Glossary of College Terms

The following terms or phrases are ones with which you may not be familiar, but are specific to the academic world. Students may encounter them in conversations with faculty, staff, in our catalog, or in other publications.

Academic Advisor

The Counseling and Academic Advisers at PSC will provide assistance with the process of planning what courses you will need and in what sequence in order to reach your academic goals. 

Academic Cumulative GPA

Refers to the grade point average earned when all college courses are computed into an overall average. You must earn a 2.0 GPA to graduate. Please note: Financial Aid considers all courses--both college level and developmental—in determining whether you will continue receiving financial aid. Students, who drop below a 2.0 overall, will be placed on warning or probationary status. See Financial Aid Probation.

Academic Probation

A status for students performing below minimum academic standards at the close of the previous term. This happens when your cumulative GPA falls below 2.0 after completing nine or more credit hours.

Ability to Benefit (ATB)

Students who do not have a high school diploma or GED who apply for federal aid must achieve passing scores on a basic skills examination to establish their ability to benefit from educational programs.


Services received by students with disabilities to assist him/her with course work. Services include note taker, sign language interpreter, extended time on tests, Braille or auditory materials and more. Accommodations are determined on an individual basis and must be supported by documentation of need.


The ACT (American College Testing) is a college readiness assessment standardized test for high school achievement and college admissions in the United States.


You may change your schedule by adding or dropping classes. Check the Academic Calendar for the add/drop deadlines for each term.


Your acceptance for enrollment as a student at PSC. All first-time students must complete an admissions application to be enrolled.

Adult Education Course

Learning opportunities for non-high school graduates, 16 and older, to learn basic skills.

Articulation Agreement

PSC participates in the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI), a statewide agreement that allows students to transfer certain community college courses to participating 4-year colleges or universities.  


Evaluation process designed to gather information about individual students to assist in appropriate course placement.

Associate Degree

Awarded for completing a two-year program. The Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS) degrees are designed to transfer to a 4-year college or university.

Associate in Arts degree (A.A.)

Includes the first two years of study for students who plan to pursue a bachelor's degree in liberal arts.

Associate in Science degree (A.S.)

Covers the first two years of study for students pursuing a bachelor's degree in engineering, mathematics, or science.

Associate in Applied Science Degree (A.A.S)

Represents completion of or the minimum of 60 credit hours in a technical or career program.

Associate in General Studies degree (A.G.S.)

This degree is not intended for transfer or directed at a specific occupation. It is intended to allow students to design their own two-year program.

Audit a Course

Students  are allowed to enroll in a college course, but not seek a degree or earn a grade.

Automatic Payment Plan

Offers a flexible payment option using either a credit card or automatic withdrawal from a checking or savings account. This is not a loan; there are no interest or finance charges assessed.

Award Letter

Official notification of the amount of financial aid a student is eligible to receive.


Book Vouchers

After tuition and fees are paid from the Pell Grant, any amount remaining is given to the student in the form of a voucher to purchase text books.


Business officer of the college, responsible for billing of student tuition.


A comprehensive guide that describe courses, programs, services, policies, requirements, and procedures at Prairie State College. The most current information can be found on the website at

Career Programs

Programs that lead to employment upon completion.

Certificate Programs

Certificates are awarded after completion of up to 50 credits that focus on specific occupational or technical areas of study. The certificates are designed for those seeking training for a first career or considering a different field, as well as those who seek to improve their skills.

CLEP Test (College Level Examination Program)

Students may test out of certain college level courses and receive college credit if they successfully pass a subject area exam.

placement test

A computerized and written assessment test that confirms your readiness to take college-level classes by determining your prior level of achievement in English, math, and reading.

Continuing Education Courses

Non-credit courses or workshops that do not apply to degrees but are taken for personal enrichment or professional development.

Course Number

Identification number of course (e.g. COMM 101-01).

Credit Courses

Primarily designed to earn academic credits toward a degree or certificate.

