Below are commonly accepted definitions for terms you are likely to hear throughout the admissions process.

Admission Counselor — Representative from the admissions office at a university or college who assists prospective students through the admission process.

A.P. or Advanced Placement Examination — This exam offers students the opportunity to earn college credit. Vanderbilt generally awards college credit for a score of 4 or 5. View a complete list of all AP exams and the credit awarded.

Common Application — Offered by CommonApp, the Common Application allows students to complete one application and submit to many colleges or universities, including Vanderbilt. Access the Common Application at

Core Curriculum — General education classes all students at a university or in a specific program are required to complete; also referred to as “gen ed classes.”

Credit Hour — A unit of measurement. A student earns credit hours when completing an academic course. Many college courses are worth three or four hours of credit.

CSS Profile — The College Service Scholarship Profile is a form administered by the College Board and required by many colleges and universities (including Vanderbilt) for students applying for need-based financial aid. Access the CSS Profile at

Deferral — For colleges and universities that offer early admission plans (e.g., Early Action, Restricted Early Action, Early Decision), a decision of
“defer” moves the application to a later admission plan, often to the Regular Decision pool. Rather than being admitted or denied admission, a student may be “deferred” to a later round.

Early Action — An admissions decision program with earlier deadlines and earlier notification dates than the regular admissions process. Early Action does not require a student to commit to attending the school if admitted. Vanderbilt does not have an early action program.

Early Decision — A binding decision plan that requires students to submit their application by an earlier date and offers an admission decision earlier in the admission cycle. Students applying through Early Decision must sign an Early Decision Agreement confirming their intention to enroll if admitted; the student’s parent/guardian and high school counselor must also sign the Agreement. If offered admission through the Early Decision plan, students must withdraw all applications to other colleges.

E.F.C. — Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount of financial support a family is expected to contribute toward a child’s college education. At Vanderbilt, the EFC is determined by using an institutional methodology that uses data collected from the CSS PROFILE.

FAFSA — Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In addition to completing the CSS PROFILE, students applying for need-based financial aid must complete the (FAFSA).

Grant — Awards based on financial need that do not require repayment. At Vanderbilt, need-based financial aid awards include grant monies and work study components; these awards do not include loans that must be repaid.

Greek Life — Term used to describe activities of fraternities and sororities on campus.

I.B.  — International Baccalaureate. IB classes are offered at some high schools as part of the IB Diploma Programme. IB classes are often considered among the most rigorous offered. Students may take IB tests to prove mastery of material. A grade of 6 or 7 on these tests will earn college credit at many universities. View a complete list of credit awarded for IB exams at Vanderbilt.

Joint/Dual Enrollment — Refers to coursework high school students complete which may be credited toward a college degree. At Vanderbilt, college credit will be awarded only if the course is regularly offered by an accredited two-or four-year college or university, if the teacher was a regular faculty member of that institution, and if a majority of the students in the course were candidates for a degree in that institution. At Vanderbilt, all questions regarding college credit earned are decided on by the University Registrar.

Loan — Financial aid awarded to families with the expectation of future repayment.

Merit-Based Financial Aid — Financial aid awarded based on either academic or extracurricular merit.

Need-Based Financial Aid —Financial aid that is awarded based on demonstrated financial need as determined by the FAFSA and/or the CSS PROFILE application.

Need Blind — When an admission decision is made without regard to a student or family's ability to pay for the education.

Transcript — Official record of high school and/or college courses and grades.

Regular Decision — Admission decision plan that allows for students to apply to many colleges or universities and to compare admission offers and financial aid awards before committing to a school.

Residential Campus — A university campus where students are required to live in university residence halls. Vanderbilt is a residential campus.

Retention Rate — The percentage of students who return to a college or university the following year; typically, this refers to first-year to sophomore retention.

Rolling Admissions — This is an admissions decision plan that considers students as they apply and offers admission decisions throughout an admissions cycle. Qualified students are admitted until the first-year class is filled. Applicants are notified of admission continuously throughout the enrollment period. Vanderbilt does not practice rolling admissions for first-year applicants. Transfer applications are considered on a rolling basis from mid-April through early summer each year.

Room & Board — This dollar amount represents the housing and dining plan costs combined for enrolled students.

Scholarship — Awards to students based on merit or merit and need. Students are not required to pay back these awards.

Seminar — A class that has a group discussion format rather than a larger lecture hall format.

High School Profile — A form created by each high school that provides colleges and universities with information about the specific high school. High schools typically provide curriculum details, description of grading scale, student population information, extracurricular opportunities available, and high school counseling information.

Student Employment/Work Study — Students must complete the FAFSA to determine eligibility for this program. Eligible undergraduate students may work up to 20 hours per week on campus. There are a variety of work locations and settings. Wages vary depending on the type of job.

Supplemental Materials — Any additional materials that a student may submit when applying to college to help the admissions committee make an informed admission decision.

Waitlist — a student who has not yet been admitted but still shows strong promise may be put on a university’s waitlist. The university will often make offers of admission from the waitlist based on the response from students initially offered admission.