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Northwestern University

FAQs

Tuition and fees

If I withdraw from school, will I receive a refund?

You may be eligible for a refund of refundable fees and some of your tuition, depending on when you turn in your Withdrawal Form to the Registrar's Office. Student Finance and the Office of Financial Aid consider the date the completed form is received at the Registrar's Office to be the official date governing financial adjustments. If you leave the University without official notification of your intent to withdraw, the midpoint of the quarter will be recorded as the official withdrawal date.

The percentage of tuition you receive depends on your school or program, as well as the percentage of the term that had elapsed by your official withdrawal date. For the refund schedule, see the Withdrawal from the University page.

If I drop a course, will my tuition for that course be refunded?

You will not be charged any tuition or fees for the dropped course if you file a completed Change of Registration Form with the Registrar's Office within the first five days of the quarter. The University cannot give refunds or reduce tuition bills for any course dropped after the fifth day of classes. See Refunds for more information.

How many units does full-time tuition cover?

Different programs have different definitions of full-time status. The following schools and programs have identified the number of units required to meet their definitions of full-time status:

  • Kellogg School of Management: 3 - 5 units
  • McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science: MEM and MPM: 3 - 4 units; MITP: 2 units
  • Medill School of Journalism: Graduate Journalism and IMC: 3 - 4 units; PMP-IMC: 2 units
  • Bienen School of Music: 3 - 5 units
  • The Graduate School: 3 - 4 units
  • Undergraduate Division: 3- 4 units

Are any federal tax credits or deductions available for tuition and fees payments?

You may be eligible for one of two federal tax credit programs for tuition and fees:

  • The American Opportunity Credit is available for the first four years of higher education. It allows taxpayers to claim a tax credit of up to $2,500 per eligible student for each year.
  • The Lifetime Learning Credit is available for all years of higher education (undergraduate and graduate). The Lifetime Learning Credit allows taxpayers up to a maximum $2,000 tax credit per return.

Alternately, you may be eligible for a tax deduction, not in conjunction with the above tax credits. Eligible taxpayers can deduct qualified, limited educational expenses from adjusted gross income. The tuition deduction allows for a reduction of income subject to tax by up to $4,000.

For more information on tax benefits, see the Tax Information web page.

Why is there a student insurance charge on my account?

Northwestern University requires all degree-seeking students to carry good health insurance. To that end, the University defaults all students into the Northwestern Student Health Insurance Plan (NU-SHIP) each year. Unless you have already waived NU-SHIP online, you are charged the annual NU-SHIP premium at the same time your account is billed for tuition and fees for the upcoming academic year. (Open enrollment for fall runs from July 1-Oct. 1.)

If you have alternate insurance coverage and do not intend to use NU-SHIP, you should waive your NU-SHIP enrollment as soon as possible via the online Coverage Selection Form in CAESAR. (We encourage you to verify that your plan meets all requirements to waive NU-SHIP enrollment, by reviewing the 2016-2017 Comparable Coverage Checklist.) A confirmation email will be sent to your Northwestern email account upon successful submission of the waiver application, and the premium will be reversed within 24-48 hours (look under “View My Account” to see real-time changes reflected).

If I register late, will I be charged a penalty?

You will be charged $25 for registering at an unscheduled time. If you cannot pay the penalty fee at registration, you will be charged an additional $5 surcharge for billing.

How can I request a transcript and how long does it take?

For more information about transcript requests, please visit Obtaining an Official Transcript.

Housing and meals

How do I reserve a room in University housing?

To reserve a space in one of Northwestern's residence halls, you will need to pay a room reservation deposit. The deposit will be applied against your housing charges for the first academic quarter you live in University housing.

For more information on applying for housing, visit Residential Services.

How much does it cost to live in University housing?

Rental rates vary according to the facility. See Residential Services for undergraduate and graduate housing options. There are also other housing options for Kellogg Students.

How often am I billed for my housing?

Residence hall and sorority and fraternity housing charges are billed to your student account at the beginning of each quarter.

If I move out, is my contract automatically canceled?

University housing and meal contracts are binding for the term of the contract. Unless formally released from your contract, you are responsible for the room rental charges for the contract's term. See Residential Services for more information.

If I cancel my room reservation, will my deposit be refunded?

If you wish to cancel your room reservation, you must notify Residential Services immediately. A refund, when authorized, will be applied first against any outstanding University charges on your account.

How can I buy a meal plan?

  • Evanston campus: Undergraduate students living in University residence halls or graduate students living in Evanston campus apartments should explore meal plan options at Northwestern Dining. (Note: Students living in sorority or fraternity houses must contact the individual organizations for information).
  • Chicago campus: There is no meal plan available for Chicago campus students, though campus a la carte options are available.

Financial aid

Have I completed the necessary steps to receive my financial aid?

You can make sure you have completed all necessary steps in CAESAR. This information can be found in your To Do Item History. Navigate to: CAESAR > Main Menu > Student Financial Services > To Do Item History

Your financial aid award can also be viewed online. Navigate to: CAESAR > Main Menu > Student Financial Services > View My Financial Aid

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

Can I receive a refund of extra funds on 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. Navigate to: CAESAR > Main menu > Student Financial Services > Request a Refund. Note that, for most programs, credit account balances are not automatically refunded; they must be requested for each applicable term. 

After your request is approved, the amount remaining in your account may be refunded via direct deposit to your financial institution or by check. Direct deposit is the quickest way to receive your refund.  To sign up for direct deposit, navigate to: 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 Student Finance

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

I signed up for direct deposit. Why hasn't my refund been deposited in my bank account?

