16. Lifetime Learning credit -- A tax credit given to individuals who file a tax return and pay taxes. A family can claim up to $2,000 per tax year for the taxpayer, the taxpayer's spouse or a dependent family member.
17. Loan consolidation -- Enables a student borrower to combine various educational loans into one new loan, extending the repayment period (up to 30 years depending on the loan amount) and allowing a single monthly payment often lower than the sum of the multiple payments.
18. Merit aid -- Provided to students based on academic, athletic, musical or other abilities, and is independent of a student's financial need.
19. Need -- The difference between a student's resources (the estimated family contribution and outside resources, such as scholarships) and the cost of attendance at a school.
20. Need-based aid -- Provided to students based on their financial status, as determined by the FAFSA.
21. Nellie Mae -- The largest nonprofit provider of parent and student education loan funds in the U.S. A wholly owned affiliate of Sallie Mae (SLMA), it has helped more than a million students and their families pay for college by providing a broad range of loans under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and privately funded loan programs.
22. National education loan network (Nelnet) -- A loan company that specializes in the origination, funding and servicing of student loans, including Stafford, PLUS, private and student consolidation loans.
23. Pell grant -- The largest federal grant program. Grants are generally awarded to families whose incomes are less than $30,000 a year.
24. Perkins loan -- Funded by both colleges and the government, colleges act as the lenders for these need-based loans, which can be up to $4,000 annually. Students pay no interest while they�re in school and have a nine-month grace period after they graduate.
25. PLUS loan -- Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students, a non-need-based loan enabling parents to borrow up to the cost of tuition (minus any aid received). Both the government and private lenders offer these loans. Applications require a credit check.
26. Prepaid tuition plans -- Offered through 529 programs and individual colleges, these plans allow parents to lock in today's tuition rates for their children, no matter how much tuition increases in the future. A parent who pays for a semester's tuition at today's rates, for example, would secure a semester's worth of education at any point in the future, whether it's 2009 or 2023.
27. PROFILE -- Some schools use the PROFILE form to supplement the FAFSA and award non-federal student aid.
28. Qualified tuition plans (QTP) -- Also known as 529 plans, qualified tuition plans include both prepaid tuition plans and college savings plans.