Scholarship Guide Glossary


The part of society, especially universities, that is connected with studying and thinking, or the activity or job of studying. Eg. A graduate of law, he had spent his life in academia.

Academic Period
A measured term of enrolment such as a semester, quarter, trimester, or clock or credit hour.

Academic Year
This is a measure of academic work to be accomplished by a student. A school defines its own academic year, but federal statute and regulations set minimum standards to determine federal financial aid awards. For instance, the academic year must be at least 30 weeks of instructional time in which a full-time student is expected to complete at least 24 semester or trimester credit hours, 36 quarter credit hours, or 900 clock hours.

Accrued Interest
Interest on a loan that accumulates and is to be paid in instalments later rather than being paid from the time the loan is made. Accrued interest may be compounded or simple. It is usually paid when the principal becomes due. Depending upon the type of loan, this interest is payable by the borrower or the federal government.

Accrued Salaries
Wages earned by students between the date that the students were last paid and the end of the accounting period being reported, but not yet paid to the students. The unpaid student wages are considered a school liability.

Achievement Tests
Tests required by some colleges to measure student achievement in areas of study such as Math, Science or English.

A standardised U.S. college admissions test to measure a student’s ability in math, verbal comprehension, and problem solving. Typically, the test is taken during their junior or senior year of high school.

Average daily balance. The sum of unpaid principal balance outstanding on all qualifying loans at each actual interest rate for each day of the quarter, divided by the sum of the number of days in the quarter.

A person who advises students on class selection for major, fulfilling requirements for graduation and choosing a career path.

Aid Package
A combination of financial aid- scholarships, grants, loans, and/or work study determined by the financial aid office of a college.

An allowance may have the same meaning as the word ‘stipend’. Please see the definition of stipend below. In some cases, an allowance may refer to a type of stipend that is less generous than a stipend. In many cases, an allowance refers to funds provided to a student for specific expenses. For example, a letter that awards a scholar an allowance may state a condition such as “recipients will receive an allowance of up to USD$5,000 per year to cover text books, uniforms and stationery that must be purchased to complete their programme of study”.

The process of gradually repaying a loan over an extended period through periodic instalments of principal and interest.

Application Cycle
This refers to the time period in which you can apply for a scholarship. Many scholarships have one application cycle which means they only open for application once a year. Typically these scholarships open for application in January or February and close 2 weeks after the release of the A-level results day. There are other scholarships that have two application cycles. Generally, these scholarship cycles run from September to December and January to March annually.

Annual Percentage Rate is the total annual cost of a loan including all fees and interest, expressed as a percentage

Average Daily Balance
The sum of unpaid principal balance outstanding on all qualifying loans at each actual interest rate for each day of the quarter, divided by the sum of the number of days in the quarter.

A specific amount of financial assistance to pay for education costs offered to a student through one or more financial aid programmes. In addition, the approval of financial assistance to students, as in one function of an institution is to award campus-based financial aid to students who meet all the eligibility criteria.

Award Adjustmentor Revision
An action by a financial aid office resulting in an increase, decrease, program-source substitution, or cancellation of a student’s financial aid award. This may be necessitated by factors such as a change in the student’s enrolment status or a change in the financial circumstances of the student’s family or the student.

Award Letter
Issued by a financial aid office listing all the financial aid awarded to the student. The award letter will include information about the cost of attendance and terms and conditions for the financial aid.

Award Year
The year when the scholarship is awarded.

Person or student who receives an award.


Base Year
For need analysis purposes, the base year is the calendar year preceding the award year. For instance, 2019 is the base year used for the 2020-2021 award year. The financial aid department uses family income from the base year because it is more accurate and easier to verify than projected yearly income.

Anyone who obtains money from a lender. The borrower signs a promissory note, which serves as the formal promise to repay the loan.

An amount of money given to a person by an organisation, such as a university, to pay for them to study. Bursaries are usually non-competitive and automatic, and often based on financial need without emphasis on academic standing.


Person who signs a legal document, promising to pay your loan if you cannot.

College (see University)
Colleges are often smaller institutions that emphasize undergraduate education in a broad range of academic areas.

Community Service
Voluntary work intended to help people in a particular area.

