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Need-Based Financial Aid

If you are currently a recipient of Northwestern financial aid, review the information on this page to learn how your aid package will be impacted by study abroad. If you are not currently on financial aid but are interested in applying for need-based assistance, please contact Krista Buda Bethel, Assistant Director of Study Abroad Financial Services.

Financial Aid Policies & the Study Abroad Aid Package

Northwestern's policy of meeting demonstrated financial need extends to students attending affiliated study abroad programs. Students who attend unaffiliated programs are not eligible for any form of financial assistance through Northwestern.

When you study abroad, as in any other quarter or year, your expected family contribution will be calculated based on your family's financial information as reported on financial aid application materials. Study abroad program costs do not impact the calculated Expected Family Contribution.

When calculating financial aid awards for study abroad, the Financial Aid Office will use a budget based on the program's costs, including tuition, room and board, personal expenses, books, transportation, insurance, visa fees (if applicable), and the Study Abroad Administrative Fee. Estimated personal and other costs do take into account reasonable cost of living for the area in which you will be studying. 

All forms of financial aid will be adjusted to meet your demonstrated need for the quarters spent studying abroad:

  • For study abroad programs that cost more than studying at Northwestern, the additional expense is shared between Northwestern and the student: Typically, half of the additional cost will be met with additional Northwestern Scholarship assistance, and half will be met with additional need-based loans.
  • For study abroad programs that cost less than studying at Northwestern, self-help (i.e., need-based loans and work-study) is typically reduced first. Northwestern Scholarship may be reduced if necessary.
  • Because Federal Work-Study is unavailable to students while they are abroad, work-study funds will be replaced with need-based loan funds for any quarters abroad.

Because work-study is not available and budgeted expenses for study abroad may be higher than costs on campus, your loan debt may be higher for the terms you are abroad or for the year overall. Additional loans awarded for study abroad are not eligible for Northwestern's Debt Cap.

Costs not covered by financial aid include but are not limited to: expenses to apply for or renew a passport, personal travel while abroad, international cell phones or usage charges, and supplementary fees from your program, such as optional excursions, special course fees, pre-program language courses, optional pre-sessions or orientations, or housing upgrades.

International Students on Financial Aid

International students currently receiving Northwestern financial aid may be eligible to use their aid for affiliated study abroad programs:

  • For study abroad programs that cost more than studying at Northwestern, additional loan funds will be offered to cover the higher cost of your program. No additional scholarship assistance is available for more expensive programs.
  • 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 home country. 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 Buda Bethel for further information.

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

Financial Aid Overage & Payment of non-NU charges

If your financial aid during the quarter(s) you are studying abroad is greater than the amount billed to you by Northwestern, you will have a credit balance of financial aid that can be refunded to you and should be used towards other costs associated with your program overseas. This is particularly relevant for those students studying on programs where room, board, and/or other charges will be billed to you directly by the study abroad program.

If you will have a financial aid overage, you may request that these funds be released to you by completing the Study Abroad Release of Funds form. You must print and physically sign the form; typed "signatures" cannot be accepted. You may mail or scan and email a copy of the form, or turn it in to the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid in person.

Outside Scholarships

If you already have a renewable outside scholarship:

  • Check with the donor to ensure that the scholarship may be used for study abroad.
  • If it is, make sure the scholarship check is sent to the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid at 1801 Hinman Ave, 2nd Floor, Evanston, IL 60208-1270.
  • If you receive an outside scholarship or a private loan for which a paper check is sent to the University, you may need to complete the Study Abroad Power of Attorney form -- appointing a Power of Attorney (parent/guardian) to sign the check(s) in your absence -- in order for these resources to be processed. Please contact Krista Buda Bethel if you believe you need to complete this form.

If you would like to pursue an outside scholarship for study abroad: You are welcome to pursue outside scholarships for study abroad, either from your program sponsor or another outside source. Any outside scholarship you receive for study abroad will be subject to Northwestern's regular outside scholarship policy, reducing your self-help aid first and then possibly your Northwestern Scholarship. For many study abroad students, being awarded outside funding may mean having to borrow less in loans to attend more expensive programs. Additionally, some international funding opportunties are highly competitive and prestigious, so applying for such grants and fellowships is encouraged.

If you are considering applying for an outside scholarship and are a recipient of need-based financial aid at Northwestern, please consult with Krista Buda Bethel to determine how the scholarship may affect your NU financial aid package.