Frequently Asked Questions about the Huskie Pledge

What is the Huskie Pledge Program?

The new Huskie Pledge Program makes NIU more affordable for Illinois families with household incomes of $75,000 or less. The program is open to freshmen who earned a cumulative 3.0 grade point average or better in high school and will be starting at NIU in the fall of 2020. For students who meet all eligibility requirements, the new aid program will help completely cover first-year tuition and general fees.

If eligibility criteria continue to be met, the same Huskie Pledge Grant amount received during the initial year of NIU enrollment will be renewable until you have enrolled in 135 credit hours or earned a degree.

What is the deadline to apply?

Funding is limited, so students should apply for admission to NIU and file a FAFSA or alternative Illinois RISE Act application by the priority deadline of Feb. 1, 2020.

What are the eligibility requirements?
  • Be an Illinois resident. (See definition of Illinois resident for undocumented students)
  • Be a graduate of an Illinois high school during the 2019-20 school year.
  • Have a cumulative 3.0 high school GPA or higher.
  • Be a full-time (12 hours per semester) incoming freshman at NIU in the fall of 2020.
  • Apply for admission to NIU and file a FAFSA or the alternative Illinois RISE Act application by the priority deadline of Feb. 1, 2020.
  • Have a parent who is an Illinois resident listed on your FAFSA or Illinois RISE Act application.
  • Have a family adjusted gross income at or below $75,000. This information will be collected on the 2020-21 FAFSA or Illinois RISE Act application, using the 2018 tax year.
  • Have family assets of $75,000 or less, as defined by the FAFSA or Illinois RISE Act application. (Home equity and the value of retirement accounts are not considered.)
  • Meet all criteria as outlined by the State of Illinois AIM HIGH program.
What is the definition of Illinois resident for undocumented students?/Who is eligible to complete the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid?

For the purposes of the Huskie Pledge Program, an undocumented student is considered to be an Illinois resident and eligible to complete an Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid if they meet the following requirements:

  • Lived with their parent or guardian while attending a public or private high school in Illinois.
  • Graduated from a public or private high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in Illinois.
  • Attended school in Illinois for at least three years as of the date they graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma.

In addition, undocumented students will be required to confirm that they will file an application to become a permanent resident of the U.S. at their earliest opportunity to do so.

How much financial aid can I receive through a Huskie Pledge Grant, and how does it work?

Huskie Pledge Grant amounts will vary, depending on the student. The Pledge program was created to assist qualifying students by ensuring that grants and scholarships will at least equal tuition and general fees. 

First a student’s eligibility for state and federal need based grants and the traditional NIU need-based Advantage Grant is determined.  If the combination of these grants together with previously awarded NIU merit scholarships does not equal tuition and fees, the difference will be awarded as a Huskie Pledge Grant.

If eligibility criteria continue to be met, the Huskie Pledge Grant is renewable, although the grant amount remains the same. (The grant amount is not recalculated annually.)

Here are two examples using current NIU tuition and general fees. Tuition and fees for the 2020-21 school year have not yet been established.

Freshman Student One

Example Amount
Annual Tuition and General Fees $12,163.04
MAP Grant $4,272.00
Scholarship $4,000.00
NIU Advantage Need Grant $1,000.00
Huskie Pledge Grant $2,891.04
Remaining Tuition and General Fees Balance $0

Potentially renewable grant amount: $2,891.04

Freshman Student Two

Example Amount
Annual Tuition and General Fees $12,163.04
Pell Grant $5,900.00
MAP Grant $5,340.00
Huskie Pledge Grant $923.04
Remaining Tuition and General Fees Balance $0

Potentially renewable grant amount: $923.04

What expenses are not covered?

Summer tuition and fees, student health insurance, study abroad fees, course material fees, parking permits, housing and dining charges, fines, book store charges and indirect costs such as transportation and supplies.

However, students may have other types of financial aid that can cover other charges (except fines).

How are the income and asset thresholds evaluated?

For 2020-21, your Huskie Pledge Grant eligibility is determined by a family adjusted gross income (AGI). The AGI reported on the FAFSA for both you and your parent(s) is combined. If that sum is $75,000 or less, you meet the income criteria. Your initial eligibility will be based on the 2020-21 FAFSA, which uses 2018 income information.

You and, if dependent by federal financial aid regulations, your parent(s) will report certain assets on the FAFSA. Home equity and the value of retirement accounts, two of the most common parent assets, are not reported. We will add reported assets from you and your parents; if the sum is $75,000 of less, you meet the asset criteria.

The renewal income criteria is a family AGI of $80,000 or less. Should you have greater earnings in college than in high school, or your parent has a small pay increase, we do not want you to lose eligibility for this program. The renewal income will be based on the income reported on the FAFSA specific to the respective school year. For example, for year 2, we will use the 2021-2022 FAFSA, which will use 2019 income, to determine your eligibility based on income.
What are the renewal criteria and how will my renewal amount be determined?

If income, enrollment and university GPA criteria continue to be met, the same Huskie Pledge Grant amount received during the initial year of NIU enrollment will be renewable for four or more years, regardless of increases or decreases in other aid.

This means we will not reduce the Huskie Pledge amount if you later receive private scholarships or other NIU scholarships. Likewise, the Huskie Pledge will not increase if other grants or scholarships decrease. We will only reduce the Huskie Pledge amount if you subsequently receive a waiver or grant through Illinois programs such as the Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver and the Illinois Veterans Grant or from programs such as DORs, WIOA and DCFS that cover tuition and general fees.

All other grants and scholarships awarded to freshman students are re-determined each year based on the individual program’s eligibility criteria and funding. For this reason, we cannot guarantee your full tuition and general fees will be covered beyond your freshman year. However, state and federal need-based grants generally remain constant or increase through four years, if family income and size remain constant. If your grants and scholarships increase, your locked-in Huskie Pledge Grant funding stays the same, and any excess can be used for books, housing or other expenses.

The Huskie Advantage Grant is a two-year need-based grant. If you receive both, the Huskie Pledge Grant cannot be increased to replace this grant in years three and four.

If I do not receive a Huskie Pledge Grant my freshman year but meet the general eligibility criteria, will I be considered in future years?

No, but you may have other aid options. NIU merit scholarships awarded at the time of admission are renewable for four years. The need-based Huskie Advantage Grant is renewable for a second year. Filing the FAFSA each year will ensure you continue to be considered for the federal Pell Grant and the Illinois State Monetary Award Program (MAP) each year. And NIU has more than 400 scholarships you may apply for each year.

Contact Us

Financial Aid and Scholarship Office
Swen Parson Hall 245
815-753-1395
finaid@niu.edu

For scholarship-specific questions

scholarships@niu.edu

Additional Contact Info

Protecting Your Information

Back to top