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Financial Aid Refunds

If the financial aid applied to your student account exceeds the amount due, you can request a refund of those extra funds at the beginning of the term.

Students with a federal Title IV aid credit balance: the excess funds on your student account must be disbursed within 14 days of that credit balance being generated.  It is therefore important to set up your refund preferences prior to the term to ensure the funds are sent via your preferred method; otherwise, funds will be sent to you via US mail.

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

Steps to receiving a refund:

  1. Verify that you are eligible for a refund

    Use CAESAR to check your account (CAESAR > Student Homepage > Account and Payments tile > View My Account). You must have a credit in your Account Balance (not Anticipated Aid) to be eligible for a refund.
  2. If you have not established direct deposit, consider setting it up at this time

    The quickest way to receive your refund is to sign up for direct deposit through CAESAR (CAESAR > Student Homepage > Account and Payments  tile > View My Account  > Setup Direct Deposit); see step-by-step instructions: Setting Up Direct Deposit. If you are unable to use CAESAR, you may request a paper Direct Deposit form by contacting Student Finance. If you do not have an active direct deposit authorization filed with Student Finance, you may choose to have a refund check mailed to one of your active addresses.
  3. Request a refund

    Unless you are a graduate student in Bienen, Kellogg, Medill, or Pritzker, you must request a refund each term; it is not automatically refunded. Use CAESAR (CAESAR > Student Homepage > Account and Payments tile > View My Account >  Request a Refund) to specify the refund amount (if different from your balance) and select a refund format (mail or direct deposit); see step-by-step instructions: Request a Refund.
  4. Receive your excess funds

    When your refund has been processed, you will receive a generic e-mail notification at your Northwestern email address. The amount remaining in your account is refunded to you either by check or via direct deposit to your financial institution.

If you forward your refund to a non-US bank:

The Automated Clearing House (ACH) payment system rules require that refund requests made via direct deposit to a US bank and then forwarded in their ENTIRETY to a bank in another country must use specific formatting requirements for the transfer which are not currently available. Therefore, if your refund transaction will be forwarded in its entirety to an account outside the US, you will need to select a paper check for your refund as this type of fund transfer cannot be accommodated by the University’s systems.

If your intent is to transfer only a portion of the funds from your direct deposit payment but not the entire amount, you can continue to receive your refunds by direct deposit.