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College Types & Terminology

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EXploring College TYpes

It's important to understand the different types of colleges that exist before you help your student search for the best college for them.Learning about various college types will ensure you can assist students in building a balanced college list.Please take some time to click on the resources below to explore two comprehensive lists of college types.

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College Admission Terminology

Alternative Admission

The alternative assessment method, used by certain colleges and universities, personalizes the college admission process and offers students a chance to be evaluated individually and more holistically. There is less emphasis placed on standardized test scores and more on the interview, portfolio, recommendations, and essay.

Coalition Application

The Coalition Application is currently used by around 150 colleges/universities in the Common App (90 of which are College Point partner schools). Seeking to offer a broader picture of applicants, the Coalition App allows students to showcase classwork, personal writing, additional letters of support, and other supplemental materials.

Common Application

Informally known as the Common App, this college admission application is used by 693 member colleges and universities. We encourage students to create a Common App account as soon as possible.

Early Action (EA)

Freshman retention rate is the percentage of students that return to college for their sophomore year. A lower retention rate could indicate issues such as a poor match between student and college or that the environment is not supportive of student success. Higher retention rates are a sign that something is being done right - students are satisfied, both academically and socially, and want to continue their studies in that environment.

Early Decision (ED)

Early decision applicants are expected to submit an early decision application to only one school because acceptance through the early decision is binding, meaning that the student promises that they will attend the school if their application is accepted. Students can submit applications to additional schools under normal application procedures but agree to withdraw those applications if accepted to their ED school. Early decision is not an obligation to be taken lightly, as usually students can seek release from an early decision obligation only on the grounds of financial hardship if the financial aid package they are offered is genuinely inadequate.

Fly-in Programs

Fly-in programs are two- to three-day college tours for prospective or admitted students from underrepresented backgrounds. Offered by colleges and universities, fly-in programs are used to attract students from diverse backgrounds.

Posse

The Posse Foundation identifies high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential to become Posse Scholars. Every year, Posse works closely with its network of high schools and community-based organizations to recruit Posse Scholars through a nomination process. Each Posse Scholar wins a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend one of Posse’s partner colleges and universities. For additional eligibility information (including a list of POSSE locations), visit www.possefoundation.org.

QuestBridge

A national college match program, Questbridge partners with 48+ highly competitive colleges and universities around the country. If accepted, students are given early admission to one of their preferred schools and receive a full scholarship that covers all four years. A student who has demonstrated strong academic achievement in high school (top 5%-10% of class), scored a 1270 or better on the SAT (or 26 or better on the ACT) while experiencing financial hardships at home are encouraged to apply. For additional information please visit www.questbridge.org.

Retention Rate

Freshman retention rate is the percentage of students that return to college for their sophomore year. A lower retention rate could indicate issues such as a poor match between student and college or that the environment is not supportive of student success. Higher retention rates are a sign that something is being done right - students are satisfied, both academically and socially, and want to continue their studies in that environment.

Rolling Admissions

Under a rolling admission policy, there is no deadline for filing a college application. This concept is used most often by state universities. After you apply, you'll receive a response within three to four weeks. If accepted, you are not required to confirm your enrollment until May 1 (in most cases). If you are an out-of-state resident applying to a state university other than your own, you should apply as early as possible.

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(Click on each term to see definition)

Financial Aid Specific Terms

Merit based aid

This is money awarded without regard to financial need. It can be based on academic achievement, artistic abilities, leadership skills, or any other characteristic.

Need based aid

Money awarded to students when their families can’t afford to pay the full price. Need-based aid may come in the form of grants or scholarships, but it can also be loans with lower interest rates.

Net Price

The amount you’ll actually pay for college after tuition discounts, scholarships, and grants are accounted for. For private colleges, this is usually far less than the advertised price.

Pell Grant

The largest federal grant program offered to undergraduates. It is designed to assist students from low-income households. To qualify for a Pell Grant, a student must demonstrate financial need by completing and submitting the FAFSA form.

Scholarships

Money that doesn’t have to be repaid. Scholarships are usually awarded based on certain characteristics or qualities of the student and can be merit-based or need-based. Colleges or individual departments offer scholarships, as do thousands of nonprofit groups, businesses, and other organizations.

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Cost of Attendance

The projected cost for one year of college. It includes tuition, fees, books, food, housing, and transportation.

Expected Family Cotribution

Expected Family Contribution. The amount you and your family are expected to contribute toward college costs. The FAFSA and Dream Act application determines this.

Grants

This is the financial aid money that does not have to be repaid. Grants are available through the federal government, state agencies, and individual colleges.

Loans

Financial aid money that needs to be repaid. Students will be offered subsidized or unsubsidized loans.

Sticker Price

The cost that most colleges list in their brochures, such as tuition, housing, fees, supplies, etc.

(Click on each term to see definition)

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