Tuition, Billing and Financial Aid FAQs

Tuition and Billing 

How much does the Counseling@Northwestern program cost?
Tuition is based on the number of credits for which you register. Current tuition rates can be found on the Counseling@Northwestern tuition and financial aid page.

Are there additional fees assessed on top of tuition?
There are some common fees, outside of the tuition and required fees, that you may incur that are charged each semester. Review the full list of common fees for Northwestern University.

Can any fees be waived for online students?
You may request the health insurance fee to be waived by visiting the Student Health Insurance for more information about rates, dependent coverage, and waiver procedures.

When will I receive a tuition bill, how do I view my bill, and when is payment due?
Your bill is prepared once a month. You have the choice to receive your bill two ways; online through QuikPAY eBill service or by mail (to the address on file). Information on payment due dates can be found on the Billing & Payment tab located on the Northwestern Student Finance site.

What are the accepted forms of payment?
Payment methods include electronic check, ePay (using a checking or savings account), or credit card online through CAESAR.

How does my employer go about paying the school?
For third-parties such as your employer or other sponsor pays your tuition at the beginning of the term without stipulations, the Office of Student Finance is able to facilitate the billing and payment process for you. You can locate more information on third party payment or employer reimbursement

Are payment plan options available for online students?
Payment arrangements can be made by contacting Office of Student Financeat studentaccounts-ev@northwestern.edu or 847-491-5224.

What are the consequences if my tuition bill is not paid when classes begin?
If your account balance is unpaid, late, or have a returned check, the University may apply registration holds and fees. Visit the Student Finance page for more information on late and return payment penalties. 

If I’m eligible to receive a refund, what is the process?
Details on the refund process are listed on the Northwestern University student finance  page. 

What is the Title IV Authorization?
By completing the Title IV Authorization, found in the CAESAR portal, Northwestern can apply your federal aid to all your charges, such as medical insurance, parking fines and other miscellaneous charges.  

Who can I contact at Northwestern for billing and payment questions?
For information regarding billing, tuition and fees contact Student Finance at 847-491-5224 or email studentaccounts-ev@northwestern.edu.

Northwestern University Student Portal

How do I set up my Northwestern University ID and Password?
Using the activation code sent to you after being admitted, you must activate your NetID by visiting the NU Validate page. Your NetID is your Username, and your Activation Code is your temporary password.

How do I set up my Northwestern University email address?
Once your NetID is activated, NUValidate should automatically walk you through creating your Northwestern email account. If it doesn’t, you may click here for additional instructions. Please check your Northwestern email regularly. Our office, your academic department, and all other university offices send all communications to you via your Northwestern email address. You can find general information about Northwestern’s email for students on NUIT's email overview page.

What is the Northwestern University student portal?
The Northwestern University student portal is CAESAR. Your CAESAR account includes access to academic records, billing, financial aid, direct deposit set up, and more. You will need your Northwestern ID and password to log into CAESAR.

Financial Aid at Northwestern University

Does Counseling@Northwestern offer internal scholarships to online students? 
Counseling@Northwestern awards a limited number of scholarships and partner organization benefits to applicants. Be sure to connect with your Admissions Counselor if you would like to be considered for an institutionally funded scholarship opportunities.

Are there Northwestern University specific supplemental financial aid forms I need to complete?
If you are a new student, and are planning to apply for federal student aid, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Entrance Counseling and the Loan Agreement Master Promissory Note (MPN) on the Federal Student Aid website.

Continuing students must complete an online institutional form. The Evanston Office of Graduate Financial Aid will contact you in late March of each year to complete this form as well as your new FAFSA. Both will appear as To Do items in CAESAR.

What federal student aid is available to graduate students?
The types of federal student aid graduate students are eligible to apply for include the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan. Learn more about the types of federal student aid.

Why are graduate students not eligible for the Federal Pell Grant or the Federal Subsidized Loan?
The Department of Education awards Federal Pell Grants and Direct Subsidized Loans to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need and have not yet completed their bachelor’s degrees. The Department of Education does not evaluate need or income for loans at the graduate or professional level. Therefore, graduate students are not eligible for the Federal Pell Grant nor the Direct Subsidized Loan.

Are there academic requirements I must meet to receive federal student aid?
Students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to continue receiving financial aid. Visit the Northwestern University SAP Policy for more information.  

What is the minimum number of credits required to receive federal student aid?
Students must register at least half-time, which is 2 credits per quarter during the entire loan period in order to be eligible for federal student aid. 

