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College-Related Terms

List of Scholarships




Accelerated Medical & Dental Programs

Some colleges that are affiliated with medical or dental schools offer six or seven year programs for a combined B.A./M.D. or B.A./D.D.S. degree (such as the B.A./M.D. Program at Brooklyn College and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Engineering at City College).  Upon successfully completing undergraduate programs, students who are accepted into these programs are guaranteed admission to the affiliated medical or dental school.  These programs are highly selective.



The ACT is a multiple-choice standardized test that is designed to measure knowledge in four academic areas – English, math, reading, and science reasoning.  The minimum score is 1 and the maximum is 36 for each area.  The composite score is an average of the four individual scores.  Most colleges accept the ACT in place of the SAT and recommend that students take the optional writing test as well. (


Associate’s Degree

An Associate’s Degree is a two-year degree earned in a specific subject (often at a community college).


Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor’s Degree (B.A., B.S., B.F.A.) is typically a four-year degree earned in a specific subject.  This degree is offered by all four-year colleges.


Common Application

A generic application form which is used by over 600 private and public colleges.  It may be completed and submitted online.  Students may send the same application to multiple colleges; however, college-specific supplements are often required as well. (


CSS Profile

The College Board’s CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is an online application that collects information used by almost 300 colleges and scholarship programs to award financial aid from sources outside of the federal government. After you fill out the application, the College Board sends it to the colleges and scholarship programs you have chosen. Only certain colleges require this form, so visit for more information.


Early Action

The Early Action Plan follows the same application and notification timetable as the Early Decision Plan but allows the accepted candidates until May 1 to accept or decline the offer of admission.  If you are applying to a school under the Early Action Plan, you may still apply to other colleges that interest you.  Under the Early Action Plan, it is possible for an applicant to be denied admission and not automatically be deferred for later consideration.  Unless your credentials are truly superior, you must be careful about applying under a plan which may not be advantageous to your chance for admission.


Early Decision

Some colleges allow students to apply to their first choice colleges early in the fall term (usually by November 1 or 15) and receive an admissions decision in mid-December.  This program is desirable for students who have strong academic credentials and a preference for one particular college.  The student agrees by contract to enter that college if offered admission and must withdraw all other applications.  The student must accept whatever financial aid package he or she is offered and is not able to compare packages offered by different colleges.  If a student is not accepted under the Early Decision Plan and is “deferred,” the student will be reconsidered later in the year with the regular application pool.  However, a student may also be rejected in December.  A student may apply to only one school under the Early Decision Plan.  Check the college website to see if Early Decision is offered.  It is important to plan ahead so you can complete all of the required SAT/ACT and SAT Subject tests by October of your senior year.



The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at the State University of New York, and the Higher Educational Opportunity Programs offered at many private New York State colleges (HEOP) provide access, personal and academic support services, and financial aid to students who might not meet traditional admission standards. Specific academic and economic requirements must be met in order to be eligible for these programs.



FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You will need to complete this form in order to be considered for financial aid. The information you provide on this form is sent to the college, which, in turn, generates your financial aid package. Visit for more information.


Fee Waiver

Students who receive free or reduced-price lunch, and/or whose family income meets certain financial guidelines, are eligible to take the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and the ACT for free (two test administrations each).  Most colleges will also accept application fee waivers in these circumstances.  Some fee waivers for college applications are limited; check in the College Office for availability. Be sure to complete your lunch forms every year, since they are used to determine fee waiver eligibility.


GPA (Grade Point Average)

A system used by many colleges for evaluating the overall academic performance of students.  It is calculated by first determining the number of grade points a student has earned in each course completed and then dividing the sum of all grade points by the number of hours of course work carried.  Grade points are found by multiplying the number of hours completed in a course by the student’s grade in the course.  The most common system of numerical values for grades is A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, and F=0.


NCAA Clearinghouse

High school athletes who plan to play Division I or II in college, must complete NCAA eligibility forms prior to attending college to ensure that they have met certain GPA and SAT/ACT requirements. Visit for more information. Fee waivers are available.



The PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a two-hour examination containing both critical reading and mathematical questions.  This test may be taken by sophomores and juniors; however, only your junior year score will be submitted to the National Merit Scholarship Competition. The PSAT/NMSQT is offered only once each year. 


Rolling Admissions

A rolling admissions procedure means that the college’s admissions office will review an applicant’s file (which includes the student’s application and all supporting data such as high school transcript, SAT/ACT and SAT Subject test scores, and teacher recommendations) as soon as possible after the completed application is received.  It is in the student’s best interest that his/her application is submitted as early as possible before degree programs fill up.  Decisions are issued within a few weeks after they are made.  Students should consult college websites for priority filing dates.  Many city and state universities, as well as some private colleges, use the rolling admissions process. However, in many cases your chances of admission are improved considerably by applying as early as possible before academic programs are filled to capacity.  There is no implied commitment on your part to attend.



The SAT is a standardized test composed of two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. There is also an optional essay section. The score range for each section is 200-800. These scores are used by colleges as a predictor of a student’s ability to master academic subjects, and are used in making admissions decisions. The exam should be taken in the spring of junior year, and again in the fall of senior year.(


SAT Subject Tests

The SAT Subject Tests are approximately one hour in length.  They are designed to measure your knowledge of a particular subject and your ability to apply that knowledge.  Many selective colleges require or recommend one or more subject tests for admission and/or placement.  Some colleges leave the choice of subject tests up to the applicant, while others have specific requirements.  Be sure to consult individual college catalogs to determine the requirements of the colleges and specific programs that you are considering. (



The Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge (SEEK) Program is the higher education opportunity program at the four-year CUNY colleges (it is called College Discovery at the two-year CUNY schools). It provides comprehensive academic support to assist capable students who otherwise might not be able to attend college due to their educational and financial circumstances. Specific financial and academic eligibility guidelines must be met for this program (see for details).



TAP stands for the Tuition Assistance Program, which is the financial aid offered by New York State to qualified New York State residents who attend a college in NYS. This form should be completed along with the FAFSA. Visit for more information.


Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Students whose native language is not English and who have received low critical reading scores on the SAT or ACT may be required (by certain colleges) to take the TOEFL exam, which is designed to assess foreign-born students’ proficiency in English.

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