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Appeals & Reporting Changes in Circumstance

You may appeal if you believe that your financial aid award did not fully consider your individual circumstances. The  financial aid appeal deadline is March 31 of each applicable academic year. Appeals typically will not be accepted after this date.

There are two general types of appeals: budget appeals and family contribution appeals. Each type of appeal has different application procedures.

Additionally, there are times when you must report any changes in circumstance, as that may impact your financial aid eligibility.

Budget Appeals

Adjustments are sometimes made when your cost of attendance exceeds that expected of the average student and the situation relates directly to your ability to remain enrolled in your degree program. These budget increases are made on an individualized, case-by-case basis.

Examples of typical situations in which your educational budget can be increased above the standard level include:

  • Medical Emergency Supplement: You have incurred increased health care costs during the academic year that are not covered by your insurance and must be paid immediately due to an acute medical emergency or problem.
  • Dependent Care Supplement: You have dependents for whom you have financial responsibility who need supervision while you are in class.
  • Computer Supplement: Your school requires a computer and you have not previously received a computer allowance.

Contact a financial aid advisor if you feel a budget adjustment is needed for other reasons, including rent or other living expenses.

Medical Emergency Supplement

Eligibility: If you suffer an acute medical emergency or problem while enrolled at Northwestern University, you may be eligible for additional financial aid to cover those costs not paid by insurance if treatment is required to maintain enrollment in your degree program. You also may qualify for additional loan assistance if you require prescribed medications to maintain your enrollment at Northwestern.

How to apply: There is no specific form for requesting a Medical Emergency Supplement. You simply need to submit the following four items:

  1. A written explanation that a medical emergency/condition exists, the start and projected end date (if known) of the prescribed treatment and any other pertinent information to support your case.
  2. Documentation from the health care provider certifying that the prescribed treatment (including all medications) is/was required to continue your enrollment.
  3. Documentation showing the costs of the prescribed treatments and/or medications.
  4. Documentation showing to what extent these expenses were covered by insurance.

Please note that the Committee on Financial Aid for Students does not require a student to disclose specific information regarding their medical emergency/condition- only that such a condition exists and documentation as to the cost and length of treatment. In some cases, we will request billing information or receipts for prescriptions in which case a student may black out information specific to a treatment, diagnoses or name of prescription. We request that RX numbers or billing codes are left visible in order to separate the data for appeal purposes. 

Any increase in loan assistance from a Medical Emergency Supplement is limited to those costs that are incurred during the current academic year that will not be reimbursed by insurance. It may not always be possible to offer you loan assistance to cover the full extent of your medical expenses. Per federal regulations, the Chicago Office of Financial Aid cannot offer additional loan assistance to cover medical expenses incurred during a previous academic year or during periods of non-enrollment.

Dependent Care Supplement

Eligibility: If you have dependents for whom you are financially responsible and you need additional loan assistance to help offset the costs for dependent care, you may be eligible for additional financial aid.

  • Allowable costs for the Dependent Care Supplement include day care expenses and childcare services. The amount of supplement is based on actual costs incurred within limits for what is considered fair and reasonable rates. It is expected that you are obtaining dependent care services at the lowest possible costs.
  • Increases are not permitted for the costs of food and shelter for dependents. These costs are factored into the formula used when determining your expected contribution toward educational expenses.

How to apply: Download the "Dependent Care Supplement Request Form" (found on the Forms page) and return the completed form along with second-party documentation of your actual dependent care costs. See the form for instructions.

Computer Supplement

Eligibility: If your school requires a computer and you have not previously received a computer allowance, you may be eligible for additional financial aid.

How to apply: Download the "Computer Supplement Request Form" (found on the Forms page) and return the completed document along with receipts of your computer purchase.

Family Contribution Appeals

Eligibility: You have the right to appeal the expected family contribution if there has been a significant involuntary change in circumstances in your (and/or your family's) financial situation since you filed your application documents. You should contact our office to speak with or schedule a meeting with a financial aid advisor if you have specific questions regarding your family contribution.

How to apply: Your appeal must be submitted in writing, and must include formal documentation of the change in circumstances. The more detailed your appeal and documentation, the easier it is for the committee to review it and make a prompt determination. You must also submit the Monthly Expense Worksheet and the Loss of Wages form with your appeal. The Monthly Expense Worksheet can be found on our Forms page but you must contact our office request a copy of the Loss of Wages form.

Reporting Changes in Circumstance

Notify our office immediately if your financial circumstance changes from what you report on your application materials. Failure to notify our office of such changes may jeopardize your eligibility for assistance in the current and/or subsequent academic period.

Changes in circumstance could include, but are not limited to:

Submit notification of any changes in circumstance in writing or via an email from your Northwestern email account. Contact a financial aid advisor if you have any questions.