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Loan FAQs


What is the Northwestern Loan?

The Northwestern Loan is a low interest rate educational financing option with flexible repayment terms. The Northwestern Loan approval rate is extremely high. There is no application fee and most Northwestern Loans do not have an origination fee. Northwestern Loans for US students have no origination fee, and loans for international students have origination fees of 0 - 5%, depending upon the program. Graduate professional students and undergraduate international students are the primary borrowers of Northwestern Loans. Parents or legal guardians are the primary borrowers of undergraduate parent Northwestern Loans. Northwestern Loan funds disburse directly to the student's tuition and fees account.

The Northwestern Loan is a not-for-profit program that is funded privately by the University and administered by Northwestern University Student Finance. Student Finance services the Northwestern Loan from application through repayment until it is paid in full. See also Northwestern Loan General Information.

NU Loan approval process:

How does the approval process work?

The conditional approval decision will take up to 24 hours. If additional information is needed in order to approve your loan someone from Student Finance will contact you by the end of the next business day. In that situation, your final decision will take longer than 24 hours.

Final approval occurs when the Financial Aid Office has approved the amount you applied for on your loan application and Student Finance has verified loan information. Once your loan has reached a status of final approval, promissory notes will be signed electronically by the student/co-maker.

The proceeds of the loan cannot be disbursed until the beginning of the first term covered by the loan regardless of when your loan was approved. The disbursement schedule for your loan is printed on your Financial Aid Award Notice.

Will my loan application be approved on time?

Follow these steps to make sure your loan funds are available at the beginning of the term:

  • Apply online.
  • Submit your application early.
  • Respond promptly to calls or emails about your Northwestern Loan application. Although the Northwestern Loan approval rate is very high, we may need additional information for some applications.

If you follow the above guidelines there should be sufficient time for approval of your loans and disbursement of funds to your tuition and fees account by the first day of the term. If you have indicated on your Financial Aid award notice that you have accepted the loan, an anticipated loan credit for the loan will appear on your fall term invoice.

Co-makers and Credit

What is a co-maker?

A co-maker is someone who shares equally in the responsibility of repaying the loan.

  • For the undergraduate parent Northwestern Loan, the co-maker is usually the parent or guardian. If the co-maker is NOT the parent or guardian, we prefer that the co-maker is someone the student has known for at least 5 years and has a work history of 2 or more years. The co-maker is expected to meet the total responsibility of repayment of the loan.  
  • Be aware that in the event that the co-maker defaults, the student will become responsible for repayment of the loan.
  • For student loans, the student is expected to meet the total responsibility for repayment of the loan. In the event that the student defaults, the co-maker will assume total responsibility for repayment of the debt.
  • The student's spouse or domestic partner may not be a co-maker on the student's loan.

As the parent of an undergraduate applying for an Northwestern Parent Loan - why am I considered a co-maker if I'm the primary borrower?

Although the parent or legal guardian is the primary borrower for an undergraduate Northwestern Loan - Parent , the student is receiving the financial benefit of the loan. All proceeds are applied to the student's tuition and fees account. The parents or legal guardians are accepting responsibility for making the payments.

Do I need one or two co-makers?

You can apply for the Northwestern Loan using one or two co-makers. If your primary co-maker does not wish to be solely responsible as co-maker on your loan, you may want to add a second co-maker to the loan. Two co-makers share the co-maker responsibility of the loan, one as a primary co-maker, one as a secondary co-maker.

Will I be approved on my own (US graduate and professional students only)?

Certain graduate and professional students may apply for the Northwestern Loan without a co-maker. In order to be approved for an Northwestern Loan without a co-maker, you need to have a positive credit history. The amount of time you have had credit, the amount of credit you have, your payment history, and the amount of or existence of such things as revolving credit accounts, delinquencies, defaults, bankruptcies, liens, etc. are taken into account. If, for whatever reason, you are not approved based on your credit alone, you will be able to apply with a co-maker. Student Finance will contact you if this is necessary.

