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Accepting or Declining Your Loan Offer

A note about NetIDs

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Concerns regarding your NU NetID, if lost or forgotten, may be referred to the NUIT Support Center at consultant@northwestern.edu or (847) 491-HELP(4357).

Accepting/declining process

The information below will guide you through the process of accepting or declining your federal student loans. Student loans can always be adjusted, reduced or canceled. Contact our office if you have any questions.

Understand your loan offer

Our office will normally offer the maximum in federal student loans for which you are eligible based on your Cost of Attendance for the academic year. Your Cost of Attendance includes tuition PLUS a Cost of Living allowance.

The Cost of Living allowances are based on estimates and represent the maximum values for calculating your Cost of Attendance. Your actual expenses will vary depending on your program of study and your living situation.

The maximum amount you may borrow in student loans (without additional documentation) is the difference between your Cost of Attendance and your other resources (scholarships, grants, fellowships, assistantships, expected employer reimbursement, family contribution). Use the Cost of Attendance Worksheet to determine your maximum loan amount.

We will first offer you a Federal Direct Unsubsidized (Stafford) Loan up to (1) the $20,500 annual maximum (per academic year) or (2) your Cost of Attendance for the academic year; whichever is lower. This is a guaranteed loan and has the lowest interest rate and origination fee.

If the Federal Direct Unsubsidized (Stafford) Loan does not cover your Cost of Attendance for the academic year, we will offer supplementary Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans. Federal Direct GradPLUS Loans are not guaranteed and require credit approval by the U.S. Dept. of Education. They also have a higher interest rate and origination fee.

Both the Federal Direct Unsubsidized (Stafford) Loan and the Federal Direct GradPLUS Loan accrue interest from the date the loan funds are disbursed to your Northwestern Customer Account. Complete the online entrance loan counseling (below) to fully understand your loan terms and conditions and your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

View your loan offer

To view your financial aid offer:

  • Log into CAESAR 
  • Select: Financial Aid  >  View My Financial Aid
  • Select aid year 2018 (2017-2018) or 2019 (2018-2019)

Your financial aid totals for the entire academic year will be listed at the top of the page. Below the yearly totals is a breakdown by term. Loan funds are normally distributed equally between all quarters. Click on View Scheduled Disbursement to see the net disbursement amount (minus any loan origination fees) that will disburse to your Northwestern Customer Account each term. Click on Financial Aid Eligibility to view your Cost of Attendance.

Contact our office if:

  • The tuition amount (on which your loan offer is based) is too low or too high; for example, your loan amount was based on full-time enrollment and you plan to register half-time.
  • You have loan disbursements scheduled for a quarter during which you will be enrolled less than half-time (2 credits/units). You must be enrolled at least half-time to maintain your in-school status and eligibility for federal student loans.
  • You have other funding that is not referenced.
  • You need to change the quarterly distribution of the loan amount; for example, you need more loan funds in one term and less in another term.

Determine the amount you need to borrow

Our office usually offers the maximum in federal student loans for which you are eligible. (See Understand Your Loan Offer above for an explanation of how we calculate your maximum eligibility.) The amount of loans you accept will depend on your individual financial situation.

You may choose to borrow:

  • A specific amount
  • Funds to cover tuition only
  • Funds for both tuition and living expenses

Your educational expenses minus your other financial resources determines how much you may need to borrow. Use the Cost of Attendance Worksheet to estimate your educational expenses. The Student Budget Worksheet will help you determine your actual living expenses, available resources, and the amount you may need in student loans.

You may wish to complete the online entrance counseling (below) before accepting or declining your loans in order to fully understand your loan terms and conditions and your rights and responsibilities as a borrower of federal loans.

Accept/decline instructions

To accept or decline the loans you were offered:

  1. Log into CAESAR 
  2. Select: Financial Aid > Accept/Decline Financial Aid
  3. Select aid year 2018 (2017-2018) or 2019 (2018-2019). IMPORTANT: Note the equal distribution of your loan funds between the quarters. Although you can reduce the overall loan amount when you accept your loan on CAESAR, you cannot change the loan distribution. You must contact our office to adjust individual loan disbursements.
  4. To reduce a loan, check the “Accept” box to the right of the loan you wish to change. The amount will activate for adjustment. If you have more than one loan type, loans should be declined or reduced in the following order based on their interest rates and origination fees:
    • Federal Direct GradPLUS Loan
    • Federal Direct Unsubsidized (Stafford) Loan
  5.  Click "Submit" and answer "Yes" to the subsequent questions until you receive confirmation of successful submission.

Student loans can always be reduced or canceled. If you are unsure of the amount you will need, you can accept the maximum amount offered and reduce/cancel the loan(s) later. All accrued interest and fees are reversed when loan funds are returned within 120 days of disbursement.

Contact our office to request a loan adjustment. We will always reduce/cancel the highest interest rate loans first (within federal regulations). 

Complete online entrance counseling

If this is the first time you have borrowed Federal Direct Unsubsidized (Stafford) or GradPLUS Loan funds while attending NU, federal regulations require you to complete online entrance counseling before your loan funds can be disbursed. This is to ensure that you understand your loan terms and conditions and your rights and responsibilities as a borrower of federal loan funds.

Sign into the StudentLoans.gov website using your FSA ID. (If you do not have an FSA ID, you will be prompted to create one.)

  1. Click on "Complete Loan Counseling" and then start "Entrance Counseling."
  2. Select "Illinois" and then "Northwestern University."
  3. Click on "Notify This School."
  4. Select student type "graduate or professional" (even if you are currently an undergraduate).
  5. You will receive confirmation of successful completion after reading each section and answering all questions.

Once this requirement is completed, your To Do List on CAESAR will be updated within a few days.

Complete the Federal Direct Unsubsidized (Stafford) Loan Master Promissory Note

If this is your first time borrowing a Federal Direct Unsubsidized (Stafford) Loan, you must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) with the U.S. Department of Education.

Be prepared to include 2 personal references and your driver's license number.

  • Sign into the StudentLoans.gov website using your FSA ID. (If you do not have an FSA ID, you will be prompted to create one.)
  • Select "Complete Loan Agreement (Master Promissory Note)."
  • Select "MPN for Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans."
  • You will then be guided through a 4-step process and will receive confirmation upon successful completion of your MPN. 

Once the above requirement is completed, your To Do List on CAESAR will be updated within a few days.

Complete the Federal Direct GradPLUS Loan Master Promissory Note

If this is your first time borrowing a Federal Direct GradPLUS Loan, you must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) with the Department of Education.

  • Be prepared to include 2 personal references and your driver's license number.
  • Sign into the StudentLoans.gov website using your FSA ID. (If you do not have an FSA ID, you will be prompted to create one.)
  • Select "Complete Loan Agreement (Master Promissory Note)."
  • Select "PLUS MPN for Graduate/Professional Students."
  • You will then be guided through a 4-step process and will receive confirmation upon successful completion of your MPN. 

Once the above requirement is completed, your To Do List on CAESAR will be updated within a few days. 

 Check your To Do List on CAESAR

To determine if you have any outstanding loan requirements:

  • Log into CAESAR
  • Select: Financial Aid  >  To Do List
  • Follow the instructions in the "Description" column next to each item.

Once you complete a requirement, your To Do List will be updated within a few days.