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Financial Aid Refunds

If the amount of your financial aid or loans is greater than the amount billed to you by the University, you will have a credit balance on your student account. This credit is called a financial aid refund and is indicated by a negative sign (-) on your CAESAR account balance.

If eligible, you can request your aid refund through CAESAR at the beginning of the quarter to use toward your non-billed expenses. All of your financial aid requirements must be complete, and all of your aid must be fully processed – this means that none of your aid should be listed as "Anticipated Aid" (see below). 

Enrolling in direct deposit through CAESAR will enable your refund to be processed more quickly. This is separate from your work-study/payroll direct deposit and must be set up separately.

For additional information regarding refunds, please also review our Understanding Your Refund document. And of course feel free to contact our office to speak to a financial aid counselor directly.

Note: Non-financial aid refunds will be returned to the original source of payment by Student Finance.

Anticipated Aid

Financial aid may be listed on your student account as "anticipated aid" until the beginning of the term and/or until the funds are actually received. If the quarter has started and you still have anticipated aid that has not disbursed to your account, make sure you have completed all of your requirements so your aid can be processed:

  • Loans:
    • Accept your loan: Make sure you have accepted your loan in CAESAR > Student Homepage> Financial Aid > Accept/Decline Financial Aid. Select the appropriate year, and accept the loan(s) you wish to borrow.
    • Complete application/loan requirements: Check your CAESAR To-Do List for outstanding loan or application requirements, and complete any missing items as soon as possible.
    • Anticipated loan credits will be removed from your account if you do not complete all necessary requirements, and this may result in a balance due to the University.  Once you accept your loan(s) and complete all of your requirements, the funds should disburse within 5-7 business days. If you have accepted your loan and completed all of your requirements but your loan is still not disbursing, please call our office to speak with a financial aid counselor.
  • Outside scholarships: If your outside scholarship is still listed as "anticipated" after the start of the term, it is likely that your scholarship check has not yet been received. Contact your scholarship provider and request that they send your check to our office, Attn: Scholarship Coordinator.
  • Other anticipated aid: If you have other aid still listed as "anticipated" after the start of the term, check your To Do list on CAESAR for outstanding requirements. If there are none listed, contact our office to speak with a financial aid counselor.

Funding Advances

If all of your aid/loan requirements are complete but your aid refund is not available through CAESAR at the beginning of the quarter, you may be eligible to request a partial financial aid refund, called a "funding advance." You may request an advance in person at the financial aid office for up to $1,000 via direct deposit (1-2 business days). Advances may be issued up to a maximum of $1,000 per month, as long as the credit is available in your account.

Advances cannot be issued against outside scholarships, athletic scholarships, merit scholarships, or work-study earnings.

Short-Term Loans

Students may be eligible to borrow a short-term, interest-free loan from Northwestern to help with unanticipated expenses that are not covered by financial aid. If you are in need of this resource,  you must meet in person with a financial aid counselor to determine how best to proceed regarding your specific circumstances and expenses. Alternative options or accommodations may be available depending on the situation.

You may be eligible to borrow a maximum of $500 in a quarter, and the loan must be repaid to the University by the end of the quarter in which it is borrowed. No loan interest or fees are charged for short-term loans; however, failure to repay your short-term loan on time may result in late payment fees and/or registration holds.

Short-term loans may only be made during periods of enrollment, and are not available during reading week, finals week, or breaks between quarters. Be sure to bring your valid Wildcard ID to the financial office when requesting a short-term loan. Same-day processing is available if the request is approved and received by Depository Services before 4pm, Monday through Friday.