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. Your credit history may be considered adverse if you are experiencing any of the following credit conditions:

    • Bankruptcy discharge within the past five years
    • Voluntary surrender of personal property to avoid repossession within the last five years
    • Repossession of collateral within the last five years
    • Foreclosure proceedings started
    • Foreclosure within the last five years
    • Conveying your real property that is subject to a mortgage (by deed) to your lender to avoid foreclosure (deed in lieu of foreclosure)
    • Accounts currently 90 days or more delinquent
    • Unpaid collection accounts
    • Charge-offs/write-offs of federal student loans
    • Wage garnishment within the last five years
    • Defaulting on a loan, even if the claim has been paid
    • Lease or contract terminated by default
    • County/state/federal tax lien within the past five years

    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. See the list of current servicers here.


    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

    Confused about some of the details of your award and the terms you've encountered as you secure your financial aid? We have compiled the most commonly asked questions below for your convenience. For an explanation of frequently used terms see the Financial Aid Glossary below.

    Information for 1L's

    Q: Why did my financial aid not cover my fall semester balance when I borrowed enough for the total tuition due for the entire academic year?

    A: Financial aid is awarded for the entire academic year. Not per semester. This means you will receive an equal half of your accepted aid for the fall semester and the other half for the spring semester, minus the loan origination fee.

    The tuition billing for first year students is based on a flat rate of 30 credits for the year. Students have a set registration schedule of 16 credits for the fall semester and 14 credits for the spring semester (unless they opt to do the 1L Your Way Program). Tuition is billed per credit hour per semester. 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 have created this form to help you determine your aid and refund per semester.

    Information for 2L's

    Q: It looks like my financial aid award is a lot smaller than what I received as a first year law student, is this correct?

    A: Yes, for most students this is correct and here are the reasons why:

    • Eligible continuing students that answered "yes" to FAFSA FWS question #31 are awarded Federal Work Study (FWS). It is a need based employment program that requires students to earn their award amount through work. FWS reduces the amount a student can borrow in federal student loans. If you do not plan on participating in the program and need additional funds you may email your request with the exact amount to be converted into additional loan funds.
    • Tuition is charged per credit hour based on your tuition rate. Click here for a list of JD Program Tuition & Fees.
    • The tuition component of the COA for a all students will be 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
    • If you are taking more than the standard minimum credit load per semester and your current cost of attendance budget does not meet your financial requirements, you may email the Office of Financial Aid requesting an increase to your loan(s), please specify the following in your email authorization request:
    1. Enrollment intentions for the fall and spring semester (specify credit load per semester)
    2. Exact amount of Federal Work Study to be converted into loan(s)
    3. Exact dollar amount that you need in total for the entire academic year (not semester*)
    • Due to privacy information restrictions, we are unable to tell you your financial aid eligibility amount via email.

      For this reason, to determine your additional eligibility please complete the following steps:

    1.Log into your myIIT portal account and view your financial aid award information under the Finances tab.

    2.View your financial aid award and your cost of attendance budget totals for the current academic year.

    3.Subtract your financial aid award total from your Cost of attendance total. The difference is your current loan eligibility amount.

    4.Respond to this email to request the exact dollar amount of loan increase that you wish to receive.

    If you need assistance in how to determine the exact dollar amount you are eligible for just give us a call or stop by the office.

    Please note: Financial aid is disbursed for the entire academic year. Any amount you request will be disbursed equally between the fall and spring semester. If your registration for the fall and spring term is not for the same number of credit hours, your financial aid refund will not be for the same amount each term. Therefore, we ask that you budget accordingly.

    The Office of Financial Aid cautions students against borrowing up to the Cost of Attendance limit.

    Information for 3L's

    Q: I am a full-time JD student that is graduating next year. I am planning to take less than 12 credits in either fall semester or spring semester. Am I eligible for financial aid?

    A: In order to receive federal financial aid at Chicago-Kent College of Law you must meet certain enrollment criteria. Students that do not meet these criteria are not eligible for federal financial aid. The enrollment criteria are as follows:

    1. Be enrolled at least-half time in courses that count toward the 87 credits required for graduation. Any credits taken above the 87 credits required for graduation are not eligible for federal financial aid.

    2. According to the university policy, at least half time enrollment is considered to be: 6 credits for fall and spring semester and 3 credits for the summer term. For more information about registration, see the Registrar's Office.

    3. If you plan to take between 6 and 11 credits, 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. It is best to let us know your enrollment intentions at least 3 weeks before classes start to ensure your financial aid is not delayed.

    We understand that you may be close to graduation and not need as many credits as in past semesters. However, you must still demonstrate at least half time enrollment in credits required for graduation to maintain your federal financial aid eligibility. It is also very important to note that if you are choosing to enroll in additional credits over the graduation requirement, you may not be eligible for federal financial aid. This occurs when a student needs less than 6 credits for graduation but chooses to enroll in extra credits. If you do not meet the enrollment criteria your options are make to payment arrangements with the Student Accounting Office or to apply for a private educational loan.

    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.

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

    A: Neither the federal or our state government have grant programs for graduate students, as a law student at Chicago-Kent you would be eligible to receive the federal loans and/or merit and/or need-based scholarships. In order to receive student loans, you must be enrolled in a degree-seeking program and enrolled at least half-time. Click here for more information.

    Q: How can I receive a Chicago-Kent scholarship?

    A: The Admissions Office administers all scholarships. You can reach their office at (312) 906-5020 or email at You can find information on scholarship on the Admission Office website here.

    Q: How do I apply for financial aid?

