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Student Return to Campus FAQs

Updated 9/10/2020

Tuition/Finances

Find common questions related to the student return to campus plan for Fall Quarter 2020. Additional information can be found on the Undergraduate Financial Aid website.

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What is the tuition discount?

A 10% reduction to Fall Quarter undergraduate tuition.

Who does the tuition discount apply to?

Undergraduates only, whether living on-campus or off-campus. Graduate and professional school tuition is not being changed.

Why is tuition being reduced?

Due to the changing condition of the pandemic, a decision not to have all the undergraduate students return to campus was made later then desired. As a result of the evolving nature of that decision and the financial impact on families, tuition is being reduced for the Fall Quarter.

Why is tuition being reduced in Fall 2020 when it was not reduced in Spring 2020?

The tuition reduction in the Fall Quarter is due to the evolving nature of the decision to modify who could be on campus in the fall, and the financial impact that has on families of undergraduate students.

Is the reduction for just the Fall Quarter or the entire academic year?

The reduction is for the Fall Quarter only.

What is the impact on Financial Aid?

Those receiving need-based financial aid will see a reduction in their scholarship commensurate with the reduction in tuition. This is because financial need rises and falls in tandem with changes to tuition. Those who qualify for financial aid pay only what they can afford to pay. For example, if it has been determined that your family contribution is $20,000, then although the tuition is decreased, your family contribution will remain the same $20,000. This reduction is required via our participation in federal financial aid programs.

If I receive financial aid and my tuition is now lower, can I use the funds for other purposes?

For students who receive financial aid, the amount a family is asked to pay is based on its circumstances, including income and assets. If tuition goes up, the amount a family is asked to pay does not rise. If tuition goes down, the amount the family pays does not go down. 

If a family’s circumstances change, and its need increases, the student receiving financial aid can re-file a financial aid application, and lower the amount the family is expected to pay.

Students who receive financial aid are also eligible for emergency aid. For financial aid students who have new expenses related to travel or technology because of our recently announced changes, we have an emergency fund that can provide help. In the spring, we provided more than $2 million in additional aid to students, and we are prepared to help students again this fall.

Undergraduate financial aid students who would like more information about emergency aid can contact Undergraduate Financial Aid. Emergency funds will be available beginning Sept. 9.

Updated 9/1/20

How is room & board impacted?

Students not living on-campus for the Fall Quarter will not be charged for room and board. Financial aid packages will be adjusted for those who received aid based on living on-campus and who will now live at home with their family. No adjustment will be made if a student is living off-campus but not with their family. Please notify the financial aid office if your plans have changed. You will not be harmed financially if you live at home, but your financial aid will be reduced in a way that is commensurate with the reduction in your billed charges.

Will any other fees be reduced?

The Fall 2020 portion ($20) of the annual Athletic Events Fee of $60 will not be charged, so you will see a charge of $40,  as Associated Student Government continues to provide programming and activities and because the Health Service continues to be available for students’ use.

Updated 9/10/20

When will students expect to see these changes?

The tuition reduction and associated changes will be reflected on student accounts in September.

How will the tuition and fee reduction appear on my Fall 2020 bill?

Your tuition will be one line item of $17,468, which represents the previously-announced full time rate of $19,409 less $1,941, which is ten percent of the rate.  Your athletic events fee will be one line item of $40, which represents the annual fee of $60 minus $20, which is the Fall 2020 portion of that fee. 

Will the tuition reduction apply when I enroll in a part time load as well?

Yes. The 2020-21 per-unit rate is $6,901.  For Fall 2020, your bill will show $6,211 per unit if you are enrolled part time, which reflects the reduction of $690, or ten percent of the per-unit rate.

If a student has additional expenses and needs financial assistance, what resources are available?

If students have extra travel expenses caused by modifications to Fall Quarter, please reach out to the Office of Financial Aid for information about the emergency aid process.

Why is the tuition for graduate and professional students not getting reduced?

Due to the changing nature of the pandemic and current information provided by experts at Northwestern Medicine, the University has now made a decision to not have all the undergraduate students return to campus. We recognize that modifying who can live in campus housing and having a portion of our undergraduate student body adjust plans impacts our undergraduates in different ways.

As a result of the evolving nature of that decision, undergraduate tuition is being reduced for the Fall Quarter.

No changes were made to the way in which graduate or professional students can choose to return to campus or live in campus housing. Therefore, tuition is unchanged.

How does this impact University finances?

We have built a University-wide budget for fiscal year 2021, beginning in September, that continues to honor core commitments such as financial aid. We will continue to monitor the impact to our finances and to adjust our operations as needed, in partnership with our trustees and with our leadership. 

I’m participating in 9PAY. What effect will these changes have on my budget and scheduled payments?

