Attending college is a great investment in your future. The purpose of financial aid is to assist with the cost of higher education. Many families need assistance to help offset the cost of education. Never assume that you will not qualify for financial assistance. There are many types of financial aid available to help manage the cost of your education, such as grants, loans, work-study opportunities, and scholarships.
With the Fall 2014 semester set to begin in just a few weeks, the number of loan requests and documentation submitted to the Student Financial Aid Office has increased significantly. The Student Financial Aid Office would like to remind students that any loan requests (Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized, PLUS or Private) will take about 2 weeks to be completely processed. Students submitting documentation for verification or for any appeals will take about 2 weeks to be processed. As always the Student Financial Aid Office makes every effort to process all informaiton received as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience and good luck in the upcoming semester!
The end of the Summer 2014 semester is quickly approaching. Any students who are still need additional loans to cover summer balances are encouraged to submit their applications by no later than August 5, 2014 in order to allow adequate processing time prior to the end of the semester. Any loan requests submitted after this date may not be able to be processed prior to the end of the semester.
The first bills for the upcoming Fall 2014 semester have begun being sent out on July 18 to students based on their current enrollment. Students who plan to add, remove or change courses may see changes to their bill after this date. Also, as of July 18, the first payment of the Illinois MAP Grant has been applied to a student's account. Remember, MAP is awarded based on enrollment status with students having the maximum eligibility if they are taking 15 credit hours. Student's MAP awards have been prorated based on their current enrollment status. Any changes in enrollment status may also impact the amount of MAP grant a student can receive. Financial aid awards will be periodically recalculated to take into consideration the addition or removal of credit hours from now until after the second week of classes.
Who has received an award letter? (show/hide »)
Any first-time freshmen, new to attending NIU should have had an initial award letter sent beginning March 14, 2014 if their financial aid record is complete for the 2014-2015 award year. Undergraduate students who are transferring to NIU from another institution will have their award letters sent out beginning March 22, 2014. Continuing, Graduate and Law students’ award letters will be sent out starting the week of March 31, 2014.
I’m a (First-time Freshman/Transferring Undergraduate/Continuing/Graduate/Law) student and it is more than 5 days after award letters have been sent out but I haven’t I received my award letter yet? (show/hide »)
There are several reasons why you may not have received your award letter at this point in time:
What is considered in offering an award? (show/hide »)
Financial aid awards are determined based on the information provided in the 2014-2015 FAFSA. Before offering an award the information must be verified to be accurate for students who have been selected for verification. Additionally the award is offered assuming a student will be enrolled full time for the entire academic year. Any changes to enrollment status may affect the amount of financial aid a student is eligible to receive. Please contact the Student Financial Aid Office if you have any questions about how your enrollment status may affect your financial aid eligibility.
When should I accept my financial aid award? (show/hide »)
There are two types of aid that a student must accept, merit based scholarships and federal student loans. Students are encouraged to accept all sources of financial aid as soon as possible but may accept aid at almost any point within the academic year with the following exceptions:
I wish to attend Summer classes, how come I have received my award letter for the 2014-2015 year but have not received anything for the Summer term yet?(show/hide »)
Summer award letters will begin being sent out the week of April 28, 2014. In order to receive your Summer 2014 award letter you must be registered for Summer classes. The Summer 2014 semester is considered a part of the 2013-2014 award year. Any financial aid available for the Summer semester will be dependent on the amount of financial aid received during the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters. Students who have exhausted their financial aid eligibility for Pell and Stafford loans may need to apply for Parent PLUS Loans (if a dependent student) or Private loans to help cover any costs associated with the Summer 2014 term. In order to be eligible to receive disbursements of loans, a student must be enrolled at least half time (3 credits for the Summer 2014 term).
When can I begin registering for the Summer 2014 term?(show/hide »)
Registration for the Summer 2014 semester occurs at the same time as registration for the Fall 2014 term, April 7, 2014.
I will be attending classes in the Summer 2014 and would like to take out a PLUS loan, which option should I choose for my loan period?(show/hide »)
When will Summer 2014 funds disburse??(show/hide »)
How long will it take for submitted documents or loan applications to be processed?(show/hide »)
To ensure prompt processing, scan documents and email the images to email@example.com or fax to 815-753-9475. Be sure to include both sides of the document. Mailing documents may result in longer processing times. Documents are processed in the date order received and processing time can vary depending on the specific documents submitted. Basic Verification documents such as the Household Size Form or federal tax return transcripts will normally be reviewed within 4 days of submission. Be sure to monitor your Z-ID student e-mail account, and your MyNIU To Do List, as these are the methods by which we would inform you if we needed clarification on anything.
If you or your parents have applied for a PLUS Loan online, you should expect the resulting loan amount to be visible on your awards screen within roughly a week. Private Loans will take at least two weeks, due to the federal Truth In Lending Act.
Why did my financial aid amounts adjust?(show/hide »)
Eligibility for the full amount of the Federal Pell Grant and/or Illinois MAP Grant is contingent on enrollment in a certain amount of credit hours (12 credit hours for Pell, 15 credit hours for MAP). When initially packaging a student with these awards, we assume that the student will be enrolled in enough hours to qualify for the full amount. Recipients who are enrolled in fewer hours will receive adjusted, lower amounts of these awards. At various points prior to disbursement, the Student Financial Aid Office reviews a student's current hours of enrollment and adjusts these awards accordingly. This is considered the best practice in order to ensure that students have the most accurate information about their pending aid at any given time.
The Department of Education requires schools participating in the Title IV federal aid program to periodically adjust student budgets based on their level of enrollment; i.e. full-time, half-time and less than half-time. If your Cost of Attendance changed, it is most likely the result of the amount of hours you are enrolled in for the term.