    A: The first step to take in order to receive financial aid for each academic year is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the FAFSA. Students should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1st. The Office of Financial Aid recommends completing the FAFSA prior to April 1st. You must use the Chicago-Kent school code on your FAFSA-E00773. If you have completed the FAFSA online you will receive a Student Aid Report via email in approximately 1 week. Students who complete the paper FAFSA will be mailed a Student Aid Report (SAR) in approximately 4-6 weeks. For this reason, we recommend that students complete the online version of the FAFSA, as it is a much faster process. Be sure to review your SAR thoroughly and make corrections if necessary. The Chicago-Kent Office of Financial Aid will receive an electronic copy of your SAR and determine what types of aid you are eligible to receive. Click here for Steps to Apply.

    Q: How do I accept my financial aid award?

    A: All students can view and accept their award in their myIIT account. If you have difficulty accessing your myIIT portal account please contact our office via email at to make changes to your award.

    Q: Are there other forms to complete in addition to the FAFSA?

    A: Yes. After you have reviewed and made any necessary changes to your award, there will be certain forms to complete to begin the student loan process if you are a first time borrower or if your application is selected for the Verification Process. Students planning to borrow any of the following loans may need to complete the processes described below:

    Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Plus loan Requirements

    New students who have been awarded and accept the Federal Direct Stafford Unsubsidized loan and/or Plus loan will need to complete each loan's Master Promissory Note, and one Loan Entrance Counseling Session that covers both loan types online at the Department of Education's website. Funds will not be disbursed until all requirements are completed.

    Continuing students who have received a Federal Direct Stafford Unsubsidized and/or Federal Plus loan in the past may not need to complete another Master Promissory Note or Loan Entrance Counseling, if both requirements have already been completed for IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. However, if you used an endorser or filed an appeal with Direct Loans in order to secure the Plus loan in the past, you may have to use an endorser or file an appeal again, as well as complete a new Master Promissory Note and Plus Loan counseling after your loan is approved. Direct Loans will notify students of their credit decision once the loan has been transmitted from the school to Direct Loans.

    Q: What is the Master Application/Promissory Note?

    A: This form a legal agreement between the student borrower and the Department of Education. It is the product of the 1998 Re-authorization of federal student aid. It is called a "Master" promissory note because when you sign it the first time, you are giving your school and the government authorization to process and disburse a student loan for you every year you are enrolled, up to 10 years. The only exception to this is the Federal Plus Loan which is credit based. If you are not approved for credit and add an endorser or appeal your decision to Direct Loans, you may have to complete a new Master Promissory Note after you are approved.

    Q: How will the Office of Financial Aid know how much I want to borrow in Federal loans if I do not have to submit a promissory note every year?

    A: The Office of Financial Aid will process your Federal Direct Stafford and Federal Direct Plus loans based on the amount you accept on your financial aid award via the myIIT portal.

    Private loans

    New and continuing students who wish to borrow a private loan will need to select a lender and complete a loan application at the lender's website. Additional information about private loans can be found here.


    Q: Why do I have to submit my federal IRS Tax Transcript to the Office of Financial Aid?

    A: The government randomly selects a population of students to perform the Verification Process. In completing this process, our office simply compares your actual IRS Tax Transcript to the tax figures you reported on your FAFSA. If there are any discrepancies, they are corrected and your financial aid awards are reviewed again for eligibility. If any changes are made to your award due to Verification, you will be contacted. Click here on how to request your IRS Tax Transcript.

    Q: Are there other forms of documentation I may need to submit?

    A: On occasion, depending on the student and the circumstance, our office may be required to request citizenship verification, copy of social security card, marriage license, confirmation of prior default status cleared, verification of registration with selective service, etc. Be assured that if our office requires any additional information from you to complete your financial aid file, you will be contacted and one of our counselors will answer any questions you may have. Click here for required forms and worksheets.


    Q: When will I receive my student loan disbursement?

    A: All student loan funds are disbursed 10 days prior to the start of each term for the law school, if a student has completed all requirements in advance. If you accept your funds 5 days before, or any time after the scheduled disbursement date, your funds will not disburse to your student account until 5 days after your loan is originated by the Office of Financial Aid. Anytime you accept a loan on the myIIT portal, you will receive a Loan Disclosure Statement from the Department of Education's Direct Loans Program. This is in effort to ensure that students receive information regarding their loan disbursement before their funds are posted to their school student account. The Department of Education wants to make sure that students are aware of their loan obligations before they receive the funds.

    The date of disbursement indicates the day that the Direct Loan Program will book your loan to be released electronically to your student account. 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.

    If you have a credit balance in your account after scholarships, 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) 567-3785 or via email at for any questions regarding the timing of your tuition refund.

    Q: What if I am visiting another school. Can I still receive financial aid?

    A: Yes, if the Assistant Dean of Office of Academic Administration and Student Affairs has approved your visit and the transfer of the credits that you will earn. You will have to complete a Financial Aid Application to Visit Another Law School form. This form will provide our office with the information needed to contact your visiting school and set up a Consortium Agreement and request enrollment verification. If you are planning to visit another school, see our office for more details. Students visiting another law school are automatically ineligible for the Chicago-Kent scholarship. See our website for more information.

    Q: What if I am studying abroad via Chicago-Kent. How do I receive financial aid?

    A: You must still follow the same eligibility criteria as if you were taking classes at Chicago-Kent. You must complete a FAFSA, be enrolled at least half time, and be degree seeking. Please notify our office of the number of credits you wish to take. Please be aware that your Cost of Attendance during your study abroad term will be based on the living expenses and tuition charges of the school that you will attend. See our website for more information.