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Affordability and Aid

A world-class institution can be affordable for you

Our Affordability Commitment

No matter your financial circumstances, our goal is to reduce cost as a barrier to higher education. Northwestern’s commitment to affordability begins with financial aid that meets 100% of every student’s demonstrated financial need. At Northwestern, financial aid awards are not loans—there’s nothing to pay back. In fact, we’re one of the few need-blind universities able to meet 100% of demonstrated need without loans.

For student perspectives, and to learn more about Northwestern's commitment to affordability and access, visit Northwestern Magazine.

 Students at graduation
Loan-free
financial aid packages meet 100% of demonstrated need

I’m a first-generation college student coming from a single-parent household with three younger siblings. Northwestern’s financial aid showed me that while I was finally away from home and on my own, my dream school would support me every step of the way.”

Darlene Reyes

I come from a family of four siblings who were all in college almost concurrently. Northwestern gave me an amazing opportunity to study at a world-class university without worrying about crushing debt.”

Timothy Suh
Northwestern band
96%
of students are employed or pursuing further education, service, or career development opportunities within six months of graduation (2021)
61%
of undergraduates receive financial aid
$200+mm
financial aid budget (2021-22)
$57k
average scholarship for first-year student

A Variety of Aid Options

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 a student’s full financial need.

Parent Financing Options

Whether or not you qualify for aid, you might worry about the ability to pay your college bills. Both need-based federal loans and non need-based loans—such as our NU Loan and the low-interest federal PLUS loan—are available through the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid.

Financial Aid for Parents

Tuition and Fees

Before you review the tuition and fees, know that the majority of undergraduates receive financial aid and do not pay this price, with over 60% of students receiving a financial aid package from Northwestern. Additionally, Northwestern does not award scholarships based on academic merit. As part of our commitment to affordability, we maximize 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.

Tuition for the 2022–23 academic year is $62,391. Total expenses (including fees, books, room and board, transportation expenses and transportation) are estimated at $87,804. 

For more information on tuition, fees and undergraduate student budgets, see the Financial Aid Office’s Cost of Attendance page.

Estimating Your Aid Eligibility and Costs

An education at Northwestern is more affordable than you might think. Northwestern’s Undergraduate Financial Aid Office will not make an official offer until after a student is admitted, but you can view an early estimate by using one of the tools below:

  • MyinTuition Quick Cost Estimator: A 5-minute, 6-question survey that helps you anticipate your college costs and provides a rough estimate of your need-based aid package at Northwestern.
  • Northwestern’s Net Price Calculator: A more detailed, 20-minute survey that estimates the amount of grants, scholarships and aid that may be available to estimate the “net price” of attendance.

How We Determine 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 CSS/Financial Aid 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.

This chart shows average aid packages across a range of family Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) levels awarded to Northwestern freshmen who enrolled in Fall 2021:

Family Income (AGI)* Percent Receiving Aid Average Aid Package
$0–$29,999 96% $74,317
$30,000–$59,999 95% $74,465
$60,000–$89,999 93% $65,188
$90,000–$119,999 91% $55,939
$120,000–$149,999 88% $48,328
$150,000 or more 42% $31,378

*Families in the higher income ranges may have more than one student enrolled in college to qualify for aid.

A financial aid package typically includes a combination of need-based scholarships, grants and part-time work that together meet a student’s full financial need.