Financial Aid Glossary and FAQs


To help you better understand the financial aid process, we have provided a list of definitions of the most commonly used financial Aid terms. For a full list of terms see the U.S. Department of Education glossary.

Academic Year: The period of time beginning at the start of the Fall semester and ending at the end of the Spring semester (mid-August to mid-May). At Chicago-Kent College, our Summer semester is the trailing or ending term of the standard (Fall/Spring) academic year. In other words, if you are enrolled in and receive financial aid for the Summer semester, that semester is a part of the standard academic year belonging to the preceding Fall and Spring semesters.

Accrued Interest: The addition of daily interest calculated on the unpaid principle balance of the loan. Depending upon the type of loan, this interest is payable by the borrower. Loans that accrue interest are the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford, Federal Graduate PLUS Loan and Private Loan.

    Annual Percentage Rate (APR): A percentage calculation that reflects the total costs of a loan (interest plus all fees) on an annual basis.

    Billable Expenses: Direct expenses that are billable to the university and charged to your student account.  Tuition and Fees are examples of billable expenses.

    Borrower: Anyone who obtains money from a lender. The borrower signs a Loan Agreement or Master Promissory Note (MPN), which serves as the formal promise to repay the loan.

    Capitalizing: A process where a lender adds any unpaid interest to the principal of the loan, thereby increasing the balance due and the monthly payment of your loan.

    Cost of Attendance (COA): Your Cost of Attendance (or COA) is your student budget for the standard academic year and includes the budget components of Tuition & Fees (Billable Expenses), Room & Board, Books, Transportation and Personal Expenses (Non-Billable Expenses).   We determine your COA based on your program.  Each budget component is a maximum estimated amount (based on data we've collected) of what a student may spend throughout the 9-month academic year.  A student's total financial aid package, including scholarships, loans and any other financial aid resources, may not exceed the Cost of Attendance Budget, as determined by the Office of Financial Aid. 

    Consolidation: A process where a company will combine all outstanding federal student loans into a new loan.

    Credit History: A credit history is a summary of your financial strength, including your history of paying bills and your ability to repay future loans. To qualify for a Federal Graduate PLUS Loan, you cannot have an adverse credit history as your acceptance of the Graduate PLUS Loan authorizes the federal government to run a credit check.

    Default: The failure of a borrower to make federal student loan payments when due or to comply with other terms under a Loan Agreement or Master Promissory Note (MPN).

    Deferment: A period of time during which the repayment of the principal amount of the loan is suspended as a result of the borrower meeting one of the requirements established by law and/or contained in the Loan Agreement or Master Promissory Note (MPN). During this period, borrowers may not have to pay interest on the loan.

    Delinquent Borrower: A borrower who has failed to make one or more loan installments on their due date.  Once a loan is delinquent for a certain period of time, it becomes at risk of going into default.

    Disclosure Statement: A statement of the actual loan costs, including the interest rate and any additional fees. This statement must be presented to the borrower on or before the date the money is sent out by the lender.

    Federal Direct Loan Program:  Also referred to as Direct Loans.  As of July 1, 2010, all federal student loans come directly from the U.S. Department of Education under the Direct Loan Program.  

    Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan: A federal government-supported educational loan in which the student is responsible for all of the interest that accrues on the loan. There is a fixed interest rate charged to the loan. The student may either pay the interest while in school or have it accrue and capitalize on the principal. See our website page called Interest Rates for current rates. In addition there is a loan origination fee charged on each student loan after it is processed so that the amount borrowed is the Gross amount and the amount that is applied to your student account is the Net amount. Visit our webpage - Loan Origination Fees for more information.

    Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan: A federal government-supported educational loan that is credit based. You must first apply for your maximum loan eligibility through the Direct Unsubsidized Loan before the PLUS Loan can be awarded. There is a fixed interest rate that begins to accrue as soon as the loan is disbursed to the school. Repayment of the principal begins immediately, but is deferred by Direct Loans if a student also has a Federal Unsubsidized Loan, repayment is coordinated to match the 6-month grace period of the Federal Unsubsidized Loan.  Interest Rates and Loan Origination Fees apply for this type of student loan as well.. 

    Forbearance: A temporary cessation of loan payments; an extension of time for making payments; or and acceptance of smaller payments than were previously scheduled. Forbearance may be given for circumstances that are not covered by deferment, such as hospitalization or short-term unemployment, that adversely affect the borrower's ability to meet loan payment obligations.

    Grace Period: A period of 6 months after a student graduates or ceases to be enrolled at least half time. After 6 months, the student goes into repayment. Loan payments do not have to be made by the student during the grace period. However, interest will continue to accrue on loans that are not subsidized.

