Aid Overview and Financing Options

Think of financing a Northwestern education as a partnership, among you and your family, the government, the University itself, and the private sector. Your family's financial contribution, called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), is based on information provided on two forms: the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The formula used to calculate the EFC assumes reasonable contributions from you and your parent(s) and takes into account the following factors: your earnings and savings, parental income, nonretirement assets, taxes paid, family size, number of family members in college, private K-12 school costs, nondiscretionary expenses, and any special circumstances.

Families whose EFC is less than the total Cost of Attendance (COA) for one year at Northwestern have what is known as "demonstrated financial need." Such families are eligible for need-based financial aid to make up the difference.

Northwestern's financial aid package equals the difference between the COA and the EFC. A financial aid package typically includes a combination of need-based scholarships, grants, loans, and part-time work that together meet a student's full financial need.


Northwestern scholarships are awards that need not be repaid. The University will award approximately $133 million in scholarship assistance in 2014-15. Approximately 51% of undergraduates receive a Northwestern University scholarship.

While Northwestern scholarships are determined by more than just income, the chart below illustrates the average Northwestern scholarships awarded to enrolling freshmen in 2013-14 by family Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).  Keep in mind that this chart reflects Northwestern aid only, and not federal or state grants and outside scholarships, which many of our students receive.  Nearly all of our students from families making less than $30,000, for example, qualify for federal grants (Pell and SEOG) upwards of $10,000.  For a full list of all types of Northwestern financial aid, please refer to the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid website.

Family Income % Receiving Northwestern Aid Avg. Northwestern Aid
$0-$29,999 97% $40,299
$30,000-$59,999 96% $41,172
$60,000-$89,999 95% $40,411
$90,000-$119,999 95% $31,450
$120,000-$149,999 87% $27,525
$150,000 or more 42% $18,950


Loans are available to all who apply for federal assistance. Students who do not qualify for need-based federal loans may be eligible for other federal loans. The neediest financial aid recipients do not have a loan as part of the financial award from the University. Students who are expected to borrow funds and meet certain requirements will have their debt capped.

Student Employment

The "self-help" portion of an aid package often includes part-time employment, either through the Federal Work-Study Program or through outside employment. The Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid offers about 2,000 undergraduate work study jobs on campus in libraries, departmental offices, or community service offices. Through such programs, students earn between $500 and $4,000 per academic year. Part-time employment generally involves no more than 10 hours per week.