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Financial Aid

Will applying for financial aid impact my admissions decision?

For the vast majority of our applicants, we review their candidacies without regard to how much financial aid they may need, and we can admit any student regardless of how high their demonstrated need. In fact, we encourage domestic applicants to apply for financial aid; Northwestern's generous need-based aid program can assist in defraying the costs of your college education. 

Given limited funding for non-domestic applicants, international applicants requesting financial aid are evaluated as a separate group. Financial need is a consideration in the admission decision for international students. For more information, visit our International Student Aid page.

How can I request a fee waiver?

We are committed to creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive campus community of students from every financial background. At Northwestern, we want to make sure that application fees do not pose a barrier for any student who wishes to apply for admission. 

See our Application Fee Waiver page for more information. 

How much does Northwestern cost?

How much Northwestern costs varies on your family’s financial circumstances; no two families’ finances are exactly alike. Using federal guidelines and University policies and procedures, Northwestern's financial aid staff reviews each family's situation carefully to meet 100% of a student’s full demonstrated financial need. Meeting full need means that our financial aid awards are not loans—there’s nothing to pay back. 

Tuition for the 2022-23 academic year is $62,391. Total expenses (including fees, books, room and board, personal expenses, and transportation) are estimated at $87,804. Still, many students do not pay this price, with over 60% of students receiving a financial aid package from Northwestern.  

Northwestern does not award scholarships based on academic merit. As part of our commitment to affordability, we reserve assistance for students who otherwise would not be able to afford to attend; last year, we spent over $200 million on financial aid support for undergraduate students.  

How do I apply for financial aid?

To apply for financial aid, you should first indicate on the application for admission that you are applying for aid; then submit the FAFSA, CSS Profile and federal tax returns or non-filing statements for both the parents and the student. For detailed instructions and deadlines, visit ourApplying for Aid page.

What additional support is available on campus?

Northwestern provides on-campus support for students with demonstrated financial need, such as assistance in obtaining books and other supplies (Books for Cats) and $3,000 stipends for those with unpaid summer internships (Summer Internship Grant Program). 

See our Affordability on Campus page for more information.

How much aid can I expect to receive?

An education at Northwestern is more affordable than you might think. To see an early estimate of what your loan-free financial aid package might look like, visit Estimate Cost & Aid

How does Northwestern determine my financial aid?

Northwestern determines your family's financial contribution towards college expenses, called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), based on information provided to us on two forms: the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The formula used to calculate the EFC takes into account the following factors: your earnings and savings, parental income, nonretirement assets, taxes paid, family size, number of family members in college, private K-12 school costs, nondiscretionary expenses and any special circumstances.  

Families whose EFC is less than the total Cost of Attendance (COA) for one year at Northwestern have what is known as “demonstrated financial need.” Northwestern's financial aid package equals the difference between the COA and the EFC. 


Some of the factors used to determine eligibility for federal aid are: 

  • Taxable and nontaxable income 
  • Federal and state taxes 
  • Assets 
  • Asset protection/educational savings allowance 
  • Family size 
  • Income protection allowance 
  • Number of family members in college 
  • Expenses related to the employment of both parents 


Some of the factors that determine eligibility for aid from Northwestern are: 

  • Home equity 
  • Private elementary and secondary school costs 
  • Non-discretionary expenses (such as non-reimbursed medical expenses) 
  • Business losses 
  • Depreciation expenses 
  • Special circumstances reported by your family 


The expected family contribution toward freshman-year expenses includes a portion of the student's summer earnings as well as 25% of his or her savings. The balance of any savings and assets will be applied to the cost of your remaining undergraduate years. 

You can estimate your family contribution for college using the College Board's expected family contribution worksheet. Your actual expected family contribution may vary based on the results of the CSS Financial Aid Profile and institutional analysis. 

Can I earn money through work-study and/or part-time employment?

Yes. About 2,200 undergraduates work on campus in libraries, departmental offices or in community service offices. Students may earn between $500 and $4,000 per academic year through these programs. Most students work between 8 and 12 hours per week and do not find that this commitment adversely affects academic performance. 

Students in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science are eligible to participate in the Walter P. Murphy Cooperative Engineering Education Program. Alternating quarters of off-campus employment with their academic work, students can earn substantial income during the five-year program. 

Does Northwestern offer ROTC?

Yes. The Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship program is a source of financial aid for students interested in careers in the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Army or Air Force. Aid can cover all or some portion of tuition, books, fees and a stipend for four years. NROTC is available at Northwestern for the Naval Reserve or Marine Corps Reserve. Northwestern students can also participate in Army ROTC through the University of Illinois at Chicago or Air Force ROTC through the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago.

Where can I find additional information on financial aid?

Weighing the costs of college is a highly personal process, so we invite you to reach out and ask us questions. The Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid offers a comprehensive website that includes printable forms, online resources, scholarship services, answers to commonly asked questions and links to other useful websites. Call or email our financial aid office to get into specifics and learn more about our process.

What components make up a financial aid package? Are merit scholarships available?

The average financial aid award consists of a student loan, part-time employment through Federal Work-Study Program, need-based Northwestern Scholarship, and/or Federal or state grants. Grants from federal or state sources are included in the aid package for all eligible students. Northwestern scholarship assistance is generally the final component of an aid package, bridging the gap between what Northwestern has determined your family can afford and the other aid for which you have qualified. The University does not award its scholarships based on academic merit; it reserves assistance for students who otherwise would not be able to afford to attend.

Am I eligible for student loans?

You are not required to accept a loan or a job, but each is considered a part of the financial aid required to meet your need. Loans are available through University and government sources. Students loans are available to all who apply for federal assistance. Students who do not qualify for need-based federal student loans may be eligible for other federal loans.