Applying to college can be intimidating. From FAFSA, AAS, early action vs. early decision, there are a lot of new terms and concepts to learn.

If you’re a first-generation college student or their parent/ guardian, the many terms associated with the college application process and college experience may be even more difficult to navigate, which can make it hard to feel reassured and find guidance. Add on the fact that most of this process will take place virtually this year it can feel overwhelming.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or just want to brush up or skim through all the terms being thrown around on college websites, and on applications, look no further. Next Stop College has a Glossary of College Terms for you here.


Associates of Arts (AA) Degree; courses might include psychology, sociology, fine arts, etc. Degree usually earned at a community college after completing a 2-year program.


Associates of Applied Science (AAS) degree is a 2-year degree that prepares graduates to enter a career immediately after graduation and are terminal degrees, meaning they are the highest in a particular discipline. Since courses completed for an AAS degree are career specific not all credits transfer if a student decides to continue onto a bachelor’s degree.

Academic Advising

Many campuses have academic advising offices and others assign students an academic advisor within their major. Your academic advisor helps you to plan and set your academic plan and future career goals. Often times you have to meet with your academic advisor to set your schedule before registering for classes. You can reach out to your academic advisor if you are feeling unsure of your classes or major for support.

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Academic Probation

Colleges establish a minimum GPA and how many credits you should be earning to determine if a student be placed on academic probation. Students on academic probation may be in danger of losing financial aid or scholarship money or dismissal from college.

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Academic Standing

A combination of the number of credits a student has accumulated and his/ her GPA. Depending on your college the definition of good, warning, probation and dismissal may be different but in general if your GPA falls below a 2.0 you will be put on academic probation. Look into academic standing requirements for your college so you are aware.

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ACE- Accelerate Complete Engage

ACE is a comprehensive program designed to help students complete their academic journey to the bachelor’s degree within four years by providing a range of financial, academic, and personal supports including comprehensive advising, career counseling, tutoring, tuition waivers, Metrocards, and help purchasing textbooks. ACE is currently offered at John Jay College and Lehman College. support-programs
ACT Exam

The ACT is a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States. The ACT test covers four academic skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. It also offers an optional writing test. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36, and the average ACT score is a 21.!practicecollege-access pre-college
Articulation Agreement

An articulation agreement is an officially approved agreement between two or more institutions which allows a student to apply credits earned in a specific program at one institution towards entry or transfer into a specific program at the other institution. For example, your math 101 at one campus can count as an intro math at another campus. Here is the list of Articulation Agreements between CUNY 2-4 Year Colleges

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Associates of Science (AS) Degree; courses might include biology, chemistry, physics etc. Degree offered after completing a program at a community college.

ASAP- Accelerated Study in Associates Program

Program at CUNY that assists students in earning an associate degree within three years by providing a range of financial, academic, and personal supports including comprehensive advising, career counseling, tutoring, tuition waivers, Metrocards, and help purchasing textbooks. ASAP is currently offered at nine CUNY colleges throughout the five boroughs. support-programs
Award Letter

The documentation sent from a college or university to you that details how much financial support you are eligible for. The award letter may include aid from a variety of sources (scholarships, financial aid, and loans), so take some time to review before you start analyzing.

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Bachelor of Arts (BA) is an undergraduate degree offered by colleges and universities and takes students 4-6 years to complete. Students have a major and specialize; courses might include psychology, sociology, fine arts, etc.


Online portal used at many colleges where your professors post assignments, readings, syllabi, grades, and provides space for discussion groups or individual communication with your classmates.

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Bachelor of Science (BS) is an undergraduate degree offered by colleges and universities and takes students 4-6 years to complete. Students have a major and specialize; courses might include biology, chemistry, physics etc.


This office on college campuses manages billing and payments. It deals with money owed to the college and is where you go to pay any bills from the college.

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Career Services

Provides assistance with figuring out a career path, finding a job or internship, resume support, and interview practice. This office might also host job fairs and other job readiness events. Start visiting this office early and don’t wait till your senior year of college!

