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Undergraduate Loan Options

You may be eligible for a variety of federal, institutional, and/or private loans. Learn more:

It is important to note:

  • Based on federal regulations, not all loans may be available to students in all degree or certificate programs.
  • All loans are subject to final approval by your lender(s) based upon criteria set forth by federal regulations and lender policies. Parent PLUS and private loans are credit-based. 
  • The specific details of these programs may change at any time due to government legislation/regulation, and/or lender/institutional policy.

Federal Loans

To apply for these loans, students must first submit a FAFSA. See application steps for more information on this process. Note: only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are able to participate in federal loan programs.

Federal Loan Information
Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan
Borrower Students enrolled at least half-time who demonstrate financial need as determined by the Office of Financial Aid Students enrolled at least half-time. They do not need to demonstrate financial need. Parents of a federally dependent undergraduate enrolled at least half-time. The borrower must not have adverse credit history (a credit check is required) without an endorser.
Lender U.S. Department of Education, through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program U.S. Department of Education, through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program U.S. Department of Education, through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program
Loan Amount Depends on a student's grade level:
  • Freshman: $3,500 or demonstrated need (whichever is less)
  • Sophomore: $4,500 or demonstrated need (whichever is less)
  • Junior and Senior: $5,500 or demonstrated need (whichever is less)

 

Depends on a student's grade level and dependency status. Learn more about loan amounts for Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

Up to the cost of attendance less any other aid received.
Interest Rate
  • Fixed 3.73% for the life of the loan for loans first disbursed between 7/1/2021 and 6/30/2022
  • Fixed 2.75% for the life of the loan for loans first disbursed between 7/1/2020 and 6/30/2021
Rates for loans first disbursed prior to 7/1/2020 can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.
  • Fixed 3.73% for the life of the loan for loans first disbursed between 7/1/2021 and 6/30/2022
  • Fixed 2.75% for the life of the loan for loans first disbursed between 7/1/2020 and 6/30/2021

Rates for loans first disbursed prior to 7/1/2020 can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

  • Fixed 6.28% for the life of the loan for loans first disbursed between 7/1/2021 and 6/30/2022
  • Fixed 5.30% for the life of the loan for loans first disbursed between 7/1/2020 and 6/30/2021
Rates for loans first disbursed prior to 7/1/2020 can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.
Fees
  • 1.057% for loans first disbursed on or after 10/1/2020
  • 1.059% for loans first disbursed on or after 10/1/2019 through 9/30/2020
Fees for loans first disbursed prior to 10/1/2019 can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.
  • 1.057% for loans first disbursed on or after 10/1/2020
  • 1.059% for loans first disbursed on or after 10/1/2019 through 9/30/2020
Fees for loans first disbursed prior to 10/1/2019 can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.
  • 4.228% for loans first disbursed on or after 10/1/2020
  • 4.236% for loans first disbursed on or after 10/1/2019 through 9/30/2020
Fees for loans first disbursed prior to 10/1/2019 can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.
Application Process

First-time Stafford borrowers: Complete the Accept/Decline financial aid process via CAESAR indicating the amount of loan you wish to accept. Complete the required online Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note (MPN).

Returning students: Complete the Accept/Decline Financial Aid Process via CAESAR indicating the amount of loan you wish to accept. If you submitted an MPN and completed Entrance Counseling in the previous academic year, you do not need to resubmit those documents. If more than 12 months have elapsed since your last loan disbursed at NU, you must resubmit the MPN.

First-time Stafford borrowers: Complete the Accept/Decline financial aid process via CAESAR indicating the amount of loan you wish to accept. Complete the required online Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note (MPN).

Returning students: Complete the Accept/Decline Financial Aid process via CAESAR indicating the amount of loan you wish to accept. If you submitted an MPN and completed Entrance Counseling in the previous academic year, you do not need to resubmit these documents. If more than 12 months have elapsed since your last loan disbursed at  NU, you must resubmit the MPN.

Parents should complete the PLUS Loan MPN application and MPN on the Direct Loan MPN website. Borrowers with an adverse credit history may apply for the loan with a co-signer (called an endorser) who does not have an adverse credit history.
Repayment The borrower has up to 10 years to repay the loan under a standard payment plan. Extended and income-based repayment plans are available. The borrower has up to 10 years to repay the loan under a standard payment plan. Extended and income-based repayment plans are available. The borrower has a maximum of 25 years to repay the loan.

Unsubsidized Stafford Loan amounts

Loan amounts for federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans depends on a student's grade level and dependency status.

Dependent Students (except those whose parents have been denied for a federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan):

  • Freshman: $5,500 less any subsidized Stafford loan funding received
  • Sophomore: $6,500 less any subsidized Stafford loan funding received
  • Junior and Senior: $7,500 less any subsidized Stafford loan funding received

Independent Students and Dependent Students whose parents have been denied for a federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan:

  • Freshman: $9,500 less any subsidized Stafford loan funding received
  • Sophomore: $10,500 less any subsidized Stafford loan funding received
  • Junior and Senior: $12,500 less any subsidized Stafford loan funding received

Lifetime Aggregate Loan Limits

There is a maximum loan amount a student may borrow in federal loans. Once a student has borrowed these amounts, the student is no longer eligible to receive additional federal Stafford loan funding.

Aggregate Loan Limits
Dependent Undergraduate Students (except students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans) Independent Undergraduate Students (and dependent undergraduate students whose parents are denied for a PLUS Loan)
Subsidized Loan Limit $23,000 $23,000
Unsubsidized Loan Limit $8,000 $34,500
Total Loan Limit $31,000 $57,500

If the total loan amount you receive over the course of your education reaches the aggregate loan limit, you are not eligible to receive additional loans. However, if you repay some of your loans to bring your outstanding loan debt below the aggregate loan limit, you could then borrow again, up to the amount of your remaining eligibility under the aggregate loan limit.

Private loans

Private outside agencies also offer loans to Northwestern students. You can find more information about private student loan opportunities at Northwestern’s Student Financial Services website.

Some programs and enrollment statuses may only be eligible for private student loan funding. If this will be applicable to you, the Chicago Office of Financial Aid will note this on your official financial aid package. Please contact our office with any questions.

All loans are subject to final approval by your lender(s) based upon criteria set forth by federal regulations and lender policies. Parent/Graduate PLUS, Northwestern, and private loans are credit-based loans.