UW HELP's Higher Ed Glossary

Term Definition In A Sentence...
Academic Adviser A contact at the university that provides guidance with course selection and degree planning. Each semester you should meet with your academic adviser to prepare your upcoming semester schedule.
Academic Probation A warning that the student's performance has fallen below the institution's requirement for “good academic standing.” I need to get a B in Biology 200 to avoid academic probation.
Accreditation A process of validation in which colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning are evaluated. The standards for accreditation are set by a peer review board whose members include faculty from various accredited colleges and universities. The UW System campuses work with the Higher Learning Commissions to maintain their accreditation.
ACE Military Credit Based on your military experiences and training, you may have college credit recommendations to apply toward a degree requirement. Actual credit transferred is solely at the discretion of the receiving college or university. I have many questions about preparing to apply to several UW Systems campuses, including about my ACE Military Credit. I found help here: uwhelp.wisconsin.edu/paying/veterans.aspx
ACT US college admissions test, measuring what you learn in high school to determine your academic readiness for college. On Saturday, I'm going to take my ACT test.
Admission Priority Deadline Applications received prior to this date are guaranteed to be reviewed. Applications received after the priority deadline are not guaranteed to be reviewed; it usually depends on the space available. I submitted my application before the admission priority deadline.
Advanced Placement (AP) A program that offers college-level course work and exams to high school students. College credit is given based upon the results of a final examination. Have you signed up for your AP test yet?
Associate's Degree A two-year post-secondary degree. Students who pursue this kind of degree full-time can complete a program in as little as two years— though many choose to go at their own pace. An associate degree translates into the first two years of a bachelor’s degree (freshman and sophomore years. In May, I will graduate from UW-Waukesha with my associate's degree.
Audit Taking a class for no academic credit. Typically, the student can listen in lectures but not participate in labs, papers, projects, or tests. I decided to audit a math class
Bachelor's Degree Post-secondary degree awarded to an individual after completion of undergraduate course work usually taking eight semesters and 120 credits to complete. Also called an undergraduate degree. I'm working toward obtaining my bachelor's degree at UW-Platteville.
Bursar's office (sometimes called the Cashiers Office) The bursar is responsible for billing student's accounts for tuition, room and board, and various other fees. This responsibility involves sending bills and making payment plans. The Bursar's office and the Financial Aid office are two separate independent offices. Did you stop by the Bursar's office to pay your tuition?
Certificate/Certificate Program An academic program in a specific or specialized area of interest with fewer credit requirements than an academic major. In addition to working towards earning a major in Spanish, I also am working on a Business Analytics certificate.
College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) CLEP allows students who have gained knowledge through independent study, advanced high school courses, noncredit adult courses, or professional development to take examinations for possible college credit. I am meeting with an adviser to find out if I might earn college credit through CLEP.
Cost of Attendance (COA) The average cost to attend college for one academic year (fall through spring). COA includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses. My parents and I are comparing the cost of attendance of multiple schools.
Course Load The total number of high school or college credits someone is taking. A normal full time course load for undergraduate students is 15 credits a semester.
Default The failure to repay an educational/student loan, or the failure to make on-time monthly payments. Some students default on their student loans.
Dependent for Financial Aid Purposes Typically, undergraduate students who are under the age of 24 as of December 31 of the award year. These students will report their parent's information on the FAFSA. Even though I am paying for college by myself, I am still considered a dependent for financial aid purposes.
Department of Public Instruction (DPI) The Department of Public Instruction is the state agency that advances public education and libraries in Wisconsin. I wanted to learn more about K-12 public education in WI so I looked at the DPI website.
Drop To remove a course from a student’s schedule. Friday is the last day you can drop a class without it showing on your transcript.
Dual Credit Courses in which a student may obtain simultaneous high school and college credit. I took two dual credit courses my last year of high school.
Elective credit Credits of a student’s choosing. I get to choose any upper-level business course to fulfill an elective credit requirement.
