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Financial Aid Disbursement

Disbursement refers to the paying out of loan or scholarship funds. Depending on the type of aid, payments will be applied to either your student account or made directly to you.

Payments applied to your account

  • Federal Title IV Financial Aid, excluding work-study earnings
  • Institutional financial assistance (aid from Northwestern)
  • Outside scholarships
  • State assistance
  • Loans disbursed electronically
  • Loan checks made co-payable to the student and the University

Federal Title IV financial aid payments

Federal Title IV financial aid, excluding federal work-study, is applied directly to your student account. Your student account will reflect charges for tuition, allowable fees, and room and board. It may also include charges such as library fines, parking fines, room damage charges, and health service fees.

You may authorize the University to use your Title IV aid to pay for all charges billed to your account or to limit your Title IV payments to tuition, allowable fees, and room and board charges via CAESAR when you respond to your financial aid award. You may change this authorization at any time by notifying Student Finance.

Scholarship checks

You are required to forward scholarship checks to your financial aid office so that funds can be applied to your student account.

Student loans

Loans are disbursed directly to your student account.

Payments made directly to you

  • Work-study paychecks for Federal Work-Study positions
  • Excess financial aid in your student account (if aid exceeds your amount due, you may receive a refund)
  • Excess aid from anticipated aid (if aid exceeds your amount due and if you have aid that has not disbursed, you may be eligible for a cash advance)

Work-study payments

Federal Work-Study funds are not credited toward your student account. They are issued directly to you. The University Payroll department requires work-study paychecks to be direct-deposited into your bank account. Set up direct deposit on the Faculty and Staff Information System (FASIS).

Pay is deposited on a biweekly basis. You will receive it on Fridays, one week after the end of the pay period.

Financial aid refunds

Although most forms of financial aid are disbursed directly to your student account, often students plan to use loan funds for living expenses. If you have a credit balance of actual funds on your student account (not a credit balance due to anticipated aid), you may be eligible to receive a refund.

Law School, Kellogg, and Medill graduate students currently receive automatic refunds and need only notify Student Finance if they do not wish to receive a refund; all other students must request a refund each term.

You can request a refund via CAESAR. You are encouraged to set up direct deposit with Student Finance so that the requested funds can be sent directly to your chosen bank account. If you do not have direct deposit, your refund request will initiate a process to send the credit to you by email.

Note: Non-financial aid refunds will be returned to the original source of payment.

Anticipated aid

In some cases, you may see financial aid appearing on your student account invoice as “anticipated aid.” This may prevent you from requesting the full credit from your account as a refund. Depending on the timing and the status of your financial aid materials, you may be eligible to receive a cash advance for a portion of these funds. You should contact your financial aid office for more information.