Reduction in tuition for Fall may result in a credit on your account. This will automatically be applied to any new charges on your account. If you would like to make an adjustment to your 9PAY budget, please contact us at studentaccounts-ev@northwestern.edu. Alternatively, you may Request a Refund of the excess funds in CAESAR.

Added 9/10/20

Testing

How does this impact testing?

Northwestern will reevaluate its current testing plans and provide an update once it is known exactly how many students will be on campus.

Do I still need to complete the at home testing kit?

Third- and fourth- years, and anyone with an exception to be on campus, should still complete their at home test before coming to Evanston. First- and second- years not coming to campus can still complete their at-home test, if they would like. 

Will we be testing off-campus students more since they are the only ones on campus? What about faculty and staff?

Northwestern will be reevaluating its testing strategy and capacity to realign based on these changes. More information will come in the next week.

Housing

Will we make on-campus living exceptions for students facing challenges working at home? (E.g. international, low income)

Yes. First- and second-year undergraduate students who need the option of on-campus housing this fall can apply online now. You will be prompted to select from a list of reasons why you require on-campus housing and will have the opportunity to briefly provide context for the selection. 

Applications must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Requests will be reviewed by a team of academic and Student Affairs professionals and advisors. Residential Services will reply to approve or deny requests by Friday, Sept. 4.

Updated 9/1/20

Can students cancel their University housing contracts?

First- and second-year undergraduate students who would prefer to cancel their housing contracts for the entire academic year can now do so without penalty. The deadline for canceling without penalty is noon CDT Sept. 4. Cancellation requests must be submitted using the online cancellation form. If you are a first- or second-year undergraduate student with a housing contract and you do not request a cancellation by noon CDT on Sept. 4, we will assume you intend to move into on-campus housing when the residence halls re-open to you.

As previously announced, third- and fourth-year undergraduate students and graduate and professional students can still live in on-campus housing starting Fall Quarter 2020. Third- and fourth-year, graduate, and professional students will now have until noon CDT Sept. 4 to cancel their Fall Quarter on-campus housing contracts instead of the initial deadline of tomorrow. Cancellation requests can be submitted using the online cancellation form.

Updated 9/1/20

Will first- and second-year students be allowed to return to campus in January?

That is the goal of these measures. By de-densifying campus and adhering to community expectations for slowing the spread of COVID-19, our plan is to be able to welcome first- and second-year students to campus for Winter Quarter.

Will my room and board fees be applied to January or will I get a refund?

Room and board hasn’t been charged so no refunds will need to occur.

What if I’m a graduate or professional student living in on-campus housing? How do the changes to Wildcat Wellness apply to me?

Wildcat Wellness still applies to all students who live on-campus or in off-campus housing near campus. 

Grading

With these new changes for Fall Quarter, will the grading system be changed?

As announced previously, we are returning to quality (letter) grades for the Fall term. In the spring, we made emergency changes to our grading systems and requirements as a result of the need for a rapid transition to remote coursework. However, we have heard from many in our community that they are eager to return to traditional grading, an approach we have already implemented for Summer classes.  

At the same time, we recognize that our public health challenges are far from over and will offer continued flexibility in response. Please review the adjusted drop, withdrawal and grading option (Pass/Not Pass) deadlines on the academic calendar, which have been extended.

Undergraduate Students

How will Wildcat Welcome change now that all incoming, first-year and transfer students must be remote?

Wildcat Welcome is already fully remote and will continue as planned.

How do I apply for an exception to live in residence hall housing?

First- and second-year undergraduate students who need the option of on-campus housing this fall can apply online now. You will be prompted to select from a list of reasons why you require on-campus housing and will have the opportunity to briefly provide context for the selection. 

Applications must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Requests will be reviewed by a team of academic and Student Affairs professionals and advisors. Residential Services will reply to approve or deny requests by Friday, Sept. 4. Specific housing assignments will be sent the following week.

Third- and fourth-year undergraduate students who planned to live in fraternity or sorority housing and would like to live in a residence hall this fall also must apply online no later than 11:59 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, Sept. 1 and will receive a response by Friday, Sept. 4.

Third- and fourth-year undergraduate students and graduate students with housing contracts who still plan to live on campus need not take any action. Those who have decided to live off-campus may cancel their housing contract for Fall Quarter without penalty here until 11:59 p.m. CDT Sept. 1.

Updated 9/1/20

What is the criteria for students to apply to live on campus?

First- and second-year undergraduate students who need the option of on-campus housing this fall can apply online now. You will be prompted to select from a list of reasons why you require on-campus housing and will have the opportunity to briefly provide context for the selection. 

Updated 9/1/20

What will be the impact on first- and second-year international students who were planning to be on campus in Fall?

Northwestern's new policy does not affect international graduate or PhD students. All international graduate and PhD students who have the required immigration documents and are not entering from countries from which travel is banned, including graduate and doctoral international students, can return to campus this fall. 

