All students, not just first-generation students, are bound to come across unfamiliar terms. While this is not an exhaustive list, it’s a place to start. See additional Financial Aid terms.


Academic Advisor
One who provides guidance on course enrollment, academic progress and graduation. All UNK students are assigned an academic adviser to work with as they proceed through their academic program.

Academic Alert
The UNK Academic Advising & Career Development department reaches out to a student via email when an instructor has indicated that the student is struggling in their course. The purpose is to connect the student to helpful campus resources.

Academic Probation
Students who do not maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA at UNK are placed on academic probation. Students remain on academic probation until their cumulative GPA rises to 2.0 or above.

Academic Suspension
Students will be academically suspended if they fail to meet the semester GPA requirement of Academic Suspension. Academic Suspension lasts for a full academic year. At any point a student my issue an appeal.

Academic Year
The academic year consists of three semesters: fall, spring and summer. The year begins in August with the fall semester, the spring semester begins in January, and there is a shorter summer semester.

Accreditation is a process of validation in which colleges and universities are evaluated. The standards are set by a peer review board whose members include faculty from various accredited colleges and universities. UNK is an accredited university.

Admitted Student
A student who has applied to the university, has met admissions requirements and been accepted by the university.

ACT (American College Test)
A college admissions exam that is required by many universities that measures skills in English, reading, math, science and writing. When high school students take the ACT, they must list UNK (school code is 2468) as a college choice. The ACT can be taken often to improve the score, and only the highest composite score will be used by UNK. UNK accepts both the ACT and SAT.

A person who teaches on a limited-term contract, often for one semester at a time.

Advanced Placement (AP)
While in high school, students may take college-level courses and receive college credit based on their AP exam scores.

Alumni is a group of men and women who have graduated from UNK. Alumnus (alumni in the plural) refers to a man who has graduated from a school. Alumna (alumnae in the plural) is the similar reference to a woman.

Associate Degree
A degree from a community or technical college.

Audit Grading
An option that allows a student to participate in a course and learn the material without receiving a grade or credit. Full tuition will be charged for an audited course.

Award Letter
A letter from a college or university that states the type and amount of financial aid the school will provide if you accept admission and enroll in classes at that school.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
A degree that includes instruction in the humanities, social sciences, modern languages or liberal arts. At UNK, a B.S. degree requires language courses.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
A degree that is generally offered in technical and scientific areas such as business, engineering, technology, math, computer science and chemistry. Some majors are available as both a B.S. and B.A. degree.

Bachelor's Degree (Baccalaureate)
Either a B.S. or B.A. degree awarded to students who graduate from a four-year college or university. It is required before a master’s degree. Other types of bachelor’s degrees awarded from UNK include BAE, BSE, BFA, BM and BGS.

Blended Course/Program
A course or full degree program that is at least 2/3 online, while the other 1/3 is face-to-face or requires synchronous meeting times.

Board of Regents
The NU system consists of eight voting members elected for six-year terms by districts. The Board also includes four non-voting student Regents, one from each NU campus, who serve during their tenure as student body president. The Board provides University leadership and promotes and advocates for the advancement of the University’s mission of education, research and outreach. Important duties include selecting the NU President and approving the budget and tuition rates.

An administrator in a college’s or university’s finance office. When you pay a college bill, money is sent to the bursar. The bursar is responsible for sending bills to students, making payment plans and receiving payments. Bursars are not necessarily involved with the financial aid process, but may work closely with the financial aid office. A bursar may also be called a director, controller or treasurer.


UNK’s online system where students view course syllabi, documents, submit assignments, monitor grades and much more.

A leader of a college or university. In the University of Nebraska, the president leads the system and chancellors lead the campuses. UNK’s Interim Chancellor is Charles Bicak

Class Schedule
Time and location of classes a student is enrolled in for a semester.

Open to both men and women (often used to describe intramural sports or residence halls).

An academic sub-unit of the university concentrated around areas of study. UNK has three colleges – College of Business and Technology, College of Education and College of Arts and Sciences.

A graduation ceremony. There are three commencements at UNK: one in May, one in December and one in the summer.

A student who lives off campus while attending college (does not live in a campus residence hall or fraternity or sorority house).

