The Lexicon for LBC | Capital

Lexicon of Commonly Used Terms

This collection of commonly used terms, concepts and definitions has been gathered to help the LBC | Capital community to navigate within the college’s academic environment and culture. If you see items that need updating or that were left out, please reach out to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. Revised 7.13.2023


Academic program – An instructional program leading toward an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctor’s, or first-professional degree or resulting in credits that can be applied to one of these degrees.

Admitted students – Applicants that have been granted an official offer to enroll in a postsecondary institution.

Application fee – That amount of money that an institution charges for processing a student’s application for admittance to the institution. This amount is not creditable toward tuition or required fees, nor is it refundable if the student is not admitted to the institution.

Associate’s degree – An award that normally requires at least 2 but less than 4 years of full-time equivalent college work.

Audit/auditing (a class) – Term used when a student elects to take a course, but does not wish to receive credit for the course toward a degree or other recognized postsecondary credential.

Average cost of attendance – The average of the actual or average allowable costs as defined by the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, used to determine a student’s eligibility for Title IV and other financial aid programs. The average may be based on all students or different categories of students such as undergraduates or graduates. Other student categories may include enrollment status, academic program, or residency. For IPEDS reporting purposes, cost of attendance is only reported for full-time, first-time students.

Average Net price – The Higher Education Act, as amended (2008), defines institutional net price as “the average yearly price actually charged to first-time, full-time undergraduate students receiving student aid at an institution of higher education after deducting such aid.” In IPEDS, average institutional net price is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state/local government, or institutional grant and scholarship aid from the total cost of attendance. Total cost of attendance is the sum of published tuition and required fees (lower of in-district or in-state for applicable institutions), books and supplies, and the weighted average for room and board and other expenses. Cost of attendance data are collected in the Institutional Characteristics (IC) component of IPEDS, and financial aid data are collected in the Student Financial Aid (SFA) component of IPEDS.

Return to Top


Bachelor’s degree – An award (baccalaureate or equivalent degree, as determined by the Secretary, U.S. Department of Education) that normally requires at least 4 but not more than 5 years of full-time equivalent college-level work. This includes all bachelor’s degrees conferred in a 5-year cooperative (work-study) program. A cooperative plan provides for alternate class attendance and employment in business, industry, or government; thus, it allows students to combine actual work experience with their college studies. Also includes bachelor’s degrees in which the normal 4 years of work are completed in 3 years.

Return to Top


Census Date – The date established by the College to determine official enrollment numbers used for reporting purposes.  It is the day after the drop/add period of a term concludes, which is seven (7) business days after the start of classes.

Certificate – A recognized postsecondary credential that is conferred upon the satisfactory completion of a postsecondary education program.

Cohort – A specific group of students established for tracking purposes.

Cost of attendance (for IPEDS reporting purposes) – The amount of tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other expenses that a full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking student can expect to pay to go to college for an academic year. Costs reported to IPEDS by the institution are those amounts used by the financial aid office to determine a student’s financial need for the academic year, which is typically nine months.

Credit – Recognition of attendance or performance in an instructional activity (course or program) that can be applied by a recipient toward the requirements for a postsecondary degree, diploma, certificate, or other recognized postsecondary credential, irrespective of the activity’s unit of measurement.

Credit course – A course that, if successfully completed, can be applied toward the number of courses required for achieving a postsecondary degree, diploma, certificate, or other recognized postsecondary credential, irrespective of the activity’s unit of measurement.

Return to Top


Degree – An award conferred by a college, university, or other postsecondary education institution as official recognition for the successful completion of a program of studies.

Diploma – A official document certifying the successful completion of a prescribed program of studies.

Dual enrollment – Refers to students who enroll in college courses offered by an institution of higher education while enrolled in high school or seeking a recognized equivalent. Student performance is recorded on a college transcript and postsecondary credit is awarded for a passing grade in the course.

  • Includes: All postsecondary courses, independent of course delivery mode, course location, course instructor, whether secondary credit is also offered, and whether the student enrolls through a formal state/local program or enrolls outside a formal state/local program.
  • Excludes: Credit-by-exam models such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate in which the student is not enrolled in a postsecondary institution.

Return to Top


Educational offerings – Educational programs offered by postsecondary institutions that are occupational, academic, or continuing professional that qualify as postsecondary education programs OR recreational or avocational, adult basic, remedial instruction, high school equivalency, or high school programs that are not deemed postsecondary.

