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Early Decision Application Instructions

Follow the steps below to apply for financial aid. Once all materials are received, the Financial Aid Office will review your application to determine aid eligibility. You will be notified of your aid package shortly after your admission decision.

For more information on how we determine aid eligibility, see the Aid Basics & Eligibility section.

The 2024-25 FAFSA will be available by the end of December. For now, please establish your ID at the FAFSA Site: FAFSA. A separate ID is required for yourself and for other persons providing information. Please review the information on the FAFSA site to see whom is required to provide information.

Until the FAFSA is available, we will use the CSS Profile for estimates of financial aid. If the information on the CSS Profile matches the information on the FAFSA, the financial aid "estimate" will be similar or identical to the final award totals.

If you wish only to apply for federal aid, you need only to complete the FAFSA.

Task Submit as early as Submit no later than Instructions
Complete Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)* January 1 February 1
  • The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal student aid.
  • Visit the FAFSA website and complete the application. Northwestern’s federal school code is 001739.
  • In most years, the FAFSA is available October 1. Things will be delayed slightly this year due to a simpler application being implemented.
Complete College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS) October 1 December 1
  • The CSS Profile helps determine your eligibility for institutional aid.
  • Visit the College Board website, register and complete the Profile. Northwestern’s CSS code is 1565.
  • Once processed, you will receive a Data Confirmation Report. Any corrections must be submitted directly to our office.
  • If your biological/adoptive parents are divorced or separated, your custodial and your noncustodial parent will each need to complete a separate Profile application. If you have no contact with your noncustodial parent, contact our office.
Submit Tax Materials  November 1 December 5
  • After completing the CSS Profile, the College Board will provide instructions for submitting the custodial parents’ and the student’s federal tax returns and W-2s.
  • These signed forms must be sent to the College Board’s Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC), not the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid.
  • Those not required to file federal tax returns should complete the appropriate Non-Tax Filer's Statement and, upon request, may be required to later send a written explanation of your circumstances to our office.

Your Award Package

If you have financial need, your financial aid package might include a combination of scholarship or grant assistance, student loans, and student employment.

  • If you have been offered a loan, you will receive information in June with instructions on how to apply.
  • If you would like to submit information regarding a change in your financial situation, please refer to our Special Circumstances Review webpage for instructions.

Upon being admitted to the Early Decision program, the expectation is that you will withdraw any other admission applications and deposit at Northwestern by February 1. While this is considered a binding contract, there is an exception in cases of financial hardship. If the financial aid award makes it impossible for you to attend, please petition the director of financial aid for release from the Early Decision contract.