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Northwestern University

Living Off Campus

Living off campus does not affect your financial aid eligibility. Financial aid is based on the standard cost of attendance at Northwestern, which includes the same estimated room and board costs for all students living either in University housing or in an off-campus apartment (with the exception of commuter students who are living at home with a family member).

Changes to Your Northwestern Invoice

When you are living off campus, Northwestern will invoice you for tuition and fees, but there will be no room and board charges on your student account, so the amount you pay to the University will be less than if you lived on campus. This does necessarily not mean that you will pay less overall: while you will pay less directly to the University, you will have other non-University expenses, such as rent, utilities, and groceries.

Your financial aid will continue to credit to your account each quarter. If the amount of aid you receive is greater than tuition and fees, you will have a credit balance, and you may request a refund at the beginning of the quarter to use toward your non-billed expenses.

Living Expenses & Budgeting

Living off campus may be more or less expensive than living on campus, depending on your spending habits and budgeting. While there is more flexibility on how much you will spend on items such as rent and groceries, you will also need to plan for other expenses, such as cable, internet, and utilities. The standard room and board budget we use to calculate your financial aid is based on the average cost of a double-occupancy room and a full meal plan. Additional financial assistance will not be granted for costs that exceed this budget.

It is also important to remember that you will not be able to access your financial aid until beginning of the quarter, and financial aid for the current year cannot be increased to cover additional expenses related to living off campus next year, such as:

Length of lease: Financial aid is based on a nine-month academic year, but most leases require a twelve-month commitment, so you may have to pay for a few months of rent without financial aid. It is your responsibility to budget for this expense or to sublet for the months you will not live in the apartment.

Security deposit, move-in fee, & first month's rent: In addition to the first month’s rent, many landlords and rental agencies require a move-in fee and/or security deposit (equal to at least one month's rent) at lease signing. You may need to pay these expenses before the end of the current school year for the upcoming year's lease.

Start-up costs: Make sure you plan for basic starting expenses, such as setting up cable, internet, and utilities, as well as buying furniture, kitchen supplies, etc.

Off-campus study: If you will participate in any off-campus academic program, such as a practicum, journalism residency, internship, or study abroad program, keep in mind that your financial aid cannot be increased to cover the cost of your housing in both your program location and Evanston for the same quarter. It is your responsibility to sublet or cover your apartment for any quarters that you will be away.


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