Return to Top


Federal grants – Transfers of money or property from the Federal government to the education institution without a requirement to receive anything in return. These grants may take the form of grants to the institutions to undertake research or they may be in the form of student financial aid. (Used for reporting on the Finance component)

Financial aid – Federal Work Study, grants, loans to students (government and/or private), assistantships, scholarships, fellowships, tuition waivers, tuition discounts, employer aid (tuition reimbursement) and other monies (other than from relatives/friends) provided to students to meet expenses. This excludes loans to parents.

Freshman – A first-year undergraduate student.

Return to Top


Graduation rate – The rate required for disclosure and/or reporting purposes under Student Right-to-Know Act. This rate is calculated as the total number of completers within 150% of normal time divided by the revised adjusted cohort.

Return to Top


Institutional grants – Scholarships and fellowships granted and funded by the institution and/or individual departments within the institution, (i.e., instruction, research, public service) that may contribute indirectly to the enhancement of these programs . Includes scholarships targeted to certain individuals (e.g., based on state of residence, major field of study, athletic team participation) for which the institution designates the recipient.

Return to Top


Level (of institution) – A classification of whether an institution’s programs are 4-year or higher (4 year), 2-but-less-than 4-year (2 year), or less than 2-year.

Library – An organized collection of printed, microform, and audiovisual materials which (a) is administered as one or more units, (b) is located in one or more designated places, and (c) makes printed, microform, and audiovisual materials as well as necessary equipment and services of a staff accessible to students and to faculty. Includes units meeting the above definition which are part of a learning resource center.

Return to Top


Master’s degree – An award that requires the successful completion of a program of study of at least the full-time equivalent of 1 but not more than 2 academic years of work beyond the bachelor’s degree.

Some of these degrees, such as those in Theology (MDiv, MHL/Rav) that were formerly classified as “first-professional”, may require more than two full-time equivalent academic years of work.

Military Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) – A program that funds up to 100% of an eligible servicemember’s college tuition and course-specific fees. Available only to eligible servicemembers who are currently in active service as long as criteria limits are not exceeded and students are enrolled off-duty in an U.S. Department of Education accredited post-secondary institution. This military benefit is paid directly to the postsecondary institution by the individual’s Armed service.

Return to Top


Noncredit course – A course or activity having no credit applicable toward a degree, diploma, certificate, or other recognized postsecondary credential.

Return to Top


Off-campus housing – Any housing facility that is occupied by students but is not owned or controlled by the educational institution.

On-campus housing – Any residence hall or housing facility owned or controlled by an institution within the same reasonably contiguous geographic area and used by the institution in direct support of or in a manner related to, the institution’s educational purposes.

Other federal grants – Federal monies awarded to the institution under federal government student aid programs, such as the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), DHHS training grants (aid portion only), the Leveraging Education Assistance Partnership (LEAP) program, and other federal student aid programs. Pell Grants are not included in this classification. Note: if the federal government selects the student recipients and simply transmits the funds to the institution for disbursement to the student, the amounts are not considered as revenues and subsequently there are no discounts and allowances or scholarships and fellowships expenses. If the funds are made available to the institution for selection of student recipients, then the amounts received are considered as nonoperating revenues and subsequently as discounts and allowances or scholarships and fellowships expenses.

Outcome Measures (OM) – This annual component aims to improve the collection of student progression and completion data on a more diverse group of undergraduate students at degree-granting institutions. Award and enrollment statuses are collected on four cohorts (first-time, full-time; first-time, part-time; non-first-time, full-time; and non-first-time, part-time) and on eight subcohorts (based on Pell Grant recipient status) of degree/certificate-seeking students at three points of time (four-, six-, and eight-years after entering the institution).

Out-of-state student – A student who is not a legal resident of the state in which he/she attends school.

Return to Top


Part-time student – Undergraduate: A student enrolled for either less than 12 semester or quarter credits, or less than 24 clock hours a week each term. Graduate: A student enrolled for less than 9 semester or quarter credits.

Pell Grant program – (Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV, Part A, Subpart I, as amended.) Provides grant assistance to eligible undergraduate postsecondary students with demonstrated financial need to help meet education expenses.

Post 9/11 GI Bill – A federal education benefit program for veterans, who served on active duty after September 10, 2001. This Department of Veteran Affairs benefit provides up to 36 months of education benefits at an approved institution for the following college costs: tuition and fees, books and supplies, and housing. The tuition and fees payment, which is the cost for an in-state student attending a public institution, is made directly to the postsecondary institution whereas payments for books and supplies and housing are sent directly to the student.

Private institution – An educational institution controlled by a private individual(s) or by a nongovernmental agency, usually supported primarily by other than public funds, and operated by other than publicly elected or appointed officials. These institutions may be either for-profit or not-for-profit.

