Your College Dictionary

Colleges and universities have a tendency to use words that not everyone understands. What is the difference between merit- and need-based aid and why do I need an academic adviser? Sometimes college terms can be more confusing than learning the difference between meiosis and mitosis in biology class. Let me help by defining a few words that I struggled with understanding as a freshman (and as a sophomore). If there is a word that you wish had been included, feel free to leave a comment so I can respond or add it to the list!

Academic adviser: This person will help you select the correct courses, review the course requirements in the field you have selected to pursue and help you with any academic problems you may encounter. He or she is a great source of advice and guidance in your academic career.

Alumni: What you are going to be in four (or five) years. Well, if you are a woman, you are going to be an alumna and if you are a guy, you are going to be an alumnus, but you get the idea. After graduation, you are not just done with UNF. You will be a part of the 75,000-plus alumni who make up the Ospreys who have flown the nest — successfully.

Blackboard: Not the blackboard that occasionally made that awful screeching noise when your teachers wrote on it with chalk. This Blackboard is an online tool that allows faculty to provide and share resources for students. Essentially, Blackboard (BB) is an online classroom. Almost every class has a Blackboard counterpart. It is the most effective way for professors to communicate with all of their students regarding syllabi, assignments, class updates, reminders and online group discussion forums. You can also check your grades and check the class roster to see who else is in your class.

Blue-and-Gray Wednesdays: Join the student body in wearing your finest UNF apparel for campus spirit day. If you want to paint your whole body blue and spray paint your hair gray, by all means, we aren’t going to stop you. However, we also suggest a classic UNF t-shirt from the Bookstore or a snapback Osprey hat. Whatever you decide to wear, we just want to see your school spirit!

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): A federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. Because of this law, University officials cannot speak to your parents or anyone else about your academic record, financial aid or student account unless you expressly give your permission. You might want to check into this further at One-Stop Student Services.

Flagship Program: Being a Flagship Program for UNF means that the program has been elevated as a stand-out among other programs at the University. These programs receive significantly more funding, resources and attention because they have reached a level of national distinction in both scholarly study and research. UNF’s Flagship Programs include Coastal Biology, International Business, Transportation and Logistics, Nutrition and Dietetics, Music and Nursing.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): An application that is used by the Department of Education to determine a student’s eligibility for federal, state and institutional financial aid. It is often required before a student can be considered for scholarships as well. Make sure to complete your FASFA forms before the deadlines so that you can be eligible for any grants or federal aid. If you have questions about the FAFSA, check with One-Stop.

FTIC: First-Time-in-College student a.k.a. a freshman.

General Education Program: better known as Gen Ed classes. This includes taking the state-mandated 36 credit hours of courses such as English composition, history, math, science and psychology. These courses are usually completed during a student’s first two years at college.

Grant: FREE money! Well, basically. Grants can come from state or federal government, the college itself or from private sources. Unlike a loan, you don’t have to pay back a grant. Many grants are determined based on the results of your FASFA report (so make sure to fill that out!)

Honors Program: An interdisciplinary program designed for high-achieving students that emphasizes experiential and active learning in small classes. Being in the Honors Program provides the opportunity to enroll in fun and different classes like Literature in the Kitchen, Evolution of Florida, Philosophy through Film, Politics of Harry Potter (includes a trip to London) and West Africa Seminar (includes a trip to Ghana). To apply for the Honors Program visit

Loan: If scholarships and grants don’t cover the entire cost of your tuition, you may have to take out a student loan to make up the difference. Federal student loans don’t have to be paid back until you graduate from college. The rates and terms are generally more flexible than private loans. Many students have to take out a student loan at some point, so don’t be afraid to explore this option. Look at it as an investment in your future career. There are two types of loans:

1. Direct subsidized — available to undergraduate students with financial need. Your university determines the amount you can borrow, and the amount may not exceed your financial need. The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest while you’re in school and for the first six months after you leave school.
2. Direct unsubsidized — available to undergraduate and graduate students and there is no need to demonstrate financial need. Your university determines the amount you can borrow based on your cost of attendance and other financial aid you receive. You are responsible for paying the interest.

Major: The program of study a student chooses to focus on for his or her undergraduate degree. Students may apply directly into their academic major or choose to go undeclared before declaring a major.

Market Days: Each Wednesday, Osprey Plaza (near the Student Union) turns into a campus-style vendor market for the UNF students to enjoy. Fellow classmates, local artists and other Jacksonville vendors set up shop for your convenience. You can find food (usually free), live music and entertainment, clothing boutiques, jewelry vendors and more!

Meal Plan: A meal plan helps you avoid starvation during your first year away from mom’s kitchen. UNF offers different meal plan options including the choice of 19, 14 or 10 meals per week. You can use your meal plan at on-campus locations including Chick-fil-A, Papa John’s, the Osprey Café and more! For more details on meal plans visit

Merit-based scholarships: Awards made to students who have demonstrated high academic achievement. Your application for admission at UNF is your application for merit-based scholarships.

Minor: A secondary field of study or specialization during an undergraduate program of study. Students can only declare a minor after they have begun classes at UNF.

Need-Based Aid: Aid awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) is an important part to receiving this kind of financial aid.

On-campus Housing: UNF provides six on-campus dormitories, which provides convenient campus living for students of all ages. All first-year students are required to live on campus but trust us, you will want to! Class, restaurants, athletic events and other social activities are available at your fingertips, and you won’t even have to use any precious fuel from your gas tank. While our dorms do not offer room service, they are spacious, homey and allow you to get the full college experience. For more information on our housing choices, visit

SWOOP: Students With Outstanding Osprey Pride. Bet you didn’t know that our school spirit motion also stands for something! Swooping is the motion associated with being an Osprey student/fan. In order to swoop, you start with your hands in a raised V-shape and proceed to sweep your arms down and out while passionately yelling “SWOOP” with your fellow Ospreys. You best learn the call of the Osprey if you plan on joining the flock!

TLO: Transformational Learning Opportunity. A hands-on experience that allows students to broaden and deepen their intellectual and world views. They may occur within a course, outside of the classroom or both. Whether TLOs happen in or out of the traditional classroom, the common denominator is providing the potential for a significant impact to be made on a student’s professional and personal development.

Undeclared: A student who has not yet declared or decided on a program of study at UNF. It is perfectly normal not to know what you want to major in when you get to college. You have some time to figure it out while you complete your General Education classes! And you can always go meet with your academic adviser for advice.

Undergraduate: a student enrolled in a four-year academic program that leads to a bachelor’s degree.

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