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Financial Aid FAQs

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 partly on financial need;
  • Grants – gift funds, based on need, do not have to be repaid; not available for graduate students;
  • Loans – low interest loans which must be repaid, with interest, after the student is no longer enrolled or ceases to be enrolled at least half-time.

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 (DOE) uses the information to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and to determine a student’s eligibility through computer matches with other agencies. You may apply by completing a paper-based FAFSA, but we recommend that you use the DOE's online process at: The online application process is much faster than submitting a paper FAFSA. Also, the online method has a validation tool to ensure accuracy and online help is available. To sign your electronic FAFSA, you will need a PIN. If you have completed a FAFSA in the past, the DOE may have sent you a PIN. To get a new PIN 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.

What is FAFSA exactly?

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 (DOE) 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 financial aid. Loans like the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and PLUS Loan are not need-based, but they do require a FAFSA application. Further information on EFC calculation can be found here.

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 to attend at least half-time.

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 insure that the financial aid has been calculated prior to the start of the term, the application needs to be received at least 30 days prior to the first day of the term. 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. For example, your 2008-2009 eligibility was based on income received in 2007, and your 2009-2010 eligibility will be based on income received in 2008. 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 stepparent.

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 weeks. If you submitted a paper FAFSA, it may take 4-6 weeks for NLU to receive the results.

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 (DOE) 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 DOE electronically, and clear your federal record. Please be advised that students that do not complete the verification process are not eligible for financial aid.

Okay, I’ve completed my FAFSA, now what?

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 complete the LOAN ACCEPTANCE FORM and return it to NLU before your enrollment period ends. 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 things 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.



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    122 S. Michigan Avenue
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    (888) 658.8632
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