Jun 12, 2024  
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog

Financial Aid and Scholarships

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Financial Aid and Scholarship Office


The Financial Aid and Scholarship Office is responsible for administering and coordinating aid funds from federal, state, private, and university sources. The primary goal of the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office is to enhance access and affordability by assisting students and families to maximize financial resources, navigate federal and state requirements, and to understand costs and aid eligibility; as well as design and administer NIU scholarship and grant programs.

State, federal and NIU financial aid is available to qualified, fully admitted students attending NIU. Some programs, including student loans, require half-time enrollment (6 credit hours) for all terms including summer. NIU grants and scholarships generally require full-time enrollment (12 credit hours) and are awarded for fall and spring only. Pell Grants and the Illinois State Monetary Award (MAP Grant) may be awarded to less than half-time students. Most financial aid programs have annual and lifetime limits.  Questions concerning financial assistance should be directed to this office or by e-mailing finaid@niu.edu.

The Financial Aid and Scholarship Office is open from 8:00 a.m.to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For contact information call 815-753-1395 or visit http://www.niu.edu/financial-aid.

Eligibility Requirements and General Application Procedures

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In general, to be eligible for state or federal grants or student loans, a student must:

  • be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or other eligible non-citizen.
  • be enrolled at least half time (6 or more graded undergraduate semester hours at NIU) and admitted to a degree-seeking program. (Some programs are available to students enrolled in fewer than 6 semester hours.)
  • not be in default on a Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Direct Loan, Federal PLUS (Parent Loan) for Undergraduate Students, or Federal Grad Plus Loan.
  • not owe a repayment to a grant program.
  • be making satisfactory academic progress per federal financial aid regulations.
  • agree to use any student financial aid received solely for educational expenses.
  • begin attendance in all courses for which aid is received.

For full list of eligibility criteria, see http://www.niu.edu/financial-aid.

To apply for federal/state aid, students must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) listing NIU’s school code, 001737. You can file the FAFSA by:

  • Applying online at studentaid.gov, select “Apply for Aid” on the top banner.
  • Using the myStudentAid app. Download the myStudentAid app in the Apple App Store (iOS) or the Google Play store (Android).
  • Request a paper FAFSA by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) TTY line at 1-800-730-8913.

The Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act went into effect January 2020. The RISE Act allows Illinois residents, who are not eligible for federal financial aid, to apply for state assistance. Students must be able to complete the Illinois Student Assistance Commission’s Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid rather than the FAFSA. Generally, Illinois residents who are undocumented and transgender students who have not registered for selective service will be able to apply for aid through the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. Additional information, along with the application, can be found at ISAC.org.

Applicants for financial aid from NIU are considered for all programs for which they are eligible. Several types of aid may be combined or “packaged” based on the student’s computed financial need. Need is determined by subtracting the FAFSA calculated Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the student’s total cost of attendance/financial aid budget. The parents’ contribution is calculated on the basis of their income and assets as well as a consideration of family size, number of family members currently in college, retirement allowances, tax paid, and other allowable factors. The student is also expected to make a calculated contribution toward college expenses if they have income, savings, and other assets. A federal need analysis, called Federal Methodology, approved by the U.S. Congress, is used to evaluate a family’s financial circumstances. A student who meets the federal independent student definition is evaluated on the basis of their (and spouse’s, if applicable) financial circumstances.

To continue to receive aid, students must reapply for financial aid each academic year using the FAFSA.

Depending on the availability of funds, some types of federal, state, and institutional aid may be available for students attending NIU’s summer session. The FAFSA for the preceding academic year is used to determine financial aid for the summer session. Eligibility for summer session aid is determined once the student is enrolled in summer session courses. Students must request consideration for summer aid.

Students who receive financial assistance and withdraw from the university, or cease to participate in a semester without formally withdrawing from the university, may be required to repay a portion of their award(s). The exact amount to be repaid to financial aid programs will be determined by the amount of aid received, the educational costs incurred, and the length of time attended during the semester. Students who do not begin attendance in all registered courses may have financial aid reduced. See the Financial Aid and Scholarship website for more information on the return of Title IV aid.

Satisfactory Academic Progress for Undergraduates/Postbaccalaureates

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In accordance with the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended by Congress, Northern Illinois University has established a satisfactory academic progress policy for undergraduates and postbaccalaureates. Detailed information about satisfactory academic progress standards and procedures is available at www.niu.edu/financial-aid.

Federal and state financial aid programs covered by this policy include: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Work Study (FWS), Federal Direct Loan Program (Subsidized and Unsubsidized), NIU grants, other grants as well as the Illinois State Monetary Award Program (MAP), the Federal Direct PLUS Loan, and some private loans.

Students will be considered to be making satisfactory academic progress if they meet all of the following requirements. Failure to comply with any one will result in a loss of financial aid eligibility.