Private not-for-profit institution – A private institution in which the individual(s) or agency in control receives no compensation, other than wages, rent, or other expenses for the assumption of risk. These include both independent not-for-profit schools and those affiliated with a religious organization.

Program – A combination of courses and related activities organized for the attainment of broad educational objectives as described by the institution.

Project – Projects are temporary efforts to create value through unique products, services, and processes. They can be identified by the following characteristics:

  • Clearly defined scope of work
  • Specific start and finish dates
  • Require allocations of time, people, and sometimes money
  • Contain deliverables that are measurable toward completion
  • Contain a defined series of tasks that lead to specifically identifiable deliverables

Return to Top


Race and ethnicity unknown – The category used to report students or employees whose race and ethnicity are not known.

Race/ethnicity – Categories developed in 1997 by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that are used to describe groups to which individuals belong, identify with, or belong in the eyes of the community. The categories do not denote scientific definitions of anthropological origins. The designations are used to categorize U.S. citizens, residents, and other eligible non-citizens.

  • Individuals are asked to first designate ethnicity as:
    • Hispanic or Latino or
    • Not Hispanic or Latino
  • Second, individuals are asked to indicate all races that apply among the following:
    • American Indian or Alaska Native
    • Asian
    • Black or African American
    • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
    • White

Received aid – For the purposes of the IPEDS Student Financial Aid (SFA) component, aid received refers to financial aid that was awarded to, and accepted by, a student. This amount may differ from the aid amount that is disbursed to a student. For example, a student may accept aid that was awarded by the institution but then leave the institution prior to the aid being disbursed. In this case, because the student accepted the aid, the aid would be reported to IPEDS, even though it was NOT actually disbursed to the student.

Recognized postsecondary credential – A recognized postsecondary credential includes any credential that is received after completion of a program that is eligible for Title IV federal student aid or that is awarded in recognition of an individual’s attainment of measurable technical or industry/occupational skills necessary to obtain employment or advance within an industry/occupation. These technical or industry/occupational skills generally are based on standards developed or endorsed by employers or industry associations.

Required fees – Fixed sum charged to students for items not covered by tuition and required of such a large proportion of all students that the student who does not pay the charge is an exception.

Residence – A person’s permanent address determined by such evidence as a driver’s license or voter registration. For entering freshmen, residence may be the legal residence of a parent or guardian.

Resident (and other eligible non-citizens) – A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States but who has been admitted as a legal immigrant for the purpose of obtaining permanent resident status (and who holds either a registration card (Form I-551 or I-151), a Temporary Resident Card (Form I-688), or an Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94) with a notation that conveys legal immigrant status such as Section 207 Refugee, Section 208 Asylee, Conditional Entrant Parolee or Cuban-Haitian).

Retention rate – A measure of the rate at which students persist in their educational program at an institution, expressed as a percentage. For four-year institutions, this is the percentage of first-time bachelors (or equivalent) degree-seeking undergraduates from the previous fall who are again enrolled in the current fall. For all other institutions this is the percentage of first-time degree/certificate-seeking students from the previous fall who either re-enrolled or successfully completed their program by the current fall.

Return to Top


SAT – Previously known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, this is an examination administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and used to predict the facility with which an individual will progress in learning college-level academic subjects.

Scholarships – Grants-in-aid, trainee stipends, tuition and required fee waivers, prizes or other monetary awards given to undergraduate students.

Semester (calendar system) – A calendar system that consists of two sessions called semesters during the academic year with about 15 weeks for each semester of instruction. There may be an additional summer session. Note: the standard term length range is defined by the Office of Postsecondary Education. More information can be found at:

Stafford Loans – (Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV-B, as amended, Public Law 89-329; 20 USC 1071.) Provides guaranteed loans for educational expenses from eligible lenders to vocational or academic undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional students at eligible postsecondary institutions.

Standard term – For Title IV purposes, a standard term is a semester, quarter, or trimester

Standardized admissions tests – Tests prepared and administered by an agency that is independent of any postsecondary education institution. Tests provide information about prospective students and their academic qualifications relative to a national sample. Examples are the SAT and the ACT.

State and local government grants – State and local monies awarded to the institution under state and local student aid programs, including the state portion of State Student Incentives Grants (SSIG). (Used for reporting Student Financial Aid data)

State and local grants – Grant monies provided by the state such as Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships (LEAP) (formerly SSIG’s); merit scholarships provided by the state; and tuition and fee waivers for which the institution was reimbursed by a state agency. Local government grants include scholarships or gift-aid awarded directly to the student. (Used for reporting Finance data for private for-profit institutions )

State of residence – A person’s permanent address as determined by such evidence as a driver’s license or voter registration. For entering freshmen, state of residence may be the legal state of residence of a parent or guardian.