Except for graduate students in Bienen, Kellogg, Medill, and Pritzker, students do not receive automatic refunds of credit balances. Students must request their refunds each term. You can request your refund online through CAESAR after classes begin. Navigate to: CAESAR > Main Menu > Student Financial Services > Request a Refund. After the request is approved, it will be directly deposited to your financial institution (if you have elected this option) or made available to you by check.

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 that has not yet been received. As financial aid funds are disbursed, they will be recorded as payments on your student account.

If any financial aid is cancelled either by the Financial Aid Office or by Student Finance, 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.

What charges are covered by Federal Title IV aid?

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 by contacting Student Finance.

Is my work-study check deposited directly into my student account?

Federal Work-Study funds are not automatically credited toward tuition and fees. They are issued directly to you. The University Payroll department now requires work-study paychecks to be direct-deposited into your bank account.

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 FAQs for more information.

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 expenses, 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 has elapsed before your withdrawal, you may keep the percent of the funds equal to the percent of the quarter that has elapsed (e.g. if 50% of the quarter has elapsed, you may keep 50% of the funds).
  • If 60 – 100% of the quarter has 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.

Billing and payment

If I am paying by mail, where should I send my payment?

Mail your payment with your invoice to:

Northwestern University
P.O. Box 70385
Chicago, IL 60673

Do all schools accept online deposit payments?

The schools and programs which accept online deposit payments via CAESAR are:

School or Program Deposits Available
Communication Tuition Graduate Housing
Kellogg Tuition Graduate Housing; does not apply to those enrolling in the Executive or Evening & Weekend MBA programs
Law Tuition *
Medill Tuition Graduate Housing
Music Tuition Graduate Housing
Summer Session Tuition *
The Graduate School * Graduate Housing
Undergraduates Tuition Undergraduate Housing
*Deposits from students admitted to other schools or programs may be made by check or money order.

How can I receive my tuition and fees bill?

Your tuition and fees bill is delivered electronically, viewable via CAESAR. Navigate to: CAESAR> Home> View or Pay Tuition Bill (Monthly Snapshot). When each new bill is posted online, an email notice will be sent to your Northwestern email address.

Why are my courses not shown on my bill?

Your bill is a statement of your financial obligation to Northwestern with reference to your tuition and fees. When practical, each type of charge is listed as a different line item. The cost of your tuition is calculated either as a flat rate, or as a per unit rate, or both. In some cases, you may drop and add classes several times and still maintain the same costs.

Why did I receive a bill with a zero balance?

The month after you have paid your account in full, you may receive a bill that shows the payment you made and a resulting zero balance. No payment is necessary. This statement is for your records only.

What should I do if there's an error in my bill?

If you wish to contest a portion of the bill, you should pay the uncontested portion by the due date and immediately contact the appropriate office to request an adjustment. Pursue adjustments promptly to avoid registration holds.

Why is NU-SHIP payment due at the start of the year, rather than split into quarterly payments?

The Northwestern Student Health Insurance Plan (NU-SHIP) is an annual policy effective from September 1 through August 31. Aetna, the insurer, requires that the premium be paid at the beginning of the plan period. Northwestern issues payment to Aetna in September, and charges students’ accounts accordingly.

How do I remove the NU-SHIP insurance charge from my bill?

To ensure all degree-seeking students carry good health insurance, they are defaulted each year into the Northwestern Student Health Insurance Plan (NU-SHIP), and charged the annual NU-SHIP premium when accoutns are billed for tuition and fees for the upcoming academic year. If you do not intend to use NU-SHIP coverage, please waive your NU-SHIP enrollment as soon as possible via the online Coverage Selection Form in CAESAR. To first verify that your plan meets all requirements to waive NU-SHIP enrollment, please review the 2016-2017 Comparable Coverage Checklist.

Step-by-step instructions for completing the waiver application are available on the SES Support site. The NU-SHIP premium charge on your account will be reversed within 24-48 hours of your successfully submitting your waiver application (look under “View My Account” to see real-time changes reflected).

Can I pay by credit card?

Yes. Accepted credit cards include American Express, Discover, MasterCard and VISA. Please note: the third-party service provider will charge a 2.75% processing fee for all credit card payments.

What if my payment is late?

See Late and Returned Payment Penalties for information.

Is there a monthly payment plan?

Yes. The University provides a tuition and fee installment prepayment plan called 9PAY that allows full-time students to divide estimated educational costs for the entire academic year into nine monthly budgeted payments. Payments start July 1 (prior to the start of the fall term) and the final monthly payment for the school year is due March 1.

Can my parent or spouse get information about my student account?

Not without your permission. FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, prevents us from discussing your account with others.

However, you can choose to give your parent or spouse guest access to your account. When setting up a guest, create an Authorization Phrase (pick something easy for your guest to remember, but hard for others to guess). 

For more details about adding a guest, see Guest Access.

How can I review the tuition payments I've made for the year?

Each student who paid qualified tuition and related expenses during the year (and who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident) will receive a Tuition Payments Statement (Form 1098-T) from Northwestern shortly after January 31st of the following year.

The statement includes financial information, such as tuition charges, scholarships received and payments made. It can be used for your federal tax return.

Why do I have a financial hold on my account?

Student Finance will put a hold on your account when there is a past-due balance owed to the University. The hold will not be released until you have cleared your current debt to the University.

See Late and Returned Payment Penalties for more information.

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