Financial Aid Dictionary

Below, we define some terms frequently used by colleges and universities.  

Cost of Attendance

Our estimate of each year’s total college costs includes tuition and fees, room and meals, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation. View Notre Dame's Cost of Attendance.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The amount a family is expected to contribute toward the cost of Notre Dame.  The contribution is determined using the information submitted on the financial aid application(s)  and other supporting documents.   More on Expected Family Contribution at Notre Dame

Demonstrated Need

This is the Cost of Attendance for Notre Dame minus your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Notre Dame is one of less than 60 schools in the nation that meet 100 percent of a family’s financial need primarily with grant assistance, but also through modest self-help which may include student loans and student employment.

Financial Aid

Money from grants, scholarships, benefits, or loans used to pay the cost of college.


Money used to pay for college that does not have to be repaid.


The College Board's Institutional Documentation Service. This is the document processing center we use to manage financial aid application materials for prospective students applying to Notre Dame. After you submit the CSS Profile, keep an eye on your applicant portal, because there will be a checklist of documents we require you to upload through the IDOC portal.

Independent Student

Federal regulations require that all students under the age of 24 be considered a dependent of the parent for the purposes of financial aid. Only when a student has been declared a ward of the court, has been in foster care after the age of 13, is considered an unaccompanied (homeless) youth, or has experienced other similar circumstances may a student be considered independent. Students who believe they may qualify under one of the above exceptions should contact our office directly for additional information.

Merit-based Financial Aid

Money offered to students who show exceptional accomplishment, leadership, commitment to service, and intellectual ability. Notre Dame offers a limited number of merit scholarships to first-time incoming students.

Need-based Financial Aid

Money offered to students whose families need assistance with the full cost of paying for college. Notre Dame offers need-based scholarships, loans, and work to meet your need.

Need-blind Admission

Students are admitted to Notre Dame on the basis of their academic and personal records of achievement; a student’s ability to pay is never considered when making an admission decision.

Net Price

The amount that the family pays for one year of college. This is calculated by subtracting the total amount of grants and scholarships from the Cost of Attendance.

Total Income

The sum of all positive income to a family before pre-tax deductions. Total income excludes losses from investments, businesses, benefits and any other source of negative income. Business deductions for the use of the home, depreciation, or other household expenses are also excluded from total income calculations.

Because total income includes the sum of all positive income and excludes the deductions above, total income is not the same as a household's adjusted gross income from a tax return.


The process the federal government uses to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is accurate. If you are selected for verification, Notre Dame will request additional documentation that supports income and other information that you reportedNotre Dame does not prepare financial aid notifications for students selected for verification until all requested documents are received and reviewed.