Financial Eligibility

Northwestern University offers financial assistance to students on the basis of demonstrated need. Northwestern is among a small group of private institutions that continue to meet the full demonstrated institutional financial need of our aid applicants.

Institutional need is the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) and the expected family contribution (EFC). Your EFC is determined by your family's particular financial circumstances. 


Cost of Attendance (COA) - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Institutional Need
Cost of attendance includes tuition, room and board, fees, books and supplies, personal expenses and transportation. The amount a family is expected to contribute to the student's cost of attendance based on a review of the student's financial aid materials. The expected family contribution is subtracted from the cost of attendance to determine institutional need. This amount may be covered by federal and institutional assistance.

If your EFC is equal to or greater than the cost of attendance, you will not qualify for need-based aid. In these cases, we may be able to recommend other financing options, such as Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans and private loans.

Expected Family Contribution

The EFC refers to how much you and your family can be expected to contribute to the cost of your education for an academic year. To determine this figure, we examine aid application materials and note any special circumstances. The EFC includes both a parent and student contribution.

The parent contribution is based on a number of factors, including the parents' income, assets, and family size. Both federal and institutional needs analysis formulas are used to determine this figure.

Students are expected to contribute a portion of their personal assets and savings from summer employment. The summer earnings expectation varies based on class level and actual reported income.

Institutional Need

The amount that remains after the family contribution has been subtracted from the cost of attendance is the student's institutional need. A student's financial aid award is established on an individual basis and depends upon the cost of attendance and the expected family contribution.