What is credit history? How do I know if I'm creditworthy?

Your credit history is a record of your past and present indebtedness. This information is obtained from one or more national credit bureaus. Your credit report may include information about your previous credit performance, current level of indebtedness, length of credit history, types of credit in use, pursuit of new credit, accounts in collection, defaults, bankruptcies, liens, judgments, charge-offs, and other applicable information. A creditworthy person is one who has a positive credit history and meets other requirements as determined by the lending institution. You can obtain a copy of your credit report from Trans Union at or 800-888-4213, Experian at or 888-Experian (888-397-3742), Equifax at or 800-685-1111.

Personal info required on the NU Loan application:

What if I don't have an SSN, an official US Social Security Number, will proof of application be adequate?

International students who do not already have a valid Social Security number are assigned a temporary number. This number is similar in format to a Social Security number but starts with the digits '99'. You may apply for a loan with the temporary number.

To comply with Section 6109 of the Internal Revenus Code, the Office of the Registrar, in conjunction  with Student Finance, requests that you do one of the following:

  • Log on to CAESAR with your NetID and password and navigate to the “My National ID” page via the “Personal Profile” pagelet. Enter your Social Security number in the field provided and press “Save.” Navigate to the “My Names” page in CAESAR and verify that your primary name matches the name on your government-issued ID card.
  • Bring your original SSN card and a photo ID (Driver’s License, State ID, Passport, Wildcard) to your registrar’s office. Evanston undergraduates and graduate students should go to the Office of the Registrar, Rebecca Crown Center, 633 Clark Street. Students in Feinberg, Kellogg, Law, and SPS should go to the registrar or records office in their home schools.
Once Student Finance and the Registrar Office update their records, we will then continue to process your loan

If you are not eligible for a Social Security card:

  • Submit an Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (Form W-7) to the Internal Revenue Service indicating that you are seeking an ITIN for purposes of reporting educational loan interest paid.
  • If you are receiving a stipend, please also forward a copy of Form W-7 to Payroll.

Why do I have to use my Northwestern University email address?

Your Northwestern University email address is the official form of communication between you and the University.

What if I don't know or can't find my Northwestern email address?

Your NU email address is assigned to you either once you apply or once the school receives your enrollment deposit. If you do not know or remember your Northwestern email address you can look it up in Northwestern's online directory.

I do not currently reside in the US. What should I enter for state of legal residence?

Enter Illinois (IL) because you will be living here while attending school.

How should I enter an international address?

Please enter mailing addresses in the same format that you would like to have them appear on an envelope. The country will be printed on the last line of the address on the envelope, although it is specified first on the loan application. Your promissory notes will be mailed to you, so it is important that the postal service is able to route and deliver your mail based on the address you enter on you loan applications.

General format for entry of international addresses:

  • Street address, post office box number, and possibly town
  • City or town name, province, state, or county, and postal code
Example Mailing Address Enter As
1 8-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Tokyo 170-3293
8-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Tokyo 170-3293
2 2045 Royal Road
London WIP 6HQ
2045 Royal Road
London WIP 6HQ
3 Urion 30
Col. Atlatilco
02860 MEXICO, D.F.
Urion 30
Col. Atlatilco
02860 MEXICO, D.F.

What is included in gross income?

Your gross annual income is the total amount of your income before taxes, insurance, and other benefits, etc. are deducted. Please include income from all sources such as salary, interest, dividends, rental income, royalties, social security, pension, commission, child support, etc.

What is a reference?

A reference is someone you have known for at least 5 years who will know your whereabouts if we need to contact you in the future. Each reference must have a separate address and phone number. We prefer a reference with a US address. If you are an international student and cannot provide a reference with a US address, you may provide a reference with an international address.

What is a US Visa Number?