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College Discovery (CD)

College Discovery (CD) is CUNY’s higher education opportunity program in the community colleges. It is designed to assist high-potential, low-income students who otherwise might not be able to pursue a college degree due to their educational & financial circumstances. They provide advising and financial support; you are able to apply during your senior year of high school. financial support-programs

A corequisite means a course or other requirement that a student must take at the same time as another course or requirement.

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Corequisite Remediation

In corequisite remediation, students enroll directly into college-level courses and receive academic support alongside their regular classes rather than facing a long sequence of prerequisite non-credit courses (i.e. remedial classes).

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Counseling Services

Office on campus to assist students with stress, anxiety, depression, homesickness and other emotional concerns that may be affecting them academically and personally.

CUNY Black Male Initiative (BMI)

CUNY BMI’s mission is to increase, encourage, and support the inclusion and educational success of students from groups that are severely underrepresented in higher education, in particular African, African American/Black, Caribbean and Latino/Hispanic males. BMI is on each CUNY campus and they offer mentoring, activities, workshops and social events. BMI is open to female students as well and you can join once you get to your campus. support-programs

CUNY EDGE provides students who are receiving public assistance with a range of services, benefits, and supports so that they succeed in college and in their careers. EDGE services are provided at all CUNY senior and community colleges across the five boroughs. college financial support-programs
CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP)

CLIP is a low-cost, intensive, pre-matriculation English Language program that helps degree-seeking CUNY students improve their academic English skills prior to enrolling in credit-bearing college courses. CLIP is open to incoming students who have been accepted to CUNY, have English language learning needs, and have not yet met CUNY proficiency in English. Classes meet for five hours a day, five days a week, in day or evening sessions. Students admitted to any CUNY college can enroll in CLIP at any of the nine CLIP campuses for up to a year. Most students pay a fee of $180 for a 14 to 16-week semester, $145 for a 12-week semester, and $75 for a 6-week summer or winter session. They do not use financial aid while in CLIP, saving all of it for their college courses post-CLIP. CLIP is an excellent option for English language learners who can attend a full-time immersion program. CLIP is offered at 9 sites in all 5 boroughs. pre-college

CUNY LEADS is an academic and career program for students with disabilities. This program is free of charge for all eligible candidates and available on all CUNY campuses. They offer career & academic guidance, employment opportunities, resume & interview prep, and job placement assistance. career support-programs
CUNY Start

CUNY Start is a semester long program and provides intensive preparation in academic reading/ writing, pre-college math, and college success advisement for students entering CUNY with significant remedial needs. The goal of the program is to help students prepare for college-level coursework and reduce or eliminate any remedial needs prior to starting credit-bearing courses. CUNY Start operates on 8 CUNY campuses.
Program Highlights:
• Costs just $75, including materials
• Reduces or eliminates need for remedial instruction
• Provides dedicated teachers and expert advisors to support your long-term college success
• Offers up to two opportunities to meet CUNY’s academic proficiency standards
• Saves tuition and financial aid dollars for credit courses that count toward your degree
• Provides a next-step pathway to CUNY ASAP college pre-college

The CUNY system/ portal where students can access their academic record, transcript, register for classes, see their financial aid award letters, financial aid activity and conduct other academic management. You’ll get one when you apply to CUNY.

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Early Action (EA)

Early action (EA) is a type of early admission process offered by some institutions for admission to colleges and universities in the United States. Unlike the regular admissions process, EA usually requires students to submit an application by mid-October or early November of their senior year of high school instead of January 1. Students are notified of the school’s decision by early January instead of mid-March or May 1.

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Early Decision (ED)

Early decision (ED) or early acceptance is a common policy used in college admissions for admitting freshmen to undergraduate programs. It is used to indicate to the university or college that the candidate considers that institution to be his or her top choice. ED differs from EA in that it constitutes a binding commitment to enroll; that is, if offered admission under an ED program, the candidate must withdraw all other applications to other institutions and enroll at that institution. You may not see the financial aid package before committing.

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Education Opportunity Program (EOP)

Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) provides academic support, advising and financial assistance for non-tuition related expenses (e.g. books, supplies, etc.) to students who show promise for succeeding in college but who may not have otherwise been offered admission. Available primarily to full-time, matriculated students, the program supports students throughout their college careers within the State University of New York (SUNY) at both community & senior colleges.

