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Loan Application Process

Complete the following steps to receive student loans:
1. Apply for financial aid
2. Receive and accept your financial aid award
3. Apply for loans
4. Sign and return promissory notes
5. Receive your loan disbursement
6. Receive your loan refund
7. Defer prior loans

1. Apply for Financial Aid
Apply for financial aid through your school or program's Financial Aid Office. After completing your financial aid application, the Financial Aid Office will determine your financial aid package.

Parents of undergraduate students may apply for the NU Loan for an amount up to the cost of tuition without applying for financial aid.

2. Receive and Accept Financial Aid Award
You will receive an e-mail or paper award notice outlining the types and amounts of financial aid for which you are eligible. Accept or reject each loan or work study item on the award notice via CAESAR or paper.

3. Apply for loans
The loan application process varies according to loan type (see below). After your loan application is completed (including submitting all parts of the application, such as the co-maker application, if required), the loan will enter the final approval and certification processes in the Student Loan and Financial Aid Offices.

Please respond promptly if either of these offices contacts you about your loan application. Contact your loan services representative with any questions about processing of your loan application.
  • NU Loan
    Students: Apply online (CAESAR > For Students > Financial Services > NU Loan Application > OWLS), or contact your Northwestern Loan Services Representative for a paper application.

    Co-makers: Apply online via OWLS after you have received your personal user ID and password, or download a paper application.

    Please Note: Paper applications require additional processing time of up to six weeks not including mail delivery time.
  • Federal Perkins Loan
    If eligible, you will receive an e-mail link to the iPROMise web site, where some borrowers will be required to complete entrance interviews, loan applications, and e-sign their loans. Most students are required to complete this process only once.
  • Primary Care Loan
    Apply through the Chicago campus Financial Aid Office. You will be instructed to complete your entrance interview and application online.
  • Endowed Loan
    Apply online (CAESAR > For Students > Financial Services > NU Loan Application > OWLS), or contact your Northwestern Loan Services Representative for a paper application.

    Please Note: Paper applications require additional processing time of up to six weeks not including mail delivery time.
4. Sign and return promissory notes
All loans require that borrowers sign an online or paper promissory note before funds are disbursed. Follow the instructions of your financial aid office and lender regarding the appropriate submission of your notes.
  • NU Loan
    If you have been approved for the NU Loan with a co-maker, the promissory note is sent first to the co-maker for signature. The co-maker then forwards the note to you for your signature.

    If you have been approved for the NU Loan without a co-maker, the promissory note will be sent directly to you for signature.
  • Federal Perkins Loan
    You may either e-sign the MPN through the Campus Partners online system or sign the paper form. Sign your note promptly; your loan will be cancelled if it is not signed within the defined period.

    This remains in effect for multiple years of borrowing. Be sure to keep a copy of the Perkins MPN for your records.
  • Primary Care Loan
    When your loan has been approved, the promissory note is mailed to your campus address.
  • Endowed Loan
    If you have been approved for the Endowed Loan with a co-maker, the promissory note is sent first to the co-maker for signature. The co-maker then forwards the note to you for your signature.

    If you have been approved for the Endowed Loan without a co-maker, the promissory note will be sent directly to you for signature.
5. Receive your loan disbursement
In order for your loan funds to be disbursed and applied to your student account, you also must:
  • Be registered for classes at Northwestern University (Most loans require at least half-time registration).
  • Have a valid Social Security Number on file with Northwestern University.
    International students: If you do not have a Social Security Number, contact your Financial Aid Office to determine the necessary procedure.
If all of these steps are completed prior to the start of the term, your loan should be disbursed to your student account on the first day of classes.

6. Receive your loan refund
All loan funds are disbursed to your student account and applied to tuition and fees charges. Any funds remaining in your account after tuition and fees charges are covered may be refunded to you.

Law School, Kellogg, and Medill graduate students currently receive automatic refunds and need only notify Student Accounts (e-mail the Evanston campus office or the Chicago campus office) if they do not wish to receive a refund; all other students must request a refund each term.

You can request a refund or establish direct deposit, which would send refunds directly to your chosen bank account, via CAESAR:
  • Request a Refund: CAESAR > For Students > Financial Services > Request a Refund
  • Setup Direct Deposit: CAESAR > For Students > Financial Services > Setup Direct Deposit
If you do not use direct deposit, a check will be provided.

7. Defer prior loans
You can often defer payment of your previous educational loans from other institutions while you attend Northwestern.

Contact your previous lender to see if you have the option of deferring your loans while you are enrolled in school. Northwestern University participates in a data-sharing service with many major lenders that allows your lender to automatically receive your updated enrollment status. Please check with your lender to see if they participate in this service.

If not, your lender will provide you with a deferment form, which must be completed by Northwestern University. Submit your deferment request to the Office of the Registrar about a month before classes start. Your deferment will begin on the first day of classes. Do not stop making payments on your loans until you receive written confirmation from your lender that your deferment has been approved.