The US Visa Number is a 14 digit alphanumeric identifier that is assigned to you by the US Department of State. It can be found on your passport document and is listed as the control number. In most instances it starts with a 2, followed by a series of numbers and letters. Please make sure you enter O (capital O) and 0 (zero) correctly. Zero is shown as a character with a line through it.

Financial Aid and loan info required on the Northwestern Loan application:

When will the Financial Aid Office issue my Award Notice?

Your Financial Aid Office sends the financial aid award notice to you after your application for financial aid has been processed.

Where do I find my Northwestern Loan Amount?

You can find the amount of NU Loan funds you were awarded in the Financial Aid Offer section of your Financial Aid Award Notice. The NU Loan amount is highlighted on the Sample Award Letter. On your loan application, you may apply for less than you were awarded. However, if you would like to apply for more than you were awarded, you must contact your Financial Aid Office for approval.

What is the Northwestern Loan - Parent?

The Northwestern Loan - Parent is available to parents and legal guardians of undergraduates for borrowing funds up to the cost of tuition. Contact your Financial Aid Office with any questions.

What do you mean by Other Educational Loans Expected for this academic year?

Other educational loans that you expect to borrow for this academic year may include private or alternative loans from lenders other than Northwestern University, such as CitiAssist, Access, Signature, etc. Do not include any federal loans or the Northwestern Loan in this amount

What do you mean by All Other Prior Educational Loans from Northwestern?

Prior educational loans from Northwestern include:

Prior NU Loans is the total amount of Northwestern Loans (University Parent-Student Loan, University Alternative Loan, Kellogg International Loan, etc.) you have borrowed in prior years, not including this application. Northwestern Loans for prior years were known as the:

  • University Parent-Student Loan (UPSL, PUPSL)
  • Graduate/Professional Alternative Loan (GPAL)
  • University Loan (Need-based and Optional, SUPSL)
  • University Loan for Medical School (MUPSL)
  • University Alternative Loan (Kellogg International)

Prior Federal and Other Loans from Northwestern is the total amount of Federal loans and Alternative (Other) loans, not including the Northwestern Loan, you have borrowed while attending Northwestern University as both an undergraduate and graduate student. Federal loans include Stafford, Perkins, and Consolidation loans. Alternative (Other) loans are also known as private loans and include loans such as Sallie Mae, Discover, and Wells Fargo.

What do you mean by All Other Prior Educational Loans from Other Schools?

All Other Loans is the total amount of Federal loans, including Stafford, Perkins, Consolidation loans, and private or alternative loans, such as Sallie Mae, Discover, Wells Fargo, etc., you have borrowed while attending schools other than Northwestern University

How do I contact my Financial Aid Office?

Northwestern Loan Servicer - ECSI

Northwestern wants to provide you with improvements to products and services as well as take full advantage of technology advancements. As an effort to serve you better, ECSI, a student loan management service is partnering with Northwestern to provide student loan servicing needs to loan borrowers. ECSI supports student and parent borrower. ECSI has an enhanced payment service to you with real time transaction processing, easy navigation and automated address changes and more.

What if I have questions about my student loan account?

You may access Heartland ECSI to learn about :

  • Your Payment Options
  • Understanding Loan Benefits
  • Repayment Options
  • Forgiveness Benefits
  • Your Billing Statement 
  1. Go to ECSI to
  2. Feel free to speak to a customer service advocate toll-free 888 549 3274, Monday to Friday 7:30 am to 9:00 pm EST

Tax Documents

Starting in 2018, Northwestern has partnered with Heartland ECSI to provide the 2018-T Statement. To receive the statement ,  contact ECSI.

Looking for your 2018 Tax Documents?

You may access Heartland ECSI to obtain your:

  • 1098 T Tuition Statement
  • 1098 E Student Loan Interest Statement
  1. Go to ECSI to
  2. Feel free to speak to a customer service advocate toll-free 866 428 10984, Monday to Friday 7:30 am to 8:00 pm EST