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Enhanced Tuition Award (ETA)

Enhanced Tuition Awards (ETA) program provides tuition awards to students who are New York State residents attending a participating private college located in New York State. Recipients will receive $6,000 through a combination of their TAP award, ETA award and a match from their private college. college-access financial pre-college
Excelsior Scholarship

A New York State (NYS) scholarship program that covers tuition only at CUNY or SUNY campuses. Recipients of the award must be NYS residents with family incomes under $125,000, enroll in at least 12 credits per term and complete at least 30 credits each year (successively), have no break in their college enrollment except for certain reasons that can be documented, and agree to live and work in NYS after college graduation for the length of time that they received the award. college-access financial pre-college
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

An EFC number is the “expected family contribution”, or the amount that the federal government determines a family is expected to pay for their student’s college education based on the FAFSA. It short, the EFC has an effect on how much federal grant and loan money you will be given for college expenses. You may also be eligible to have your college commitment deposit waived if you have an EFC of $3,000 or less and your EFC can be used to determing whether you are eligible for state opportunity programs.

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Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID)

An FSA ID is a username and password that you create to give you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature. Both student and parent will need to create one. Students with undocumented parents will have another mechanism for submission.

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Financial Aid Office

On campus office that provides information and assistance related to grants, scholarships, and loans. This office certifies students’ enrollment and cost of education, determines financial need, and processes loans. You can go here if you have questions about your financial aid and affording college.

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Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form completed by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for US federal student financial aid. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal student financial aid and should not fill out FAFSA, undocumented students should complete the NYS DREAM application then apply for TAP and Excelsior. MYTH 1: “My parents make too much money, so I won’t qualify for any aid.” FACT: The reality is there’s no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. It doesn’t matter if you have a low or high income, you will still qualify for some type of financial aid, including low-interest student loans. college-access financial pre-college
Grade Point Average (GPA)

GPA is an abbreviation for “grade point average,” which is typically calculated by adding all the numbered grades you’ve received and dividing them by the number of credits you’ve taken.

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Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP)

Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) is a partnership between the State of New York and its private colleges. Provides academic support, advising, tutoring, and financial assistance for non-tuition related expenses (e.g. books, supplies, etc.) to students who show promise for succeeding in college but who may not have otherwise been offered admission.

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A hold is a block on your account that prohibits you from performing an action like registering for classes or requesting a transcript. Most holds are financial holds and result from tuition or fees not being paid before a deadline. You may have to turn in a document to the financial aid office or something similar to remove the hold. You can see your holds in your to-do list on CUNYFirst or in your college portal.

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A college major is a group of courses required by a college in order to receive a degree –– an area you specialize in, like Accounting or Chemistry. There are certain “core courses” in the specialization that everyone is required to take, along with several “elective courses”.

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Math Start

Math Start is CUNY Start’s 8-week intervention that prepares students for success in college by fostering their full math potential. In a social, collaborative learning environment, students access the support they need to increase their understanding of math so that they can meet CUNY’s proficiency standards and thrive as CUNY college students.
Program Highlights:
• Costs just $35, including materials
• Provides Free MTA MetroCards
• Fast-tracks your learning in just 8-weeks
• Offers classes year round
• Provides dedicated teachers and expert advisors to support your long-term college success
• Saves tuition and financial aid dollars for credit courses that count toward your degree
• Provides a next-step pathway to CUNY ASAP college pre-college

A college minor is a set of courses that a student takes to complement or somehow enhance the value of his or her major. Generally, students who wish to earn a minor have to take about five courses that pertain to the subject field.

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Office Hours

Office hours are times when you can meet with your professors and teaching assistants to discuss the material being presented in class or other related interests you have. Professors usually announce their office hours on the first day of class or on their print or web-based course materials. Take advantage of office hours so your professors get to know you!

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Open Admissions Policy

Open admissions policy means any student who has a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate can attend that college (usually community colleges have this policy). However, if the school has too many applicants, students may be waitlisted to take courses.

