Navigating Northwestern’s financial support programs


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

While college can be rather expensive, there are plenty of resources available that can help NU students pursue extracurriculars, be supported academically, manage food expenses and receive basic necessities.

Astry Rodriguez, Reporter

College brings various new challenges, including managing finances. Necessities like housing, tuition, clothing and food are often expensive, not to mention recreational and academic activities. Luckily, at Northwestern you have many financial resources at your disposal.

Research and study-abroad funding 

Research can allow you to develop skills and get a feel for your interests, which is why it is considered a big part of the NU undergraduate experience. The Summer Internship Grant Program provides career development support and funds unpaid research and general internship opportunities for students who demonstrate financial need. Similarly, the Summer Undergraduate Research Grants provide a $4,000 stipend for living expenses and eight weeks of full-time independent research. 

Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grants cover expenses during the school year, providing up to $1,000 for independent academic or creative projects under faculty supervision. Students propose their own research question and methodology and are fully involved in data collection, analysis and result synthesis. For a more faculty-supported opportunity, the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program funds student and faculty paired research, providing $15 an hour. 

If you are interested in studying abroad, you can apply for aid while abroad through the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid as long as you attend an NU-affiliated program.

SES One Form allows students to apply to multiple financial opportunities through one application and partners with 21 organizations to help remove financial burdens.

Academic supplies 

Course materials can be costly, but there are many budget-friendly options. Books for Cats is a program that allows students in need of financial assistance to borrow textbooks, clickers, lab materials and access codes. The UBorrow program is an interlibrary loan service where students can request and borrow items that are unavailable at an NU library. All students also have free access to LinkedIn Learning, which is a library of thousands of courses and videos on business, creative and technical skills. 

The Career Development Fund supplies low-income students with up to $600 to reimburse the costs of graduate school applications and test preparation. The fund also provides up to $300 for the purchase of professional attire for interviews or other career events. 

Students can check out many types of equipment from Main Library, including laptops, cameras and tablets. 

Academic assistance and recreation

One free writing assistance service on campus is The Writing Place. The center provides free one-on-one writing consultations for any project, whether essays or application letters, and at any process stage. Other tutoring services like Peer-Guided Study Groups allow students to meet regularly and review course material, work on homework and study for exams. There is also Drop-in Peer Tutoring for many science, math and social sciences classes.  

Apart from academics, there are also many opportunities to participate in recreational activities at NU. The Student Activities Assistance Fund financially supports students registered in organizations such as sports clubs and sorority chapters, covering expenses like group trips, supplies and competitions. 

The Student Assistance and Relief fund is limited for students with urgent financial circumstances and provides monetary assistance for job preparation. Likewise, the Emergency Aid fund can help students experiencing unexpected expenses or a change in their family’s financial situation.

Clothing and dress

For more personal assistance, the SES Winter Gear program provides coats, scarves, gloves, hats and boots to low-income students. ‘Cats Closet allows students to pick and keep up to three professional and business casual clothing items for career fairs, interviews and work. The attire ranges from suits and blazers to sweaters and button-down shirts. 


Apart from unlimited meal swipes and 125 quarterly dining dollars, your Wildcard gives you access to free discounts at more than 300 businesses through the Wildcard Advantage program

A free food option is the Purple Pantry, which supplements food needs with shelf-stable items, dairy products and fresh produce. Campus Kitchen, a resource for low-income Evanston residents, is also open to NU students. The initiative collects and distributes excess food from dining halls and catered events.


Finding housing is something NU students often deliberate down the road, with on-campus living being a requirement for only the first two years. NU has collaborated with Places4students, a website providing free housing solutions including property listings, roommate profiles and student sublet options. The Housing Fair hosted by ASG and the Office of Off-Campus Life is another asset that allows interested students to meet landlords, Evanston officials and third-party vendors for information on properties and other services.

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Twitter: @Astry_tpwk

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