Answers to FAQ

Who is eligible for Financial Aid?

A student must meet the following standards in order to receive federal or state financial aid at Northwest University:

  • Have a high school diploma
  • Be accepted as a student working toward a degree in an eligible program
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Meet satisfactory academic progress standards
  • Register with the Selective Service (if required)
  • Certify that you are not in default on a federal student loan
  • Complete and submit the FAFSA

How does the Financial Aid Process work?

Students apply for financial aid by completing the FAFSA. If the student is not planning on completing a FAFSA, he or she must contact the financial aid office and let us know.  We can award financial aid once the FAFSA and other documents (if applicable) are completed. The student receives an Award Letter listing the financial aid they are eligible to receive. The letter also lists any missing documents our office needs from the student. Students can only receive up to their cost of attendance in financial aid funds. Financial Aid is disbursed to students’ accounts a couple weeks after classes have started, as long as the student has turned in all the necessary paperwork at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the semester.

Should I pay someone else to complete the FAFSA for my student since they can guarantee results?

You should NEVER have anyone or any organization complete the FAFSA for your student. The first “F” in FAFSA stands for Free and that is how it should stay. The truth is that no one can truly guarantee anything for you. Often, these organizations claiming to be able to help find more aid will complete the form incorrectly, which can cost a lot more for you and your family in the long run. There are numerous scams where people will pose as financial aid experts, so the safest thing to do is to complete the form yourself and talk to a financial aid office or the Department of Education if you have any questions.

What is a FSA ID?

In order to improve security & the customer experience, the Dept of Ed has implemented a new modernized login process called the FSA ID (consisting of a username & password) that has replaced the Federal Student Aid PIN. To create a FSA ID go to

What is the Northwest University school code?

The Northwest University school code is 003783. You will need this number if you want Northwest University to receive a copy of your FAFSA.

I completed the FAFSA last year.  Do I have to do it again?

Yes. You must complete a new FAFSA every year. A new FAFSA is available every October 1st and can be completed through June 30th of the following year. In other words, students can complete the FAFSA for the 2017-2018 academic year any time between October 1st, 2016 and June 30th, 2018.

Can I complete the FAFSA even if I or my parents haven’t filed taxes yet?

Yes, there is a section to mark on the FAFSA that states that you plan to file your taxes, but have not yet filed. Check the “Will File” box and indicate your best estimate of income. It is important to estimate as close as you can so that we can be as accurate as we can in determining what aid you are awarded. When you complete your taxes, you can go back and make any necessary updates to your information.

Why am I considered Independent?  How does the FAFSA determine Dependent/Independent Status?

You are only considered an Independent if you can answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions that are included on the 2017-2018 FAFSA, and provide documentation. (If you are still considered a dependent student, your parent’s information must be included on your FAFSA; even if you do not live with them, they didn’t claim you on their taxes, and/or they do not support you.)

  • Were you born before January 1, 1994?
  • Are you married?
  • At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, or graduate certificate, etc.)?
  • Do you now have or will you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2018?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
  • Does someone other than your parent or stepparent have legal guardianship of you, as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  • On or after July 1, 2016, were you homeless or were you self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2016, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2016, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2016, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

If you have a special circumstance that prevents you from including your parents’ information, you may still be able to submit your FAFSA; however, it will be incomplete. Contact the Financial Aid Office to provide documentation to verify your situation.

I’m getting married!  When should I complete the FAFSA?

It really depends. Something to keep in mind is that once you have completed the FAFSA and determine a marital status, that status cannot be changed for the school year. If you file before you get married (and the FAFSA considers you dependent), your eligibility is based on yours and your parents’ income. If you file after you get married, you are considered independent, and your eligibility is based on yours and your spouse’s income. Keep in mind that if you received the NU Sibling Tuition Credit, or any other Dependent Tuition Credits, you would no longer be eligible for these as an Independent student.

My income is significantly different this year when compared to last year. Can I just complete the FAFSA with the most current information?

No. Please complete the FAFSA with the information asked of you, and if there is a significant difference, you may contact our office to discuss the proper documentation required to review your current circumstances in comparison with the information required of you for your FAFSA.

My parents and/or I do not want to provide our social security number.  How can I apply for aid?

Without a social security number, a student is not eligible for federal, state, or institutional aid.

What are my financial aid options if I don’t want to complete the FAFSA?

You will not be eligible for Federal or State aid. Alternative loans are a resource for non-FAFSA filers. Traditional Undergraduate students may be eligible for a handful of scholarships from the university. These include: Presidential and Dean’s Scholarships*, Academic Scholarship*, Talent and Athletic Scholarships, participation awards (RA, NUSG), Pastor’s and DYD Scholarships*, and Alumni Scholarships. In addition, you may only be eligible for the minimum tuition credit amount if eligible.

