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New Freshman Student Merit Scholarships


Once a student has been admitted to NIU as a freshman, they will automatically be considered for a merit scholarship.  Some scholarships may require an interview or campus engagement activity to receive the full amount of the award.


Effective for freshmen beginning in fall 2016 and later, NIU will determine merit scholarship eligibility at the time of admission by computing an academic index score which utilizes:

  • Cumulative high school grade point average
    (using a 4.0 grading scale)
  • Composite ACT score
    - The highest composite ACT score or SAT score (math plus verbal) will be used. NIU does not superscore.
    • Note: updates to the Scholarship Calculator and the Merit Scholarship Matrix with the new SAT scoring (tests taken April 2016 or later) coming soon.

To estimate scholarship amounts, use the Scholarship Calculator or Merit Scholarship Distribution Matrix (PDF).

Scholarship Calculator

Merit Scholarship Requirements

Students will receive the highest level of scholarship for which they are eligible; they may only receive one scholarship award.  Students who are eligible for a merit scholarship and the legacy scholarship may receive both (excludes the Presidential Scholarship).

Students should submit an application for admission and all required, official documents as early as possible to receive full consideration for merit scholarships.

The priority deadline for merit scholarships (excluding the Presidential Scholarship) is December 1, however, scholarships may be awarded on a rolling basis as funding remains available.  Some scholarships may require an interview or participation in a campus engagement activity to receive the full amount of the award.  Students will be notified in their award letter if there is an additional requirement.

Students who submit an application for admission and all documents required by November 15, and who meet the minimum academic criteria for the Presidential Scholarship (GPA 3.75 or higher and ACT 33 or higher) will be invited to submit an application for NIU's most prestigious award which includes full tuition, fees, and on-campus room and board.  A limited number of Presidential Scholarships are awarded each fall. 

Financial Aid

All families should also file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible beginning on January 1 for fall 2016, October 1 for fall 2017.  Northern Illinois University uses the results of the FAFSA, along with academic credentials, to determine eligibility for additional grants.  Funding is limited, so be sure to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible!  For help with this process, please contact the Student Financial Aid Office.

Contact Us

Scholarship Office
Swen Parson Hall 245K
Northern Illinois University
815-753-4829 or
Fax: 815-753-9475

Business Hours
8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.