Rate of Completion Requirement (Pace)

A student must successfully complete at least 67% of all credit hours attempted. NIU withdrawals, incompletes, and courses repeated will be counted in the calculation of hours attempted. Audits are not included in the total number of semester hours attempted. Earned A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, D, and S grades are considered completed semester hours of credit. NIU withdrawals, incompletes, audits, and grades of F and U are not considered completed semester hours of credit.

Grade Point Average Requirement

A student who has attended NIU for three or fewer semesters and has less than 45 credit hours must have at least a 1.60 cumulative GPA. All other undergraduates must have at least a 2.00 cumulative GPA.

If a student repeats a course, only the best grade of all attempts of the course will be used in the GPA calculation for satisfactory academic progress.

The first semester a student does not meet the pace or GPA requirement they are placed on SAP Warning. During the warning semester the student continues to be eligible for financial aid. If the deficiency is not resolved after the warning semester the student is ineligible for financial aid their next term of enrollment. Such students may formally appeal their ineligibility for financial aid by following the guidelines under the “Appeal Procedures” section of this policy.

Maximum Time Frame Requirement

An undergraduate student may receive financial aid until she or he has attempted 150% of hours required for degree inclusive of credit from NIU and/or transfer schools. For most undergraduate programs the 150% maximum time frame is 180 attempted credit hours. This policy must consider all terms of enrollment whether or not financial aid was received. NIU withdrawals, incompletes, and courses repeated will be counted in the calculation of hours attempted. Audits are not included in the total number of semester hours attempted. Earned A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, D, and S grades are considered completed semester hours of credit. NIU withdrawals, incompletes, audits, and grades of F and U are not considered completed semester hours of credit. Students who fall into this category are immediately ineligible for financial aid. Such students may formally appeal their ineligibility for financial aid by following the guidelines under the “Appeal Procedures” section of this policy.

Undergraduate Change of Major
In the appeal process, up to one change of an undergraduate major will be considered if the change in major resulted in the student exceeding maximum time frame. Two or more changes of an undergraduate major may be appealed with extenuating circumstances and in consultation with the advising director. Transfer from another institution is considered a change of major.


The standards of satisfactory academic progress, cumulative GPA, pace, maximum time frame, and academic standing are reviewed at the conclusion of each semester. Students who are not meeting either the GPA or pace standards at the end of any semester will be placed on Financial Aid Warning. A student on Financial Aid Warning may receive financial aid for the next semester they attend. The status of Warning is effective for one term of enrollment. If the student does not meet the minimum SAP standards by the end of the Financial Aid Warning semester, they will become ineligible for all federal and state financial aid, including grants, student loans, parent (PLUS) loans, and work-study in subsequent semesters until they again meet the SAP standards or have a financial aid SAP appeal approved. A student who exceeds the maximum timeframe standard will be ineligible for financial aid for the immediately following semester.

Detailed information regarding the appeal process will be sent to all students who fail to make satisfactory academic progress. If the appeal is approved, the student will be placed on an academic plan. Continued eligibility for financial aid is contingent on meeting all conditions of the academic plan or achieving all standards of satisfactory academic progress.

A student not meeting pace, GPA, or academic standing standards and attends without receiving financial aid can regain financial aid eligibility for future terms by achieving a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or higher, and a pace of 67% or higher, and regaining good academic standing.

Academic Standing Requirement

Students must remain in good academic standing with the University. If a student is a candidate for dismissal, even if the student is retained or reinstated, the student is considered to not be meeting this standard for that semester.

Appeal Procedures

Appeals must be submitted in writing to the Financial Aid and Scholarship based on unanticipated extenuating circumstances. Only circumstances that would reasonably impact any prepared and diligent student can be considered. The Financial Aid and Scholarship considers federal regulations and guidance, the student’s written appeal, and other documentation when making a final determination. Deadlines for appeal are published on niu.edu/financial-aid/about/policies.shtml.

The following reasons are examples of extenuating circumstances:

  • injury or serious illness
  • death of an immediate family member

In general, the following will not be considered as extenuating circumstances:

  • poor academic performance
  • extra-curricular activities
  • work or social engagements
  • general adjustment to college life and/or academics
  • more than two changes in academic major

The appeal must explain why the student failed to make satisfactory progress and what has changed that will allow progress for future semesters. The appeal decisions of the Financial Aid and Scholarship are final and cannot be overturned by the U.S. Department of Education. All extenuating circumstances must be documented.

The official Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy and Procedures published on the Financial Aid and Scholarship website are the university’s official policy and may have information more recent than the catalog print date.

Federal/State Assistance

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Federal Pell Grant. This grant helps undergraduates pay for their education after high school. Eligibility is determined from information reported on the FAFSA.

Federal Direct Loan. Direct Subsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education at a college or career school. Direct Unsubsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate students. The student does not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the Unsubsidized loan.

