Financial Aid Glossary

College and university financial aid is specialized enough to require its own terminology. Some words are standard from school to school; some are used only by one institution. To help you make sense of it all, we’ve created a glossary of key financial aid terms. Click the links below for an explanation of each term.

Billed Expenses

See Direct Costs

CSS Profile

College Scholarship Service Profile. This financial aid
form is required of all financial aid applicants and is more extensive than the FAFSA. We recommended gathering as much personal financial information as possible before beginning. The profile must be completed online at Yale’s CSS code is 3987. If applicable, families should complete all required CSS supplements as well.

Demonstrated Financial Need

The amount of award money a family needs to be able to afford one year of Yale. Yale financial aid packages meet this amount dollar for dollar with a Yale Scholarship, a standardized amount of Student Self-Help, and any available outside resources such as a Pell Grant. This represents the difference between Yale’s Estimated Cost of Attendance and the Expected Family Contribution.

Direct Costs

Charges that are billed from Yale. This includes tuition, room and board, and the Yale health plan (unless a student waives this coverage). Direct Costs are split evenly between two bills—one for each academic semester. Also called Billed Expenses.

Estimated Cost of Attendance

The total estimated cost of one academic year at Yale. This includes both Direct Costs and Indirect Costs. A family’s Demonstrated Financial Need is calculated on the basis of this figure.

Expected Family Contribution

The total amount a family is asked to contribute towards 
a student’s Yale education. It includes the Parental Contribution, Student Income Contribution, and a Student Asset Contribution (if applicable). The total Expected
Family Contribution is used to cover both billed and unbilled expenses.


Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form is required for all financial aid applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Most of the required information can be gathered from your most recent federal tax returns. The FAFSA can be completed online at or on paper. Yale’s FAFSA code is 001426.

Federal Work-Study

A designation made by the U.S. federal government when students with financial need complete the FAFSA. With the exception of small number of service-related jobs, FWS status makes no difference for a student’s eligibility for term-time employment at Yale. It does not affect a student’s wages, hours, or chances of being employed.

Indirect Costs

These are our estimates for additional costs beyond tuition and room and board, including books, supplies, and personal expenses such as laundry, toiletries and clothes. Travel expenses to and from New Haven are considered with Indirect Costs and vary depending on a student’s home address. Also called Unbilled Expenses.

International Summer Award

A summer fellowship available to students receiving Yale financial aid. Students must apply for the award, which can be used for one summer of international study.

Parent Loans

Loans available for a student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) to cover all or part of the Expected Family Contribution. Demonstrated Financial Need is not a prerequisite for these loans, but they do require a credit check. All loans charge interest and some charge fees.

Parental Contribution

The amount a student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) are expected to contribute towards the Expected Family Contribution. The 16 amount is dependent on a family’s income and assets. Many lower-income families will have no Parental Contribution.

Student Asset Contribution

Part of the Expected Family Contribution, the percentage of a student’s financial assets that are paid to Yale. Students with financial assets will pay 25% of their available assets annually. Students without assets will not see this as part of their financial aid award letter.

Student Effort

A term that describes both Student Self-Help and the Student Income Contribution. Together, this represents what the student should expect to pay towards his or her Yale education. Outside merit scholarships can be used towards both parts of the Student Effort. Students may also borrow loans to cover these amounts.

Student Income Contribution

The amount a student is expected to contribute towards the Expected Family Contribution from summer employment. 

Student Self-Help

Part of the Yale Financial Aid Award, the amount a student should anticipate contributing financially from term-time employment. Students can work on campus an average of eight to ten hours a week during the academic year to fulfill their Self-Help.

Student Loans

Loans available directly to students to cover some or all of Student Effort. Students may be eligible for Federal Direct Loans or the Yale Student Loan. All loans charge interest and some charge fees.

Unbilled Expenses

See Indirect Costs

Yale Term Abroad

The opportunity for juniors and second semester sophomores to enroll in courses outside the United States. Students with financial need who are approved for the Yale Term Abroad will receive financial aid for their term abroad based on their program expenses and their Expected Family Contribution.

Yale Financial Aid Award

You can think of this as a combination of resources that meet 100% of demonstrated need. It includes the Yale Scholarship, Student Self-Help and any outside resources, such as a Pell Grant. All Yale awards are based on financial need, and will meet 100% of a family’s Demonstrated Financial Need.

Yale Payment Plan

An optional ten-month payment plan available to all Yale students regardless of financial need. The payment plan divides Yale’s Direct Costs into ten equal monthly payments. No interest is charged. A $100 fee is charged every year a family chooses to enroll.

Yale Scholarship

Yale’s need-based grant aid. If a student is awarded financial aid, this amount is included on the Financial Aid Award Letter included with your admission packet. It is a gift and thus never has to be repaid.