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Financial Aid and Loans FAQs

Financial Aid

What is financial aid?

The term "financial aid" refers to those resources (other than the family’s personal funds) that are used to pay the costs of attendance. There are three main types of financial aid. Usually, a student is offered a combination of aid (known as a "package") from these three programs:

  • Scholarships – gift funds, based on high academic achievement or special talent, that do not have to be repaid. Some scholarships are also based in part on financial need;
  • Grants – gift funds, based on need, do not have to be repaid;
  • Loans – low interest loans which must be repaid, with interest, after the student is no longer enrolled or ceases half-time enrollment.

Where can I find information on financial aid eligibility criteria?

Students must meet several criteria to be considered for financial aid including full admission to a degree or certificate program, US citizenship or be considered an eligible non-citizen, and if male filed for selective service. A full list of criteria can be found here.

Are students who are not fully admitted to a degree program eligible for financial aid?

The only students who are potentially eligible for aid and are not fully admitted to a degree program are students pending admission to one of the Master of Arts in Teaching programs or enrolled in teaching licensure/endorsement coursework. Please contact the Student Finance Office with questions.

How do I apply for financial aid?

To be considered for federal student aid, a student must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA collects financial information as well as other information such as citizenship status. The Department of Education (ED) uses the information to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and to determine a student’s eligibility through computer matches with other agencies. The FAFSA may be completed online at FAFSA.ed.govTo sign your electronic FAFSA, you will need an FSAID. To get a new FSAID or request a duplicate go to before beginning the FAFSA process. Please remember, FAFSA’s are year-specific. A new FAFSA must be completed for each academic year the new academic year begins in the summer term.

What is the FAFSA?

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is a federal government form used to calculate a student's financial need. The Department of Education (ED) uses data provided on the FAFSA to calculate a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). By subtracting the EFC from the cost of attendance, NLU will determine the financial aid need. We recommend that students complete the FAFSA even if they don't think they would qualify for federal or state grants, need based scholarships, or subsidized loans. Loans like the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and PLUS Loan are not need-based, but they do require a FAFSA application.

When must parental information be included on the FAFSA?

If the student is considered dependent the parental information must be included on the FAFSA. Dependent students are anyone in the following categories: under the age of 24 as of January 1, not married, does not have children for which he/she provides more than 50% of the support or not an orphan/ward of the court.

Do parents need to sign the FAFSA?

Yes, they do. They will need an FSA as well. That can be acquired at

Is it true that most students with a full-time job make too much money to get financial aid?

No. Middle-income students are often surprised to learn that they are eligible for grants.  Additionally, student loans are considered a type of financial aid.  Although you may not be eligible for gift assistance (funds that do not have to be repaid), most students are eligible to receive Federal Stafford Loans regardless of income.  Students must be fully admitted and enrolled at least half-time to receive student loans.  Student loans can be a great investment in your future.  Current interest rates are very low and repayment of the principal does not begin until 6 months after you complete your program or cease half-time enrollment.

When should I apply for financial aid?

The FAFSA can be completed at any time beginning January 1st of each year for the following academic year. It is important to complete the FAFSA as early as possible to avoid missing deadlines. To ensure that the financial aid package can be completed prior to the start of the term, the application needs to be received at least 30 days prior to the start of classes. Late applicants may have to make monthly payments while the financial aid is being processed.

Do I have to reapply for financial aid each year?

Yes. You must reapply for financial aid each academic year. The FAFSA is valid for one academic year--from July 1st to June 30th of the following calendar year. All financial aid eligibility is determined using the prior year income information. Financial aid consideration does not continue from one academic year to the next without applying (completing a new FAFSA). Beginning this year, FAFSA renewals can only be completed online. Please go to for additional information.

Which parent's tax information do I need if my parents are divorced?

You should complete the FAFSA using the information from the parent that provided the majority of financial support during the past year. This is typically the parent that you lived with during the past year. Remember, if the parent whose information you are reporting has remarried, you must include the income and asset information of the step-parent.

How and when will NLU get the results?

While completing the FAFSA, you will be asked to supply the code(s) of the school(s) you want to receive your FAFSA results. NLU’s school code is 001733. The city/state listed for NLU is Chicago, Illinois, regardless of which location the student attends. If you submitted the application online, NLU should receive your results within 1 week.

I received a letter that I was selected for verification. What do I have to do?