Student Financial Aid (SFA) – This annual component of IPEDS began with a pilot test in 1999, and collected both institution price and student financial aid data. The 2000-01 data collection included questions regarding the total number of full-time first-time degree/certificate-students receiving financial assistance for the previous year, the number of those students who received financial assistance by type of aid, and, for aid recipients, the average amounts. The tuition and other price items are now part of the Institutional Characteristics (IC) component; the student financial aid questions remain part of SFA.

Student-to-faculty ratio – The ratio of FTE students to FTE instructional staff, i.e., students divided by staff.

  • Students enrolled in “stand-alone” graduate or professional programs and instructional staff teaching in these programs are excluded from both full-time and part-time counts.
  • “Stand-alone” graduate or professional programs are those programs such as medicine, law, veterinary, dentistry, social work, or public health, in which faculty teach virtually only graduate-level students (also referred to as “independent” programs).
  • Each FTE value is equal to the number of full-time students/staff plus 1/3 the number of part-time students/staff.

Return to Top


Teacher certification program – A program designed to prepare students to meet the requirements for certification as teachers in elementary, middle/junior high, and secondary schools.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) – A standardized test designed to determine an applicant’s ability to benefit from instruction in English.

Title IV aid – Title IV aid to students includes grant aid, work study aid, and loan aid. Current and historical programs include: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, Federal Work-Study, Federal Perkins Loan (formerly the National Direct Student loan or NDSL program), Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) also known as the Stafford Loan (formerly the Guaranteed Student Loan or GSL program), and Subsidized and Unsubsidized William D. Ford Direct Loan.

Title IV institution – An institution that has a written agreement with the Secretary of Education that allows the institution to participate in any of the Title IV federal student financial assistance programs (other than the State Student Incentive Grant (SSIG) and the National Early Intervention Scholarship and Partnership (NEISP) programs).

Total cost of attendance – The sum of the cost of attendance components used to compute the average net price for first-time, full-time degree or certificate seeking students for IPEDS reporting purposes. This amount is typically based on a nine-month period for institutions using a traditional academic calendar. Program reporters provide one month of costs that are annualized in the system for IPEDS reporting purposes.

Total student charges – The total amount on the student’s bill from the institution—account balance. For students and parents, this includes all charges and financial assistance applied to the student’s account at the institution. It may or may not include all financial aid credit balance check amounts or refunds the institution pays back to the financial aid program, student, parent, or other payee when applicable. All award amounts the student was eligible to receive, including credit balance checks and refund amounts, should be reported to IPEDS.

Transcript – An official record of student performance showing all schoolwork completed at a given school and the final mark or other evaluation received in each portion of the instruction. Transcripts often include an explanation of the marking scale used by the school.

Transfer of credit – The policies and procedures used to determine the extent to which educational experiences or courses undertaken by a student while attending another institution may be counted for credit at the current institution.

Tuition – The amount of money charged to students for instructional services. Tuition may be charged per term, per course, or per credit.

Tuition and fees (published charges) – The amount of tuition and required fees covering a full academic year most frequently charged to students. These values represent what a typical student would be charged and may not be the same for all students at an institution. If tuition is charged on a per-credit-hour basis, the average full-time credit hour load for an entire academic year is used to estimate average tuition. Required fees include all fixed sum charges that are required of such a large proportion of all students that the student who does not pay the charges is an exception.

Tuition payment plan – A program that allows tuition to be paid in installments spread out over an agreed upon period of time, sometimes without interest or finance charges.

Return to Top


U.S. Nonresident – A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who is in this country on a visa or temporary basis and does not have the right to remain indefinitely.

Undergraduate – A student enrolled in a 4- or 5-year bachelor’s degree program, an associate’s degree program, or a vocational or technical program below the baccalaureate.

Unduplicated count – The sum of students enrolled for credit with each student counted only once during the reporting period, regardless of when the student enrolled.

Return to Top


Veterans Administration (VA) Education Benefits – Those benefits available to military personnel and their families for financial assistance at approved postsecondary education institutions. There can be three types of beneficiaries: Surviving spouses and children; Discharged veterans; and Active military personnel in special programs.

Return to Top


Yellow Ribbon Program – A voluntary program through which participating public and private institutions can provide veterans and eligible beneficiaries additional institutional aid to cover the costs of tuition and fees at their institutions. The Yellow Ribbon Program is a supplementary program to the Post 9/11 GI Bill coverage of in-state tuition and fees. The Department of Veterans Affairs matches the institutional aid provided beyond the in-state tuition and fees, but up to a certain limit each year.

Return to Top