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Student Financial Aid

Financial Aid Dictionary

There are many resources available to help you secure financial aid on your Clemson Journey. Find explanations for our most-used terms below to better understand your needs, your opportunities and the tools you can use to pay for college.

Academic Year: The academic year spans Fall and Spring semesters. It begins in August and ends in May.  

Aid Eligibility: Aid eligibility refers to a student’s academic standing. Certain scholarships and grants have GPA requirements and credit hour requirements to maintain aid eligibility. Visit Federal Student Aid for more information.  

Citizen/Eligible Noncitizen: To receive U.S. federal aid, a student must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.  

U.S. citizens include students who were born in the United States, American Samoa or Swains Island, and students born to parents who are citizens of the United States abroad.  

Eligible noncitizens include U.S. permanent residents with Alien Registration Receipt Cards and students with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) showing specific designations. 

Cost of Attendance: Cost of attendance (COA) is the price associated with the total expenses of being a college student. Some of the items are listed on the student bill, including University tuition and fees, housing (for on-campus residents) and food (for students with meal plans). The other items included in the COA are calculated estimates for books, course materials, supplies, transportation and personal expenses.   

Degree-Seeking Status: Students must be accepted into a degree-seeking program at Clemson University and enrolled in at least half-time credits to have a “Degree-Seeking Status” and qualify for federal financial aid. 

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an index used on FAFSA applications prior to 2024-2025 to determine your federal aid eligibility. It is based on a formula calculation within the FAFSA set up by the Department of Education. This number should not be viewed as a dollar amount you will be required to contribute to educational expenses; your out-of-pocket expenses may be more or less than your EFC. The Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the EFC beginning with the 2024-2025 FAFSA. For more information, visit the Federal Student Aid website.  

Student Aid Index (SAI): This is a federal financial aid eligibility index number replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), beginning with the 2024-2025 FAFSA. The number results from information a student provides on their FAFSA form. The SAI number is used to determine how much federal student aid the student would receive. 

Financial Need: Per The Office of Federal Student Aid, “Financial need is the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) at a school and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). While COA varies from school to school, your EFC does not change based on the school you attend.”

Grant: Grants are financial aid awarded based on financial need. There are federal, state and institutional grant programs that provide aid to Clemson students. They do not need to be repaid, but grant funds used for housing and food or exceeding the cost of tuition, fees, books, course materials and supplies are subject to U.S. income taxation.  

In-State Student: An in-state student is a U.S. citizen whose legal guardian’s primary address is in South Carolina and whose high school transcripts originate from a South Carolina address. 

International student: International students are students who do not have U.S. citizenship and do not meet the requirements of an “eligible noncitizen.”  

Loan: Loans are financial aid funds that must be repaid. Students can apply for loans to help cover education costs not covered by scholarships and grants.  

Out-of-State Student: An out-of-state student is a student whose home address is not in South Carolina.  

To be precise, out-of-state refers to a U.S. citizen whose legal guardian’s primary address is in a state other than South Carolina and whose high school transcripts originate from an address outside of South Carolina.  

Residency: Residency tells us where students live. This classification determines if students will pay in-state or out-of-state tuition at Clemson University. 

Satisfactory Academic Progress: Satisfactory Academic Progress refers to the GPA, timeframe and pacing requirements students must meet to maintain their financial aid.   

Scholarship: Scholarships are financial aid funds that do not need to be repaid. They can be one-time gifts or span up to eight semesters of undergraduate study. 

Verification: Verification is the process mandated by the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the accuracy of data submitted on the FAFSA by applicants for federal financial aid. 

FAFSA Contributor: An individual required to provide their information, consent and approval on a student's application for federal aid through the FAFSA form.