How do I accept my student loans?(show/hide »)
Accept your loans on your MyNIU Campus Finances. First-time loan borrowers must also complete the Master Promissory Note and Loan Entrance Counseling at www.studentloans.gov
How does Federal Work-Study Employment work?(show/hide »)
Work-Study awards are not guaranteed and are earned as wages by working on and off campus with eligible employers. A Work-Study award reflects the amount the student can earn if hired. Students must apply for a work-study job and be hired in order to utilize the eligibility offered on their award notification. Work-Study wages do not credit to the student's Bursar account. Students earn paychecks for work performed. Regular Student Employment positions do not require an offering of Federal Work-Study on the award notification.
For more information please visit www.niu.edu/fa/types/workstudy.shtml
What is Cost of Attendance and how does it differ from what I can expect to pay for school?(show/hide »)
Cost of Attendance (also known as the Budget) represents an estimate of all of the expenses an individual can expect to pay while attending college. This amount includes expenses such as travel and miscellaneous personal expenses that a student may incur but that are not charged by the university. For more information about what comprises the Cost of Attendance, please visit the Costs & Financing Solutions section of this website. To estimate the actual costs that you will be charged by the university, you are encouraged to visit the Tuition Estimator available through the Office of the Bursar. This tool allows users to input some general information such as the number of hours to attend for the year and select a residence hall to project the anticipated expenses for the academic year.
What is the EFC?(show/hide »)
The information supplied on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used by the federal government to determine a student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC defines for the university what financial aid programs a student is eligible to participate in and the amount for which he/she is eligible. A common misunderstanding is that the EFC is the amount the student will owe the university. Rather, the amount owed is the student charges minus the financial aid awarded and disbursed.
Where should I send the check for a private scholarship I have been awarded?(show/hide »)
All scholarship checks should be sent to the Student Financial Aid office and will be directly applied to your Bursar account, one-half in the fall semester and one-half in the spring semester, unless otherwise specified by the donor. If the check needs your endorsement, please sign before mailing.Student Financial Aid OfficeNorthern Illinois UniversitySwen Parson Hall 245DeKalb, IL 60115
How does my parent apply for the Parent PLUS Loan?(show/hide »)
For additional information please visit the PLUS Tutorial
When should my parents apply for the Parent PLUS Loan?(show/hide »)
When a parent applies for the Parent PLUS loan the Department of Education performs a credit check to determine if the parent will be eligible to receive the Parent PLUS loan. Credit checks expire in 90 days if a Parent PLUS loan has not been created. It is recommended that parents do not apply for Parent PLUS loans for the 2014-2015 award year until May to ensure that the credit check is still valid.
How do much should I request for the Parent PLUS Loan?(show/hide »)
Parents can choose to request either the maximum eligible amount or request a specific dollar amount when completing the Parent PLUS application. When ever possible, borrowers are encouraged to request only the amount of loans that are necessary to pay for their expenses to limit future interest expenses. If a parent requests the maximum loan amount, the PLUS loan will be offered up to the Cost of Attendance minus any other financial aid that has already been awarded. (Cost of attendance amounts are available here).
Parents who wish to request a specific amount for the Parent PLUS loan are encouraged to visit the Bursar's Office Tuition Estimator. The Tuition Estimator allows students and their parents to input their anticipated enrollment, housing and meal plans and awarded financial aid in order to determine the Approximate Yearly Total Due. This amount should help determine how much to request for a Parent PLUS loan.
Remember parents can borrow up to the Cost of Attendance; parents may wish to borrow more than the amount of the Approximate Yearly Total Due if the student wishes to use financial aid to help pay for living expenses.
What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans?(show/hide »)
What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans?(show/hide »)
The subsidized loan is based on financial need, while students qualify for the unsubsidized loan regardless of financial need. Students eligible to borrow subsidized loans are not charged interest on the loans while they are enrolled at least half-time. Interest on unsubsidized loans begins accruing while they are enrolled in school. Students may choose to defer the interest payment on an unsubsidized loan until they begin repayment.
Where do I go for assistance with choosing a Private Student Loan?(show/hide »)
Private Loans are meant to supplement federal and state aid when the Cost of Attendance (COA) is not fully covered by your financial aid. There is a comprehensive list of private loan lenders and additional information regarding private loans at www.finaid.org/loans/privatestudentloans.phtml Valuable information about the private loan process and interest rate calculations is provided at this website and should be read carefully.
I received an email about Title IV Authorization, what does this email mean?(show/hide »)
Federal financial aid funds may only be used to cover certain charges associated with tuition, room and board, and books. In order for Title IV funds to be able to pay other charges you must provide your authorization to use any excess funds. Title IV funds can never be used to cover prior year charges or non-education related charges such as parking tickets, fines and/or recreation charges.
This authorization can be given online through MyNIU and is valid until rescinded. A tutorial of how to provide this authorization is available online here. The Title IV Authorization may be rescinded at any time but will require you to contact the Student Financial Aid Office.
What is exit counseling and do I have to complete it?(show/hide »)
Exit counseling is designed to inform you of the grace period, interest rates, repayment options and incentives, and terms and conditions of your loans, as well as the availability of deferment, forbearance and consolidation. An important thing to note, students are only offered a grace period once, if you use your grace period and then return to school, repayment will begin immediately after you graduate. Exit counseling for Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized loans can be found at www.studentloans.gov and for Federal Perkins loans at www.ecsi.net.
Anyone who has borrowed federal student loans is required to complete exit counseling. Students who have dropped below half-time enrollment, who are taking a semester off or who are going to be attending another school should still complete exit counseling.