As you begin your college search, you may find yourself googling a lot of things—beyond the typical questions you might find yourself asking the all-knowing search engines of the world, you might find yourself typing in the multitudes of acronyms that have come to accompany the college application process.
DI. ED. EA. REA. R1. FAFSA. CSS. The list goes on and on and on. So I've compiled a list of some of admissions acronyms and what they mean as you begin (or continue!) your college search and application journey.
CBO: Community-Based Organization. These are organizations based in (you guessed it) your community! They're often non-profits that seek to support students in their community as they prepare to apply and attend college, but they take lots of different forms.
CSS: College Scholarship Search. The CSS Profile, offered by CollegeBoard, is one of the financial aid applications that some colleges, Tufts included, may ask you to complete in addition to or in place of the FAFSA.
DI: Demonstrated Interest. Many colleges, Tufts included, track your interest in their college. We do this by noting your engagement with us, whether it's in person, through email/phone, or through virtual events!
EA: Early Action. This is one of several different application rounds that is offered at some universities. It's not offered at Tufts, but it allows you to submit your application early and to hear back about your decision early—unlike Early Decision, Early Action is NOT binding.
ED: Early Decision. This is an application round offered at many universities that allows you to hear your decision early, though it also means that if you're accepted that you've committed to attending that particular school. As a result, you should only apply to one school at a time when you apply Early Decision—though some schools, like Tufts, have multiple rounds of Early Decision.
EFC: Expected Family Contribution. An important note: In 2023, the US government is updating the FAFSA and changing some language. Previously, EFC would've referred to what your family is expected to financially contribute towards your college costs (and many colleges may still continue to use it this way), but the FAFSA will replace it with the SAI, or Student Aid Index, which holds the same meaning but as you can see, is a completely different acronym!
FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is authored by the US government and is used by most colleges to determine how much financial aid a student qualifies for. Some colleges, such as Tufts, also use additional financial aid applications.
FGLI: First-Generation, Low-Income. This acronym is often used to refer to a student's identity as being the first in their family to attend college, as well as being from a low-income family. Did you know that Tufts has a fully staffed and resourced center specifically dedicated to our first-gen, low-income, and undocumented students? It's called the FIRST Resource Center!
NPC: Net Price Calculator. Tufts has a Net Price Calculator, as do most other colleges, available on our website. This is one way your family can get an estimate of their financial aid package.
RD: Regular Decision. This is largest and most common round for students to apply to the majority of schools that they may be interested in attending. Students who apply to Tufts in Regular Decision will be applying in early January and hearing back about their decision near the beginning of April.
REA: Restrictive Early Action. This is another application round that is most similar to Early Action with the caveat that you can only choose one school to apply Early Action to—it isn't binding like Early Decision, but it does limit your early application options in a similar way.
R1 (also referred to as "tier one research university"): Refers to doctoral-granting universities with the highest output of research nationally. Tufts is an R1 institution along with 145 others in the US! This classification system is produced by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
TO: Test-Optional. Tufts, like many other universities, is currently test-optional (until at least Fall 2026) which means that students applying to Tufts during that time have the option of submitted their standardized test scores.
QB: QuestBridge. A non-profit organization connecting high school students from low-income backgrounds to 48 selective institutions with strong commitments to financial aid and resources for low-income students. QuestBridge has its own application, and some students match to colleges through its National College Match (sometimes referred to as just "the Match"). Tufts is a QB partner, and we welcomed 24 students to our Class of 2026 through the Match and admitted another 200+ QB Scholars through our early decision and regular admissions rounds!)
And for some *bonus Tufts-specific content, I've pulled together a few acronyms you might stumble across when learning more about the Tufts community.
A&S: School of Arts and Sciences
CEEO: Center for Engineering Education and Outreach
CMHS: Counseling and Mental Health Services
CSD: Center for STEM Diversity
LC: Latinx Center
SEC: Science and Engineering Complex
SMFA: School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts
SOE: School of Engineering
StAAR Center: Student Accessibility and Academic Resources Center
And quite literally any one of our pre-orientation programs: BEAST (Building Engagement and Access for Students at Tufts), CAFE (Conversation Action Faith and Education), CREATE (Cultivate Relationships by Engaging with Arts at Tufts Experiences), FIT (Fitness and Individual Development at Tufts), FOCUS (First-Year Orientation CommUnity Service), GO (Global Orientation), SQUAD (Students' Quest for Unity in the African Diaspora), TWO (Tufts Wilderness Orientation)
Whew! That is quite a bit. And while neither list is exhaustive, I hope it gives you some extra insight into the new words and acronyms you'll be adding to your vocabulary as you navigate your college search process.