enrolled for or completed.

FERPA: The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act is a federal privacy law that gives parents certain protections with regard to their children’s education records, such as report cards, transcripts, disciplinary records, contact and family information, and class schedules. Parents have the right to review their child’s education records and to request changes under limited circumstances. To protect a child’s privacy, the law generally requires schools to ask for written consent before disclosing their personally identifiable information to individuals other than the child.

When a student turns 18 years old or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, all rights afforded to the parents under FERPA transfer to the student (“eligible student”). However, FERPA provides ways in which a school may – but is not required to – share information from an eligible student’s education records with parents, without the student’s consent.

Financial Aid: Financial aid is money awarded to students to help them pay for education. Aid is given as loans, grants, scholarships, or work-study. Some forms of financial aid are required to be repaid after graduation.

FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a free financial aid application form used to determine eligibility for need-based federal financial aid. Applications are accepted after January 1. Early application is strongly encouraged. Students should apply during their senior year. Visit

Grant: A grant is a form of financial aid that does not have to be repaid or earned by working. Grants are usually based on financial need; however, academic merit may also be considered.

Higher Education: Higher education, also called postsecondary education, is a term that refers to colleges, universities, and any education beyond high school that leads to a certificate or a college degree.

International Baccalaureate (IB): An international baccalaureate is a program offered in some schools that provides academically challenging courses. IB Diploma students take courses in six subjects and complete a “core” that includes community service and an extended essay.

High schools teach the courses, but the broad curriculum is provided by International Baccalaureate and students around the world take the same final exams. Courses can last one or two years, and a passing grade on the final exams or the attainment of an IB diploma can make a student eligible for college credit, advanced placement in college classes, or other benefits.

Loan: A loan is money you borrow and must pay back with interest, so be sure you understand your options and responsibilities.

Merit-based Aid: Merit-based aid is financial aid that is dependent on academic, artistic, or athletic merit. This type of aid does not require demonstration of financial need.

Need-based Aid: Need-based aid is financial aid that is dependent on the demonstration of financial need. Most sources of financial aid that are provided by the government are need-based.

Open Admissions: Open admission is a college admissions policy of admitting virtually all applicants with high school diplomas or its equivalent. Conventional academic qualifications, such as high school subjects taken, high school grades, and admissions test scores are not used to limit enrollment but can affect placement.

Pell Grant: A Pell grant is money awarded directly to students by the federal government. Only undergraduate students may receive federal Pell Grants. To apply for a federal Pell Grant and other federal financial aid, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at

PSAT: The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a program co-sponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). It’s a standardized test that provides first-hand practice for the SAT. It also gives you a chance to enter NMSC scholarship programs and gain access and career planning tools.

Rolling Admissions: Rolling admissions is a procedure by which the college evaluates applicants on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applicants are screened as soon as they submit all application materials. The college may consider applications on a weekly or monthly schedule. Applicants receive a notice of the decision a short time after application.

Scholarship: A scholarship is a form of financial aid that does not have to be repaid or earned through employment. Scholarship usually refers to an award based on academic merit; however, scholarships are also awarded for performing community service, leadership, talent, etc. Financial need may also be required.

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test): The SAT is a globally recognized college admission test that lets students show colleges what they know and how they can apply that knowledge. It tests knowledge in reading, writing, and math subjects that are taught every day in high school classrooms. Most students take the SAT during their junior or senior year of high school. Colleges and universities require students to take this test or the ACT prior to applying for admission.

Semester: A semester is a term used for an academic calendar period of about 16-18 weeks that makes up half of the usual academic year for schools that use that system.

Subsidized Loan: A subsidized loan is a need-based loan, such as a Direct Subsidized Stafford. The federal government pays the interest on subsidized loans during the borrower’s in-school, grace, and deferment periods.

Technical College: Technical colleges prepare skilled workers in specific occupations that generally do not require a bachelors or more advanced degree. Technical college students can earn certificates that prepare them directly for employment in a few months to a little more than a year.

Transcript: A transcript is an official copy of a student’s educational record.

Tuition: Tuition is the charge for attending a college or university class.

University: A university is an institution of higher learning that offers both undergraduate (associate and bachelor’s) and graduate (master’s and doctoral) programs. Universities vary considerably in programs offered and in size. Compared to colleges, universities are usually larger, offer more courses and majors, and have more research facilities. Universities may be divided into a number of “colleges,” such as the College of Education or the College of Business. Each college has several departments and offers different majors.

Work Study: Work study is a federally funded part-time employment program for undergraduate and graduate students. Eligibility is based on financial need. The earnings help students meet a portion of their educational expenses. The federal government subsidizes a portion of the student’s salary. This makes it cheaper for employers to hire students who have demonstrated financial need.

Upcoming Events