Comprehensive Exam
Often the same as a final exam. A comprehensive exam will be over all the material in the course.

Comprehensive Major
A major that is a complete degree program without needing to add a minor or a second major.

A formal ceremony that celebrates the entrance of students into UNK or for faculty to commence the beginning of an academic year.

A course that must be taken at the same time as another course.

Cost of Attendance (COA)
The total estimated cost for a student to attend college for one academic year before financial aid is applied. The COA includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing, food, transportation and other necessities.

Course Catalog
A list of all the courses and majors/minors/pre-professional programs offered by the university, as well as various academic policies and regulations.

Course Load
The number of credit hours that a student takes during a semester. UNK recommends 15 hours per semester to stay on track to graduate in four years.

Course Number
Unique identifier for every course. For example, Applied Calculus I is identified by the course number Math 123.

Course Schedule
A listing of courses offered by semester, college and department.

Credit Hour
The number of hours assigned to a course, based on the number of hours per week throughout a semester. For example, a three-credit-hour course meets three times a week for 50 minutes or two times a week for 75 minutes.

The subjects comprising a course of study to earn a degree in a major.


Dead Week
The common term for the week before final exams are given. Most students use this time to prepare for finals week.

The leader of an academic college within the university.

Dean’s List
A list of students who have completed 12 credit hours or more with a 3.5 GPA or higher during a semester.

Defaulted Loan
Failure to repay a loan.

Deferred Loan
A loan plan that allows one to borrow money but not make payments right away.

A credential given based on completion of a course of study and graduating.

Degree Audit
An online tool accessible through UNK’s MyBLUE that lists all of a student’s academic requirements for graduation and tracks the student’s progress towards completing those requirements.

A unit within a college for a specific academic discipline or area, such as history, biology or English.

Department Chair/Head
The leader of a department within a college.

Dependency Status
A student who does not meet any of the requirements 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 or ward of the court, someone with children or legal dependents other than a spouse, an emancipated minor or someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

A formal document issued by a college or university to the graduating student that symbolizes a degree has been earned and completed.

Direct Cost
College expenses that are billed to a student account and paid directly to the school. This includes tuition, fees, housing and meals (if you live on campus).

Doctorate or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
The highest degree one can earn. Students usually earn a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree before they earn a doctorate.

Double Major (Dual Major)
Term used when a student pursues two majors.

Students may adjust their schedule by dropping and/or adding courses.


Courses outside the required curriculum of your major. The number of unrestricted elective credit hours varies from major to major, and some majors don’t have room for any electives. Consult with an academic advisor to see how many elective credit hours are available in your major.

Enrolled Student
Any student at UNK who is registered for at least one course.

The process of selecting and enrolling in classes.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
The figure used to determine a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid and need-based state and institutional aid. The information provided on the FAFSA is used to calculate your EFC.


Professors, lecturers and instructors who teach and/or conduct research.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA must be completed each year to receive need-based aid from the Department of Education, such as the Pell Grant, work-study awards or federal student loans.

Federal School Code
While completing the FAFSA, you must provide UNK’s school code (002551) for UNK to receive your information.

Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act. This law governs how colleges protect and share student information. For example, parents/guardians are not allowed to see their student’s information without the student’s approval.

Finals or Final Exam
An exam or required project given during finals week, the last week of the semester.

Financial Aid
Money that students receive for college expenses. Some must be repaid, such as student loans, while others do not need to be repaid, such as grants or scholarships.

First-Generation Student
A student whose parents or guardians have not completed a bachelor’s degree.

A UNK online tool for students to explore major and career possibilities, and gather information about specific career fields.

An organization of men to foster academics, leadership, friendship, philanthropy and community service. A fraternity can also be an academic or scholarship-based organization for both men and women.

A student who has completed fewer than 27 credit hours.

A username and password that gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature. An FSA ID is needed when completing the FAFSA.

Full-Time Student
An undergraduate student enrolled in at least 12 credit hours of classes during a semester or a graduate student enrolled in at least 9 credit hours of classes during a semester.


General Studies Courses (Gen Ed or General Education)
Required courses that all students must take to graduate that are in addition to specific courses required for a major. The purpose is to provide a foundation and well-rounded education.

GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)
A standardized graduate business school entrance exam required by business schools.

GPA (Grade Point Average)
A standard way to measure academic achievement using a 4.0 scale. The top grade is an A, which equals 4.0. To be in good standing at UNK, students must maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA. High school GPAs may be used for determining scholarships.

Graduate Assistant
A graduate student who assists in teaching undergraduate courses or with research or administration.

Graduate Student
A student who has graduated with a bachelor’s degree and is pursuing credits in master’s or doctoral degree programs.

Graduate Degree
Refers to advanced academic degrees, such as master’s or doctoral degrees, with the requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate bachelor’s degree.

Federal, state and institutional financial aid that does not need to be repaid.


A recruiting and career services platform that gives students access to job and internship opportunities, including on-campus student employment and work-study opportunities. Students can also schedule an appointment with an Advisor in the Academic Advising & Career Development department at UNK.

A restriction due to financial, administrative or academic reasons that prevents a student from registering for classes in future semesters or receiving a diploma or transcript until the hold is removed.

Studies of human culture and society and can include the fields of art, music, dance, theater, philosophy, history, literature and languages.


In-State Student
A student who is a Nebraska resident or graduated from a Nebraska high school.

The mark of "I" (Incomplete) is reserved for conditions in which the student is unable to complete the course by the end of the term due to highly unusual circumstances beyond his or her control, like a serious illness. The student works with the instructor to develop a plan to complete the course and earn the appropriate grade. If the course is not completed within one year, the grade becomes an F.

Indirect Cost
An estimate of educational and personal expenses that is not directly billed by the school. Examples of indirect cost include books, transportation and supplies. This can vary greatly from one student to another based on lifestyle and preferences.

A faculty member (or adjunct) who teaches.

Temporary work experience in a student’s career field or major. Advisors can help determine what internship requirements are needed in a major.

Organized sports (noncollegiate) that provide opportunities for students to compete against their peers in various team or individual sports on a competitive or recreational level.



A student who has completed more than 57 and fewer than 89 credit hours.


Kearney Bound ScholarsStudents at Kearney, Lexington or North Platte high schools who are academically talented and motivated but may have challenges to attend college. Students are chosen their high school freshman year and are mentored and tutored to prepare for UNK, and receive significant financial aid.

Kearney State College
UNK before it joined the University of Nebraska system in 1991.


Short for laboratory. This is a structured activity that is in conjunction with a typical course lecture.

Learning Commons
Academic support services at UNK that help students improve their understanding of course material through subject tutoring, develop stronger learning skills with success coaching and improve writing skills through reviews and assistance. This is located on the second floor of the library.

A course that is taught mostly through oral presentation.

Liberal Arts
Academic subjects such as literature, philosophy, humanities, mathematics, and social and natural (physical) sciences as opposed to professional or technical subjects.

Living Learning Community (LLC)A group of students who live together in a residence hall based on common interests, programs, majors or scholarships.

A type of financial aid designed to help students pay for school-related costs, such as tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies. Student loans typically come from the federal government or from private lenders and must be repaid.

Loper (Antelope)
UNK’s official mascot is Louie the Loper, which is short for antelope, specifically the pronghorn. Though technically not an antelope, pronghorns are often referred to as the American antelope. It symbolizes strength, swiftness and the ability to adapt to adverse conditions. UNK is located in the midst of Nebraska prairies where pronghorns once roamed freely.

LSAT (Law School Admission Test)
A standardized law school entrance exam required by law schools.


The group of courses within a degree program that allow students to develop expertise in a specific field of study. Students complete major course requirements along with general studies in order to receive a degree.

Master’s Degree
A degree completed after one has achieved a bachelor’s degree.

The process of permanently finalizing a student’s application material. Students must be matriculated before they can enroll in classes.

MCAT (Medical School Admission Test)
A standardized medical school entrance exam required by medical schools.

Meal Plan
The number of weekly meals purchased by students who live in campus housing. UNK offers three meal plans: 20 meals/week, 15 meals per week and 11 meals per week.

A peer, faculty or staff member or alumnus who provides support, guidance, academic assistance and/or advice to another student.

