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Need-Based Financial Aid

Northwestern financial aid can be applied to Northwestern-sponsored and affiliated programs, so it should not cost you any more or less out of pocket to study abroad than to study on campus.

Study Abroad Financial Aid

Financial aid and loans can be applied to Northwestern-sponsored and affiliated study abroad programs during the regular academic year. Students who attend unaffiliated programs are not eligible for any form of assistance through Northwestern financial aid.

Your regular aid is based on the cost of living and studying in Evanston. Your study abroad financial aid will be based on the cost of the program you attend, including the exchange rate and a reasonable cost of living for the location in which you will be studying. Your expected family contribution will not change, and your aid will be adjusted based on the total cost of your program; typically:

  • For programs that cost more than Northwestern, your Northwestern Scholarship assistance will be increased to cover your higher financial need. Because you cannot participate in Federal Work-Study while abroad, your work-study allotment (if any) will be offered as a subsidized loan for your quarter(s) abroad. Loans awarded for study abroad or to replace work-study earnings are not eligible for Northwestern's Debt Cap.
  • For programs that cost less than Northwestern, your financial need will be lower than usual, and your aid would be reduced: work-study and need-based loans (if any) will be reduced first, and Northwestern Scholarship may be reduced if necessary.

Each program page includes estimated total costs, including tuition, room and board, transportation, books, personal expenses, required health insurance, student visa, and the Study Abroad Administrative Fee, if applicable.

Plan Your Budget

Financial aid is available at the beginning of your study abroad term, but some pre-departure expenses will occur before your program actually starts. Be sure to budget for these expenses. Some students with high financial need may be eligible to apply to the Bridge Builder program for assistance with many of these costs.

Financial aid does not cover: personal travel while abroad, international cell phones or usage, or supplementary fees from your program, such as optional excursions, special course/lab fees, pre-program language courses, optional pre-sessions or orientations, or housing upgrades.

Keep in mind that your financial aid and loans also cannot cover the cost of your housing in Evanston while you are abroad, so be sure to cancel your on-campus room and board contract or sublet your off-campus apartment for the quarter(s) you will be abroad. Students who are considering studying abroad and moving off campus in the same academic year are strongly encouraged to contact Krista Bethel to discuss financial aid and budgeting.

Applying for Financial Aid

If you currently receive need-based aid from Northwestern, the financial aid application is no different for study abroad than for regular on-campus study. If you will attend a fall or full-year program, you should apply for financial aid by April 1st in order to receive your aid awards by late May. If you will study abroad during winter and/or spring quarters, you may apply by the regular May 1 deadline, and will initially be awarded aid for a full year on campus; your award will be adjusted later in the year for winter/spring study abroad.

If you will attend a Northwestern-sponsored or affiliated summer program, you may apply separately for summer aid and scholarships.

If you do not currently receive financial aid but are interested in applying for need-based assistance for the first time, contact Krista Bethel in the financial aid office.

Financial Aid Refunds

If your financial aid is greater than the amount billed to you by Northwestern, you may be eligible for a financial aid refund, which can be used toward your other study abroad costs. This may be particularly relevant if your program will bill you directly for your housing or other charges. If eligible, you may request your aid refund through CAESAR on the first day of the Northwestern quarter in Evanston. If you need to access your funds sooner, complete the Study Abroad Release of Funds form and return it to Krista Bethel.

Financial aid refunds generally are not available early enough to help with pre-departure expenses, such as program deposits and airfare.

Financial aid refunds can only be released directly to students and cannot be sent as payment to any third party, including your study abroad program. If your program will bill you directly for your housing or other charges, it is your responsibility to request your aid refund and process payment on time to your program.

International Students on Financial Aid

International students (F-1 or J-1 visa) currently receiving need-based Northwestern financial aid may be eligible to use their aid for Northwestern-sponsored or affiliated study abroad programs. Your family contribution will remain the same, and your aid will be adjusted based on the cost of your program, as outlined above.

International students are not eligible to use their Northwestern aid to "study abroad" in their country of citizenship or permanent residence. Exceptions to this policy will only be considered upon receipt of a written appeal, which must include a compelling academic reason for attending the program in your home country, as well as a letter of support from the associate dean of your school detailing why this program or coursework cannot be completed in Evanston or elsewhere. Additional information or documentation may be requested as necessary. Please contact Krista Bethel for further information.

International students who currently receive Northwestern aid will receive reapplication instructions each year in May, and should continue to follow the normal procedures and deadlines to reapply for Northwestern aid.

International students not currently receiving Northwestern financial aid are not eligible to apply for aid.