Competitive Scholarship
A competitive scholarship is awarded to the best applicant. The Review Panel usually takes into account factors such as each applicant’s academic history and other achievements such as professional work experience.
Virtually all scholarships are competitive. There are more applicants than there are scholarship winners.
Non-competitive scholarships are rare. An example of a non-competitive scholarship is when a scholarship contract states (for example): “All students who complete the Bachelor of Education degree at this University may study an additional Honours year on a scholarship funded by the university”.

Cost of Attendance (COA)
The total cost of college for the year, including tuition, fees, books, room and board, travel, and other college expenses. It affects your financial aid award.


Dependent Student
Factors used to determine whether you’ll receive help from your parents to pay for college. You may fall under this group if you’re single, an undergraduate, and under 24 years old during the award year.


Early Action
Admissions process that allows you to apply to multiple schools earlier than the regular deadline. You learn of your acceptance early but are not bound to enrol at the school once you’re accepted.

Early Cycle
Generally scholarship applications open about a month or two before the A-level examination results are released. However, some scholarships may accept applications before students sit for the examination. This application period is known as the early cycle.

Early Decision
Admissions process that allows you to apply to your first college choice, with the understanding that you will enrol in that school if you are accepted. You are often notified of your admission by mid-December, rather than March/April.

Eligibility Requirement
Criteria used to determine your eligibility for financial aid or a scholarship.

Eligible Student
Students who are either 18 years of age or enrolled in college, university or post-secondary school at any age.

Person who agrees to repay a loan if the borrower cannot do so. Also known as a co-signer.

Enrolment Period
When you’re eligible to enrol in courses for the semester.

Enrolment Status
The number of credit hours you’re taking for the semester, used to determine your full-time, quarter-time, half-time or less-than-half-time status.

An essay is an academic piece of writing that some scholarship administrators and colleges/universities instruct scholarship applicants and future students to submit with their application. The essay normally required a student to prepare a critical piece of scholarship that displays some degree of originality. The essay guidelines may list mandatory criteria such as 1) Maximum and minimum word limits. 2) A referencing (citation) guide that applications must adhere to such as Harvard or Chicago. 3) Directions about what topic applicants must discuss (for example; globalisation, organic farming practices).

Expected Family Contribution
Calculation used to determine the amount of student aid you’re eligible for based on your family’s income, assets and benefits.


1st year in university (Freshman)

Fee Waiver
A fee waiver is a specific type of scholarship. A college/university offers the recipient free tuition. Many universities /colleges offer fee waiver to talented graduate research students, such as PhD candidates who show potential to bring acclaim to their field and/or the university.

Financial Aid
Financial aid refers to different options that students can use to finance their studies. In most cases, Financial Aid refers to funding sources that enable students to pay tuition fees and other mandatory costs such as annual enrolment fees and college amenities fees. In most cases, students can draw one or more sources such as:
1) Loans from the college, government and other sources.
2) Scholarships provided by the host college and other sources.
3) Prizes and other awards coordinated by the host educational institution.
Students who are able to pay their fees in advance out of their own funds do not need to apply for financial aid. Such students may be referred to as ‘self-funded’ students.

Financial Aid Officer
A college or university staff who reviews a student’s financial need and advises the student or parent on financial aid options and awards.

Financial Aid Packet
A packet summarising the financial need that a student is eligible for from the college.

Financial Aid Transcript
Also known as an FAT, this transcript shows your financial aid history from all other colleges you’ve attended in the past. The FAT is used to determine your financial aid eligibility.

Financial Need
When you complete a financial aid application, you provide financial and personal information about yourself. The government uses this information to calculate how much you and your family can afford to pay for college attendance. The balance you can’t afford is known as your financial need.

Financial Responsibility
As a college student or graduate, you are financially responsible for any student loan debts you incur for college. Interest rates aren’t applied to these loans while you’re in college, so you can jumpstart your payments early. There’s typically a six-month grace period for payments after you graduate.

Full ride scholarship
A ‘full ride scholarship’ is not an official term. This term is used mostly by international scholarship searchers on forums such as chat sites. This term refers to a scholarship that covers all tuition fees and all other expenses associated with a course of study. These additional expenses may include return flights, university administration fees, health insurance, books, study materials and basic living expenses.

Full-Time Student Status
A student who is taking 12 or more credit hours during the spring or fall semester at a college or university.

1st year


Gift Aid
A gift is a general term that refers to a cash or another type of resource given to a scholar to aid the scholar’s academic success. A gift is not a loan. By definition, the recipient does not need to pay the donor.