Based on a student’s skills, abilities, high grades or ACT score, such as a merit-based scholarship.

Midterm exam
An exam or project typically given or assigned near the middle of a semester.

A set of courses that a student takes to complement or enhance the value of his or her major. The number of credit hours required for a minor will vary for each area of study.

An interactive web portal to the UNK student system, which allows students to view their class schedules, as well as check their grades, account balances, financial aid, address information and holds. Students can also apply for housing and register for classes.


Natural Science
A branch of science and subjects that deal with the physical world, such as astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, botany and geology.

Based on a student’s financial need, such as a need-based scholarship due to a student’s low income.

Net Price Calculator
An interactive tool that allows students and families to calculate the estimated cost to attend a college or university.

New Student Enrollment (NSE)
A half-day event at UNK for new students (and parents and/or guardians) that reviews campus resources and academic expectations. Financial aid counseling is optional. The event concludes with enrollment advising, where students finalize their class schedules and register for classes.

National Student Exchange (NSE)
A study away opportunity that allows students to take courses and enroll in academic options that may not be available at UNK. Study is available for a single term or academic year at one of nearly 200 NSE member colleges and universities in the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Students who want to take classes at UNK but do not intend on pursuing a degree or who may have missed an application deadline, are considered a non-degree seeking student. Non-degree students are not eligible for Federal Financial Aid. Students taking courses as a non-degree student can apply those earned credits toward a degree once they apply as a degree-seeking student.

A student who is not from Nebraska.

Nontraditional student
Any student who does not begin college within one year of high school graduation.


Office Hours
Specific times that faculty are available to meet with students in their office. Office hours are listed in a class syllabus.

Online Classes
Courses taught entirely online asynchronously using UNK’s Learning Management system, Canvas. UNK’s online courses are not self-paced and have specific start and end dates.

Online Student
A student who does not physically come to campus and takes all courses online or by web conferencing.

Out-of-State Student
A student who is not a resident of Nebraska.


Part-Time Student
An undergraduate student taking fewer than 12 credit hours in a fall or spring semester or fewer than nine credit hours in the summer. For a graduate student, it’s fewer than 9 credit hours per semester or summer session.

Peer Mentor
A student who provides support, guidance and advice as a mentor to a fellow student. UNK offers this service through Trio Student Support Services in the Academic Success Office.

Pell Grant
Federal money for undergraduate students with financial need. It does not need to be repaid.

Presenting the work of another as one’s own without proper acknowledgment of the source. Copying sentences verbatim or taking figures without citation is the most blatant form of plagiarism. Using ideas of another to support an argument without citing the source of those ideas is another form of plagiarism, regardless of whether the wording is verbatim or has been paraphrased. Students are subject to academic and disciplinary sanctions

The Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators Tests are a program requirement for initial certification in Nebraska. Additionally, the Nebraska Department of Education requires the Praxis Subject Assessment (sometimes referred to as a content test or Praxis II) for certification.

A course that must be completed with a satisfactory grade before enrolling in another course. For example, Calculus I is a prerequisite for Calculus II.

A faculty member who typically has their doctorate (Ph.D.) or other terminal degree.

Public University
A university that receives state funding. UNK is a public university.


Students who have not been enrolled at UNK within the last two years are required to apply for readmission through the Office of Admissions.

The university official or office (sometimes called Student Records) whose primary responsibility is to oversee student records and enrollment, which includes grades and transcripts.

The process of being accepted back into a college within the university following academic dismissal or suspension.

Residence Halls
Campus building that serves as living quarters for a large number of students.

Residence Life
The office responsible for staffing and providing an educational experience for students living in the residence halls.

Used to refer to in-state students.

Resident Assistant (RA)
A student who works for Residence Life and lives in a residence hall to serve as a resource and role model to residents, enforce policies, and engage and assist students.

Term that refers to students who live on campus in residence halls or apartments.

Rolling Admissions
Application to a college or university is considered as soon as all the required materials have been received, rather than by a specific deadline. UNK has a rolling admission, although applying early helps to secure housing, class registration, scholarships and other financial aid.

Room and Board
Housing and meals.


