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Northwestern scholarships, student loans and grants

Compare in-school financial aid options to foot that $75K bill.

Northwestern’s sticker price is roughly the same as other private universities. But thanks to a combination of need- and merit-based scholarships, students typically graduate with a lower-than-average student debt load.

How much does it cost to go to Northwestern?

Costs of attending NorthwesternAnnual cost
Room and board$16,626
Books and supplies$1,605
Additional expenses$1,850
Total cost for the 2018–2019 academic year$75,698

As you can see, Northwestern’s cost of attendance (COA) includes more than just tuition and fees. The school also factors in expenses like books, supplies and transportation when determining how much you’ll pay to study there.

What’s the average student debt load for Northwestern students?

Northwestern students graduated with an average debt load of $19,718 in 2016, according to the Department of Education. That’s about $17,000 below the national average for that year.

However, there are ways to lower the amount of student loans you need to take out. Signing up to be an RA or living at home with relatives can cut down on the cost of room and board. And you can also look into scholarships, grants and work-study programs to lessen the financial burden.

Does Northwestern offer a tuition payment plan?

Yes, Northwestern’s 9PAY payment plan allows you to pay the cost of tuition, fees and room and board in nine monthly installments rather than at the start of each semester. While it doesn’t charge interest, there’s a $50 application fee. To qualify, you must be enrolled full time in a degree program for a full academic year.

Northwestern scholarships

Northwestern’s scholarships and grants can significantly cut down on how much you have to pay out of pocket or with loans. Around 61% of Northwestern undergraduates received a need-based scholarship in 2018 — the school has a no-loans policy for its financial aid packages.

Northwestern University (NU) Scholarship

Amounts$250 to over $40,000 per year
Eligibility requirementsNorthwestern determines eligibility for this scholarship based on financial need and the availability of funds.

Northwestern considers all undergraduate students for this need-based scholarship. Your award primarily depends on your family’s income and assets. Here’s how it broke down for the 2018–2019 academic year:

Family incomeAverage NU ScholarshipPercentage of students who qualify
Under $30,000$54,32495%
$30,0000 to $59,999$56,93193%
$60,000 to $89,999$55,85196%
$90,000 to $119,999$49,64184%
$120,000 to $149,999$41,13378%
$150,000 and up$26,22936%

Good Neighbor, Great University Scholarship

Amounts$1,000 to $5,500 per year — for up to four years
Eligibility requirements

To qualify, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Graduate of a Chicago or Evanston high school
  • Admitted to an undergraduate program at the Evanston campus as a first-year student
  • Applied for financial aid on time
  • Demonstrated financial need based on FAFSA and your application

The Good Neighbor, Great University Scholarship is designed to cover part of the student’s expected contribution. This means it can affect your work-study eligibility, but won’t affect need-based scholarships based on your family’s income.

It’s only available to students who graduated from high school in the Chicago area — and transfer students are ineligible.

Founder’s Scholarship

AmountsAround $13,200 — renewable for up to four years
Eligibility requirements

To qualify, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Incoming student from middle-income family
  • Enrolled at least half time
  • Strong academics and leadership skills

This need- and merit-based award goes to a small group of incoming students who demonstrated strong academics and leadership skills in high school. You can renew the scholarship to cover up to four years of courses as long as you remain enrolled at least half time and maintain a 3.0 GPA.

Fermi Scholarship

Eligibility requirementsYou must be the child of a full-time Fermi Lab employee to qualify.

Each year, Northwestern awards this scholarship to five children of Fermi Lab employees. It gives preference to incoming juniors and seniors, though freshmen and sophomores can also apply. Students must fill out an application along with a statement of purpose and a letter from the Human Resources Department at Fermi.

Argonne Scholarship

Eligibility requirementsYou must be the child of a full-time Argonne Lab employee to qualify.

Each year, Northwestern awards this scholarship to five children of Argonne Lab employees. Like the Fermi scholarship, the school gives preference to rising juniors and seniors, though freshmen and sophomores may be considered if funding is available. Students must fill out an application along with a statement of purpose and a letter from the Human Resources Department at Argonne Lab.

Karr Achievement Scholarship

Amounts$2,500 per year — for up to four years
Eligibility requirementsTo qualify, you must be a student admitted after the 2013–2014 academic year and have strong academics.

This alumni-sponsored scholarship can go to any student with a strong academic record and is renewable for up to four years. You must maintain satisfactory academic progress to remain eligible. At Northwestern, this means completing at least two-thirds of the courses you register for and maintaining a 2.0 GPA or higher.

Northwestern Endowed Scholarships

Donors also offer several need-based scholarships to Northwestern students through endowments. Awards and eligibility criteria vary, though donors typically like to develop relationships with the recipients.

Receiving an endowed scholarship doesn’t change your financial aid package — it just replaces part of the Northwestern University Scholarship.

Northwestern Athletic Scholarships

Student athletes are eligible for several endowed scholarships.

Are there other scholarships and grants available?

Yes. In addition to university scholarships, you might also want to look into federal, state and private scholarship programs. Illinois residents typically have the most options, since state financial aid is typically only available to students who live there. If you’re from somewhere else, you might want to look into funding available through your home state.

Private companies and government agencies also offer funding regardless of where you live or residency. These are typically available by academic focus or to specific demographic groups.

Student loans to pay for Northwestern

Students who don’t get enough funding to foot their Northwestern bill can turn to student loans. Student borrowers might want to first look at federal loan options — they’re typically less expensive, easier to qualify for and come with more flexible repayment plans.

However, parents might want to look into the Northwestern Parent Loan. With rates fixed at 4.5%, it’s less expensive than a federal Parent PLUS Loan. You can borrow up to your child’s cost of attendance and repay the loan over 10 years.

If neither of these options are available to you, you might want to consider a private student loan instead.

Compare private student loan providers

Explore your options by APR, minimum credit score, loan amount and loan term. Select the Get started button to start an application with a specific lender.

Name Product APR Min. Credit Score Loan amount Loan Term
Stride Funding Income Share Agreement
As low as 2%
Up to $25,000
2 to 10 years
A student loan alternative for graduate students based on your future salary.
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
4.092% to 8.609% with autopay
$1,000 - $200,000
7 to 20 years
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
CommonBond Private Student Loans
3.74% to 10.74%
$5,000 - $500,000
5 to 15 years
Finance your college education through this lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Edvisors Private Student Loan Marketplace
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Quickly compare private lenders for your school and apply for the right student loan.
Credible Labs Inc. (Student Loan Platform)
Starting at 0.99% with autopay
Good to excellent credit
Starting at $1,000
5 to 20 years
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Northwestern costs about as much as any other private university. But the combination of need- and merit-based financial aid it offers can significantly reduce that price tag. And you can lower it even more by looking for state and private scholarships before taking out student loans.

Learn more about how paying for school works by reading our guide to student loans.

Frequently asked questions

How do I apply for financial aid to attend Northwestern law school?

The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law offers several need- and merit-based scholarships and grants. To apply, submit your FAFSA and Scholarship and Grant Supplemental Application to the financial aid office by the priority deadline.

Does Northwestern require the CSS profile to get a scholarship?

Yes, Northwestern asks students to submit the FAFSA, the College Scholarship Service (CSS) financial aid profile and tax returns to be considered for financial aid.

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