How to Apply

You can apply for federal financial aid if you meet certain criteria established by the university and the federal government. You can view federal criteria on the Tuition and Financial Aid FAQ. We recommend that you read through the following information before you begin the financial aid process and that you apply for financial aid at the same time you apply to Counseling@Northwestern.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to receive federal financial aid, you must be:

  • admitted to Northwestern University and accept your admit offer;
  • a citizen or permanent resident of the United States;
  • enrolled at least half time (2 credits per quarter) during the entire loan period and;
  • in good standing on prior federal loans. You can check your federal student loan borrowing history and loan servicer details by logging into homepage.

Apply for Federal Student Aid

To apply for federal loan programs, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), online at Add the Northwestern University school code, which is 001739.

Your 2018 tax information is required to complete the 2020–21 FAFSA. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool may be used to transfer your federal tax return information to your FAFSA.

Upon completion of the FAFSA, students may be eligible for the following federal student loans:

  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan: Graduate students are potentially eligible to receive up to $20,500 per academic year. The potential eligibility amount is not based on need nor income.
  • Federal Direct PLUS Loan: If approved, this credit-based loan can be used in addition to the Direct Unsubsidized Loan, to cover tuition and provide supplemental funding for other expenses up to the cost of attendance.

Please reference the chart below to determine which FAFSA to fill out based on your desired start date:

StartQuarter TermFAFSA Year
June 2022
September 2022

Your Financial Aid Award Notice

Once you sign your Intent to Enroll form with Counseling@Northwestern and activate your Net ID, the Evanston Office of Graduate Financial Aid will send an email award notice to your Northwestern University email address. This should happen approximately two weeks after your FAFSA is received.

Student loans can always be adjusted, reduced, or canceled by contacting the Evanston Office of Graduate Financial Aid.

Review your additional To Do List requirements in CAESAR (the university’s online system for students).

Loan Disbursements

At the start of each quarter, student loan funds are disbursed to Northwestern.

If you borrowed loans in excess of your tuition charges for cost of living (housing, books, transportation, etc.), you can set up direct deposit to receive your financial aid refund. You must request a refund each quarter, if eligible. Students must sign up for direct deposit and request a refund in CAESAR; see instructions below. Refunds take up to two business days to deposit into a student’s checking account.

To set up direct deposit in CAESAR, navigate as follows: to My Account > Set Up Direct Deposit.

To request a refund in CAESAR, navigate as follows: My Account > Request a Refund.

You can learn more on the Tuition and Financial Aid FAQ. You can also download the Financial Aid Checklist and visit the Evanston Office of Graduate Financial Aid website for additional details about general financial aid and loan options.

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

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