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Outside Scholarships

Outside scholarships are funds awarded by entities apart from the federal, state and institutional aid programs. Because Northwestern awards financial aid to meet full demonstrated need, federal regulations require that these scholarships be evaluated and incorporated into a student’s financial aid award, and adjustments made when appropriate.

When adjusting a student’s need-based award, an outside scholarship will reduce or replace the self-help portion of the student’s award (Federal Work-Study or need-based loans) prior to reducing Northwestern Scholarship. Therefore outside scholarships benefit students by reducing the need to work or borrow to help finance their education.

After all of the self-help portion of the award has been replaced, Northwestern Scholarship may be reduced, dollar for dollar, for any remaining amount. The examples below illustrate how outside scholarships may impact a financial aid award.

  Example Base Award Scenario #1 Scenario #2 Scenario #3
Total Outside Scholarship Amount: 0 $2,500   $5,000 $7,500
Subsidized Stafford Loan (Self-Help) $3,500 $2,000 0 0
Perkins Loan (Self-Help) $1,000 0 0 0
Federal Work-Study (Self-Help) $2,500 $2,500 $2,000 0
Northwestern Scholarship  $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $29,500
Changes to Student’s Financial Aid Award: N/A Subsidized Stafford Loan reduced by $1,500 and Perkins Loans eliminated  Subsidized Stafford and Perkins Loans eliminated, Work-Study reduced by $500 Subsidized Stafford Loan, Perkins Loan, and Work-Study eliminated, NU Scholarship reduced by $500

Special Circumstances

The Financial Aid Office makes every effort to avoid a reduction of a student’s Northwestern Scholarship assistance. Students who receive an outside scholarship in excess of their self-help may want to contact our office to discuss their financial circumstances. The Financial Aid Office may be able to reconsider eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

Scholarship Funds Crediting to the Student Account

Typically, scholarship amounts are divided into thirds and credited over the three terms of the academic year. Students will receive an updated copy of their financial aid award letter when aid is adjusted for outside awards.

Reporting Outside Scholarships

Students must notify our office of all outside awards received, including awards paid directly to you. Please report your outside scholarships to our office using our online Scholarship Reporting Form and include a copy of any correspondence (e.g., letter or email) from the scholarship donor if available.

Receiving Outside Scholarship Funds

Scholarship agencies should send students’ outside scholarship payment directly to our office to the attention of the Outside Scholarship Coordinator. The scholarship check should be made payable to Northwestern University so that funds may credited directly to the student's university bill. The student's full name and Student ID number should be included in the memo section of the check.  

Checks made payable to the student or co-payable to the student and Northwestern University must be signed by the student prior to submitting the scholarship check to our office. 

Outside Scholarship Search Sites

We are unable to advertise scholarships offered by individual outside agencies on our website. However, we have found the following websites helpful to students in providing free scholarship search services: