Financial Aid

How Financial Aid Works

Cost of Attendance (COA) - Expected Family Contribution (EFC; as determined by FAFSA application) = Eligibility for need-based financial aid.

Cost of Attedance

A student budget (which includes all educational costs), is the estimated cost of attendance (COA) for a student at an institution. It is used to determine maximum financial aid eligibility. Typically, the budget includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board, personal expenses, and transportation.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The expected family contribution is calculated when you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The family contribution formulas are complex; they take into consideration a variety of factors including family size, number of family members in college, income and assets, age of the older parent, etc. There is not a set income cut-off to use when determining eligibility. If you feel you need assistance in meeting your college expenses then you should apply for financial aid.

Sometimes there may have been a change of employment, additional expenses, or an emergency that makes the expected family contribution difficult. If so, please communicate your special circumstances to Student Financial Services.


To receive financial aid from any of the federal or state student aid programs, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED;
  • Be admitted to Northwest University as a student working toward a degree in an eligible program;
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen;
  • Meet satisfactory academic progress standards set by the institution;
  • Register with the Selective Service, if required;
  • Certify that you are not in default on a federal student loan;
  • Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Financial need, as determined by the previous formula, determines how much of different kinds of financial aid are to be offered to students.