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Navigating the financial aid and loan process can be overwhelming. We are here to help. Below you'll find a brief overview of the financial aid and loan process. Please contact your financial aid office to get started.

  1. Apply for financial aid and/or loans

    The first step in the process is to apply for financial aid. Your financial aid office determines your aid eligibility and facilitates your award offer. See application process for specific directions and information.
  2. Set up direct deposit

    At times, the university might need to provide money directly to you. Most often this occurs when financial aid is greater than current billed charges. Please see this page for information on direct deposit.
  3. Financial aid is disbursed to students

    If eligible for financial aid or loans, funds are paid (or disbursed) to your Northwestern account or sent directly to you. Learn more about this process on the Disbursement page.
  4. Submit FAFSA and other materials each year

    Students receiving federal aid must fill out a new FAFSA each year they are seeking financial assistance. Non-federal loans may have similar requirements. Look out for email notifications from your lender and promptly take action.
  5. Borrowers complete exit loan interview upon graduation or separation

    All borrowers of federal loans must complete an exit interview to learn more about repayment terms and conditions. See the Exit Interview page for more information.
  6. Repayment begins

    Most students are not required to begin repaying loans until after graduation. See the Repayment page for more information about this process.

    Note: for some loans, repayment begins while the student is still in school. Contact your financial aid office or loan servicer for specific repayment terms and conditions.