Credit hours

The amount of credit you receive for completing a specific course. Credit hours are based upon the number of hours a class meets per week.


Courses required for a specific degree or certificate.

Dependent Student

Whether or not the student is financially dependent on his or her parents is based on federal guidelines. All students are considered dependents unless he or she is 24 years or older, is a graduate student, is married, has legal dependents, is an orphan or ward of the court, or is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Desire to Learn (D2L)

An online course server for online and hybrid courses at Prairie State College. D2L allows a student to navigate through course content, assignments, learning modules, and more.

Developmental Courses

Non-credit courses designed to improve skills such as writing, math, and reading to enable success in college-level courses. Students do not receive college credit for developmental courses.


To discontinue, withdraw, or be removed from a class. The student is responsible for withdrawing from classes one of three ways: See schedule.



Non-required courses students may choose to take that are not specifically required for graduation, but will increase knowledge and help meet the remaining credit hours for a college degree.

Eligible Programs

Students must pursue a two-year degree program or a minimum one-year certificate to be eligible for financial aid.

ESL (English as a Second Language)

A five-level program that provides high quality English language instruction emphasizing skills in speaking, listening, reading, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and writing.  Students are taught practical applications of these skills that they can use immediately in their everyday lives.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

A required standard form that all students must complete annually for financial aid, including grants, loans, and some scholarships.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA gives students the right to control who sees their college education records. It also gives students the right to inspect their records, and to amend the record if information is inaccurate or misleading.

Federal Work Study

The Federal Work Study program provides on-campus employment for students while they attend college. The number of hours worked weekly is determined by the amount of work-study dollars awarded and financial need.

Financial Aid

A range of grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and loans that provide monetary assistance for students to start or continue their enrollment in courses at the college.

Financial Aid and No Class Attendance

Upon the receipt of the Midterm Verification Form, students who are not attending all of their classes will receive a reduced award.

Financial Aid Probation

Students who successfully appeal can be placed on financial aid probation.  Students on probation status are eligible to receive financial aid.  If the student achieves the minimum satisfactory academic progress requirements in one term, they will be placed on satisfactory status.  If the minimum requirements are not met, they will be placed on termination.

Financial Aid Termination

Students who are currently on warning or probation status and do not meet the minimum satisfactory academic progress requirements will be placed on termination status.  Termination status means ineligible for financial aid.

Financial Aid Warning

Students who are currently on satisfactory status and do not meet the minimum satisfactory academic progress requirements at the end of the term will be placed on warning status.  Students on warning status are eligible to receive financial aid.

Full-time Student

Anyone taking 12 credit hours or more during the fall or spring semesters or 6 or more hours during the summer session. Some financial aid awards require students to have full-time status.

F.W. Grade

Failure due to unofficial withdrawal (0 grade points) is given to students who stop attending before the semester is over.

GED®(General Education Development)

GED classes offer provide district residents who are non-high school graduates, and age 16 and older, the opportunity to complete high school equivalency studies that prepare them to take the GED® exam. A GED certificate verifies attainment of high school level academic knowledge and skills.

GPA (Grade Point Average)

The total number of points per credit hour earned (A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0), divided by college-level credit hours attempted.


Financial aid which does not have to be repaid.

Hybrid (Blended learning)

A formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace. The purpose of a hybrid course is to take advantage of the best features of both face-to-face and online learning. A hybrid course is designed to integrate face-to-face and online activities so that they reinforce, complement, and elaborate one another, instead of treating the online component as an add-on or duplicate of what is taught in the classroom.

Independent Student

A student is considered independent if he or she is 24 years or older, is a graduate student, is married, has legal dependents, is an orphan or ward of the court, or is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.


Learning Communities (LC)

Learning Communities courses provide interesting, active opportunities for students and professors to learn together. LC combine two courses from different disciplines, giving students who enroll in them an opportunity to explore the connections between the two fields of study with the guidance of the two professors for the courses.