English as a Second Language Program (ESL) Programs available at many of the UW campuses that teach English to students who are non-native English speakers. ESL programs focus on listening, speaking, reading, and writing English.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC) The amount of money that a student's family is expected to contribute to college costs for one year. Your financial aid letter will let you know what your expected family contribution will be.
Fall Semester In the UW System, the fall semester courses typically begin after Labor Day and end the third week of December. Fall semester is approximately 16 weeks long.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) A form filled out by undergraduate or graduate students who are eligible for government-sponsored financial aid. Did you check your university’s priority deadline for the FAFSA?
Federal Pell Grant Program A need-based grant issued from the federal government to low-income undergraduate and certain post- baccalaureate students and does not need to be repaid. Has your federal pell grant been applied to your tuition balance?
Federal Student Loan  Money you borrow from the federal government for college, and must repay with interest. To pay your tuition, you will need to take out a federal student loan for $4,000.
Financial Aid Money to help students pay for their education. This can be in the forms of grants, work study, and loans. Every campus has a financial aid office, and their staff is happy to answer your questions about paying for college.
Full Time Student Undergraduate students that are taking 12 or more credits during a fall or spring semester. To live in a campus residence hall, I need to be a full-time student.
General Education Requirements (GER) Subject area credit requirements that all students must complete to graduate. GERs give students exposure to a variety of academic areas. I am three classes away from fulfilling all of my general education requirements.
Graduate Degree An advanced degree beyond the bachelor’s level. Examples include master’s, doctoral, specialist, and professional degrees. My older brother completed his graduate degree while I was still working on my undergraduate degree.
Grant Money that is given to a college student usually by the government that does not need to be paid back. I was awarded a Pell Grant to help pay for college.
Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB) The state agency responsible for the management and oversight of the state's student financial aid system for Wisconsin residents attending institutions of higher education. Have you checked out all the great information on the HEAB website? See http://www.heab.state.wi.us/
Independent for Financial Aid Purposes Students who are either over the age 24 or they are married, have dependents, are orphaned, are applying for graduate school, are a veteran or serving in active duty, are emancipated minor, are homeless youth, or are determined by a school’s financial aid office to be independent due to special circumstances. While working on my FAFSA for graduate school, I found out that I qualify as independent for financial aid purposes.
Independent Study A course designed by the student and an instructor which usually focuses on a specific subject area. The student does a majority of the work independently with guidance from the instructor. There is an independent study requirement for my major.
Individualized Education Programs (IEP) A written statement for a student with a disability  that outlines an educational plan through 12th grade. Individuals that have questions about their college coursework need to contact the disability office at the campus they attend. I had an IEP in high school, so I'm checking with the Disabilities Services Office at my college to see how to receive accommodations in college.
In-state Tuition Cost of tuition for residents of Wisconsin. In-state tuition is significantly lower than out-of-state tuition.
International Baccalaureate (IB) College-level classes taken during a high school student’s junior and senior years. If a student passes the IB exam at the end of a class, he/she may earn college credits. Students can choose to earn an IB diploma upon graduation, or they can take individual IB classes. Are you thinking about taking IB classes in your junior year of high school?
Office Hours A set time period that a professor or instructor will meet with students for answering questions and providing additional course help. A professor will usually provide this time availability in their syllabus. Did you check in with your professor to see what his office hours are this week?
Official Transcript A transcript that has been received from a secure authenticated designated party or the issuing institution. It must bear an institutional validation (such as seal, logo, or watermark), date, and appropriate signature. Transcripts received that do not meet these requirements are not considered official. To apply for admission, you must send an official high school transcript.
Orientation A day or multi-day event that helps new freshman and transfer students meet other students, become familiar with campus services, and register for classes. Did you sign up for your new freshman orientation yet?
Out of State Tuition The amount non-residents of a state will pay in tuition to a public university. I am a New York state resident so I will pay out-of-state tuition at UW System campuses.
Part-Time Student Students who are registered for less than 12 credits during a fall or spring semester. I will be taking 6 credits next semester so I am considered a part-time student.
Placement Testing Before they start college, new freshmen take placement tests to determine which levels of English, math, and foreign language courses they will register for. New freshmen find out their placement test results at their summer orientation and registration program.
