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Financial Aid FAQs

  1. Have I completed the necessary steps to receive my financial aid?
  2. What are Title IV Funds?
  3. How do I withdraw extra funds from my Student Account?
  4. I signed up for direct deposit; why hasn't my refund been deposited in my bank account?
  5. Do I need to pay the Anticipated Aid amount on my invoice?
  6. What charges does my Federal Title IV aid cover?
  7. Is my work-study check deposited directly into my student account?
  8. Are financial aid payments taxable?
  9. If I leave school, do I need to return financial aid?

1. Have I completed the necessary steps to receive my financial aid?
You can make sure you have completed necessary steps in CAESAR. This information can be found in your To Do Item History (CAESAR > Main Menu > Student Financial Services > To Do Item History).

Your financial aid award can also be viewed online (CAESAR > For Main Menu > Student Financial Services > View My Financial Aid).

2. What are Title IV funds?
For more information about Federal Financial Aid programs, refer to the website of your Financial Aid office or contact them directly. Federal Title IV Financial Aid includes:
  • Stafford Loans
  • Perkins Loans
  • Grad PLUS Loans (for graduate students)
  • PLUS Loans (for parents of undergraduates)
  • Pell Grants (for undergraduates)
  • Supplemental Educational Grant (SEOG for undergraduates)
  • Academic Competitive Grant (ACG for undergraduates)
  • National Smart Grant (for undergraduates)
  • Work-Study Program


3. Can I withdraw extra funds from my Student Account?
If the financial aid applied to your account exceeds the amount due on your bill (actual Account Balance, not Anticipated Aid), you may request a refund online through CAESAR after classes begin (CAESAR > Main menu > Student Financial Services > Request a Refund). Your credit account balance is never refunded to you automatically; you must request the payment each time.

After your request is approved, the amount remaining in your account may be refunded to you either by a check to you or via direct deposit to your financial institution. The quickest way to receive your refund is to sign up for direct deposit through CAESAR (CAESAR > Main Menu > Student Financial Services > Setup Direct Deposit). If you are unable to use CAESAR, you may request a paper Direct Deposit form by contacting the Office of Student Accounts.

If you do not have an active direct deposit authorization filed with the Office of Student Accounts, you may choose to have a refund check mailed one of your active addresses.

When your refund has been processed, you will receive an e-mail notification at your Northwestern e-mail address.

4. I signed up for direct deposit; why hasn't my refund been deposited in my bank account?
Except for graduate students in the Law School, Kellogg, and Medill, students do not receive automatic refunds. Students must request a refund each term. You can request it online through CAESAR after classes begin (CAESAR > Main Menu > Student Financial Services > Request a Refund). After the request is approved, it will be directly deposited to the financial institution you indicated.

5. Do I need to pay the Anticipated Aid amount on my invoice?
Do not pay the anticipated aid amount on your invoice. Anticipated aid reflects the amount of financial aid that will be paid to your student account, but has not been received. As financial aid funds are disbursed, they will be recorded as payments in your student account replacing the anticipated aid figure.

If any financial aid is cancelled either by the Financial Aid Office or by the Student Loan office, the anticipated aid amount will be reduced by the amount cancelled.

In the event anticipated aid has been applied to your student account for loan funds that are intended for your living expenses, you may be eligible to receive the funds via a cash advance. Contact your Financial Aid office to apply for a cash advance.

6. What charges does my Federal Title IV aid cover?
Federal Title IV financial aid is applied directly to your student account, which contains charges for tuition, allowable fees, and room and board (which may include off-campus living expenses).

You may authorize the University to pay for all charges billed to your student account, including charges such as library fines, parking fines, room damage charges, and health service fees. You may change this authorization at any time through the Office of Student Accounts.

7. Is my work-study check deposited directly into my student account?
Federal Work-Study funds are not automatically credited towards student accounts. They are issued directly to you. The University Payroll department now requires work-study paychecks to be direct-deposited into your bank account. Set up direct deposit on the HRIS Self Service web site.

Pay is deposited on a biweekly basis. You will receive it on Fridays, two weeks after the end of the pay period.

8. Are financial aid payments taxable?
If your grant or scholarship exceeds qualified tuition and related expenses, it may be taxable and therefore reportable to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Qualified tuition and related expenses are defined as tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance and fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for courses and instruction.

You should direct questions concerning the taxability of a grant or scholarship to the IRS or a qualified tax consultant. See the IRS web site FAQ on Taxable Income: Grants, Scholarships, Student Loans, Work Study for more information.

9. If I leave school, do I need to return financial aid?
Financial aid recipients who withdraw from the University may be required to return a portion of their Title IV funds, Title IV-funded living expense, and non-Title IV grant and scholarship aid.

Return of Title IV Funds
The percentage of Title IV funds you can keep depends on the percentage of time you were enrolled during the quarter:

  • If 0 – 60% of the quarter had elapsed before your withdrawal, you may keep the percent of the funds equal to the percent of the quarter that had elapsed. (Ex. If 50% of the quarter had elapsed, you may keep 50% of the funds)
  • If 60 – 100% of the quarter had elapsed before your withdrawal, you may keep all of the funds.

Repayment of Title IV Funded Living Expenses
You may need to repay some of the Title IV financial aid that was given to you as a cash disbursement (excluding federal work-study) to cover living expenses (educational costs above and beyond tuition and fees, such as books, transportation, etc.)

Return of Non-Title IV Grant and Scholarship Aid
If the amount of non-Title IV funds (state assistance, outside scholarships and/or University-appropriated grants) you received exceeds any unpaid University charges, you may be required to return the remaining portion. If any funds remain after all necessary adjustments have been made, you may keep them; if a balance is due on your tuition account, you must make the appropriate payments.