A college admissions exam required by many universities that measures skills in reading, writing and math. An essay is optional. When high school students take the SAT they must list UNK (school code is 6467) as a college choice. The SAT can be taken often to improve the score, and only the highest score will be used by UNK. UNK accepts both the ACT and SAT.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
UNK students must meet minimum academic standards to be eligible or maintain eligibility for federal and state financial aid.

Financial aid that does not need to be repaid. It can be in the form of a one-time award or renewable and provide money for students each semester or academic year. 

The time period during which courses are offered. UNK offers three semesters: fall semester which begins in August, spring semester which begins in January, and the summer semester begins in May.

A student who has completed 89 or more credit hours.

Social Science
A category of academic subjects which examines society and human relationships. Disciplines can include, but are not limited to: criminal justice, geography, history, languages, philosophy, political science, psychology, social work and sociology.

A student who has completed more than 27 and fewer than 58 credit hours.

An organization of women to foster academics, leadership, friendship, philanthropy and community service.

The collective subjects of science, technology, engineering and math.

Student Code of Conduct
By choosing to join the community of UNK scholars, students agree to comply with standards of civilized behavior. The Student Code of Conduct is intended to present a clear statement of student rights and responsibilities, describe unacceptable acts and the process to address those acts.

Study Abroad
A program for students to participate in an international experience in almost any country. Programs range from several weeks to a full year.

Student and Family Transitions
UNK’s office that engages and supports new students as they transition to college life. This can include freshmen or transfer students.

Subsidized Student Loan
A federal student loan that is available to undergraduate students with financial need. The interest does not build while the student is in college at least half-time.

Success Coaching
A service offered at UNK in the Learning Commons to assist students in creating a tailored plan for academic and personal success.

A document that provides course information. It may include the instructor’s name, email, phone, office hours, required books or materials, course description, schedule and assignments, due dates, grades and grading scale, how work is evaluated, expectations, procedures and policies.

Synchronous Course
A course that require students to meet at the same time on a given day or time. Typically, at UNK these courses are referenced as on-campus or face-to-face courses.


Another name for a semester.

Traditional Student
Most generally a student enrolled into college right after graduating from high school and does not have major work or life responsibilities, e.g., full-time job or dependents.

An official academic record of courses a student has taken and the grades received at a high school, community college, college or university.

Transfer Credits
Credit hours from courses completed at a community college or another college or university that are accepted as credit hours at UNK.

Transfer Student
Any student who has attended another college or university, and then decides to finish their education at UNK.

Program outreach and student services designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A certified trained student who assists other students in learning course material. UNK offers this service through the Learning Commons in the Library.


A student at a college or university who is pursuing, but has not yet earned, a bachelor’s degree.

Unsubsidized Student Loan
Federal student loans, available to both undergraduate and graduate students, where the interest starts to accrue as soon as the loan money is sent to the school.

Upper Level
Refers to courses numbered 300 to 499, which are primarily taken by juniors and seniors. Students must complete 40 upper level credit hours in order to graduate from UNK.


An official mark or stamp in a passport that allows someone to enter a country for a particular amount of time. Common visa types for international students in the U.S. include the F-1 (student visa) and J-1 (exchange visitor visa).


Web-Conference Course (Video-Conferencing Course)
A course that connects remote students to the on-campus or face-to-face classroom via Zoom or another type of video-conferencing software.

The process of ending enrollment in a course or complete withdrawal from UNK. Students may withdraw from courses without penalty early in a semester. Full refunds are given if the course is dropped the first week of the semester. Refunds are reduced the longer one waits to withdraw. See UNK’s refund schedule. Withdrawing after the first week of class and prior to the ninth week in the semester will result in a Withdraw, or W, designation being placed on the transcript to indicate that the class was started but not finished. The W does not count toward the GPA calculation.

Part-time work (approximately 8 to 15 hours per week) offered by a college or university. Students are required to complete the FAFSA and be awarded Federal Work Study eligibility before pursuing a Federal Work Study job.

Writing Center
A service for all UNK students to help them improve their writing for any project through the Learning Commons.


Zoom is a platform that allows a group of people to interact in real time through audio, video and text messages. It’s used for video conferencing, meetings, group messaging and screen sharing.