Financial aid questions

I’m a rising senior who will apply to Northwestern this upcoming year. I have 2 younger brothers who still have to go to college so my parents can’t justify spending too much money on me for college. Unfortunately my family is in that tough spot where we make enough where we won’t get a lot of need based aid but not enough to really afford it all therefore I’m trying to stay ahead by knowing all I can about aid. I just want to make sure I’m understanding this all correctly. The Arch, Pledge, and Debt Cap scholarships are all need-based while the Founders is merit-based and all of them require no additional application, correct? Also I can only have up to $4,600 of outside scholarships? Then the Northwestern Scholarship is basically the filler of the financial aid breakdown, right?. Can anybody correct me where I’m wrong and can current students give examples of how you paid for it all.


NU doesn’t have merit based aid. Only athletes get it as part of their scholarship. NU however will do everything in their power to make their school feasible for your family. You can appeal aid and get lots more money. They have also eliminated loans from their financial aid packages.

For any middle class family, the reality is that NU is expensive. Aid will be limited to getting you to your estimated family contribution (not beyond). I would love to agree that an appeal will get you “lots of money” but it has certainly not been our experience!


NU promises to meet 100% of demonstrated need. (I’m ignoring Athletic Scholarships for this discussion.) Merit aid is limited, and consists primarily of National Merit Scholarships, arts performance based scholarships and a few scholarships for specific groups, such as employees of certain companies. Almost all NU families will be expected to pay the “EFC”. For our family, that EFC was very close to the FAFSA calculated EFC. We have a straightforward financial situation (no businesses or noncustodial parents), and they made little or no adjustment for home equity or retirement savings, as far as we could tell. When the older sibling of the NU student graduated from college, EFC increased and financial aid decreased accordingly.

Outside scholarships will reduce financial aid from NU. Five years ago, the subsidized loan was the first thing that was reduced, before the NU “scholarship” (they call it that even if it is need-based) was touched. I don’t know how they handle it now with the “No-Loan” promise. Call Financial Aid office and ask; they are usually helpful on the phone.

@CaliCash made a very successful financial aid appeal last year. You can search these threads and decide if your credentials and situation are similar. Absolutely no one can promise that your financial aid appeal will be as successful. Apply to Northwestern. It’s a great school. But, if your family can not afford the amount predicted by NU’s net price calculator, please use the resources of CC to look at some of the schools that offer significant merit aid. And, if you plan to appeal your financial aid, do not wait until after you have your acceptance to start putting together the info for that appeal. Go to NU’s financial aid website, and look under the “Forms” tab in the menu. The appeal form is there, and it will show you in great detail the grounds for appeal and the documentation you have to supply. They ask for a lot of detail to substantiate unusual expenses and special circumstances. You might even try sending some of that information at the time of your initial Financial Aid application.

Thank you very much that is very helpful