How do I determine full-time, part-time, or half-time enrollment in this program?
Students enrolled in at least 3-4 credits per quarter are considered full-time. Students enrolled in 2 credits per quarter are considered half-time.

What are private loans?
Private education loans, also known as alternative loans, are offered by private lenders to help students bridge the gap between the cost of education and the amount the government allows you to borrow in federal loans. Lenders offer private educational loans with different rates, fees, repayment terms, and approval requirements.

Are private loans offered at Northwestern University?
A number of private outside agencies offer students alternative sources for financing their education. Unlike federal loans, the terms of private loans are set by the individual lenders. The interest rate and fees are determined by your credit history, for more information visit the Private Loans page.

When will I receive my financial aid award?
Financial aid awards are typically prepared within 1-2 weeks after all required materials are received. Please visit the Dates and Deadlines on when to expect award notices. 

How do I accept my financial aid award?
Instructions on accepting student loans are provided with your email award notice. Your financial aid award letter will be made available via the student portal, CAESAR.

Am I required to accept the full amount that I am offered on my award letter?
No, you do not have to accept the full amount offered. Students are encouraged to borrow only what is needed. You can choose to accept all, part or none of your financial aid award. Instructions are provided with your email award notice.

Does my Direct Loan eligibility cover the entire cost of the program?
Assuming you are eligible for both the Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, the aid will cover the current academic year you are enrolled. 

How soon will loans disburse to my student account?
Federal student loans do not disburse earlier than 10 days prior to the start of classes. You can find more information on Disbursement of Loan Funds.

Can I use loans to cover additional expenses such as living expenses, books, supplies, etc.?
The total cost of attendance (COA) for the academic year includes tuition, fees and living expenses. If you have eligibility for additional loan funds based on your COA, you are able to use those resources to cover expenses such as books, supplies, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Is there an immersion required for this program? If so, will I be able to use the loan funds to cover these expenses?
Yes, there are 2 immersions required; the Group Dynamics and the Capstone Immersion. Students are responsible for travel costs, however the school will cover the hotel1 and meals. If you have a surplus credit from your loans, you may use those funds to cover expenses associated with your immersion. However, the school determines when loans will disburse, and when refunds are issued.

1 Students who request a single occupancy will need to pay an additional fee. Return to footnote reference

Who can I contact at Northwestern for financial aid questions?
Direct all financial aid questions to Northwestern Student Financial Services. Call 847-491-8950 or email gradfinaid@northwestern.edu.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

What is the FAFSA?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application the Department of Education uses to determine if you are eligible to receive federal student aid.

Where can I find the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is available online at Studentaid.ed.gov. The FAFSA is a free application; you will not be asked to pay.

What is the Northwestern University FAFSA school code?
The Northwestern University FAFSA school code is 001739. 

Do I need my parents’ tax information to complete the FAFSA?
If you are applying for graduate school, you are considered an independent student, and do not need to include your parents’ information to complete the FAFSA. 

What is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?
The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a measurement of your ability to contribute toward your educational costs. As a graduate/professional student your EFC is not a factor in your eligibility for federal student loans.

When should I complete the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is available every October 1st for the upcoming academic year. New students planning to use federal student aid should complete a FAFSA while applying for admission. Continuing students will need to submit a FAFSA each year they plan to receive federal student aid. 

Do I need to complete the FAFSA each year?
Yes. Because eligibility for federal student aid does not carry over from one award year to the next, you will need to complete the FAFSA for each award year for which you are or plan to be a student.

What constitutes an academic year for federal student aid?
An academic year is the year for which financial aid is used to fund your education. Generally, this is the 12-month period that begins on July 1 of one year and ends on June 30 of the following year.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

What is the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan?
The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is a federal loan offered to students to help with the cost of education. The Federal Unsubsidized Loan is not based on income or financial need.

What criteria is used to determine eligibility for federal student aid?
The Direct Unsubsidized Loan is not based on income. In order to apply for federal student aid, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Be registered with Selective Service, if you are male (must register between the ages of 18 and 25)
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an eligible degree program
  • Be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress 
  • Not currently be in default on previous student loans borrowed through FSA
  • Not have exceeded the maximum aggregate loan limit

Learn more about federal student aid eligibility criteria on the Federal Student Aid website.