Grade Point Average (GPA)
Your GPA is based on a 4.0 scale and used to measure your overall grade for school. Each letter grade corresponds to a number on the scale. For example, an A represents 4.0, a B represents 3.0, and so on. A student with a 4.0 GPA has an A average in all his classes.

Graduate Student/Post-Graduate Student
A student who has earned her bachelor’s degree and is taking classes, usually towards a master’s or doctorate degree.

Grants are similar to scholarships and also don’t have to be repaid. The difference is that grants are often need-based while scholarships are usually merit-based. Grants are also given to students who carry out academic research projects.

Gross Income
Gross income refers to the amount before deduction of CPF. It includes allowances, overtime, commissions, bonus etc.

A person who guarantees to cover someone else’s debt if they are unable to pay it back on default on the loan.

Guarantee Agency
A state or non-profit agency that insures student loans against default. If a student defaults on the loan, they pay off the loan and attempt to college the unpaid loans.


International English Language Testing System. It is a test designed to assess abilities of non-speakers in the English language. IELTS test score is needed to be eligible to study, live, and work in English-speaking countries. IELTS is managed jointly by British Council and IDP and University of Cambridge. It is a popular proficiency test and taken in 1100 test centres worldwide.

Processes or activities relating to school.

The amount of money you earn on a regular basis through wages or investment.

Independent Student
Factors used to determine whether you’ll receive help from your parents to pay for college. You may fall under this group if you’re married, have dependents, are over 24, you’re an orphan, or are in the military or a veteran.

Indirect Costs
Costs you don’t apply to a specific item or project, such as maintenance or insurance.

A percentage of a loan you have to pay during the life of the loan.

Interest-Only Payment
You temporarily pay the interest on a loan. Once the period is over, you begin paying the principal and interest on the loan.


3rd year


A person or institution that lends someone money, usually repaid at an interest.

Money you borrow and pay back with interest. There’s usually a six-month grace period after graduation before payment begins. Student loans normally fund tuition fees and they may obtain these funds from one or more of these sources:
1) Private lenders (such as banks).
2) Public lenders (such as the CPF Education).
3) The university/college where you study.
4) Another party such as your family.
Universities and colleges normally assist their students to obtain funds for sources 1, 2 and 3 above.

The terms and conditions of loans vary. Variable conditions include factors such as:
1) The rate of interest payable.
2) The date that a student’s first and final payments are due.
3) Details about how the student’s payment may vary depending on their future financial earnings.
4) The amount of money that the student lender must earn before they are due to make their payment.
You should check the terms and conditions of your loan contract carefully before you sign as these clauses may vary widely between colleges.


Merit-based scholarships
A merit scholarship is similar to a competitive scholarship. The scholarships review panel may offer the scholarship to the applicant who has the best grades and has the strongest achievements in other fields. Other achievements that this Panel may assess include sporting excellence and relevant work experience.

Mid-term Scholarship
Mid-term Scholarships are scholarships offered to outstanding students currently pursuing their university education and have completed at least one semester of undergraduate studies. Tuition and compulsory fees incurred before the award will usually be back-paid and the bond period will be the same as the full local undergraduate scholarship.

Motivation Letter
A motivation letter is a personal statement that an applicant for a scholarship or college/university course may be required to submit with their application. This letter normally explains the applicant’s academic history, personal history and career objective. This letter enables administrators to assess an applicant’s suitability for a scholarship or programme study.


Need Analysis
Used to determine a student’s eligibility for financial aid. Based on factors like your expected family contribution (EFC) and cost of attendance (COA) for the academic year.

Need-Based Scholarship
Scholarships that are based on your family’s financial need. Cost of Attendance (COA) minus Expected Family Contribution (EFC) equals need.

Net Income
The amount of money you earn after wages, payroll taxes, contributions, etc. are deducted from your gross earnings.


Origination Fee
A small percentage of the total amount of your student loan, covering the bank’s costs for when they lend you money. It’s applied when your student loan is disbursed.


Part-Time Student Status
An undergraduate student who is enrolled in at least 6 credit hours during the spring or fall semester, or a graduate student taking at least 4.5 credit hours per semester.

Per Capita Income
                                                                       Total gross monthly household income
Monthly Per Capita Income (PCI) =   —————————————————————
                                                               No. of household members living with applicant

Gross income refers to the amount before deduction of CPF. It includes allowances, overtime, commissions, bonus etc.