* These scholarships are awarded only your first year, then can be renewed for the semesters to follow pending on renewal policies.

What is the difference between a grant and a loan?

Grants are considered financial aid that you don’t have to pay back. They are a type of gift aid or “free” money. Loans, on the other hand, are funds that DO need to be paid back in full, along with any interest, to either the university or a lender. Often, you do not need to pay loans back until after you are finished with school. They DO need to be paid back, nonetheless.

How do I know if I was awarded Work Study?

Please see your Award Letter or talk to a Financial Aid Counselor.

What is Verification/why do I have to turn in copies of my Tax Return Transcript?

The Department of Education randomly selects students for a process called verification when they file a FAFSA. If you were selected for Verification, our office must request tax return transcripts (along with additional documents) to verify that your FAFSA is correct. All information is kept confidential and is used only for Federal Aid purposes. At least 30% of students are selected for Verification each year. Your financial aid offer will not be confirmed until we have received your documentation and verified your information. If there are changes that need to be made, we will correct your FAFSA information; this may affect the amount of aid that you are eligible to receive. You will receive a confirmed or revised Award Letter after the Verification process is complete.

I am expecting an outside scholarship. How can I check if it has arrived?

Check with the Financial Aid Services Office to see if the check has arrived. If you are expecting outside scholarship funds from your church, you may contact the University Advancement Department to see if they have received those scholarship funds.

How much should/can I borrow if I apply for an alternative loan?

Generally, students are able to borrow up to their cost of attendance at Northwest University. That is, cost of attendance – financial aid = maximum you may borrow from an alternative loan.

How do I get financial aid to pay for my rent, etc?

Financial Aid is meant to pay for your school expenses, and is applied directly to your student account to go toward these costs. If your financial aid covers more than your educational expenses, and creates a credit balance on your account, you may receive a refund check from the Cashier’s Office. Please contact Student Accounts for more information and to check eligibility.

My account isn’t showing aid.  Why isn’t it here yet?

There could be a variety of reasons your aid is not showing yet. After classes have started for the semester, it will then take a couple weeks for aid to be disbursed to your account (provided you have turned in all your paperwork on time). A common reason your aid may not be on your account (a couple weeks after classes have started) is that our office is missing some paperwork from you. Check in with us to be sure we have all your paperwork to get your aid disbursed.

I have a late fee on my account due to financial aid not being disbursed.  How can I appeal the charge?

Late fees are handled by the Student Accounts Office. You can appeal late fees through their office.

What happens if I withdraw?

Students who receive financial aid during a semester in which they withdraw are not considered to be making satisfactory academic progress and their future aid will be cancelled.  They will not be eligible to receive additional financial aid. Students can receive information as to what must be done to regain eligibility for financial aid should they choose to return to Northwest University.

The date of withdrawal will be based on the day that the student contacts the Registrar’s Office and indicates a desire to officially withdraw or the last date of documented attendance, whichever is later. For Financial Aid purposes, students who unofficially withdraw from Northwest University (cease to attend classes without notifying the Regis­trar) will be considered to have withdrawn after 50% of the semester has passed or the last date of documented attendance, whichever is later.

The Student Accounts Office will determine the eligi­bility for a refund of charges for the semester based on the withdrawal date. Tuition will be charged based upon the withdrawal date. Tuition is charged based on the highest number of credits registered for during the semester.

According to federal regulations, federal funds must be returned to federal programs based on the percent of the term that a student is no longer enrolled. The Financial Aid Services Office will determine how much of a student’s federal aid was “unearned” as defined by the federal regulations, and then return the “unearned” aid to the programs from which the student received aid.

Institutional aid, including but not limited to grants, scholarships, and tuition credits, may be fully removed from the student’s account during the semester of withdrawal.

If you have received federal and/or state aid in the form of cash to assist you with non-institutional charges, you may need to repay up to 50% of the grant funds that you received.

For a detailed copy of the refund calculation, please contact the Financial Aid Services Office.

What is S.A.P.?

S.A.P. stands for Satisfactory Academic Progress. You must maintain S.A.P. to remain eligible for Financial Aid. For more details and a copy of the S.A.P. Policy visit your program’s “Forms” page and check out the link to the S.A.P. Policy.

What is the difference between Financial Aid and Student Accounts?

The Financial Aid Services Office handles the awarding and disbursing of financial aid. Award Letters come from our office. Student Accounts handles charges on student accounts, helping you come up with a payment plan, and collecting payments.