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Pathways are the 30-credit general requirements at CUNY. You will have to take two English courses, math and quantitative reasoning, and a life and physical science course as well as some flexible courses. Once fulfilled at one CUNY college, these general education credits will carry over to another CUNY college.

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A preparatory course that you must take and earn a satisfactory grade before enrolling in another course or being admitted into a certain program. Example – You have to complete algebra 1 before you can take algebra 2.

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Private Colleges

A private college is an independent school that sets its own policies and goals, and is privately funded. Private colleges are generally smaller and more expensive than public universities. The average enrollment at private colleges is only about 1,900 students. Don’t just look at the sticker price, private colleges can often offer large scholarships and have high graduation rates.

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Proprietary Schools (also called For Profit)

A proprietary college or university is one which operates as a private, for profit business. Some popular examples of proprietary schools in the United States are the University of Phoenix and DeVry University as well as Monroe College, Berkeley and St. Paul’s School of Nursing in NYC.

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The on campus office that helps students sign up for classes, helps with registration issues and is responsible for all student records. They maintain student files and will be where you go to have your transcript forwarded to employers and schools.

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Remedial Class

Classes that some students must take in order to build up math, reading, and/ or writing skills BEFORE you are allowed to take college credit bearing classes. These classes cost money and will use financial aid. Instead of taking remedial courses look for corequisites or do CUNY Start.

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SAT Exam

The SAT is a standardized test used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. The SAT is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper test created and administered by the College Board. Each section of the SAT is scored on a 200 to 800 point scale. Your total SAT score is the sum of your section scores. The highest possible SAT score is 1600.

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SAT/ ACT Optional

Admissions does not require candidates to submit SAT/ACT scores and it’s up to the student if they want to submit them.

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Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) indicates your successful completion of coursework towards a degree or certificate. According to federal regulations, students who fail to make satisfactory academic progress towards their degree or certificate will lose their ability to receive federal and state financial aid.

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SEEK stands for Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge. It is the higher education opportunity program at the senior (four year) CUNY colleges. It was established to provide comprehensive academic support to assist capable students who otherwise might not be able to attend college due to their educational & financial circumstances. They provide advising and financial support; you are able to apply during your senior year of high school. financial support-programs
Senator José Peralta New York State DREAM Act

The DREAM Act gives undocumented and other status students access to New York State‐administered grants and scholarships that support their higher education costs. It is a two-part application that you complete your senior year and then have to do every year. It is a “gateway” application that gives you access to apply to TAP and Excelsior. college-access financial pre-college
Single Stop

Is a one stop office on 8 CUNY campuses that provides free comprehensive social, legal and financial services to students at several CUNY colleges. financial

Your syllabus is your guide to a course and what will be expected of you in that course. Generally it will include course policies, rules and regulations, required texts, a schedule of assignments and exams.

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The City University of New York (CUNY)

The City University of New York is the public university system of New York City. It is the largest urban university system in the United States, comprising 26 campuses: eleven senior colleges, seven community colleges, one undergraduate honors college, and seven post-graduate institutions.

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The State University of New York (SUNY)

The State University of New York is a system of public institutions of higher education in New York. It is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States comprised of 64 campuses.

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A transcript is documentation of a student’s permanent academic record, which usually means all courses taken, all grades received, all honors received, and degrees awarded to a student.

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Transfer Services

This office provides students with support when transferring to another school.

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Costs for courses, not including certain fees.

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Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

The Tuition Assistance Program, better known as TAP, is an aid program that helps New York State residents going to college with their tuition. To become eligible for TAP, students must be United States citizens and New York State residents. college-access financial pre-college
Tutoring Services

The on campus center students can get support with course work, learn test taking skills and talk with other students who might be great study buddies. Go! It’s not scary and you’re paying for these resources through your tuition payments!

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Work Study

A federally funded program in which students take campus jobs as part of their financial aid package. To participate in this program, students must complete FAFSA to be deemed eligible.

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Writing Center

Office students can go to for support with drafting and/ or editing their assigned papers. Go! It’s not scary and you’re paying for these resources through your tuition payments!

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