    Loan Agreement: Also commonly referred to as a Master Promissory Note (MPN).  A legal document signed by the borrower when obtaining a loan. This agreement or MPN lists the conditions under which the loan is made and the terms under which the borrower agrees to pay back the loan. As a first-time borrower of federal student loans at Chicago-Kent, you will want to complete the MPN for both the Federal Unsubsidized Loan and the Federal Graduate PLUS Loan.  You can complete these both online  by visiting  Typically, the MPN completion of the Federal Unsubsidized Loan is a one-time requirement which should remain valid for 10 years. However, for the Graduate PLUS Loan, a new Master Promissory Note may be required each academic year and sometimes, for each individual Graduate PLUS Loan you borrow, as this is a credit-based educational loan. When completing the MPN(s), if Chicago-Kent College is not a choice, you will want to be sure you enter Illinois Institute of Technology - Downtown Campus. (001691-01). 

    Loan Period: The academic year or portion thereof for which the applicant is enrolled and is seeking one or more loans.

    Master Promissory Note (MPN): See Loan Agreement 

    Negative Amortization: Negative amortization means that even when you pay your minimum payment, because you are not paying the interest, the amount you owe will still go up.

    Non-Billable Expenses: Indirect expenses that are not payable to the university.  Non-Billable Expenses include Cost of Attendance budget components of Room and Board, Books, Transportation and Miscellaneous or Personal Expenses.

    Origination Fee: A processing fee calculated on the amount borrowed and charged to the student by the Department of Education. This fee is deducted from the amount of the loan proceeds you accept on the myIIT portal. Students are urged to take this into account, especially when borrowing a Federal Unsubsidized and/or Federal Graduate PLUS Loan. For more information see our Loan Origination Fee webpage.

    Principal and Interest: Principal refers to the total amount borrowed plus any capitalized fees and interest. Interest refers to the amount charged for the use of the money over time, and is usually stated as an annual percentage of the principal amount.

    Repayment Schedule: A plan which calculates the principal and interest due in each installment, number of payments required to pay the loan in full, the interest rate, and the due dates of the first and subsequent payments.

    Servicer: The Department of Education, private lenders and secondary markets hire companies that specialize in student loans to handle billing, collections, deferments, etc. These organizations are called "servicers" since they service the loans for the lenders.


    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)


    What are my tuition charges per credit hour?

    Tuition rates for your program for the current academic year may be found by visiting the J.D. Program Tuition and Fees webpage.

    What types of financial aid can I receive as a law student at Chicago-Kent College?

    At the graduate/professional level at Chicago-Kent College, the types of financial aid that are available are Scholarships, Federal Work Study, Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, and Federal Graduate PLUS Loans.  You must meet all eligibility requirements to be considered for Federal Student Aid.

    What is a Cost of Attendance?

    Your Cost of Attendance is your student budget for the academic year and includes the budget components of Tuition and Fees, Room and Board, Books, Transportation and Miscellaneous Expenses. The amounts that we allot for the budget components which make up your Cost of Attendance are based on data that our office collects through a student survey at the beginning of each year. This data is based on an average amount of expenses a student may incur during the academic year.

    You may receive a total financial aid award up to, but not exceeding your total Cost of Attendance.  Additionally, the Office of Financial Aid encourages that students borrow conservatively and only borrow what you feel you will need for the 9-month academic year.

    How do I accept my financial aid award?

    You can view and accept your offered financial aid award(s) by visiting your Financial Aid Dashboard in the myIIT portal.  For detailed instructions, please click HERE and click on “Maintain Awards” under the “Viewing Your Financial Aid” section.

    If you have difficulty accessing your myIIT portal account please contact our office via email at

    Am I eligible for Federal Work Study?

    In order to be considered for Federal Work Study (FWS) funds, you must have answered “Yes” to the question on the FAFSA, “Are you interested in being considered for work-study?” and you must demonstrate need.

    How is financial aid disbursed and when will my financial aid award(s) be credited to my student account?

    Financial Aid (scholarships and federal student loans) is disbursed in equal installments directly to your student account approximately 10 days before the start of each semester as long as there are no outstanding requirements necessary to complete the processing of your federal student loans.

    Please note, our office must verify your enrollment and eligibility before the funds can be credited to your tuition account. This process may take approximately 1-3 days beyond the scheduled disbursement date.

    It’s 10 days before the start of classes.  Why hasn’t my financial aid disbursed?

    Two common reasons why you have not received your financial aid disbursements may include:

    1. You are not enrolled in the minimum credit hours required of your program.  If this situation applies to you, please contact the Office of Financial Aid with your enrollment plans so we may review your financial aid and make any necessary adjustments.
    2. You have unsatisfied requirements necessary to complete the processing of your student loans. It’s best to check the Home page in the Financial Aid Dashboard of your myIIT portal to view any “Unsatisfied Requirements” and submit any necessary documentation to the Office of Financial Aid. To review Chicago-Kent’s Federal Student Loan requirements, please visit our webpage.

