Attending college is a great investment in your future, and many families need assistance to help offset the cost of education. The purpose of financial aid is to assist students to pursue their college education by helping them and their families meet educational expenses.
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.
If you have not completed your 2014-2015 FAFSA please visit the FAFSA FAQs for information on important dates, MAP grant deadlines, estimating federal tax data and how to update your FAFSA
If you have already completed your 2014-2015 FAFSA, you may have items assigned to your checklist for the 2014-2015 year. When completing checklist documentation be sure to verify that you have the correct form for the correct year. Links included in the checklist will direct you to the correct year's forms if copied and pasted into your web browser. Be careful when manually typing any links, if you had completed the form for the previous year, your browser may try to direct you to an incorrect link.
Also at this point in time, some checklist items, such as 2013 Tax Return Transcripts, may not be available if you have not completed your tax return. Tax Return Transcripts will not be available for a few weeks after the submission of a tax return.
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.
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 »)
Financial aid for the Summer 2014 term will not be awarded until students have registered for Summer classes. Registration for summer classes begins April 7, 2014. 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. Reminder in order to be eligible to receive disbursements of loans, a student typically needs to 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 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.
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.