Modest Tuition Increase Will Help NIU Address Critical Student Needs

February 19, 2021

NIU Board of Trustees approves 1.5% uptick in base undergraduate tuition rate

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees voted Feb. 18 to accept President Lisa C. Freeman's recommendation for a modest tuition increase effective in academic year 2021-22 that will enable the university to address critical needs supporting student success.

Beginning with the fall of 2021 semester, base undergraduate tuition rates will increase by 1.5%, with no change in undergraduate differential tuition rates. Most currently enrolled NIU students will see no change in their tuition. The new rate only applies to incoming or re-entering students, non-degree-seeking students and students whose continuous enrollment has exceeded nine semesters.

The tuition change comes after years of holding the line on costs. NIU's base undergraduate tuition rate (excluding differentials) had remained unchanged since the 2015-2016 academic year.

The base undergraduate tuition change represents a $5.23 rise in the per-credit-hour rate and a $70.99 increase per semester in the full-time rate. Consequently, new undergraduates will pay $354.07 per credit hour for the first 11 hours of courses. Those who take 12 or more hours will pay the full-time rate of $4,803.79 per semester. Tuition is capped at that amount, creating an incentive to enroll in course loads that enable timely graduation within four years.

In December, the NIU Board of Trustees voted in agreement with President Freeman's recommendation to lower student fees. With that decrease factored in, the total overall increase in undergraduate tuition and fees is even more modest at roughly 1%.

President Freeman noted that NIU continues to be a leader in Illinois and nationally in its efforts to remove barriers to a high-quality college education. The university has focused on keeping an NIU degree affordable and within reach of everyone, with equitable access and opportunity.

NIU has no undergraduate application fees and will not use standardized test scores to make decisions about admissions or merit scholarships. The university's Huskie Pledge program is helping to ensure that qualifying Illinois students from lower-income households can attend college with no tuition or general fees for their first year and potentially beyond.

"We continue to work hard at managing the costs to keep an NIU education as affordable as possible," Freeman said. "After years of tuition freezes, this modest increase will directly support the academic success of our students."

Experience over the past year demonstrated a need to provide additional services to students. Funds realized from the tuition increase will be directed to an expansion of services that include enhanced advising and financial counseling to support financial planning, literacy and resources for students and their families. While there are still pandemic-related challenges, NIU is planning to return in the fall to primarily face-to-face classes and in-person events and activities.

NIU Board of Trustees Chair Dennis Barsema said much thought and discussion went into the tuition decision.

"I believe that the university arrived at a very good conclusion, both for the benefit of the university and more importantly for the benefit of students and families, in terms of having as small of an increase as we possibly can while still meeting our needs," he said.

The new undergraduate tuition rates will apply to new students, in-state or out-of-state, who enroll in the 2021-22 academic year. Their rates will remain unchanged for nine consecutive semesters, per state and university policy. Room and board for students living in university residence halls during the 2021-22 academic year will see a modest increase of 2 percent, or roughly $100 per semester, to cover increased cost of operations.

Meanwhile, new and returning domestic graduate students at NIU will see a modest 1.5% increase in base tuition, offset somewhat by a decrease in institutional charges. The total increased cost for attendance is less than 1 percent. New and returning domestic law students will see a 0.79% increase in the base tuition, also offset somewhat by a decrease in institutional charges. NIU continues to offer the most affordable law school education in the state.


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: Joe King, NIU Institutional Communications
Phone: 815-762-7425

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