Student Consumer Information & FAQs

Paying for college is not something that you have to do alone. The Office of Financial Aid at CSUF is here to help as you achieve your educational goals.

We have many resources that can help you throughout your educational career. Please read below and visit the links for more details about financial aid.

If you have additional questions you can contact us for further assistance. 

Student Consumer Information

The Office of Financial Aid is committed to providing clear, timely, and accurate information to all continuing and prospective students. To ensure both the achievement of this goal and compliance with federal regulations, California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) makes the following information available to students as indicated in each subsection below.

A paper copy of this information can be obtained by visiting the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, LH 805.




Information on Withdrawing From Classes and How It Impacts Your Financial Aid




Information concerning student completion and transfer-out rates is available from the following source:

V. Register To Vote

Financial Aid Terminology

Sometimes it can seem like the world of financial aid has its own vocabulary. To help you speak the language, here are some of the commonly used terms and acronyms.

More Terms - The Federal Department of Education  Opens in new window has an extensive financial aid glossary which may be of use to students and families.



1040 FORM, 1040A FORM, 1040EZ FORM

The Federal Income Tax Return. Every person who has received income during the previous year must file a form 1040 with the IRS by April 15.

1099 FORM

Form used by business to report income paid to a non-employee. Banks use this form to report interest income. These are also used to show payments of retirement plans paid to individuals.


A popular type of retirement fund. It is legal to borrow money from your 401(k) to help pay for your children's education.


This is the amount of the academic work you must complete each year, and the time period in which you are expected to complete it, as defined by your school. For example, your school’s academic year may be made up of a fall and spring semester, during which a full-time undergraduate student is expected to complete at least 24 semester hours, usually called credits or credit hours, over the course of 30 weeks of instructional time. Academic years change from school to school and even from educational program to educational program at the same school.


Your or your family's wages, salaries, interest, dividends, etc., minus certain deductions from income as reported on a federal income tax return. Commonly referred to as AGI.


A formal request to have a financial aid administrator review your aid eligibility and possibly use Professional Judgment to adjust the figures. For example, if you believe the financial information on your financial aid application does not reflect your family's current ability to pay (e.g., because of death of a parent, unemployment or other unusual circumstances), you should definitely make an appeal. There are a variety of appeal forms available on our website, if these forms do not meet your circumstances you may considering coming in to speak with a financial aid representative.


An item of value, such as a family's home, business, and farm equity, real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, cash, certificates of deposit (CDs), bank accounts, trust funds and other property and investments.


An offer from the college that states the type and amount of financial aid the school is willing to provide if you accept admission and register to take classes at that school. CSUF notifies student of their eligibility via the student’s Campus Email.


The academic year for which financial aid is requested (or received). The award year runs from July 1 to June 30.


The person who receives the loan.


A financial plan that helps you track your money, make informed spending decisions, and plan for your financial goals.


A cosigner on a loan is a coborrower and is obligated to repay the debt if the primary borrower defaults on the debt. Repayment activity is reported on both the borrower's and cosigner's credit histories. A cosigner is often required if the borrower's credit history is bad or marginal or thin.


(Also known as the cost of education or "budget") The total amount it should cost the student to go to school, including tuition and fees, room and board, allowances for books and supplies, transportation, and personal and incidental expenses. Loan fees, if applicable, may also be included in the COA. Child care and expenses for disabilities may also be included at the discretion of the financial aid administrator. Schools establish different standard budget amounts for students living on-campus and off-campus, married and unmarried students and in-state and out-of-state students.


If a student's parents are divorced or separated, the custodial parent is the one with whom the student lived the most during the past 12 months. The student's need analysis is based on financial information supplied by the custodial parent.


A loan is in default when the borrower fails to pay several regular installments on time or otherwise fails to meet the terms and conditions of the loan. Defaulting on a government loan will make you ineligible for future federal financial aid, unless a satisfactory repayment schedule is arranged, and can affect your credit rating.


Determines to what degree a student has access to parent financial resources.


Disbursement is the release of funds from the school to the student or borrower. Funds are first credited to the student's account for payment of tuition, fees, room and board (if applicable). Any excess funds are then paid to the student by check or direct deposit.


Someone who is not a US citizen but is nevertheless eligible for Federal student aid. Eligible non-citizens include US permanent residents who are holders of valid green cards, US nationals, holders of form I-94 who have been granted refugee or asylum status and certain other non-citizens. Non-citizens who hold a student visa or an exchange visitor visa are not eligible for Federal student aid.


An indication of whether you are a full-time or part-time student. Generally you must be enrolled at least half-time (and in some cases full-time) to qualify for financial aid.


The amount of money that the family is expected to be able to contribute to the student's education, as determined by the Federal Methodology need analysis formula approved by Congress. The EFC includes the parent contribution and the student contribution, and depends on the student's dependency status, family size, number of family members in school, taxable and nontaxable income and assets. The difference between the COA and the EFC is the student's financial need, and is used in determining the student's eligibility for need-based financial aid.


Program providing undergraduate and graduate students with part-time employment during the school year. The federal government pays a portion of the student's salary, making it cheaper for departments and businesses to hire the student. For this reason, work-study students often find it easier to get a part-time job. Eligibility for FWS is based on need. Money earned from a FWS job is not counted as income for the subsequent year's need analysis process.


Money provided to the student and the family to help them pay for the student's education or which is conditioned on the student's attendance at an educational institution. Major forms of financial aid include gift aid (grants and scholarships) and self-help aid (loans and work).


The complete collection of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study employment from all sources (federal, state, institutional and private) offered to a student to enable them to attend the college or university. Note that unsubsidized Stafford loans and PLUS loans are not considered part of the financial aid package, since these financing options are available to the family to help them meet the EFC.


A type of financial aid based on financial need that the student does not have to repay.


Income before taxes, deductions and allowances have been subtracted.


The amount of money received from employment (salary, wages, tips), profit from financial instruments (interest, dividends, capital gains), or other sources (welfare, disability, child support, Social Security and pensions).


One of several popular types of retirement funds. It is not legal to borrow money from your IRA to help pay for your children's education.


The interest on a loan is a fee charged periodically in exchange for the use of a lender's money. It is paid in addition to repaying the amount borrowed. Interest is usually calculated as a percentage of the outstanding principal balance of the loan. The percentage rate may be fixed for the life of the loan, or it may be variable, depending on the terms of the loan. Except for consolidation loans, federal education loans issued from October 1992 to June 2006 used variable interest rates that are pegged to the cost of US Treasury Bills. Since July 1, 2006 all federal education loans have involved fixed interest rates.


Federal agency responsible for enforcing US tax laws and collecting taxes.


A bank, credit union, savings & loan association, or other financial institution that provides funds to the student or parent for an educational loan. Note: Some schools now participate in the Federal Direct Loan program and no longer use a private lender, since loan funds are provided by the US Government.


A type of financial aid which must be repaid, with interest. The federal student loan programs (FFELP and FDSLP) are a good method of financing the costs of your college education. These loans are better than most consumer loans because they have lower interest rates and do not require a credit check or collateral. The Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans also provide a variety of deferment options and extended repayment terms. 


The difference between the COA and the EFC is the student's financial need -- the gap between the cost of attending the school and the student's resources. The financial aid package is based on the amount of financial need. The process of determining a student's need is known as need analysis.

  • Cost of Attendance (COA) - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need


Financial aid that is need-based depends on your financial situation. Most government sources of financial aid are need-based.


Out-of-Pocket cost is the difference between the cost of attendance and just the grants and scholarships and other gift aid in the need-based financial aid package. It reflects the bottom line cost to the family, the amount the family will need to pay out of current and future resources, such as savings, income and loans. See Net Cost for a related definition. While net cost does not vary by much from college to college, out-of-pocket cost can vary significantly, based on how much of need is met with grants instead of loans. Some of the elite non-profit colleges that have adopted no loans financial aid policies have lower out-of-pocket costs than many public colleges. Generally, families should evaluate college financial aid award letters using out-of-pocket cost, not net cost.


A student who receives federal support may not receive awards totaling more than $400 in excess of his or her financial need.


Also known as Alternative Loans, these educational loan programs established by private lenders to supplement the student and parent education loan programs available from federal and state governments. 


A student must make this in order to continue receiving federal aid. If a student fails to maintain an academic standing consistent with the school's SAP policy, they are unlikely to meet the school's graduation requirements.


Registration for the military draft. Male students who are US citizens and have reached the age of 18 and were born after December 31, 1959 must be registered with Selective Service to be eligible for federal financial aid. If the student did not register and is past the age of doing so (18-25), and the school determines that the failure to register was knowing and willful, the student is ineligible for all federal student financial aid programs. The school's decision as to whether the failure to register was willful is not subject to appeal. Students needing help resolving problems concerning their Selective Service registration should call 1-847-688-6888.


Report that summarizes the information included in the FAFSA and must be provided to your school's FAO. The SAR will also indicate the amount of Pell Grant eligibility, if any, and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). You should receive a copy of your SAR four to six weeks after you file your FAFSA. Review your SAR and correct any errors on part 2 of the SAR. Keep a photocopy of the SAR for your records. To request a duplicate copy of your SAR, call 1-319-337-5665.


An IRS Tax Transcript shows the final summary of your individual tax return for the year including any changes either you or the IRS made to your tax return after you filed it.


Interest income, dividend income and capital gains.


In an ideal world, the FAO would be able to provide each student with the full difference between their ability to pay and the cost of education. Due to budget constraints the FAO may provide the student with less than the student's need (as determined by the FAO). This gap is known as the unmet need.


Contributions to IRAs, Keoghs, tax-sheltered annuities and 401k plans, as well as worker's compensation and welfare benefits.


The process your school uses to confirm that the data reported on your application is accurate. Your school has the authority to contact you for documentation that supports income and other information that you reported.


The form listing an employee's wages and tax withheld. Employers are required by the IRS to issue a W2 form for each employee before February 28.

FERPA Information

FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and it is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.  One purpose of FERPA is to protect the privacy of information concerning individual students by placing restrictions on the disclosure of information contained in an individual student's educational record.  FERPA provides students certain rights with respect to their educational records; this means that access to your information is limited to yourself and authorized individuals. 


What Does FERPA Gives Students Rights To?

  • The right to inspect and review their educational records.
  • The right to request the amendment of their education records to ensure that they are not inaccurate misleading or otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights.
  • The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in their education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.  FERPA permits disclosures without consent to “school officials” with “legitimate educational interests.”  “School officials” include university employees (including law enforcement unit and health personnel); agents of the University (such as an attorney or collection agent); or individuals, including students, serving on official committees or assisting a school official perform his/her tasks.  A school official has a “legitimate educational interest” if the official needs to review an education record to fulfill his/her professional responsibility.  Upon request, the University discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks to enroll.  California State University, Fullerton has designated as “Directory” information a student’s name, date and place of birth, permanent and local address, university-recognized e-mail address(es), photograph, telephone number, class level, enrollment status, major, minor, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, previous educational institutions attended, past and present participation in recognized activities, and weight and height if an athletic team member.  Unless restricted by the student, the campus may release Directory information at any time to any requesting party, including the military and for the development of university-affiliated marketing programs.  Students may choose to limit the release of their Directory information in one of four ways:
  • Permit release of all Directory information for any purpose.  No further action by the student is required.
  • Permit release of only “Verification” information.  This sub-category of Directory information consists of a student’s name, class level, enrollment status, major, minor, degrees and awards received, dates of attendance, and university-recognized e-mail address(es). The University will release this information for classroom use; in response to requests, including those from financial lenders, employers or insurance companies for verification of degree and enrollment information; and for inclusion in Commencement and honors materials.  Students who release only “Verification” information will be excluded from all university directories.
  • Permit release of only “Class” information.  This sub-category of Directory information consists of a student’s name, major, minor, degree and awards received, and university-recognized e-mail address(es).  The University will release this information for classroom use and for inclusion in Commencement and honors materials.  Students who release only “Class” information will be excluded from all university directories, and the University will not respond to requests, including those from financial lenders, employers or insurance companies, for verification of degree, dates of attendance or enrollment status.
  • Withhold the release of all Directory information.  Withholding the release of all Directory information means that the student will be excluded from all university directories and publications, including Commencement and honors materials, and the University will not verify degree, dates of attendance or enrollment status without the prior written consent of the student.
  • Students may select at any time, the level of release by logging on to the Student Portal or visiting the Admissions and Records Service Center located in room 114 on the first floor of Langsdorf Hall.  Unless a student designates otherwise, the university will assume that a student has chosen to permit access to their Directory Information for any purpose.
  • The right to file with the U.S. Department of Education a complaint concerning alleged failures by California State University, Fullerton to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The Office that administers FERPA is: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202-4605.
  • The right to obtain a copy of California State University, Fullerton’s student records policy. A copy of this policy may be obtained from the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, Langsdorf Hall 805.

How Does FERPA Impact Financial Aid?

FERPA prohibits the Office of Financial Aid from sharing information about your application to anyone other than you. Even if you are considered independent and provided information from your parents, we can not share this with them without prior consent from you.

How Can I Authorized Individuals to Inquire About My Financial Aid?

You can authorize individuals by signing a release form.  Completion of this form indicates that you consent the staff members in the Office of Financial Aid at CSUF to review and discuss any information contained in your educational records related to or impacting your ability to receive financial aid with the authorized individual. 

If you would like to submit the release form:

  • Log onto your Student Center  an complete the Authorization to Release Information form
  • Complete one form for each individual you would like to authorize.

Important Note: Each CSUF departments have their own FERPA authorization forms and this includes SBS and Financial Aid.  Students must sign separate FERPA authorization forms with SBS and Financial Aid, and other departments on campus that they want to give others authorization.

Student Loans - Code of Conduct

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of August 14, 2008 includes provisions that campuses participating in Title IV programs publish a code of conduct which describes prohibited practices related to loan programs. Prior to this, the CSU coded memorandum “Student Loan Programs – Administrative Safeguards” (AA- 2007-12) dated May 3, 2007 has been the standard campuses have followed.
To avoid any conflict of interest with the responsibilities of a CSU employee with respect to student loans, the CSU Code of Conduct prohibits the following:

  • Revenue sharing arrangements with any lender.
  • The solicitation or acceptance of gifts from a lender, guarantor or servicer by anyone with responsibilities with respect to loans at the institution.
  • Receipt of any fees, payments or other financial benefits (including a stock purchase option) by anyone with responsibilities with respect to loans from a lender as compensation for any type of consulting arrangement or contract to provide services to a lender or on behalf of a lender relating to education loans.
  • The assignment of a first-time borrower’s loan to a particular lender or refusing to certify or otherwise delay certification of any loan regardless of the lender or guaranty agency the borrower selects.
  • The acceptance of any funds to be used for private education loans in exchange for the institution providing concessions to the private lender. 
  • Requesting or accepting assistance with call center staffing or financial aid office staffing from any lender.
  • Any employee with responsibilities with respect to financial assistance at the institution who serves on an advisory board or commission of a lender or guarantor may not accept anything of value from the lender or guarantor except reimbursement for the reasonable expenses of serving on the board or commission.