MAP Grant

Available to Illinois residents who will attend approved Illinois colleges and demonstrate financial need based on the information provided on the FAFSA.

Non-Credit Courses

PSC offers a wide variety of non-credit courses, seminars and workshops. Students may learn vocational skills, enhance their personal growth, and explore vocational pursuits. These classes do not give college credit and will not appear on your academic transcript. (Ex. Fitness and wellness courses.)

Non-traditional Occupation

Careers in which less than 26 percent of a gender is represented.

Non-traditional Student

A student who is NOT entering college within the same calendar year of high school graduation.

Official Transcript

A list of all classes taken and all grades received by the student. This is sent by the school in a sealed envelope, usually with an original signature of a school official and an official seal.

Online Courses

Courses conducted completely online using the Internet. Students can access classes off campus as long as they are connected to the network during class time.

Part-time (PT) Student

A part-time student is anyone enrolled in fewer than 11 credit hours for the fall and spring semesters or five credit hours or less during the summer semester.

Payment Deadline

Date all tuition and fees are due unless prior arrangements have been made.

Pell Grant

Need-based financial aid awarded to undergraduate students. Repayment is not required.

Pell Refund

The remaining balance of funds in the Pell Grant that students are eligible to receive.


A course or series of courses required before a more advanced course may be taken. All courses are listed in the course catalog, along with any courses students are required to complete before taking that specific course. Students must successfully complete each prerequisite with a "C" or better before enrolling in more advanced courses.

Priority Deadline

July 1—Date that all paperwork is due to be given priority consideration for financial aid dollars.

Programs of Study

A set of required and elective courses designed to meet specific career or transfer goals, and leading to a degree or certificate upon successful completion.


The process of selecting courses, completing college forms, and paying fees, all of which must be completed prior to the beginning of classes each semester.


Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Students must meet satisfactory academic progress requirements by maintaining a 2.0 GPA and completing 67% of the total attempted hours and attempting no more than 150% or 90 hours associated with the program.  Attempted hours include remedial classes and credits transferred to PSC from other institutions and periods in which financial aid was not received.


Information on the courses and sections offered in a given semester or enrollment period including meeting dates, times, locations, and instructors' names. Schedules can be found near the main entrances at PSC or on the PSC website.


A form of financial assistance that does not need to be repaid. Scholarships are generally offered to students who possess certain characteristics important to the scholarship provider (such as academic performance, talent, hobbies, ethnicity, etc.)


Term of instruction, approximately 18 weeks. Two semesters (fall and spring) make up an academic year- fall and spring.


A document that lists a course's objectives and requirements. Each instructor distributes a syllabus at the beginning of the semester.

Summer Financial Aid

Students who attend full-time and received financial aid during fall and spring terms are not eligible for aid in the summer.

Summer Semester

Short-term session in June and July in which semester-length courses are offered in an intensive period.


See Semester.

Transfer Program

Curriculum that can be applied toward bachelor's degree programs at four-year colleges and universities.

Unofficial Transcript

A list of all the coursework taken and grades earned by a student. This does not include the school's seal or signature of school official.

Transcript Evaluation

The procedure for awarding transfer credit for PSC equivalent courses completed at another college or university.

Tuition and Fees

The cost of college classes based on the student's residence and how many credits the student enrolls in for any given semester. Payments are non-negotiable.


Free assistance available for students who wish to strengthen their academic skills in a specific course.


Process whereby a student must document information reported on their FAFSA and submit the documentation to the Financial Aid Department.


A secure web interface that allows you to access your personal academic information. Through Web Advisor you can register for classes, print your class schedule, and much more.


The process of discontinuing enrollment in a course or courses. A grade of "W" is recorded on the student transcript and not computed in the GPA. Students who withdraw from a class may receive a reduced financial aid award. See the Financial Aid Office for details.