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Northwestern University

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are available for students who are not eligible for federal loans for any of the following reasons:

As with all student loans, the amount borrowed must be for educational expenses and cannot exceed (including all other sources of aid) the Cost of Attendance (select 2017-2018 or 2018-2019*) for the loan period. The loan period for which funds are borrowed must be a time during which the student was, is, or will be enrolled at Northwestern. The minimum loan period is one quarter. The maximum loan period is four quarters. Loans cannot cover more than one academic year at a time. You must reapply for student loans each academic year.

* not yet available

Explore your options
Federal verses private student loans
Applying for a private student loan
Disbursement of loan funds

Explore your options

Before you consider student loans, be sure to explore the possibility of other financial aid, such as grants, scholarships and fellowships which, unlike student loans, do not need to be repaid. Check with your program to determine if they offer any assistance. Visit the Office of Fellowships for other opportunities within and outside the university.

Please note that application deadlines usually expire several months prior to the start of the academic year, so advance planning is imperative in order to take advantage of these offers.

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Federal vs. private student loans

Students who are eligible for federal loan assistance are strongly encouraged to learn about the Federal Direct Loan programs before applying for a private educational loan. Federal loans generally have better benefits, more flexible repayment options including income-driven plans, and lower, fixed interest rates.

Interest rates for private loans may be variable, can change quarterly, and are set by each lender based upon their established parameters. Approval ratings for private loans also vary from lender to lender. Some students may be required to apply with a creditworthy cosigner.

See the Federal Student Aid website for information that will assist you in making a valid comparison between federal and private student loans.

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Applying for a private student loan

The application process for most private student loans is completed online at the lender's website. See our List of LendersStudent Financial Services will process loans from all lenders. Northwestern University adheres to the Code of Conduct as established by the Higher Education Opportunity Act as well as the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators' (NASFAA) Statement of Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct for Institutional Financial Aid Professionals.

Please check directly with the lender regarding the eligibility requirements for their private student loans. IMPORTANT: If you are not a citizen or Permanent Resident of the United States, most lenders will require a creditworthy cosigner who is either a citizen or Permanent Resident of the United States. 

When all requirements are complete and the loan is approved, you may provide Student Financial Services with the loan amount, the loan period, and the lender's name. Most lenders require the school's certification to confirm your enrollment and eligibility for the loan amount requested. If the lender approved a loan amount that exceeds your Cost of Attendance, Student Financial Services will certify the loan for a lower amount.  Your lender may also require you to complete a Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification Form.

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Disbursement of loan funds

All loan proceeds (federal and private) are disbursed directly to your Northwestern University Customer Account (My Account > View My Account in CAESAR). Because student registration is completed on a quarterly basis, tuition is also billed quarterly, and your loan funds are disbursed just prior to the start of each quarter (assuming you are registered appropriately and have completed all loan requirements).

If you borrowed loan funds in excess of the total charges on your Northwestern University Customer Account, the surplus credit can be accessed for your other expenses. You can request a refund of the credit balance via CAESAR on the first day of each quarter. See the FAQs for further instructions.

IMPORTANT: Interest accrues from the date the loan funds are disbursed to your Northwestern University Customer Account whether or not a refund is requested. If you do not need the surplus loan funds for your living expenses, etc., please contact Student Financial Services to request a loan reduction.

If the amount you borrowed in student loan funds is less than the total charges on your Northwestern University Customer Account, you will be responsible for the balance due. For additional information regarding tuition billing and payment options, see the Payment Methods page.

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