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Emergency Assistance & Cash Advances

The University has two short-term loan programs available to matriculated students:

Eligibility criteria

The following three conditions must be satisfied to receive an emergency loan or a cash advance:

  • You must be enrolled in a degree-seeking or professional health certificate program.
  • You must have a valid Northwestern University student identification card (Wildcard) with you when you apply.
  • Your academic year must be in session. Emergency loans or cash advances cannot be processed before the start or after the end of the academic year for your program of study.
  • NOTE: There are additional criteria that are specific to the two short-term loan programs as described below.

Emergency loans

The emergency loan program is intended to assist you with an unexpected, short-term financial emergency. The emergency typically is not related to your financial aid award nor the direct costs associated with attending Northwestern University.

Loan amount:

You are entitled to one emergency loan per term with a maximum of $500, depending on your account status with the University.

Additional eligibility requirements:

Typically, you are eligible to receive a second emergency loan in a term (also with a $500 maximum) if all of the following four conditions are met:

  • Your first emergency loan has been fully repaid.
  • Your tuition account has a zero balance.
  • You are still enrolled in a degree-seeking or professional health certificate program.
  • Your academic year consists of at least two terms/disbursement periods.


Emergency loans must be repaid within 60 days of receiving the funds or by the end of the academic year, whichever is first.

Cash advances

Students who have submitted all required loan application documents for all loans they have accepted, and as a result of the accepted loans have an anticipated credit balance on their student account, may be eligible to receive a cash advance.

Loan amount:

Students in graduate or professional degree (MD, JD, DPT) programs may receive up to $3,000 per month or the current anticipated credit on their account (whichever is less).

Students in undergraduate degree or professional health certificate programs may receive up to $150 per class or the current anticipated credit on their account (whichever is less).

Additional eligibility requirements:

  • Only one cash advance is allowed every 30 days.
  • Cash advances will be denied if you have not fulfilled all the requirements to apply for and receive your financial aid. For example, we will deny an advance if you have not submitted a loan application or any of your documents are incomplete.
  • Cash advances for students in the School of Professional Studies and the Kellogg School of Management may only be approved on or after the first day of the academic term for which the funds have been awarded and after a student has established eligibility for the funding based on their enrollment.


Cash advances, by definition, are repaid when the anticipated loan funds being advanced to you are credited to your student account. There are no finance charges or fees associated with a cash advance provided that the anticipated loan funds are received and credited to your student account. Should the anticipated loan not be received or credited, you will be required to repay the advanced funds from other sources, and you may be subject to a late payment fee.

Application procedure:

Contact the Chicago Office of Financial Aid for an emergency loan or funding advance application. You will be provided with a form that requires a login with your Net ID and password. Once received and processed by the Chicago Office of Financial Aid, they will forward it to Student Finance for final approval and fund processing through direct deposit or check.