Graduate Financial Aid FAQ

Graduate Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions

1. What scholarship opportunities are there for graduate students?

2. Is need-based aid available?

3. Do you offer assistantships?

4. Am I required to have health insurance?

5. Can I use need-based aid to help cover my living expenses?

6. I see that the FAFSA is due May 1 of each year, but what if I don’t have my tax information by then?

7. When will I know if I have qualified for merit- or need-based aid?

8. Where can I find information on billing procedures, payment options, loans, preferred lenders and your student portal (CAESAR)?

9. I have unusual circumstances regarding financial aid. With whom should I speak?

1.  What scholarship opportunities are there for graduate students?

A:  The Bienen School of Music offers merit-based scholarship grants to students who have presented exceptional applications and auditions. These grants are based upon musicianship, scholarship, leadership and a demonstrated personal commitment, as well as on departmental needs. We award over $4 million annually to the students in our graduate programs.

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2.  Is need-based aid available?

A:  Northwestern University participates in the Federal Direct Loan program as well as the Federal College Work-Study program, and graduate students may apply for need-based loans and work-study by completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

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3.  Do you offer assistantships? 

A:  We offer work stipend positions to qualified graduate students as a supplemental way to gain experience in music and earn extra money towards the cost of attendance. These positions range in duties from playing in ensembles or seminars, working for staff offices, assisting faculty-taught courses and studio classes, or working with chamber music or athletic bands. Often, these positions are combined with grant assistance to form a packaged financial offer.

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4.  Am I required to have health insurance?

A: Yes, all students at Northwestern are required to carry health insurance.  U. S. citizens and Permanent Residents can purchase the NU/Aetna student health insurance plan or select your own outside coverage provider.  Those who elect to waive the NU/Aetna Plan must ensure their health insurance meets the Northwestern University Standards. International students on an F-1 or J-1 visa are required to purchase the NU/Aetna student health insurance plan.  

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5.  Can I use need-based aid to help cover my living expenses?

A:  You can choose to live on- or off-campus, and have control over your own living expenses. Only tuition is charged by the University unless you elect to purchase items such as health insurance, parking passes, etc. The Office of Music Admission and Financial Aid, however, provides estimates of what it might cost to live in the Evanston/Chicago area, and graduate students are typically eligible to cover these living expenses with need-based financial aid in addition to any merit-based aid you may have been awarded.

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6.  I see that the FAFSA is due May 1 of each year, but what if I don’t have my tax information by then?

A:  You should contact the Director of Music Admission and Financial Aid to discuss a timeline for processing your eligibility for need-based aid. If you are applying to the Bienen School of Music for the first time, we will not be able to give you an estimate of need-based aid unless you have sent a FAFSA to Northwestern University.

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7.  When will I know if I have qualified for merit- or need-based aid?

A:  Admitted students who have qualified for a merit award will be notified with their offer of admission in the mail. Need-based aid will be calculated in June of each year, but estimates are available if you have sent your FAFSA to Northwestern University.

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8.  Where can I find information on billing procedures, payment options, loans, preferred lenders and your student portal (CAESAR)?

A:  Visit NU Student Financial Services at www.northwestern.edu/sfs.

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9.  I have unusual circumstances regarding financial aid. With whom should I speak?

A:  Please feel free to contact Ryan O’Mealey, Assistant Dean for Admission, Financial Aid and Graduate Services, via email at r-omealey@northwestern.edu.

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Request information from the Bienen School of Music.