Many students are finished with the application process once the FAFSA is submitted. The Department of Education (ED) selects approximately one third of all applicants for a process called verification and occasionally flags a student for review of name, citizenship, or income. The letter that was sent to you lists all required documents needed to complete your verification. Most of these forms need to be printed from the Financial Aid Forms web page. You must return the requested forms and information to NLU. We will review the documents, submit any corrections for you to ED electronically, and clear your federal record. Please be advised that students who do not complete the verification process are not eligible for financial aid.

I have completed my FAFSA, what is the next step?

Once your financial aid file is complete and information regarding your program, grade level and start date is in our system, we will prepare and send you a financial aid Award Notification Letter. All aid that you are eligible to receive will be listed separately with term amounts. Any assumptions that were made to calculate your eligibility, such as the terms you will attend and the credit hours you will enroll in each term, will be listed. You will be instructed to contact us if any changes need to be made to the assumed information. If you are eligible for student loans, a LOAN ACCEPTANCE FORM will be included with your award letter. To accept offered loan amounts, you must sign in into your Student Portal. You will receive detailed information about the loan process with your award letter.

I received a letter that I’m in default with a student loan. What can I do to regain financial aid eligibility?

A student loan is in default if the student has not made payments for 270 days. One primary consequence of a defaulted student loan is loss of eligibility for future student loans or any type of state or federal student aid. The default is reported to all national credit bureaus which generally eliminates the option of credit-based alternative loans.

If a student is having trouble making student loan payments they should contact their loan servicer immediately. It is possible that the student may qualify for one of the types of payment relief, deferments and forbearances.

What if I have unusual circumstances concerning my dependency or financial status? Will this change my EFC?

The formula used to establish a student's financial aid eligibility is the same for all students; however, in unique situations, the Student Finance Office may use professional judgment to adjust the formula. These situations may include such factors as job loss, unusual medical expenses, or abuse. If you believe that you have a unique situation, please contact the Student Finance Office for further guidance.

What if I am selected for verification?

The Department of Education selects approximately one-third of students for a process called verification. During this process the Student Finance Office ensures that the information provided on the FAFSA matches the student’s tax and household information. Verificaiton must be completed before a student can be packaged and awarded any financial aid. The Student Finance Office will send you a letter informing you of what documents must be submitted in order for verification to be completed. Detailed information about verification can be found here.

Stafford Loan

What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans?

Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans:
Need-based loans available to undergraduate enrolled at least half-time. Interest does not accrue on the loan while the student is enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program and for six months thereafter, at which time repayment of the principal and interest must begin. Payment is delayed if the student returns to school.

Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans:
Non-need-based loans available to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at least half-time. Interest does accrue on the loan. Repayment of the interest is the student's responsibility from the date the loan is disbursed and may be paid or capitalized (added) to the principal balance of the loan. Repayment of principal does not begin until six months after the student drops below half-time. Payment is delayed if the student returns to school.

What is the interest rate?

Interest rates on Direct Loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2018 have been set.

Undergraduate Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized interest rates are set at 5.045%

Graduate Direct Unsubsizided loans are fixed at 6.595%

Parent PLUS and Graduate PLUS loans have an interest rate fixed at 7595.%

What is a Master Promissory Note? Do I have to complete one?

A Master Promissory Note (MPN) is the legal agreement a student signs with a lender promising to repay the loan funds. The MPN states the terms and conditions of the loan, including repayment schedule, interest rate, deferment policy and cancellations. Loan funds cannot be disbursed until the MPN is completed. This can be done online at

What is the origination fee?

The origination fee is a loan fee that is deducted from your loan before it is disbursed to NLU. Please factor in an allowance for this fee when determining the loan amount to request. The origination fee on Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans is 1.062%. The origination fee on PLUS loans is 4.248%.

How much should I borrow?

The financial aid award letter lists the amount of tuition and fees for the period for which you have been packaged and also the financial aid that you’re eligible to receive. You can take any amount up to the maximum offered to you. If you borrow in excess amount of tuition and fees, the overage will be refunded to you. 

We encourage you to borrow wisely. Remember that eventually you will have to repay the loan. Please consider carefully how much you really need to borrow and be conservative when possible.

When will my loan funds disburse?

Loan disbursements begin the second week of the term, after the add/drop period. Loan funds cannot be disbursed until the student has completed a MPN and Entrance Counseling. Both can be completed online at

When will I receive a refund check?

