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Need-Based Financial Aid

Since your financial aid can be applied to study abroad programs, it should not cost you any more or less out-of-pocket to study abroad than to study on campus.

Study Abroad Financial Aid

Financial aid and loans can be applied to Northwestern-sponsored and affiliated study abroad programs during the regular academic year. Students who attend unaffiliated programs are not eligible for any form of financial assistance through Northwestern.

Study abroad does not change your expected family contribution (EFC); your EFC (out-of-pocket costs) will be the same when you study abroad as if you studied in Evanston. When you study abroad, your financial aid will be adjusted based on your program's costs, including tuition, room and board, transportation, books, personal expenses, required health insurance, student visa, and the Study Abroad Administrative Fee.

Your family contribution stays the same, and:

  • For programs that cost more than Northwestern, your aid will be increased to cover the higher cost: typically, half of the additional aid will be Northwestern Scholarship, and half will be need-based student loans. Because you cannot participate in Federal Work-Study while abroad, your work-study allotment (if any) will also be offered as a need-based loan for your quarter(s) abroad. Additional loans awarded for study abroad are not eligible for Northwestern's Debt Cap.
  • For programs that cost less than Northwestern, self-help aid (work-study and need-based loans) will be reduced first. Northwestern Scholarship may be reduced if necessary.

Each program page includes estimated program costs, which take into account the exchange rate and a reasonable cost of living for the area in which you will be studying.

View Study Abroad Financial Aid Package Examples

Plan Your Budget

Financial aid is available at the beginning of your study abroad term, but some pre-departure expenses will occur before your program actually starts. Be sure to budget for these expenses. Some students with high financial need may be eligible to apply to the Bridge Builder program for assistance with many of these costs.

Financial aid does not cover: personal travel while abroad, international cell phones or usage, or supplementary fees from your program, such as optional excursions, special course/lab fees, pre-program language courses, optional pre-sessions or orientations, or housing upgrades.

Keep in mind that your financial aid and loans also cannot cover the cost of your housing in Evanston while you are abroad, so be sure to cancel your on-campus housing contract or sublet your off-campus apartment for the quarter(s) you will be abroad. Students who are considering studying abroad and moving off-campus in the same academic year are strongly encouraged to meet with Krista Bethel to discuss financial aid and budgeting.

Applying for Financial Aid

If you currently receive need-based aid from Northwestern, the financial aid application is no different for study abroad than for regular on-campus study. Students attending fall or full-year study abroad programs should apply for financial aid by April 1st in order to receive their aid awards in early June. Students studying abroad during winter and/or spring quarters may apply by the regular May 1 deadline, and will initially be awarded aid for a full year on campus; awards will be adjusted later in the year for winter/spring study abroad.

If you will be attending a Northwestern-sponsored summer program, you may apply separately for summer aid and scholarships.

If you do not currently receive financial aid but are interested in applying for need-based assistance for the first time, contact Krista Bethel, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Financial Aid & Study Abroad Financial Services.

Financial Aid Refunds

If your financial aid is greater than the amount billed to you by Northwestern, you may be eligible for a financial aid refund, which can be used toward your other study abroad costs. This is particularly relevant if your program will bill you directly for your housing or other charges. If eligible, you may request your financial aid refund through CAESAR on the first day of the Northwestern quarter in Evanston. If you need to access your aid refund sooner, you should complete the Study Abroad Release of Funds form and return it to Krista Bethel.

Financial aid refunds generally are not available early enough to help with pre-departure expenses, such as program deposits and airfare.

Financial aid refunds can only be released directly to students and cannot be sent as payment to any third party, including your study abroad program. If your program will bill you directly for items such as your housing, it is your responsibility to request your aid refund and process payment on time to your program.

International Students on Financial Aid

International students currently receiving need-based Northwestern financial aid may be eligible to use their aid for affiliated study abroad programs. Your family contribution will remain the same, and your aid will be adjusted based on the cost of your program.

  • For study abroad programs that cost more than studying at Northwestern, you will be offered half of the cost difference in additional scholarship assistance, and half will be offered as an Northwestern international student loan.
  • For programs that cost less than studying at Northwestern, your loan (if any) will be reduced first. Northwestern Scholarship will be reduced if necessary.

International students are not eligible to use their Northwestern aid to "study abroad" in their country of citizenship or permanent residence. Exceptions to this policy will only be considered upon receipt of a written appeal, which must include a compelling academic reason for attending the program in your home country, as well as a letter of support from the associate dean of your school detailing why this program or coursework cannot be completed in Evanston (or elsewhere). Additional information or documentation may be requested as necessary. Please contact Krista Bethel for further information.

International students who currently receive Northwestern aid will receive reapplication instructions each year in May, and should continue to follow the normal procedures and deadlines to reapply for Northwestern aid.

International students not currently receiving Northwestern financial aid are not eligible to apply for aid.