Federal Direct PLUS for parents. The link for the online PLUS application is available on the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office website.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. This grant is for undergraduates attending full time. The amount awarded to recipients depends on financial need, the amount of other aid received, and the availability of funds at NIU. Students must have a zero EFC and be a Pell recipient.

Veterans Assistance. The Military and Post Traditional Student Services provides a liaison between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and student veterans and the dependents of disabled and deceased veterans regarding their educational benefits. The office assists veterans, their widows or widowers, and their minor dependents in the processing of their applications and certification of their enrollment. Assistance is also provided when difficulties arise concerning receipt of the benefits for which students are eligible. Applications are also available for the Illinois Veteran Grant, the Illinois National Guard Grant, and the Illinois MIA/POW Scholarship.

Incoming veterans are advised to contact the Military and Post Traditional Student Services at least 45 days prior to the start of the semester to complete paperwork to receive their benefits. Veterans receiving benefits must complete an NIU Enrollment Certification Request Form each semester and notify of all changes in enrollment. The NIU Enrollment Certification Form can be found on-line at http://www.niu.edu/mptss. Inquiries concerning educational benefits for veterans and their dependents may be directed to the Military and Post Traditional Student Services, Northern Illinois University, Campus Life Building, Room 240, DeKalb, Illinois 60115, 815-753-0691 or online at http://www.niu.edu/mptss. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Illinois Department of Human Services, Department of Rehabilitation Services. This office provides rehabilitation services to individuals with a significant disability to enable them to engage in an occupation leading to competitive employment. These services may include financial assistance for all or part of the tuition and fees and/or the student’s maintenance costs while they are in attendance at an accredited postsecondary institution. For detailed information and application assistance, write to the Illinois Department of Human Services, Department of Rehabilitation Services, 100 S. Grand Avenue E, Springfield, IL 62762, or visit their website at www.dhs.state.il.us.

Illinois National Guard Grant. Any person who is actively serving in the Army or Air National Guard, or Illinois Naval Militia may qualify for financial assistance benefits. Students should contact the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for information and deadlines.

Illinois State Monetary Award Program. This program is available from the state of Illinois for Illinois residents who are undergraduates. Eligibility is determined based on information reported on the FAFSA or Illinois Alternative Application. The award is restricted to tuition and mandatory fees.

Illinois Veteran Grant. A veteran who was a resident of Illinois both before and after one year or more of active duty, and received other than a dishonorable discharge may qualify for the Illinois Veteran Grant. Students should contact the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for information and deadlines.

Illinois Special Education Tuition Waiver, Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program, Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois, MIA/POW Scholarships. Program and eligibility information available at ISAC.org.

Institutional Aid

Northern Illinois University offers competitive merit scholarships as well as need-based awards. Merit scholarships are offered at the time of admission to first-time incoming freshman or transfer students who meet the academic credentials, citizenship requirements and priority deadlines. Most merit scholarships are renewable, provided the student maintains full-time enrollment and the required minimum cumulative grade point average (terms and conditions will be issued at the time the award is made). Many academic colleges or departments, as well as student service offices, offer competitive scholarship opportunities, most of which are funded by generous donors to NIU. Application requirements, deadlines, access to the on-line scholarship application system, and other scholarship resources can be found through the Financial Aid and Scholarship website at niu.edu/financial-aid/scholarships.

Need-based awards are made based upon information submitted in the FAFSA, sometimes in conjunction with academic credentials, and may be subject to available funding.

Private/External Scholarships

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Private scholarships are awards provided by donors outside the university such as civic, fraternal, professional, educational, and religious groups/organizations, private foundations, corporations, and employers of parents. The Financial Aid and Scholarship Office, high school guidance counselors, library reference books, and the Internet are good reference sources for assistance in locating private scholarships. Questions regarding the processing of private/external scholarship funds should be referred to the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office. The Financial Aid and Scholarship Office administers the disbursement to students of scholarship funds provided by private/external donors.

Student Employment

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A variety of part-time employment opportunities are available to NIU students under the regular student employment and Federal Work-Study programs. Jobs are available through many university departments and include positions in Housing and Dining, the University Libraries, Campus Recreation, and the Holmes Student Center. For job openings, students should visit www.hr.niu.edu.

Federal law mandates that any person employed by Northern Illinois University after November 6, 1986, must complete Form I-9 to verify identity and employment authorization. Student employees must be prepared to present original documentation prior to the start of their employment. For more information, contact the Student Employment Office (815-753-1394).

Tuition Waivers for Senior Citizens

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Anyone 65 years of age or older with an annual income under $25,520 if single, or $34,480 if married, is eligible to take credit courses, tuition free. The student must pay for all general university fees and any course-related fees. Tuition-paying students enrolled must constitute the minimum number of required students for the particular class, except for credit courses specifically designed for senior citizens. Those interested should contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office at 815-753-1395 or visit our website at www.niu.edu/financial-aid.



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