Application Process

Steps to Applying for Financial Aid Loans

Applying for financial aid is an annual process. All financial aid documents are due in the Office of Financial Aid, Chicago, by the priority deadlines listed on the application instructions. Complying with deadlines is critical. Late applicants may jeopardize their chances of receiving financial aid.

  1. Apply for financial aid.
    Students must reapply for financial aid every year. Students should refer to the application instructions for their degree program, complete the required financial aid application forms, and return them to the Office of Financial Aid, Chicago.
  2. Receive Student Aid Report (SAR) from U.S. Department of Education.
    If you provided an e-mail address on the FAFSA, you will receive an electronic SAR one week after submission. If not, you will receive a paper SAR 2 to 3 weeks after submission. Carefully review your SAR and make corrections if necessary.
  3. Respond immediately to requests from the Office of Financial Aid, Chicago.
    You should respond in a timely manner to any requests for additional information from the Office of Financial Aid, Chicago.
  4. Receive financial aid package from Office of Financial Aid, Chicago.
    Once your financial aid application is complete, we will process your application and provide you with a financial aid package. The official financial aid package will be posted on CAESAR and you will be able to review it once you receive official notification from the Financial Aid Office to your Northwestern email account. This email acts as a "key" to unlock the screen in CAESAR. Carefully review and follow the instructions on your financial aid award notice and loan documents.
  5. Return completed financial aid package and loan documents.
    Students must all steps as outlined on their CAESAR To Do list. Students applying for federal and/or private loans must follow the appropriate loan process. You can check CAESAR to the completion of these steps.
  6. Receive certification of student loans.
    The Office of Financial Aid, Chicago certifies your student loans. Loan applications that are incomplete or improperly completed will not be processed. This will delay loan processing, which may delay the disbursement of your student loans.
  7. Receive financial aid disbursement.
    Your financial aid is credited to your student billing account after all financial aid award requirements are met. No funds will disburse your student billing account unless you have completed all forms and requirements.

Tips for Success in the Financial Aid Process

  • File your Federal Income Tax early.
    Students should file their federal income tax returns as early as possible. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may be completed with estimated tax information, but it is recommended that you use actual tax data for more accurate reporting.
  • File your FAFSA early.
    We strongly encourage students to file a FAFSA using FAFSA on the Web. Use your PIN to electronically sign your FAFSA on the Web. If you don't have a PIN, you may obtain a PIN at Please complete the FAFSA on the Web as soon as possible after January 1.
  • Respond promptly to all correspondences.
    Please respond to all requests from the Office of Financial Aid, Chicago, for additional information. DO NOT ignore requests for additional information. Failure to respond will delay the processing of your financial aid application.
  • Review carefully all materials from the Office of Financial Aid.
    Be sure to read and understand all documents that you sign or e-sign and verify the accuracy of all information. All financial aid documents must be completed and returned to the Office of Financial Aid, Chicago. If you have questions or concerns about your financial aid, contact our office immediately.
  • Keep copies of your financial aid documents.
    It is important to keep copies of all financial aid documentation submitted to the Office of Financial Aid, Chicago. By doing this, you can reference these documents if necessary.
  • Know your Rights and Responsibilities.
    Be sure to understand your rights and responsibilities in the financial aid process. Carefully read and understand all documents that you sign. It is important that you take an active role in the financial aid process.
  • Update your address information.
    Both your permanent and local (current) addresses should be kept current. If they are not current, you can run the risk of not receiving communication from the university.
  • Consult with a financial aid counselor.
    Financial aid counselors are available to help when you have questions about your financial aid. Cooperation is the key to success. Contact the Office of Financial Aid, Chicago, by e-mail or call (312) 503-8722 with any questions or concerns about the financial aid process.