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, Federal Work-Study opportunities, and scholarships.
When can I first complete the 2015-2016 FAFSA?(show/hide »)
The first day that the 2015-2016 FAFSA application is available is January 1, 2015. Whenever possible students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA as early as possible to ensure sufficient time to complete the review of their financial aid eligibility.
Undergraduate students, particularly those who do not know if they will be eligible for the Illinois Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) Grant or those who have received MAP in previous years, are strongly encouraged to complete the FAFSA by February 21, 2015 to determine their eligibility for MAP in the 2015-2016 academic year. FAFSAs processed after February 21, 2015 may not be eligible to receive MAP.
The FAFSA can be completed online at: fafsa.ed.gov
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 email 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 »)
Federal Work-Study awards are not guaranteed and are earned as wages by working on and off campus with eligible employers. A Federal Work-Study award reflects the amount the student can earn if hired. Students must apply for a Federal Work-Study job and be hired in order to utilize the eligibility offered on their award notification. Federal 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 ffice 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
What is considered in offering an award? (show/hide »)
Financial aid awards are determined based on the information provided in the 2015-2016 FAFSA. New students who completed their FAFSA using estimated 2014 tax information may be offered an estimated award letter that which will expire after the Fall 2015 semester if actual tax information is not provided on a subsequent FAFSA. Continuing students who estimated 2014 tax information must update their FAFSA with actual tax information before being issued an award notification. 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 will financial aid award notifications be issued? (show/hide »)
New students and transfer students attending Northern Illinois University for the first time can expect to receive their financial aid award notifications by the end of March. Award notifications for continuing students are expected to be sent out in early April. Students who are selected for verification must provide all required documents in order to be offered an award letter. All students are encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to provide actual tax information once 2014 taxes have been filed.
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. While 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:
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 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 what the actual costs 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.
How does my parent apply for the Parent PLUS Loan?(show/hide »)
For additional information please visit the PLUS Tutorial
My parents just applied for the Parent PLUS Loan, when will I see it on my awards?(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. The results of the application are sent to the school within 3-5 business days. The Student Financial Aid Office processes all loan requests in the order received. Peak application times may take up to two weeks from when the application was submitted before offering additional funding.
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. Whenever 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 »)
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.
How do I provide a prospective landlord with evidence of my financial aid?(show/hide »)
The best summary of financial aid awarded is actually accessible to you through MyNIU. Go to MyNIU > Student System > Self Service > Campus Finances > Accept/Decline Awards. This screen shows the amount of aid you have been offered, and the amount that you have accepted. Printing this screen will show this information, juxtaposed with your name and the NIU logo, in a format that longtime DeKalb landlords should be familiar with.
For assistance navigating MyNIU, please visit our MyNIU Tutorials.
Can financial aid pay for my books?(show/hide »)
Financial aid recipients may charge books and supplies to their Bursar account at either the NIU Bookstore or the Village Commons Bookstore (VCB) for a limited time at the start of each semester. It is important to note that the amount you charge will be added to your Bursar account. You will be responsible for covering these charges either with financial aid or by paying out of pocket if your financial aid has been exhausted.
For additional information please visit www.niubookstore.niu.edu
How can I see the exact charges for my student?(show/hide »)
You can go into the student's MyNIU account: on the 'Student Center' page, about a third of the way down is a blue line that says 'Finances'; under it, click on 'Term Account Detail', then click on the specific semester you are looking for. This will show you all of the exact charges, payments, financial aid, pending financial aid and refund information for that semester. Please note that it's a snapshot page. You will need to print it if you need it for future reference. If anything on the account changes, the information on this page will change. For more information please go to www.niu.edu/bursar.
