Paying Your Tuition Bill with Financial Aid
Any charges for which you are billed by the University and are responsible for paying (tuition, fees, room/board, etc) are reflected on your Northwestern student account, which is accessible via CAESAR. These charges can be paid in multiple ways, including through the use of financial aid.
If you are using financial aid to cover a portion of your balance, anticipated aid credits may be included on your bill. You can use these anticipated aid credits to determine how much you owe the University beyond financial aid. Depending upon your financial aid package, these anticipated aid credits can include institutional scholarship or grant aid, federal or state grant aid, federal or private student loan funds you are expected to receive for that term, or outside scholarship funds that have been received and processed by our office. The anticipated aid credits are automatically removed from your account when the actual aid funds are received by the Office of Student Finance.
For undergraduate students in the School of Professional Studies (SPS), anticipated federal or state grant credits will appear on the first tuition bill of the term. Pell grants will disburse at the beginning of the academic term but may be revised if your enrollment changes during the academic term. State grants (Illinois MAP Grants) will not disburse until after your enrollment and grant eligibility has been verified after the financial aid Add/Drop deadline, which is the second Saturday of each term.
After accounting for anticipated aid credits or any credits from a previous term, your bill will indicate a remaining balance due for the term and you will need to pay that balance directly with the Student Finance Office. You are responsible for ensuring that your balance is paid in full by the due date stated on your bill. You can find more information about the billing and direct payment processes on the Office of Student Finance website, which includes information about how to read your bill.
If you are using financial aid, the funds will generally be disbursed to your student account. Disbursement refers to the paying out of scholarship, grant, or loan aid.
Some financial aid is disbursed directly to your student account in order to cover your charges, including:
- Federal Title IV Financial Aid
- Institutional scholarship and grant aid from Northwestern
- Outside scholarships that are received and processed by the Financial Aid Office
- State assistance for eligible undergraduate students
- Private student loans disbursed electronically
- Private student loan checks made co-payable to the student and the university
Federal Title IV financial aid payments
Federal Title IV financial aid is disbursed directly to your student account and is automatically applied to certain charges on your account. These include charges for tuition, allowable fees, and room and board.
Other charges on your student account, which can include library fines, parking fines, room damage charges, and health service fees, may be covered by Federal Title IV financial aid if you authorize the University to use this aid to pay for all charges billed to your account. You may also limit your Title IV payments to tuition, allowable fees, and room and board charges via CAESAR when you respond to your financial aid award. You can change this authorization at any time by notifying the Office of Student Finance.
Institutional scholarship and grant aid from Northwestern
All institutional scholarship and grant aid from Northwestern is disbursed directly to your student account.
Outside scholarship checks
You are required to forward outside scholarship checks to our office so that funds can be disbursed directly to your student account. Learn more about applying grant & scholarship aid to your student account.
Private student loans
Private student loans that are certified by our office with your lender are always disbursed directly to your student account.
Although most forms of financial aid are disbursed directly to your student account, often students plan to use aid for living expenses. If you receive financial aid in excess of the charges on your student account and have a credit of actual funds on your student account (not a credit balance due to anticipated aid), then you may be eligible to receive a refund.
While refunds may be automatically processed at the beginning of an academic period for all programs, we encourage students to request a refund each term via CAESAR, typically no earlier than the first day of class in the term. You are encouraged to set up direct deposit with the Office of Student Finance, which would send requested refunds directly to your chosen bank account. If you do not have direct deposit, your refund request will initiate a process to mail the credit to you in the form of a paper check. Students with questions regarding the refund process should contact the Office of Student Finance.
In some cases, anticipated aid credits may prevent you from requesting the full credit from your account as a refund. Depending on the timing and the status of your financial aid materials, you may be eligible to receive cash advance for a portion of these funds. You should contact our office for more information.