If you are an international first-year undergraduate student and need to be present on campus this Fall to pursue your studies, we will grant you an exemption. Please contact the Northwestern Office of International Student and Scholar Services' Interim Director, Theresa Johnson at theresa.johnson@northwestern.edu. Theresa and the Office of International Student and Scholar Services team will be available beginning Tuesday, September 1st to work with you to ensure you are able to continue your studies on campus. 

If you are a second-year undergraduate student, you will not be eligible to return to campus this Fall as with all second-year undergraduate students. Please reach out to Theresa Johnson if you have any questions or concerns about how this may affect your studies and immigration status.

If I’m a first-year or second-year from the Chicago area, can I come to campus for appointments? (e.g., Northwestern Health, advising, the library)?

We are asking first-year and second-year students to not be on campus, unless they have an approved exception to be here.

If I’m a second-year student who can’t live on campus in Fall and can’t return in Winter or Spring, do I still have to complete another year in housing to meet the residency requirement?

No. Northwestern suspended the two-year live-on requirement for 2020-2021 academic year. First- and second-year students will receive a one quarter “credit” towards the two-year live-on requirement and thus do not have to live on-campus in Fall Quarter of their third year.

I am an incoming student. Given the change in plans, may I now request to defer my enrollment?

Yes, given the change in plans, all incoming students may now request a one-quarter deferral to begin their studies in Winter 2021. New first-year and transfer students will also have the option to defer in each quarter until Fall 2021 to ensure flexibility. Incoming new and transfer students who wish to defer Fall, Winter and Spring Quarters can, in effect, defer the entire academic year and still be guaranteed a place for the 2021-22 academic year. Later in the fall, and as conditions develop, students will receive information about the process to initiate additional quarter-long deferrals. For now, to delay your enrollment until Winter 2021, please write to ug-admission@northwestern.edu by Sept. 5 with “DEFERRAL REQUEST” in the subject line.

Please note that first-year students who defer until Winter Quarter may find it difficult to make progress in fundamental required sequence courses if they do not complete their Fall Quarter, so particularly in these cases, it is vital to talk with an academic advisor. Consistent with our gap-year policy, students who take a gap-quarter may not use that time to pursue courses for credit.

Students who have already been approved for a year-long deferral but who now wish to postpone enrollment only until Winter 2021 may request a quarter-long deferral. The deadline for these requests is also September 5, 2020. Please write to ug-admission@northwestern.edu with the subject line, “MODIFY DEFERRAL REQUEST.” Again, it is vital to talk with an academic advisor prior to making this change as first year students who defer until Winter Quarter may find it difficult to make progress in fundamental required sequence courses if they do not complete their Fall Quarter.

Finally, all students who defer until Winter 2021 will still be required to attend virtual Wildcat Welcome orientation activities September 7 – 15, 2020 to ensure a thorough orientation to Northwestern, and to the advising and course selection processes. Students who request a quarter-long deferral close to the September 5 deadline may not receive confirmation of approval before beginning virtual Wildcat Welcome on September 7; Admissions will aim to respond to students with confirmation early that week but students should plan to attend Wildcat Welcome orientation from Sept 7 – 15.

Updated 9/1/20

I am an incoming student. If I choose to begin remote coursework in Fall 2020, would I have the option to withdraw if need be?

Yes, Northwestern students are free to withdraw from all their classes, called term withdrawal, in any term if necessary.  The choice to withdraw from a term is one students should make with loved ones and an academic advisor, and with a full understanding of the academic and financial implications.  First year students who withdraw may find it difficult to make progress in fundamental required sequence courses if they do not complete their fall term, so particularly in these cases, it is vital to talk with an academic advisor.  Students can find more information in the Undergraduate Catalog and on this page, which describes the deadlines and process to withdraw.  In Fall 2020, students who choose to withdraw by Sept. 22, the fifth day of class, will receive a full tuition reimbursement, less fees.  Once the term begins, transcripts will reflect that the student enrolled and withdrew.

I am an incoming student. If I choose to begin remote coursework in Fall 2020, may I take a leave of absence if need be?

Yes, Northwestern students may take a leave when necessary. The choice to withdraw from a term is one students should make with loved ones and an academic advisor, and with a full understanding of the academic and financial implications. First year students who withdraw may find it difficult to make progress in fundamental required sequence courses if they do not complete their fall term, so particularly in these cases, it is vital to talk with an academic advisor. Students who require time away from their studies for treatment for a mental or physical health condition may take a medical leave. More information about the process is available on the Student Affairs website. Students who must take a leave for other reasons should request to withdraw from the term. More detail is outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog and on this page, which describes the deadlines and process to withdraw. In Fall 2020, students who choose to withdraw by Sept. 22, the fifth day of class, will receive a full tuition reimbursement, less fees. Once the term begins, transcripts will reflect that the student enrolled and withdrew.