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Financial Aid & Part-Time Enrollment

Financial aid recipients enrolled less than full-time (at least 3.0 units) as of the add/drop date during the fall, winter, or spring quarters must have their financial aid adjusted:

  • Students enrolled for 2.0-2.99 units will have their Northwestern aid reduced.
    Note: During the regular academic year, students who are full-time as of the add/drop date, but later drop to half-time, will not have their tuition reduced, nor will their financial aid be adjusted.
  • Students enrolled in fewer than 2.0 units will have their Northwestern aid canceled, limited eligibility might remain in federal aid programs.

Enrolling less than full-time does not change your calculated family contribution. Need-based financial aid eligibility is determined by calculating your costs for the year and subtracting your family contribution. The resulting amount is your financial need.

Typically, when awarding your aid, the assumption is made that you will be enrolled full-time for the academic year. This means that our office will estimate your costs and award aid each term to reflect full-time tuition, fees, and books. If you are enrolled less than full-time by the add/drop deadline, your tuition and fees will be reduced. Since your cost is lower, your financial aid must be reduced as well. In most cases, your financial aid will be adjusted by the same or similar amount as the reduction on your invoice.

Example: Willie Wildcat

Willie is considering enrolling in only 2 units for the fall term. His full-time award for the academic year meeting his institutional need is:

  • Federal Work-Study: $3,600 ($1,200 per quarter)
  • Northwestern Scholarship $41,400 ($13,800 per quarter)

When determining Willie's aid eligibility based on full-time enrollment, the following costs were used:

  • Full-time tuition: $64,887 ($21,629 per quarter)
  • Fees (Health $798, ASG $249, Athletic $63): $1,110 ($412 fall, $349 winter, $349 spring)
  • Books & supplies: $1,686 ($562 per quarter)

Willie is enrolled for two units as of the add/drop deadline, and his tuition for the term is reduced by $6,249. Because he is not full-time, the health ($266) and ASG ($83) fees for the term are also removed.

Table A: Direct Charges

Direct charges comparison
  Original Term Charges & Budgeted Amounts (full-time) Revised Term Charges & Budgeted Amounts (half-time)
Tuition $21,629 $15,380
Fees $412 $63
Total $22,041 $15,443

Since he is not enrolled full-time, our office must re-evaluate Willie’s financial aid eligibility based on his lower costs. His financial aid will be reduced by $6,598 for the reduction in direct costs, and also $188 for lower book costs, for a total reduction of $6,786.

Financial Aid Adjustment

The reduction to Willie's aid package will be proportional across all forms of aid (e.g., work-study and scholarship). Willie's work-study allotment represents about 8% of his financial aid award, and his scholarship accounts for about 92% of his award. When reducing his award, the financial aid office will apply the reduction using this proportion.

  • $6,786 x 8% = $543 (self-help adjustment)
  • $6,786 x 92% = $6,243 (scholarship adjustment)

Willie’s work-study will be reduced by $543 and his NU Scholarship will be reduced by $6,243 for the term.

Table B: Financial Aid

Financial aid comparison
  Original Term Financial Aid Award (full-time) Revised Term Financial Aid Award (half-time)
Northwestern Scholarship $13,800 $7,557
Federal Work-Study $1,200 $657

Willie will receive his updated financial aid award either after notifying our office of his intended enrollment, or shortly after the add/drop deadline for the quarter.

Charges & Balance Due

Since charges and financial are reduced by similar amounts, Willie will still be left with a similar remaining balance to pay. Enrolling half-time does not result in higher or lower out-of-pocket costs.

Balances due comparison
  Original Invoice (full-time) Revised Invoice (half-time)
Total Charges (Table A) $22,041 $15,443
Northwestern Scholarship (Table B)* -$13,800 -$7,557
Remaining Balance $8,241 $7,886

*Note: Federal Work-Study is not included in this calculation since work-study funds do not apply directly to your student account.

Please remember that Northwestern aid eligibility requires at least half-time (2.0 units) enrollment. If you are enrolled part-time (less than 2.0 units) as of the add/drop date, you will not be eligible for Northwestern financial assistance for that term.

Please contact our office to speak with a financial aid counselor if you would like to learn how your award may be adjusted or if you have any questions.