Financial Aid Policies

The award notification process

All incoming freshman, transfer, graduate and readmitted students will be mailed paper packages to their preferred addresses as their awards are ready. Continuing North Central College students will receive an email to their North Central College email account with directions on reviewing and accepting awards in Merlin.

Financial Aid Distribution

Each semester, the College’s Student Accounts Office will notify students of their "Online Statement" being available in Merlin. This bill will detail charges and the distribution of your aid. You will see half of your financial aid award (representing one semester), with the exception of Federal Work Study, appearing as a credit on this statement. Outside scholarships will not credit until funds have been received. If you’re awarded a federal loan, we must have a signed Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling on file before your loan will be credited.

Credit Hour Requirements

Most financial aid awards are based on full-time enrollment for the entire academic year (a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester) unless otherwise noted on the Award Offer in Merlin. Financial aid awards based on full-time enrollment must be revised or canceled if a student enrolls in less than the minimum 12 credit hours. You’re encouraged to make an appointment with a financial aid team member before dropping below full time. A student's enrollment status is verified before any aid is disbursed. This enrollment status must be the same on the day the loan funds are disbursed. Veterans benefits vary with the number of credit hours carried by the veteran; a reduction in a student's course load during the semester may result in a reduction of benefits for that semester. If you’re eligible for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission Monetary Award Program (State of IL MAP Grant Est), please contact the Financial Aid Office before changing your enrollment, as 15 credit hours are required for the maximum MAP award.

Amount of Financial Assistance From Year to Year

Merit scholarships remain the same if you maintain the necessary cumulative GPA and maintain satisfactory academic progress. Departmental scholarships (music, art, etc.) depend on your participation and departmental funding. Need-based (North Central College Grant, Federal Supplemental Grant, Pell Grant, ISAC MAP) assistance depends on your need and federal and state funding. You can expect to receive the same level of funding if federal and state funding and eligibility criteria do not change and your expected family contribution remains the same or similar. Your Expected Family Contribution could change if the following occurs: parent income or assets increase or decrease from prior year, student income and assets increase or decrease from prior year, or family size and number of students in college change from prior year.

Family Contribution (EFC)

The EFC is based on the FAFSA. The calculation uses the parent income and assets (if required), student income and assets, number of students in college and family size. This is an index number used to determine a student's eligibility for need-based programs. 

Difference Between Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loans

Subsidized is need-based. You must show financial need as determined by the federal formula to be eligible. The federal government pays the interest while you’re in school and during any authorized grace period.

Unsubsidized is not need-based. You’re responsible for the interest on the loan, which begins accruing at the time of disbursement. However, you may choose to defer the interest until you begin repayment. The interest is then capitalized and added to the principal amount.

Student Loan Repayment

You’re not responsible for the principal amount of your federal loans while you’re at least a half-time student. Once your enrollment drops below half-time, you begin your one-time, 6 month grace period. Loan repayment begins 6 months after withdrawal, graduation, or less than half-time enrollment. The Federal Perkins Loan grace period is 9 months. Contact the U.S. Department of Education for repayment and consolidation options.

Financial Aid Merit Scholarship Renewal Requirements

Below is a list of our merit scholarship and their renewal requirements. 

Campus Enrichment Scholarship (First-Year) (Transfer)

ELI to Degree Scholarship 

First-Year Scholarships - Academic, Achievement, Dean, Honor, and Presidential and Cardinal Award

IDEA Scholarship 

International First-Year Scholarships - Presidential, Dean, and Honors 

International Transfer Scholarships - Excellence, Success, and Merit

Montaigne Scholarship

Opportunity Award

Phi Theta Kappa Award

Presidential Housing 

Second Degree Scholarship 

Transfer Honor Society 

Transfer On Campus Award

Transfer Scholarships - Excellence, Merit, and Success

Financial Aid Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress

Please review our satisfactory progress guidelines for undergrads, teacher certs and second degree students or for graduate students.

Financial Aid Handbook

Please review the information in the handbook for financial aid policies.

Federal Student Aid Status

North Central College was notified in 2020 by the US Department of Education (ED) that with respect to North Central’s participation in the federal student aid programs it had received provisional certification status for three years ending June 2023. North Central will seek regular approval from ED in 2023. North Central is committed to addressing and preventing all compliance deficiencies. 

Federal Compliance

The Financial Aid Office follows federal, state, and institutional guidelines for the distribution of aid, and the College provides general compliance information.

Financial Aid Code of Conduct

The Financial Aid Code of Conduct was established to provide standards of ethical conduct for all Financial Aid Office employees and to guide them in their dealings with colleagues, students, the College and the community.

Withdrawal from North Central College

Financial Aid information for a student withdrawing from the College.


For answers to our most frequently asked questions, check out our Frequently Asked Financial Aid Questions resource guide.