Applying for Financial Aid

Wondering how our financial aid programs at Northern Illinois University can help you pay for college? You may be eligible for assistance covering up to all of your expenses, or a significant portion.

Whether you're coming to NIU as a newly admitted undergraduate or transferring in to become a Huskie, read on for your next steps.

Your Step-by-Step Guide

  • 1

    Complete Your Application for Admission

    From the moment you take this first step with NIU, we'll automatically consider you for one of several NIU Merit Scholarships — based on the GPA and test scores provided in your application for admission.

    Our rolling admissions process means you can apply to NIU at any time, but it's important to pay attention to final application dates for the semester in which you plan to enroll, as well as priority scholarship deadlines to be considered for our competitive merit awards.

  • 2

    File Your FAFSA for a Financial Aid Offer

    More than 80% of our undergraduates receive aid, so your first step after applying to NIU should be completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at Our Financial Aid and Scholarship Office uses FAFSA results to determine your eligibility for most types of assistance.

    We continue to process financial aid throughout the academic year, but you'll want to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible after filing opens Oct. 1 because some programs have priority deadlines or are funded on a first-come, first-served basis.

    If you've applied to NIU and filed your FAFSA, watch for your financial aid offer letter in the spring to see what assistance you've been offered!

    Please note: If you are an Illinois resident but are ineligible for federal aid as an undocumented or transgender student, you can still apply for state assistance. The Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act became law in January 2020. Find out whether you should complete the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid instead of the FAFSA.

  • 3

    Estimate Your Expenses and Accept Offers

    Most students still have a balance to pay after offered aid has been applied to their student account. NIU's Planning and Cost Estimator provided by our Office of the Bursar will help you determine this amount. Use this digital calculator for a complete picture of your educational costs — including tuition, fees and on-campus housing.

    If you find your expenses exceed your ability to pay out of pocket, there may be more options available to you, such as private loans. See our financial aid overview for a breakdown of the programs available to NIU students.

    Once you've reviewed your expenses, log in to the MyNIU Student Center at or through the NIU Mobile App and select the Financial Aid tile to accept any federal loans or work-study you may have been offered. Other types of aid — grants and scholarships — are automatically applied to your account if they're offered to you.

  • 4

    Make Sure You're Set for Your First Semester

    Once you've accepted your offers, the major remaining decisions ahead of you as you get ready to attend orientation will be exploring a major, finding a residence hall you'll love and, of course, signing up for classes.

    However, it's important to regularly check your NIU student email and keep track of your to-do list in MyNIU. We've summarized a typical checklist to help you join our Huskie pack smoothly:

    • Complete Loan Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note: If you've never received a student loan, you'll need to visit for these important steps.
    • Sign up for direct deposit: Log in to MyNIU and click on the Direct Deposit link within the Financial Account tile to designate a bank account to have funds deposited if you're ever owed a refund.
    • Authorize aid for all educational charges: To authorize use of any federal aid you've been offered for expenses beyond tuition, fees and university housing, log in to MyNIU. Within the Financial Account tile, click on Account Services, select View Student Permissions and choose Grant Permissions.
    • Provide shared access to your account: Customize access to your account for up to two additional people in MyNIU. Enter Self-Service under Quick Links, click Share My Information and select Delegate Access to a New Contact.
    • Waive student medical insurance: If you're covered by a qualified insurance plan and don't wish to be automatically enrolled in NIU's campus health care plan, wait at least 48 hours after signing up for classes to complete the waiver form at
    • Pay your student account balance: You'll receive your first billing statement generally two weeks after the start of a new semester, and you can view real-time information anytime in MyNIU after you register for classes. Want to make payments? Sign up for our Huskie Installment Plan.
    • Buy books and school supplies: You can pay for textbooks and course materials conveniently by using your NIU OneCard ID to charge purchases made at Huskie Books and Gear or Village Commons Bookstore directly to your account. You may also purchase books directly from other vendors.

What to Know as You Continue Your Journey With NIU

Some types of financial aid have renewal criteria to meet each term, and it's important for you to file your FAFSA every fall. We also encourage you to apply for competitive awards through MyScholarships, our primary resource for additional scholarships for continuing sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Students who receive financial aid are required to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress, and it's important for you to be aware of your Student Rights and Responsibilities as well as our Terms and Conditions.

The most important thing to know is that you'll never be alone on your journey here. Don't hesitate to contact our Financial Aid and Scholarship Office for support.

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