Financial Aid Eligibility

For financial aid purposes:

Financial Aid Status Units
Full-Time 3 to 5.5 units
Half-time 2 to 2.99 units
Less than half-time fewer than 2 units

(Note: students who register for more than 5.5 units may be subject to overload tuition charges, and some schools require these students to obtain the approval of the dean before registering.) All quarters of full-time registration are counted toward the maximum amount of financial aid eligibility (4 years in most cases). Each quarter of half-time status counts as .5 quarter toward the 4-year maximum. Any quarter of less than half-time status is not counted toward the maximum.

Students enrolled less than half-time are not eligible for financial aid from Northwestern but may have limited eligibility for federal aid. Students awarded aid at full-time status who enroll at a lower level will have their aid reduced accordingly. Students will not receive additional university aid to pay any overload tuition charges they incur.

Students considering a change of registration status should contact the Office of Financial Aid to determine how the change might affect their aid awards or amount of eligibility. A detailed explanation of aid eligibility and policies is provided on the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid’s website,

Students must maintain satisfactory academic (SAP) progress to remain eligible for financial aid. For Northwestern students, SAP means the successful completion of at least 67 percent of the course units attempted in an academic year (e.g., a student who registers for a total of 12 quarter-courses a year must complete at least 8). Withdrawn, incomplete, and repeated courses are counted as attempted course units.

In addition, students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better each year to meet SAP requirements. This GPA minimum may differ from a school’s academic requirements, which are outlined in those chapters in this catalog.

Students can receive financial aid only for a maximum time frame, which is 150 percent of the program’s published length as measured in academic units. All transfer credits are counted toward the maximum time frame. The total number of units required for a bachelor’s degree is specified in each school’s chapter in this catalog; the website of the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid notes the maximum time frames calculated in terms of credits required for degree completion.

Students who fail to maintain SAP as described above will lose eligibility for financial aid. He or she will receive email notification from the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid and will have the opportunity to appeal the cancellation. The appeal must be submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid within two weeks of the notification from the office. In some cases, an appeal will not be considered until the student has met with his or her academic adviser to determine an academic plan for completing the degree.

Those students whose appeals are approved will be placed in a probationary status. While on probation, students are eligible for one quarter of aid. At the end of the probationary period, students must then be meeting the cumulative standards of SAP. Students who are required to submit an academic plan must meet the conditions of the plan to remain eligible. Students who fail to meet these requirements as of the end of the probationary quarter will be ineligible for financial aid from that point forward.

More detailed information regarding satisfactory academic progress is available on the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid’s website.