Priority deadline Applications received prior to this date are guaranteed to be processed. Applications received after the priority deadline are not guaranteed to be processed, it usually depends on the space available. I submitted my application before the priority deadline for college.
Re-entry Student A student who previously attended the institution as a degree-seeking student, and wants to take courses at the campus again. Since I’m a re-entry student, my campus will activate my old campus ID.
Registrar's Office An office in a college or university that is in charge of registering students and keeping academic records. The Registrar's Office will have your official academic record, also known as your transcript.
Retroactive Credit Lower-level credit that students may earn by succeeding at advanced-level courses. After I completed French 3, I earned retroactive credit for French 1 and 2.
SAT An admission exam used by colleges and universities to help determine college readiness. The University of Wisconsin campuses accept SAT or ACT test results.
Scholarship Money granted to a student because of merit, need, or other criteria. Scholarships do not need to be paid back. New freshmen should investigate scholarships they can apply for at their university.
Special Student A student who is not seeking a degree at the campus where he/she is registered. A special student is also called a non-degree student.
Spring Semester In the UW System, the spring semester courses begin in late January and end mid-May. Spring semester is approximately 16 weeks long
Study Abroad A student may choose to take educational classes at a university in another country for a set period of time. Study abroad opportunities can range in time from a 3 week experience to a year long stay. During my junior year, I hope to study abroad in China for a semester.
Subsidized federal student loan A loan that is based on financial need and interest is paid by the government while the students are enrolled in college. Only undergraduate students who are enrolled at least half time are eligible. I was awarded a subsidized federal student loan to attend UW-Whitewater.
Summer Term Students may take courses in the summer term. Courses during the summer are offered over various, condensed timelines as compared to fall or spring semesters. One of my summer term courses is 3 weeks long, and the other is 8 weeks long.
Teaching Assistant (TA) A graduate student in a college or university who is the recipient of a teaching fellowship. He/she helps teach undergraduate courses. The TA will be leading your discussion section for Philosophy 211.
Transfer Wisconsin (formerly the Transfer Information System (TIS)) Website where a student can check how courses will transfer throughout the UW System as well as in the Wisconsin Technical College System. Did you check Transfer Wisconsin to see how your UW Colleges Online summer course will transfer to UW-River Falls.
Transfer student Anyone who has attended another college or university after graduating from high school and wishes to enroll at a different college or university. Transfer students benefit from attending new student orientation as they transition from one college to the other.
Undergraduate student A student pursuing a bachelor’s degree, which is generally the first four years of a college education. Once I complete my studies as an undergraduate student, I look forward to attending graduate school.
Unofficial Transcript A transcript that is unsealed, not on official watermark paper, printed off by the student, or sent via email. Unofficial transcripts are not accepted by admissions offices for admission purposes.
Unsubsidized student loan Loan that is not based on financial need. Interest accrues as soon as the loan is disbursed. Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to receive these loans. I am working to make sure I minimize the amount of money I borrow in unsubsidized student loans.
UW Colleges The UW System has 13 freshman/sophomore campuses that are collectively called the UW Colleges where students can complete their first two years of college and earn an associate degree. Usually students will then transfer to one of the four-year UW System campuses to complete their bachelor’s degree. I am exploring several of the UW Colleges campuses as I prepare to apply.
Wisconsin G.I. Bill The WI G.I. Bill provides tuition waivers for certain eligible veterans, spouses, or dependents to attend UW System institutions or Wisconsin's Technical Colleges. Details on eligibility and application procedures are listed in the WI G.I. Bill brochure. It has been very helpful to contact the campus veterans’ representative to get answers to my questions about the WI G.I. Bill.
Winterim Some campuses offer a very short (approx. 3 week) term in January. They often call this term Winterim or J-Term. Since Winterim courses are scheduled only 3 weeks, the courses meet longer each day as compared to a traditional semester.
Work Study The Work Study Program helps students earn funding through a part-time job. Work study is part of a financial aid offer. Did the student job you applied for require you qualify for work study?

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