Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy Tools


Making a realistic yet flexible budget is the best way to ensure that you stay in control of your money when planning how you’ll pay for college. There are a number of websites and apps that can help you craft and stick to your budget, including:

Financial literacy

Credit Scores

If you or your family are taking out private loans, it's important to know your credit score. Monitoring your score will also be important when it comes time to buy a car, apply for a credit card and purchase a home. There are a number of websites that offer free credit score reports, including:


Whether you're putting aside money for college or other future goals, saving is a good habit to start. Here are a few resources to help you and your family build up savings for college and beyond:

Financial Aid Glossary

Applying for financial aid can feel like falling into a vat of alphabet soup. Learn your EFC from your FAFSA and more with this guide.

A- F

Your or your family's wages, salaries, interest, dividends, etc., minus certain deductions from income as reported on your federal income tax return.

Amount of aid a school expects to pay a student based on the student’s current grant and loan eligibility, enrollment, expected family contribution (EFC) and the school's cost of attendance (COA). 

An offer from a college or career school that states the type and amount of financial aid the school is willing to provide if you accept admission and register to take classes at that school.

The total amount it will cost you to go to school. Usually stated as a yearly figure, this includes tuition and fees; room and board (or a housing and food allowance); and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and dependent care, as well as miscellaneous and personal expenses. Click here for an estimate of how much it costs to attend UCR.

The four-digit number assigned to your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that allows you to release your data to schools you didn't list on your original application. You need this number if you contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center to make corrections to your mailing address or the schools you listed on your FAFSA. This number is found below the confirmation number on your FAFSA submission confirmation page or in the top right-hand corner of your Student Aid Report (SAR).

A student who doesn't meet any of the criteria for an independent student. An independent student is one of the following: at least 24 years old, married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran, a member of the armed forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, someone with legal dependents other than a spouse, an emancipated minor, or someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. 

A federal student loan, made through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, under which eligible students and parents borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education at participating schools. For more information visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Payment of federal student aid funds to the borrower by the school. Students generally receive their federal student loan in two or more disbursements.

Someone who doesn't have an adverse credit history and agrees to repay the loan if the borrower doesn't repay it.

A mandatory information session that takes place before you receive your first federal student loan that explains your rights and responsibilities as a student borrower.

A mandatory information session that takes place when you graduate or attend school less than half-time that explains your loan repayment responsibilities and when repayment begins.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the number that’s used to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid. This number results from the financial information you provide in your FAFSA. Your EFC is reported to you on your SAR.


An identifier that the U.S. Department of Education assigns to each college or career school that participates in the federal student aid programs. In order to send your FAFSA information to a school, you must list the school's federal school code on your application. UCR's federal school code is 001316.

Financial aid from the federal government to help you pay for education expenses at an eligible college or career school. Grants, loans and work-study are types of federal student aid. You must complete the FAFSA to apply for this aid. For more information, visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Money borrowed from the federal government to help pay for your education that you must repay with interest. For more information, visit the Federal Student Aid website.

A federal student aid program that provides part-time employment while you're enrolled in school to help pay for education expenses. Click here for more information on work-study.

The difference between the COA at a school and your EFC. While COA varies from school to school, your EFC doesn't change based on the school you attend. 

The application used to apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, loans and work-study. Click here to complete your FAFSA.

A username and password that can be used to log in to certain Federal Student Aid websites, including the FAFSA. Click here to create your FSA ID.

G- Z

Aid, often based on financial need, that doesn't need to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund). Click here for more information on grants.

A loan expense charged for the use of borrowed money. Interest is paid by a borrower to a lender. The expense is calculated as a percentage of the unpaid principal amount of the loan.

The percentage at which interest is calculated on your loan(s).

A binding legal document that you must sign when you get a federal student loan. The MPN can be used to make one or more loans for one or more academic years (up to 10 years). It lists the terms and conditions under which you agree to repay the loan and explains your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

Aid awarded based on a student's financial need.

A tool that allows current and prospective students, families and other consumers to estimate the net price of attending a particular college or career school. To estimate how much it will cost for you to attend UCR, complete the UCR Net Price Calculator.

A nonfederal loan made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, state agency or school. Click here for more on loans.

Money awarded to students based on academic or other achievements to help pay for education expenses. Scholarships generally don't have to be repaid. Click here for more on scholarships.

A paper or electronic document that gives you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid as well as lists your answers to the questions on your FAFSA.

The process your school uses to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is accurate. Your school has the authority to contact you for documentation that supports income and other information that you reported.

Additional Resources

Applying for Aid

Track the important dates in the financial aid process, and get phone numbers and websites for the University departments and government agencies you'll be working with when you apply for aid.

Financial Literacy

From budgeting to financial aid options, learn a few of the basics that will help you plan how to pay for college.


Learn how to avoid scholarship scams and discover some of the scholarships available to UCR students.



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