    If you have any questions regarding your financial aid disbursements, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.

    Why are my student loan disbursements less than the amount I accepted on the myIIT portal?

    The total amount that you borrow for each loan for the academic year is the Gross Amount. The Federal Government takes an Origination Fee off the top of the loan after loan is processed, and what is disbursed to your student account is the Net Amount (Gross Amount less Origination Fees).

    Origination Fees on Federal Direct Student Loans change every October 1st.  For current Loan Origination Fee percentages, please visit our Loan Origination Fees webpage.

    When will I receive a refund for living expenses?

    If you have a credit balance in your account after scholarships, student loan funds, and any outside resources have been credited to your account, the Student Accounting Office will process a refund for you. Please contact the Student Accounting Office directly at (312) 567-3795 or via email at for any questions regarding a timeline for receiving your refund.

    What do I need to do to change my requested loan amount?

    To request a change to your existing loan amount, please email the Office of Financial Aid at

    I am a 1L and I thought I borrowed enough financial aid to cover the total tuition due for the entire academic year.  Why didn’t my financial aid cover my Fall semester balance?

    The tuition billing for first year students is based on a flat rate of 31 credits for the year. Students have a set registration schedule of 16 credit hours for the Fall semester and 15 credit hours for the Spring semester unless you choose the 1L Your Way Program (you are a Summer-Start student). 

    As tuition is billed per credit hour per semester, your tuition charges for the Fall semester will be greater than the tuition charges for the Spring term. This means your charges for the Fall and Spring semester will not be equal, but your financial aid disbursements will be equal. As a result, your accepted financial aid may not cover all of your charges or provide you with the refund amount that you were expecting.

    We strongly recommend students plan accordingly and complete an Estimated Refund Calculation Worksheet to help you estimate your refund per semester.

    I’m a rising 2L and it looks like my financial aid award is a lot smaller than what I received as a first year law student, is this correct?

    For most students this is correct. Your Cost of Attendance as a continuing student is based on the standard minimum required credits for the program type:

    • Full time/day division students = 12 credits per semester
    • Part time/evening division students = 6 credits per semester

    As stated previously, tuition is charged per credit hour based on your tuition rate, and you may receive a total financial aid award up to, but not exceeding your total academic year Cost of Attendance.

    However, if you are taking more than the standard minimum credit load per semester and you wish to borrow additional financial aid to cover your tuition costs and living expenses, you may email the Office of Financial Aid requesting an increase to your federal student loan(s).  We will then provide you with assistance with determining your eligibility for additional financial aid. 

    As a friendly reminder: The total amount you request will be disbursed equally between the Fall and Spring semesters. If your enrollment for the Fall and Spring term is not for the same number of credit hours, your financial aid refund will not be the same amount each term. Therefore, we ask that you budget accordingly and if you need guidance, please contact our office via email or telephone (312-906-5180).

    I am a full-time JD student who is graduating next year. I am planning to take less than 12 credits in either the Fall or Spring semester. Am I eligible for financial aid?

    You must be enrolled at least-half time (6 credit-hours) in courses that are applicable toward the 87 credits required for your JD degree. In addition, students are not eligible for financial aid for any course credits that are not required for their JD degree.  In other words, credits taken above the 87 credits required for graduation are not eligible for federal financial aid.

    If you plan to take between 6 and 11 total credits in any given semester, it is best to send your Fall and Spring enrollment intentions to our office via email. This will prevent delays of your disbursements and refunds. Once we receive your enrollment intentions, we will customize your Cost of Attendance budget to reflect your projected enrollment. Please inform our office of your enrollment intentions at least 3 weeks before classes start to ensure your financial aid is not delayed.

    Chicago-Kent Scholarship Eligibility

    If you are in your last year and are taking less than 12 credits per semester, no action is required of you to receive your scholarship. Your scholarship will be posted to your student account, but cannot exceed your tuition.

    How do I defer my prior student loans?

    Students who are interested in deferring their prior student loans should contact the Registrar’s Office at or at (312) 905-5080.

    How can I find out how much outstanding student loan debt I already have?

    You can obtain a history of your federal student loans through the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS) by visiting

    Access to this system requires the same FSA ID and password used for the FAFSA.  You can create a new FSA ID by visiting the following link:

    I do not qualify for Federal Financial Aid, what options do I have to help pay for my tuition and living-expenses?

    If you do not meet all of the eligibility requirements necessary to apply for federal financial aid, you may want to consider a Private Educational Loan to cover some of your education-related expenses.  Please visit our webpage for information on Private Loans.