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Disbursement of Financial Funds

When and how you receive your aid depends on two things:  (1) the type of aid you are receiving and (2) whether you completed the requirements for receiving your awards.  Read the information on this page carefully to find out how and when different types of financial aid are disbursed and what you must do to receive your funds.

Requirements for Receiving Your Aid

You must complete the requirements below and must have received an award notice before your aid can be disbursed to you.

Submit any Requested Documents
If you were asked to submit any follow-up documents for verification, you must provide them to the Financial Aid Office.

Credit Hours
You must enroll for a credit hour load that is at least half-time (6 credit hours).  It is possible for a student to receive aid for less than half-time but only under specific circumstances. Keep in mind that some scholarships require full-time enrollment for disbursement.

Important!: Your initial financial aid award notification is always based on full-time enrollment.  If you are not enrolled full-time by the end of the drop/add period, your aid will be adjusted at that time and you will receive a revised award notice reflecting your level of enrollment.

Loan Promissory Note

If you have Direct Loans, you will need to complete your Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) online at StudentLoans.gov.  If you have previously signed a Direct Loan MPN at Northern, you do not need to sign another one to receive Direct Loan funds, unless you have been out of school for a year or more.  For more information about your Direct Loan requirements, see the federal student loan web page.

Entrance Counseling:  First-time, first-year Direct Loan borrowers must complete loan entrance counseling at StudentLoans.gov.

DISBURSEMENT - How aid is paid to students

If all requirements are met before the start of the semester your financial aid funds will be credited to your student account one week prior to the start of the term. The credit can be used to pay for tuition, fees, and other non-institutional charges such as books.

If there is an excess of financial aid funds remaining after tuition and fees have been paid, then the remaining amount will be refunded to you by direct deposit into the bank account that you have previously authorized for this purpose.  For more information see the Direct Deposit web page.  Refund of disbursed aid typically occurs five weeks after the start of classes.

Late starting classes: Disbursement for grants and scholarships will not be issued for late starting classes until approximately a week after the first date of attendance. Loan disbursements for late starting classes will not be released until the drop period for the class has expired.  Single semester loans will be issued in two disbursements, the second being after midterms.

Late Disbursements

Generally a student ceases to be eligible for aid once he/she has finished the term and is no longer enrolled. An otherwise eligible student becomes ineligible to receive FSA funds on the date that the student:

  • For a loan made under the Direct Loan Program, is no longer enrolled at least half time.
  • For the purpose of Pell Grant and FSEOG Grant, is no longer enrolled at the  school for the award year.

However, if certain conditions are met, a student must be considered for a disbursement after the date they became ineligible. These disbursements are called “late disbursements.”  The student may submit verification documentation and receive a late disbursement after they cease enrollment if the Department of Education processed a FAFSA with an official EFC while he/she was still enrolled and eligible. In addition, for a Direct Loan program student loan, the loan must be originated prior to the date the student became ineligible.

The student must complete verification no later than 120 days after the last date of enrollment. A school may not make a late disbursement later than 180 days after the date the student becomes ineligible.


Federal regulations require a school to determine whether a student who has received federal student aid completed the term of enrollment.

  • If a federal aid recipient withdraws from all courses within a term, the student is considered to have officially withdrawn.
  • If a federal aid recipient receives all non-passing grades, the student is considered to have unofficially withdrawn.
  • After the 60 percent point of term, the student has earned 100 percent of the federal aid. The school is required to determine whether the student earned the federal aid disbursed by using a federally prescribed formula. This process is referred to as a Return of Title IV Funds calculation.
  • If there is unearned aid, the school and/or the student may be required to return a portion of the federal aid to the appropriate federal program.
  • If the school is required to return funds, the amount of the return will be charged to the student’s account.  The student must repay the amount returned. An unpaid balance will result in a hold being placed on the student’s account that will prevent the student from registering or receiving transcripts until it is paid in full.  To find out more information see the Return of Title IV web page.
Northern offers over 50 bachelor's, associate and certificate programs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math); Nursing and Health Sciences; Liberal Arts and Humanities; Arts, Film & Media; Business Administration; Teacher Education and Technical Trades.
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