How do I find out if I am near my aggregate loan limit or have defaulted on a federal student loan?
Log in on the StudentAid.gov homepage to view your federal student loan borrowing history and loan servicer details. Please note that private education loans are not listed on this site. Students in default are not eligible for additional federal loans. Contact your lender for default resolution options.

What is the aggregate loan limit?
The aggregate loan limit is the total amount that you may borrow in federal student loans for undergraduate and graduate study. In addition to borrowing limitations based on the cost of attendance for the program, students are also limited in terms of lifetime borrowing. The maximum aggregate loan limit for federal loans is $138,500. This amount does not include PLUS loans, nor private loans. 

If the total loan amount you receive over the course of your education reaches the aggregate loan limit, you are not eligible to receive additional loans. However, if you repay some of your loans to bring your outstanding loan debt below the aggregate loan limit, you could then borrow again, up to the amount of your remaining eligibility under the aggregate loan limit. You can learn more about graduate annual loan limits on the Federal Student Aid website.

What is the difference between a Direct Unsubsidized Loan and a Direct Subsidized Loan?
Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need. The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on subsidized loans while students are enrolled in their undergraduate program. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan is available to undergraduate and graduate students and does not require demonstration of financial need. The Unsubsidized Loan begins accruing interest as soon as funds are disbursed. Learn more about the difference between unsubsidized and subsidized loans

How much am I eligible for with the Direct Unsubsidized Loan?
Most graduate level students are potentially eligible to receive up to $20,500 per academic year from the Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Learn more about graduate annual loan limits.

How do I apply for the Direct Unsubsidized Loan?
To apply for the Direct Unsubsidized Loan, you must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

What is the current Direct Unsubsidized Loan interest rate?
The Direct Unsubsidized Loan interest rate is determined on an annual basis. Learn more about interest rates on the Federal Student Aid website.

Are there any additional loan fees for the Direct Unsubsidized Loan?
There is a loan origination fee that is a percentage of the total loan amount. The loan origination fee is deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive. Information on Unsubsidized loan origination fees can be found on the Interest Rates and Fees page of the Federal Student Aid website.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

What is the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?
The Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is a federal loan that graduate or professional degree students can use to help pay education expenses in addition to the Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Learn about Direct PLUS Loans.

Do Direct PLUS Loans affect my aggregate loan limit?
Only Direct Subsidized/Direct Unsubsidized Loans (formerly referred to as Stafford loans) and federal loans made through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program count toward your aggregate loan limit.

What are the eligibility criteria to apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?
A credit check will be conducted when applying for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. In addition to the federal student aid eligibility criteria, applicants cannot have an adverse credit history. 

What are the credit criteria to receive the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?
One of the eligibility requirements to receive a Graduate PLUS Loan is that you must not have an adverse credit history. A credit check is performed to determine whether a Graduate PLUS Loan applicant meets this requirement. 

How much can I borrow from the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?
If approved for the Grad PLUS Loan, you can borrow up to the cost of attendance as determined by Northwestern University.

How do I apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?
In order to apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS loan, you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Graduate PLUS Loan is initiated by the school through your financial aid offer letter. The school's financial aid office will provide additional instructions about their process for requesting a Graduate PLUS Loan. 

What are the next steps if I’m approved for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?
If approved, complete the Graduate PLUS Loan Agreement Master Promissory Note (MPN) on the Federal Student Aid website. 

What are my options if I'm denied the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?
If you are denied the Graduate PLUS loan, you may reapply with an endorser or follow the instructions on the Department of Education's website to appeal the denial.

What is the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan current interest rate?
The Direct Graduate PLUS Loan interest rate is determined at the beginning of each academic year, and is available on the Federal Student Aid website’s Interest Rates and Fees page.

Are there any additional loan fees for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?
There is a loan origination fee that is a percentage of the total loan amount. The loan origination fee is deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive. Information on Direct Graduate PLUS Loan origination fees can be found on the Interest Rates and Fees page of the Federal Student Aid website.

Loan Repayment

Do I have to repay my student loans while I’m in school?
You can defer payment on your federal student loans if you are enrolled at least half-time. You should be aware that although you can defer payments while you are in school, interest will still accrue on your loan(s).

Your Unsubsidized Loan will go into repayment six months after you graduate, fall below half-time status, take a leave of absence or withdraw from the program. Most private loans also have deferred payment options while you are in school; however, you will need to check with your loan servicer.

When do I have to repay my loan?
After you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time enrollment, you will have a six-month grace period before you are required to begin repayment. During this period, you'll receive repayment information from your loan servicer, and you will be notified of your first payment due date. Payments are usually due monthly. You are not required to pay while in school, however if you choose to, there is no penalty to prepay. Learn more about repayment timelines.