When does financial aid disburse, and when will I receive my refund?(show/hide »)
For the majority of students, Spring 2015 loans will disburse on January 26th. Students enrolled in the Law program will receive disbursements earlier. Refunds will be generated over the rest of the third week of classes. To receive a refund, you must have financial aid in excess of your charges. We recommend that students consider signing up (at www.niu.edu/bursar/ and click on 'Refunds') to have their refund directly deposited into their personal bank account. Refund checks will be sent through the mail to students who do not take advantage of this service. Parent borrowers who opt to have any Parent PLUS refunds sent to the borrow rather than to the student have the option to receive the refund as a direct deposit or paper check. Visit the Bursar's office website for additional information.
NIU has a very flexible add/drop policy that allows students to change their enrollment through the second week of classes. By issuing refunds after add/drop is closed, students are assured that the refund is based upon the most up-to-date enrollment. The Student Financial Aid Office will recalculate each student's financial aid eligibility after the add/drop period is over based on their enrollment at that time. It is at this point the financial aid funds will disburse to the Bursar account for refund processing.
I just received my refund, why do I still have a balance owed on my account?show/hide »
You may have a balance on owed on your account for two reasons:
a.) A charge was applied to your account after the refund was calculated and/or
b.) Your refund was from a financial aid disbursement and you have one or more charges on your account that financial aid cannot pay. Students can choose to use their financial aid refund to pay these charges.
Financial aid eligibility is based on the costs associated with your enrollment for this academic year. Financial aid regulations restrict the charges that can be covered by your financial aid. Miscellaneous charges, such as orientation fees, graduation fees, late fees, parking tickets fines and balances from prior years cannot automatically be paid with a financial aid disbursement. If you have a balance on your account, the unpaid charge may be related to one or more of these items.
The financial aid disbursed to your account paid outstanding Fall 2014 tuition and fees, any bookstore and housing and dining charges. The remainder of your financial aid is the refund you have been issued. You may use part of your financial aid refund or other personal funds to pay the miscellaneous charges you owe.
What happens if I am unable to pay my entire bill before the due date? Will I be dropped from my classes and dismissed from the residence hall?(show/hide »)
Students will not be dropped from their classes or dismissed from the residence halls if their entire balance is not paid as of the end of the first billing period. Payment of all charges for a term is due one week prior to the start of the term to which the charges apply. Through this account, students can pay the full account balance at this time or an amount less than the full amount. Students who pay less than the total amount due by the respective due date will be assessed a monthly late payment fee of 1.08% on the remaining unpaid portion, with a minimum late fee charge of $0.50. For additional information regarding payment policies please visit www.niu.edu/bursar/paymentpolicy.shtml.
What are my options for paying an unpaid balance?(show/hide »)
Based on your dependency status there may be several options to help resolve an unpaid balance.
Dependent students may have a parent complete a Parent PLUS Loan application which if approved can be used to cover most outstanding charges for the current year. Dependent students whose parents have applied and been denied a Parent PLUS loan may qualify for an increase in Unsubsidized Stafford loans. Additional information on Parent PLUS Loans can be found at http://www.niu.edu/fa/types/plus.shtml.
Any student can apply for private student loans. Additional information on Private student loans can be found at http://www.niu.edu/fa/types/private.shtml.
Graduate students can apply for a Graduate PLUS loan. If approved a Graduate PLUS loan can be offered to cover most outstanding charges for the current year. Additional information on Graduate PLUS Loans can be found at http://www.niu.edu/fa/types/gradplus.shtml.
Depending on the time of year, students can also apply for a Huskie Installment Plan to make regular monthly payments throughout the semester. Additional information on the Huskie Installment Plan can be found at http://www.niu.edu/bursar/payments/HIP.shtml. Student who do not want to sign up for the Huskie Installment Plan are also able to make payments throughout the semester. Payment option information is available at http://www.niu.edu/bursar/payments/makeapayment.shtml.
My parents just applied for the Parent PLUS Loan, when will I see it on my awards?(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. The results of the application are sent to the school within 3-5 business days. The Student Financial Aid Office processes all loan requests in the order received. Peak application times may take 5 to 7 business days from when the application was submitted before offering additional funding.
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.