Northwestern scholarships, student loans and grants

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

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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
Tuition$54,120
Fees$447
Room and board$16,626
Books and supplies$1,605
Transportation$1,050
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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Updated October 14th, 2019
Name Product Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
Good to excellent credit
Varies by lender (typically, total certified costs of education minus financial aid already received)
Starting at 4.2% with autopay
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Quickly compare private lenders for your school and apply for the right student loan.
675
$200,000
4.51% to 9.26%
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
700
$500,000
5.45% to 9.74%
Finance your college education through this lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Good to excellent credit
Varies by lender
Starting at 3%
Compare multiple student loans and student loan refinancing options in one place.

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.

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