What are the repayment plan options and how do I select one?
The Department of Education (ED) offers multiple options for repayment. You may visit the ED website for more information on loan repayment plans.

Is there a repayment calculator or estimator that I can use?
Yes, visit the ED website for repayment calculators. 

Can I consolidate my graduate loans and my undergraduate loans?
A Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to consolidate (combine) multiple federal education loans into one loan including both graduate and undergraduate loans. The result is a single monthly payment instead of multiple payments. Learn more about loan consolidation.

Are there any loan forgiveness options available?
In certain circumstances, all or a portion of a borrower’s federal student loans may be forgiven under the federal government’s loan forgiveness program. Please review the Department of Education website for more information on federal loan forgiveness programs.

Military Education Benefits

How do I apply for military education benefits?
To begin the process of applying for eligible military education benefits, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. Questions regarding eligibility should be directed to the VA at 1-(888)-442-4551.

What documents are required to process military education benefits?
Visit Vets.gov to complete the Education Benefits Application, which generates a request for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Once approved for benefits, the VA will mail the COE to you within six to eight weeks after you submit the application. A copy of the COE must be provided to Charmaine Nicholson by email at c-nicholson@northwestern.edu or by phone at 847-491-8465.

What are the eligibility factors for the Post 9/11 GI bill?
You are potentially eligible if you have at least 90 days of aggregate active duty service after Sept.10, 2001, and are still on active duty, or if you are an honorably discharged Veteran or were discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days, you may be eligible for this VA-administered program. Learn more about the Post-9/11 GI Bill. 

How are Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits and monthly housing allowance calculated at Northwestern University?
Visit the VA Benefits Overview page to determine how the benefits and housing allowances are calculated.

What is the deadline to apply for VA education benefits?
Admitted Students should submit their COE to Charmaine Nicholson at c-nicholson@northwestern.edu at least three weeks before the start of the academic quarter.

What are the current rates of benefits including the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA)?
The tuition and fee payment rate, and MHA are determined at the beginning of each military academic year on August 1st. The current rate table is located on the Education and Training page of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs site.  

Because Northwestern is a private university, students who receive Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are subject to a maximum tuition and fee reimbursement per academic year (August 1 through July 31). The amount of the national cap changes each year on August 1, and are available to be used from August 1 to July 31 of the following year. 

When VA benefits are calculated, the amount of this national cap must be expended before Yellow Ribbon Program benefits can be awarded. 

What is the Yellow Ribbon Program (YRP)?
The Yellow Ribbon Program allows degree-granting private colleges and universities in the United States to voluntarily enter into an agreement with the VA to fund tuition expenses that exceed the annual maximum cap for the resident tuition and fees at public institutions. Veterans who are utilizing Post-9/11 GI Benefits and who are entitled to 100% of their benefit may be eligible. To participate in the Yellow Ribbon program, you must be using Post-9/11 GI benefits at 100% eligibility, not on active duty, and not a military spouse. There are a limited number of Yellow Ribbon awards available.  Learn more about the Yellow Ribbon program at Northwestern.

Who can I contact at Northwestern University for questions about using Military Education Benefits?
For questions about military education benefits, visit the VA Benefits at Northwestern page. You may also contact Charmaine Nicholson by email at c-nicholson@northwestern.edu or by phone at 847-491-8465.

Tax Benefits for Education

How do I qualify for a tuition tax credit?
For details on tax benefits for education, see IRS Publication 970. Tax Benefits for Higher Education, which provides detailed information. (name of university) is unable to provide tax advice. We urge you to contact your tax advisor or the IRS at 800-829-1040 or www.irs.gov if you have any questions regarding the HOPE or Lifetime Learning Tax Credits.

What is the 1098-T Form?
It is an informational form filed with the Internal Revenue Service to report the amounts billed to you for qualified tuition, related expenses, and other related information. The primary purpose of the IRS Form 1098‐T is to inform you that we have provided this required information to the IRS.

What information is included in the 1098-T Form?
Form 1098-T reports amounts paid for qualified tuition, scholarship and grants to students enrolled in courses at Northwestern University for which they received academic credit. The information reported on the 1098-T form helps students evaluate whether they are eligible for an educational tax credit.

How do I obtain my 1098-T Form?
For details on 1098-T Tuition Statement please visit the Tax Information page.