NIU Holds Tuition Flat for Sixth Straight Year, Lowers Student Fees

December 10, 2019

University's commitment to affordability also keeps room and board flat .

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees voted Dec. 5 to accept President Lisa C. Freeman's recommendation to freeze both undergraduate tuition and room and board for students enrolling in 2020-2021, as well as to lower fees for all students next academic year.

This freeze marks the sixth consecutive year for tuition and fourth for room and board, and it is the second straight year that student fees were lowered. These actions mean that the typical undergraduate student enrolling at NIU in the fall of 2020 will pay only about $54 more per year than a comparable student who enrolled in fall of 2015.

"We are extremely proud of our ability to keep an NIU education as affordable as possible," Freeman said. "As an institution, we are committed to access, affordability and eliminating barriers that stand between students and a college degree. We are acutely aware that for many students and families, every dollar counts, so we work very hard at managing the costs within our control."

Freeman is pleased that the NIU has been able to maintain that commitment, even during some of the most difficult financial times ever faced by the state and its public universities. "It is a testament to the dedication of our staff and administration, who have worked tirelessly to reduce costs and find efficiencies, without sacrificing the excellence of an NIU education," she said.

The details of the tuition and fees approved are as follows:


As they have since the 2015-2016 academic year, new undergraduate students will pay $348.84 per credit hour for the first 11 hours of courses. Those who take 12 or more hours will have their tuition capped at $4,732.80 per semester, creating an incentive to take heavier course loads and graduate on an accelerated timeline. The rate will apply to students, in-state or out-of-state, who enroll in the 2020- 2021 academic year, and will remain constant for nine consecutive semesters, per state and university policy.

Students majoring in some high-demand undergraduate areas will continue to pay the same additional per-hour differential rate to offset the costs of ensuring that labs and other resources are up to current industry standards. Those slightly higher rates are applied to students enrolled in engineering ($50), nursing ($15) and computer science ($40).

Base tuition costs (excluding differentials) for the Graduate School and College of Law also remained unchanged for the fifth straight year.


The board approved a 3.2 percent reduction in student fees (exclusive of health insurance costs, which students can waive with proof of their own insurance) for all students, which translates to $3.67 less per credit hour – or about $88 a year less for a student taking 12 or more hours of classes.

The decrease in year-over-year costs was made possible largely due to strategic partnerships forged by the university in recent years. Combining NIU's Huskie Line buses with services provided by the City of DeKalb and TransVAC to create a regional transportation network enabled the university to reduce the Transportation Access Charge by $3.03 per credit hour. Similarly, a partnership with Northwestern Medicine to run the Student Health Services clinic yielded a $1.08 per credit hour reduction in the Health and Wellness charge.

"We are particularly proud of these innovative partnerships as they have not only lowered costs, but also allowed us to provide better services for students," Dr. Freeman said.

Fees have decreased by about $25 per credit hour compared to 2015-2016.

Room and Board

The board also voted to leave average room and board rates unchanged for the fourth straight year at $5,440 per semester for the average double occupancy room. Those costs have increased by only $102 since the 2015-16 academic year.

The new housing rates do not pertain to the New Hall and Northern View Apartment complexes on campus. Those facilities are operated as a public-private partnership, and rates are set by an outside agency.

The Huskie Pledge

The university recently announced another way to make an NIU education affordable for many families: the Huskie Pledge. Under that program, qualifying students can receive grants that will pay any tuition or general fees not covered by their financial aid packages. To qualify, a student must:

  • Come from a household with a family income of $75,000 or less.
  • Have a GPA of 3.0 or better.
  • Graduate from an Illinois high school in spring 2020, and enroll at NIU in fall 2020.

Qualifying students are eligible to renew their Huskie Pledge (receiving the same amount awarded freshman year) for up to four years.

"Our Huskie Pledge is yet another step toward our goal of making a life-changing NIU education affordable and accessible to as many students as possible," said Freeman, who announced the program during her Oct. 22 State of the University address. "If you're a hard-working student, we want to help you succeed at NIU and beyond." Learn more about the NIU Huskie Pledge.


Northern Illinois University is a student-centered, nationally recognized public research university, with expertise that benefits its region and spans the globe in a wide variety of fields, including the sciences, humanities, arts, business, engineering, education, health and law. Through its main campus in DeKalb, Illinois, and education centers for students and working professionals in Chicago, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Oregon and Rockford, NIU offers more than 100 courses of study while serving a diverse and international student body of about 17,000.

Media Contact: Joseph King
Phone: 815-762-7425

Back to top