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. 

When will I be able to view my award package?
Once admitted, students will be able to view their financial aid package prior to enrolling in the program.

When will I receive a tuition 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 Financial Services site. 

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

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

Does Northwestern offer payment plan options for this online program?
Payment arrangements can be made by contacting Student Finance at studentaccounts-ev@northwestern.edu or 847-491-5224.

Will my registration be cancelled if the bill is not paid when classes begin?
If your account balance is unpaid, late, or has 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.   

What is the process if I’m eligible for a refund?
If the financial aid applied to your student account exceeds the amount due, you can request a refund of those extra funds at the beginning of the term. 

Who can I contact at Northwestern University 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.

Do I have to pay out-of-state tuition if I don’t live in Illinois?
There is no in-state or out-of-state tuition. Northwestern is a private university. There is one tuition rate for all students.

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Financial Aid at Northwestern

Are internal scholarships available for this program?
Counseling@Northwestern awards a limited number of scholarships and partner organization benefits to applicants. Be sure to connect with an Admissions Counselor by calling 1-844-684-6221 or emailing admissions@counseling.northwestern.edu if you would like to be considered for one of these institutionally-funded scholarship opportunities. 

Are there any school specific supplemental financial aid forms I need to complete?
In order for your loans to disburse, you will need to complete Entrance Counseling and electronically sign the Loan Agreement Master Promissory Note (MPN). Complete Loan Counseling at StudentLoans.gov. Continuing students must complete an online institutional form. The Evanston Office of Graduate Financial Aid will contact you to complete this form as well as your new FAFSA. Both will appear as To Do items in CAESAR. 

What is the minimum number of units required to receive federal student aid?
The student must be enrolled at least half-time (two units per quarter) during the entire loan period in order to be eligible for federal student aid.

Once admitted, how long will it take to receive my FA award package?
It will take approximately two weeks, if students have set up their Northwestern email account.

How will I receive my financial aid award letter?
Your financial aid award letter will be made available via the student portal, CAESAR.

How do I accept my student loans?
Instructions on accepting student loans are provided with your email award notice. 

Am I required to accept the full amount that I am offered on my award letter?
No. 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.

Can I use loans to cover additional expenses (housing, 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. Learn more about the 2018-19 cost of attendance.

Can I use loans to cover immersions?
If you have eligibility for additional loan funds/refund, you are able to use those resources to cover immersion expenses. However, the school determines when loans will disburse and when refunds are issued. 

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.

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To learn more about Counseling@Northwestern, contact an admissions counselor at 1-844-684-6221 or admissions@counseling.northwestern.edu.

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 can be found online at FAFSA.ed.gov. The FAFSA is a FREE application; You will not be asked to pay.

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

Do I need my parents’ tax information to complete the FAFSA if I live on my own?
If you are applying for graduate school, you do not need your parents’ information to complete the FAFSA.

What is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?
The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount that you are expected to contribute toward your educational costs as an undergraduate/dependent student. Graduate and professional students are considered independent for the purpose of federal student aid; therefore income and need are not analyzed in order to be eligible, and you are not required to report parental information on the FAFSA.

When should I complete the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is available every October for the upcoming academic year. If you are planning to use federal student aid, you should complete your FAFSA while applying for admission. The FAFSA must be completed each academic year in order to remain eligible for federal student aid.

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.

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.

Will I need to fill out the FAFSA each year?
Yes, you will need to complete the FAFSA for each academic year in which you plan on applying for federal student aid.

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

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Direct Unsubsidized Loans

What criteria is used to determine eligibility for federal student aid?
In order to apply for federal student aid, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid SSN
  • Be registered with Selective Service, if you’re male (must register between the age of 18-25)
  • 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
  • *Direct Unsubsidized loan is not based on need or income*

Learn more about federal student aid eligibility criteria at StudentAid.ed.gov.

What if I am currently in default or have defaulted on a prior federal student loan?
Visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) and contact your lender for details on how to clear the default. Students in default are not eligible for additional federal loans until the default is cleared.

What is the aggregate loan limit?
The aggregate loan limit is total amount that you may borrow 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 aggregate loan limit for all federal loans, including undergraduate and graduate study, is $138,500. You can learn more about aggregate loan amounts on the Federal Student Aid website.

How do I find out if I am near my aggregate loan limit?
You may visit the National Student Loan Data System website to view your federal student loan borrowing history. Please note that private education loans are not listed on this site.

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 are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate 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 in the Direct Unsubsidized Loan?
Most graduate level students are potentially eligible to receive up to $20,500 per academic year in 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 at the beginning of each academic year and is available 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.

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Direct Graduate PLUS Loans

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.

What are the eligibility criteria to apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?
The Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is based on credit history. In order to be eligible to apply, you must: 

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid SSN
  • Be registered with Selective Service, if you’re male (must register between the age of 18-25)
  • 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
  • Not have an adverse credit history

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 towards your aggregate loan limit. 

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. A list of what constitutes "adverse credit history" can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

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.

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 the financial aid offer letter. The school's financial aid office will provide additional instructions about their process for requesting a Graduate PLUS Loan. Also complete the Graduate PLUS Loan Agreement Master Promissory Note (MPN).

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 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 StudentAid.gov website.

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 PLUS loan origination fees can be found on the Interest Rates and Fees page of the Federal Student Aid website.

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Loan Repayment

Do I have to pay my student loans back while I’m in school?
You are not required to pay on your student loans while you are in school as long as you are enrolled at least half time. 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. 

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 (DOE) offers multiple options for repayment. You may visit the DOE website for more information on loan repayment plans.

Is there a repayment calculator or estimator that I can use?
Yes, visit the DOE 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?
Please review the Department of Education website for more information on federal loan forgiveness programs.

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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

What documents are required to process military education benefits?
Visit Vets.gov to complete the Education Benefits Application, which generates a request for the Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Once approved for benefits, the VA will mail the COE to you within 6-8 weeks from submitting the application.  

What is the difference between active and non-active duty?
Active Duty is in the military full time and is not currently eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program (YRP). Non-Active Duty is someone who is not currently serving or no longer serving in any capacity of military service of the United states and is eligible for YRP if at 100 percent per the COE.

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.

What is the current tuition and fee payment rate, and 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.

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 percent of their benefit may be eligible. To participate in the Yellow Ribbon program, you must be using Post-9/11 GI benefits at 100 percent eligibility, not on active duty, and not a military spouse. There are a limited number of Yellow Ribbon awards available. Learn more about Yellow Ribbon participation at Northwestern. 

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

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