How NIU Invests in You: Our Financial Aid Programs

At NIU, we’re committed to making a life-changing education affordable for you.


That’s why we guarantee you the same costs over four continuous years as you complete your bachelor’s degree, and also charge a flat, full-time rate for 12 or more credit hours a semester — helping you to earn your degree and to graduate faster.

In addition, we’ve kept our base tuition costs at the same level for five consecutive years.

Planning to enroll for an upcoming term? If you’ve been admitted to NIU and submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) along with any additional required documentation, we will share your financial aid eligibility in an award letter.

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.

What is Financial Aid?

NIU continually works to enhance your access to programs that can help you pay for college, including scholarships, grants, loans and federal work-study. There are two general categories of assistance:

  1. Need-based aid dependent on your financial eligibility.
  2. Merit-based aid determined by your academic achievements.

More than 80% of our students receive financial aid through federal, state, NIU and other programs, and you may be eligible for more than one type.

What’s Available at NIU?

Once you’re ready to apply for financial aid, our step-by-step guide will help you navigate the process. Learn more about the assistance that may be available to you below. 


Considered a kind of gift-aid that doesn’t have to be repaid, scholarships can be need-based, merit-based or competitive.

  • NIU Merit ScholarshipsAwarded automatically, based on the academic credentials submitted with your incoming undergraduate application for admission.
  • NIU Competitive ScholarshipsNIU’s primary resource for additional scholarships for continuing sophomores, juniors and seniors. See filing deadlines and apply at
  • AIM HIGH and NIU Partner ScholarshipsAwarded to incoming students from Illinois based on state income guidelines and merit. Complete your FAFSA by NIU’s priority deadline of Dec. 1 to be considered.


Students who demonstrate financial need or other eligibility may receive a type of gift-aid that does not have to be repaid — federal, state and NIU grants.

  • Federal Pell GrantOffered by the U.S. Department of Education to undergraduates who demonstrate need, with a lifetime funding limit of 12 full-time semesters.
  • Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) GrantFunded on a first-come, first-served basis by the state of Illinois. Similar to the Pell Grant, the MAP Grant has a lifetime cap, meaning those eligible may receive up to 135 credit hours of assistance.
  • Huskie Advantage GrantsAwarded by NIU to first- or second-year students who are enrolled full time, and who meet need and scholastic criteria.

Student Loans

Generally a type of financial aid that must be repaid, loans are available through the federal government or private lenders. Federal student loans have annual and lifetime limits, and private lenders may require a cosigner or other criteria.

  • Direct PLUS LoanSupplemental federal loans for graduate students and parents of dependent undergraduates. Borrowers are responsible for paying all interest.
  • Direct Subsidized LoanA federal loan award based on financial need. The government pays interest if borrowers are enrolled in at least six credit hours, as well as during a period of deferment and for the first six months after they leave school.
  • Direct Unsubsidized LoanA federal loan available to students who are eligible for financial aid but may not qualify for a subsidized loan. Borrowers are responsible for paying all interest.
  • Private LoansAvailable through corporate lenders with varying requirements. Consider private loans after exploring other options for assistance.

Federal Work-Study

Students awarded this need-based program must apply and be hired for an eligible campus job, stay enrolled in at least six credit hours and maintain a 2.0 GPA. Any work-study amount offered on an award letter represents the total wages a recipient could earn.

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