Applying for Financial Aid


Enrollment Changes

Reduction of Hours

Financial Aid awards that are prepared prior to the start of a semester are based on an assumption of full-time enrollment (at least 12 credit hours per semester or in the case of the State of Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) Grant, 15 credit hours per semester). Financial aid will be recalculated based on actual enrollment prior to the first billing statement for a semester and periodically through the end of the add/drop period. You should consult with a financial aid counselor if your academic load will be less than full-time (12 credit hours) as this status may impact your financial aid.

Reducing your credit hours has implications for both your aid eligibility for the current semester and future terms. Your aid eligibility is based on the number of credit hours for which you are enrolled on at the end of the add/drop period, usually the Friday of the second week of classes. If your enrollment increases or decreases it may affect your financial aid eligibility.

If your enrollment status changes after your financial aid is disbursed, your aid may be affected.  Full-time enrollment is equal to 12 undergraduate credits and 9 graduate credits.  Part-time enrollment is equal to 6 undergraduate credits and 4.5 graduate credits.

For more information about the enrollment criteria for different awards, please view the Rights and Responsibilities (

For more specific information about graduate level loans, please see the Financing Your Education page on the Graduate School website.

Official Withdrawal from NIU

All students who withdraw from NIU are subject to the Title IV Return of Funds policy.

Financial aid funds are awarded to a student under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded. When a student withdraws, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds that the student was originally scheduled to receive.

A school is required to determine the earned and unearned portions of Title IV aid as of the date the student ceased attendance based on the amount of time the student spent in attendance. During the first 60% of the enrollment period, a student earns Title IV funds in direct proportion to the length of time he/she is enrolled. The percentage of aid earned is determined by the date the student officially withdraws, the total number of calendar days in the enrollment period, and the calendar days the student completed during the period of enrollment.  After the 60%, a student has earned 100% of the Title IV funds he or she was scheduled to receive during the period.

The date of withdrawal will be used in the formula that determines the amount of federal aid that is unearned and must be returned to the federal programs and is separate from NIU’s refund policy.  The percent of your total Title IV aid that you have earned is equal to the percent of the semester you completed.   Unearned aid must be returned to federal programs.  The school is responsible to return the lesser of your institutional charges multiplied by the unearned percentage or all unearned aid.  Funds are returned in the following order Unsubsidized Direct Loans, Subsidized Direct Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, Federal Pell Grants, FSEOG, TEACH, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.  The credits for any funds returned will be reversed from your student account.  

Any unearned amount that is not the responsibility of the school to return is your responsibility. Generally those funds will be loan funds which you can repay in accordance with the terms of your promissory note.  Any unearned amount of a grant you must return is called an overpayment and you must make arrangements with the Department of Education to return those funds. 

Additionally, if you withdraw from a semester, any institutional or state tuition based grant or waiver such as the Illinois State Monetary Award, the Illinois Veterans Grant or the Illinois National Guard Grant must be reduced to not exceed your final tuition charge for a semester after any applicable tuition refund is applied.

Unofficial Withdrawal from NIU

If a student who began attendance and has not officially withdrawn fails to earn a passing grade in at least one course offered over an entire period, the institution must assume, for Title IV purposes, that the student has unofficially withdrawn.  Grades that are considered not passing include: F, W, WP, WF, I, U, NR, IN, NG, O, OW and/or NC.

In the unofficial withdrawal calculation, the midpoint of the term is used as the last date of attendance and aid eligibility is reduced by up to 50%.

NOTE:  Any withdrawal will reduce your percentage completion rate, which is part of the standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress for the receipt of financial aid.

Beginning Attendance

It is your responsibility to begin attendance in all of the classes for which you receive financial aid. Federal financial aid may be reduced or canceled if you withdraw from or fail a class that you have never attended. Academic attendance includes physically attending a class meeting, submitting an academic assignment, taking an exam or participating in an online discussion that is part of a course delivery.

Additional Information

Please see the related links on the right menu for more information about Reduction of Tuition and Fee Charge deadlines and the University Withdrawal Procedures.  The Bursar’s Office Refund Policy can also be found at: