Withdrawals and Financial Aid
When a financial aid recipient withdraws from a quarter, federal regulations require a calculation to determine whether federal aid must be returned. This calculation, called a Return of Title IV Aid (R2T4) is required for official withdrawals but also in the case of students who unofficially withdraw by ceasing attendance in all their classes. There is no leave of absence policy used in the R2T4 process. Please see the Registrar’s information about the steps to withdraw at: https://www.registrar.northwestern.edu/registration-graduation/registration/withdrawal.html.
The withdrawal date for students who officially withdraw is the day they begin the formal process. In the case of unofficial withdrawals, the withdrawal date is the midpoint in the quarter unless academically related activity can be established at a later date. Academically related activity might include the taking of a test, submission of a paper, or other substantial interaction with the instructor.
The R2T4 calculation determines whether financial aid must be repaid to the federal programs. The university’s tuition refund policy is independent from this federal R2T4 policy. Federal aid includes Federal Pell Grants, Federal Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans, Unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans, and Federal Direct PLUS loans.
Federal financial aid is earned for each day until the date of withdrawal. The total days in the quarter are the calendar days that begin on the first day of class and end on the last day of finals. Any breaks of more than four days (including weekends) are subtracted from the total number of days in the quarter. To arrive at a percentage, the days prior to withdrawal are divided into the total number of days in the quarter that the student was scheduled to complete. This percentage determines the amount of federal aid that is earned. The remainder is the amount of federal aid that is unearned and must be repaid. For example, if a student withdraws after attending 20 days of their scheduled 80 day quarter, their percentage of earned aid is 20/80 = 25.0%. The student in this scenario earned 25.0% of their aid, 75.0% of their federal aid is unearned and returned to the federal programs. If a student withdraws after 60% of the quarter, they have fully earned all federal aid.
The responsibility for returning unearned aid is either that of the student or of the university. The university is responsible for the amount up to the unearned institutional charges. The student is responsible for the amount above the unearned institutional charges. Whether it is the student’s portion or the university’s portion, aid is returned by removing it from the student account. The university sends the student’s portion back to the federal program on behalf of the student. The removal of aid might generate a payment that is due by the student and to the university.
Unearned federal Title IV funds will result in a reduction to aid programs in the following order:
- Unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans
- Subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans
- Federal Direct PLUS Loans received on behalf of the student
- Federal Pell Grants
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
- Federal Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
Funds are returned, where necessary, and students are notified via Email no later than 30 days from the determination of withdrawal. The notification will provide detailed information about the money returned from these aid programs. The return of these funds might result in charges to the student account that must be repaid.
If a student earned more aid than was paid at the time of withdrawal, they might be eligible for a post-withdrawal disbursement (PWD). If eligible for a PWD, students are notified through university Email and will have fourteen days to respond and accept or decline any loan funds. PWD grant funds are paid automatically to the student account.
Withdrawing might impact future eligibility for federal, state, and institutional financial aid. Please review the requirements of Satisfactory Academic Progress on the financial aid office website.
Non-Title IV grant and scholarship aid
If the amount of non-Title IV funds you received exceeds any unpaid University charges, you may be required to return the remaining portion. If you have withdrawn, you should contact your financial aid office before requesting a refund. If a balance is due on your student account, you must make the appropriate payments.
Additional informationThe calculation used to determine charges after a withdrawal is completely different from the calculation used to determine financial aid eligibility as a result of a withdrawal. Please refer to the Student Financial Regulations Handbook for more information regarding tuition/fee charges and Living @ NU for information about housing charges.
Students are required to contact the Office of the Registrar or the individual school to complete all necessary withdrawal forms. For more information on the University’s withdrawal policy, student should also visit the Office of the Registrar's Withdrawal from the University page.