Personal Expenses
Your living expenses in college, such as the costs for laundry, food, cell phone and events.

Prepaid Tuition Plan
It allows families or donors to fund your college education in advance, using today’s tuition rates.

Cash and /or some other benefit given to a scholar for winning a competition. For example, a corporate sponsor may offer award of $1,000 to the top graduating student in a subject (eg. Accounting 1001) each year at a particular university.

Promissory Note
A signed financial document signifying your promise to repay a loan by a specific date.

Someone who provides for you for financial, physical or other reasons, such as a parent or guardian.

Provisional Scholarship
Provisional scholarships are scholarships that are offered before the release of the final examination results. These scholarships are confirmed upon the release of the respective results.

Stands for Preliminary SAT, a standardised test for 10th and 11th grades in the United States. It’s often used to prepare for the SAT, to familiarise students with the SAT or to secure a merit-based scholarship.


Recommendation Letter
A professional reference letter that someone writes about you, assessing your qualities, skills and capabilities to perform a job or role. It’s sometimes requested on employment, scholarship, or college applications.

Regular Student
A student who is enrolled at a college, university or institution to earn a degree or certificate from the school.

Reimburse / reimbursement
Payment made to a scholar by a college or another sponsor for expenses that the scholar has previously paid for out of their own personal finances. These expenses must normally relate to the scholar’s studies. The sponsor normally defines what goods and services they will fund and advises these terms and conditions to the scholar in writing.

Renewal (Financial Aid)
A pre-filled financial application that carries over data you completed on a previous application, so you don’t have to complete it in its entirety. You simply update any information that has changed.

Repayment Period
This is typically the 10-year period set for the borrower to pay off their student loan. This timeline may vary based on your situation.

Repayment Schedule
A document showing your loan amount when the payments are due and how much is applied to the principal and interest.


A standardised test used for college admissions in the United States. The higher your score, the better your options for college choices and scholarships.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
Federal regulations used to evaluate your academic process, so they can determine your eligibility for financial aid.

Scholarships are monetary awards given based on academic or other achievements and are non-repayable, which means you won’t have to pay the money back. Scholarships are awarded by the government, non-government organisations, corporations and independent foundations. However, some scholarships may come with a bond period where the recipient has to serve for the scholarship provider. Not all scholarships require the applicant to be financially disadvantaged.

Scholarship Committee
Committee members who review scholarship applications and decide which applicants to award with a scholarship.

Scholarship Essay Outline
An outline listing important points you want to include in your scholarship essay.

Scholarship Essay Prompt
A topic you are asked to write about in your scholarship essay.

Scholarship Resume
A document outlining your personal, academic, extracurricular and professional accomplishments.

Second yearite
2nd year (Sophomore)

4th year

2nd year (See Second yearite)

A stipend is a regular payment made to a scholar. This payment may be made weekly, fortnightly, monthly or on some other basis such as quarterly. A stipend is normally offered to a scholar to assist them with their basic living expenses such as travel, rental accommodation, food, school books and health insurance. A stipend is normally a modest payment that does not cover the full amount of a scholar’s living expenses. Many scholars who receive stipend are required to work part-time on occasion to earn additional funds to cover their basic expenses.

A subsidy is a partial form of reimbursement. This payment may be made in advance or returned to the student by the funding party after the student has incurred the expense out of their own funds. For example, a scholarship provider may agree to subsidise a scholar’s tuition fees by 50% on an annual basis for a maximum of 4 years for a Bachelor Degree course. If this student’s tuition fees cost $30,000 per year, then their subsidy is $15,000 per year.


Teaching Assistantship (TA)
Financial assistance (tuition, stipend) provided to graduate students who teach or engage in research.

Third yearite
Financ3rd year (Junior)

Three-Quarter Time
An undergraduate student taking between 9-11 credit hours during the spring or fall semester.

A high school or college document detailing your courses and grades during your attendance at the school.

Tuition fees
Tuition fees refer to the charges that a student must pay to the college/university to receive teaching services from academic staff such as tutors and lecturers. The amount varies by school.


Undergraduate Student
A student attending a college or university to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Universities are typically larger institutions that offer a variety of both undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Random process used to verify that the information you provided in your financial aid application/FAFSA is accurate and matches your finances.


On-campus or off-campus jobs for students with financial need, which let you earn money to cover college expenses.