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Budgeting & Borrowing

Student loans can be a good resource to help finance your college education. Earning a degree is an investment in your future, and responsible borrowing can help you cover your costs, reach your goals, and get a jump start on building strong credit for after college. The information and guidelines below are intended to help you consider your options and plan your budget.

Federal Loans First

If you are considering borrowing a loan, it is a good idea to contact the financial aid office to make sure you are exploring your federal student loan options first. Federal student loans may be subsidized, which means that they would not accrue any interest while you are enrolled in school at least half-time. Federal student loans also tend to be manageable in repayment.

Borrowing Wisely

You may find that you are eligible to borrow more than you actually need, either through federal student loans or parent/private loans. It might help to plan a budget to determine how much you need to borrow, so you can reduce the amount you will ultimately have to pay back. Fill out an estimated billing worksheet to figure out how much you will owe Northwestern. Plan a budget and complete a budgeting worksheet to review all of your expenses and resources.

Know What You'll Owe

Federal loans have a number of repayment options, including income-driven plans that base your payment due on a set percentage of your income. You can also use student loan calculators to figure out how much you might owe after leaving Northwestern.

You Can Make Early Payments

If you are able to make even small payments while you are still in school, over the summers, or during your grace period, you can reduce the amount you will owe in interest long-term or even pay your loans off before you graduate.

Talk to a Financial Aid Counselor

The financial aid office can help you review your costs and aid, help you work out a budget of how much you might actually need to borrow, and go over any questions you might have about loan options and repayment.