If your financial aid resources are in excess of your tuition and fees, than the amount of your tuition/fees, the difference will be refunded to you. Please note that refund checks are processed within 14 business days of the credit appearing on your student account. Checks are printed and mailed twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Refund checks are mailed to the address on file unless a request to pick up on campus was received by the Student Finance Office. The request form can be found here. Direct Parent PLUS loan funds proceeds are disbursed in the same manner, except that refund checks are made payable to the parent borrower. Students can check their student account through the NLU e-mail portal to see if funds have been posted.

What do I do if my parents do not qualify for a Federal PLUS loan?

If a parent (of a dependent student) applies for and is denied a Direct PLUS loan because of poor credit or low income, the student may be eligible for an additional Direct unsubsidized Stafford Loan. 

Where can I find information on my loan history and the total amount I have borrowed?

Students can view aggregate loans via The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). NSLDS is the national database of information about loans and grants awarded to students under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965. NSLDS provides a centralized, integrated view of Title IV loans and grants during their complete life cycle, from aid approval through disbursement, repayment, delinquency, and closure. A FSA ID (Federal Student Aid Identification) is required. If you have completed the FAFSA online, you already have a FSA ID; if not, you can apply for it on this website.

When do I have to begin repaying my loans?

Stafford Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans have a 6-month grace period that starts the day after you graduate, leave school, or cease half-time enrollment. Undergraduate students have to maintain at least 6 quarter hours/term and graduate students at least 3 semester hours/term. You don't have to begin making payments until your grace period ends.

Failure to repay your loans is called default. If you go into default, your lender can require immediate payment including interest plus collection and late payment charges. The Internal Revenue Service may withhold any income tax refund and apply it toward payment. You will not be eligible for further financial assistance until satisfactory arrangements to repay the loan have been made. The lender will notify credit bureaus of your default status, which will affect your credit rating and future borrowing ability. You should contact your lender immediately if you have difficulty paying.

How do I defer my loans?

About 2 weeks after the start of each term, the NLU Registrar's Office reports enrollment information to the National Student Clearinghouse. Through this process, your lender will be able to verify your enrollment. Enrollment verification can be done through the NLU student portal.

Do I have to make satisfactory academic progress in order to receive financial aid?

Yes. Federal regulations require that students maintain satisfactory academic progress in order to be eligible to receive financial aid. Undergraduate students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA and 67% pace while graduate student must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and a 67% pace.

Perkins Loan

Am I eligible to receive this loan?

The Perkins Loan is awarded based on financial need, amount of other aid received, and the availability of funds at National-Louis University. NLU has limited funding for the Perkins Loan program and may not be able to offer it even if you are otherwise eligible. If you are eligible and there is money available, the Perkins Loan will be listed on the Award Notification Letter that is sent to you from the Student Finance Office.

What is the interest rate and the grace period for this loan?

The Perkins Loan has a 5% interest rate (fixed for the entire life of the loan) and a 9-month grace period. Your grace period starts from the day you leave the university or you cease to be enrolled at least half-time, whichever comes first. The interest starts to accrue from the beginning of the repayment period.

Are there any fees associated with the loan origination?

No. Unlike Stafford Loans, there are no loan origination fees charged to the student for a Perkins Loan.

Why am I required to complete Entrance Counseling? I think I already completed it.

Entrance Counseling is a federal, one-time requirement in accepting the Perkins Loan. It can be completed online at the website. An electronic confirmation of your session will be sent to National-Louis University. The purpose of this requirement is to inform you of your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. Students are required to complete different Entrance Counseling sessions for Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans.

Why do I have to fill out a new Perkins Authorization Form?

If a student becomes eligible to receive the Perkins Loan for other terms than initially awarded or for an additional amount, the Student Finance Office will mail a new Perkins Authorization Form to the student that includes the loan period and the amounts offered. The Authorization Form has to be signed and dated and submitted to our office (original or copy).

I received a letter in the mail informing me that a Perkins loan disbursement has been made to my account. What does that mean? Will I get a refund?

As a responsible lender, we will notify the student within 30 days after a Perkins disbursement has been made. The funds are applied to the student’s account toward any balance that the student may have and the overages are refunded to the student. The student has the right to cancel all/part of the disbursement; if for any reason the student decides to do so, the student must provide our office with written notification within 15 days of the date of the loan disbursement letter.


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
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    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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