Frequently Asked Questions


Do I need to fill out the FAFSA?

Even if you think you won't qualify for financial aid, we strongly encourage you to fill out the FAFSA. You may be eligible for more aid than you think. Northern Illinois University uses the results of the FAFSA, along with academic credentials, to determine eligibility for additional grants. Also, if your financial situation changes mid-year and you need to apply for a student loan, you will need to fill out the FAFSA if you haven't already done so.

What are the general financial aid eligibility requirements?

To be eligible for financial aid:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • If you are male, between ages of 18 and 25, you must register with Selective Service.
  • You must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent such as the General Education Development (GED) High School Equivalency Diploma, or have completed homeschooling at the secondary level as defined by state law, or have an associate's degree, or have successfully completed at least 60 semester credit hours that is acceptable for a bachelor's degree.
  • You must be working toward a degree or certificate recognized under the gainful employment rule. Students not admitted for a degree may be eligible for Federal Direct Loans if enrolled for at least half-time in course work necessary to be admitted to a program (preparatory coursework) or required for elementary or secondary teacher certification (licensure). Approved students may only receive federal loans under the preparatory coursework provision for a maximum of one calendar year.

If you are not a citizen, you must be a U.S. permanent resident who has one of the following:

  • An Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-551)
  • Conditional permanent residence (I-551C)
  • An Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing that you are a refugee, asylum granted, parolee (I-94 confirms paroled for a minimum of one year and status has not expired), victim of human trafficking, T-Visa holder (T-1, T-2, T-3, etc.), Cuban-Haitian entrant

You are not eligible if:

  • You are in the United States on an F1 or F2 student visa, J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa or a G series visa
  • You are enrolled at NIU under the "visiting student" status
  • You are neither U.S. citizens nor eligible non-citizens (see above)
  • You are incarcerated in a prison facility. Students who are incarcerated must notify the university at the time of application.
  • You are convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while receiving federal student aid. This includes grants, loans or work-study
When does the FAFSA application process open?

The FAFSA application process opens on October 1 for the following academic year.

Is there a deadline for the FAFSA?

Yes. You should complete and submit the FAFSA form as soon as possible after the process opens on October 1. Some state and institutional funds are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so the sooner you submit, the more likely you are to receive funds if you are eligible. NIU continues to process financial aid applications on a rolling basis throughout the academic year, and the deadline occurs during the summer after the academic year. So, the filing deadline for 2018-2019 is June 30, 2019.

What if I have a special family circumstances?

Here are a few examples of special circumstances that you may need to consider when filling out the FAFSA. If you have questions, contact our office.

Dependent student, parents not married: If the legal (biological, adopted) parents of a dependent student are not married and do not reside together, the student must apply using the parent with whom they lived more in the 12 months prior to filing the FAFSA. If that parent is married, the step-parent and step-parent's income must be included on the FAFSA. If the legal parents live in the same home, even if unmarried, include both parents' financial information.

Dependent student living with someone other than parent: Federal regulations do not allow for a student to file the FAFSA with anyone other than biological or adoptive parent(s). In such a situation, you may meet one of the criteria to be considered an independent student, or it may be a situation where an independent appeal could be considered. If you are not sure which direction to take, it may be best to contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office to discuss the situation.

Independent appeal: If you do not meet any of the criteria to be considered independent, but feel you have an extenuating or unusual circumstance, you may appeal to be considered an independent student. Contact our office to discuss your situation and determine if an independent appeal is appropriate. A parent's unwillingness or inability to pay for college cannot be considered. Generally, a student must document that a parent cannot be located, is incapacitated to an extent that prevents parental interaction with the student, has not had any parental role in the student's life for an extended number of years, or the student has been abandoned or would be at risk to contact the parent.

My FAFSA has been selected for verification. What does that mean?

If your FAFSA is selected for verification, don’t panic. About one-third of all submitted forms are selected to provide additional information.

If you are selected for verification, you will receive an email from the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office. The documents requested will be posted on your MyNIU "To Do List." You may be asked to submit tax return transcripts, proof of income or a family member’s college registration form to verify the information on your application. Make note of any deadlines and be sure to submit them to the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office before they pass.

Once you return the necessary documents, your financial aid may increase, decrease or stay the same. However, if you do not submit the required information, you will hold up your application. Since the FAFSA aid is handed out on a first come, first served basis, it is in your best interest to comply as soon as possible for the best outcome.

Students who use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool during the FAFSA application process are less likely to be chosen for verification since they are submitting documents to back up their claims. We suggest you use this tool if possible to help you through the application process.

See Verification Process for more information.

Managing College Costs

What is the Estimated College Cost and how is it determined?

The Estimated College Cost (ECC) is a projection of expenses you can expect to incur during the course of your education. The ECC includes both expenses that are charged directly by NIU and reasonable estimates of other necessary living expenses that the student will incur during the course of study.

Costs are determined by taking modest averages of anticipated expenses for a group of students to develop an estimate of yearly expenses.

These projections are used to determine what you may be eligible to receive in financial aid.

What is included in the Estimated College Cost?

Estimated College Cost is comprised of five key expenses. These expenses include tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, travel and miscellaneous personal expenses.

  • Tuition and Fees are the expenses necessary to attend classes. Tuition and fees are based on student residency, enrollment and degree level. As part of the Illinois Truth-in-Tuition Bill, NIU offers first-time degree seeking undergraduate students guaranteed tuition at the same rate for four consecutive years. Students with higher than average tuition and fees can appeal to have this budget component adjusted.
  • Room and Board represents the costs associated with providing the student with housing and food. For students living on campus or off campus, the room and board expense is determined by using the average cost of living in all residency hall options, assuming double occupancy, and purchase of the Huskie 65/Unlimited Access Plan. Commuting students will have a lower room and board component in their estimated budget. Students who are able to demonstrate a need to reside off campus may appeal to have the room and board allowance adjusted.
  • Books and Supplies expenses are for the purchase of books and supplies which can vary by program, enrollment and class. Costs for books and supplies represent the average across all programs assuming a full time course load.
  • Travel costs allow for the purchase of items for students to come to campus. Travel costs are not directly assessed by the university but may include such expenses as gasoline/oil and regular vehicle maintenance.
  • Miscellaneous Personal Expenses can be comprised of costs for the purchase of clothing, personal items or recreation. Personal expenses may vary based on a student’s lifestyle but students may not appeal for an adjustment of miscellaneous personal expenses.
What are the financing solutions available to me?

Each year, we work with students and their families to help make an NIU education more affordable. We assist them in navigating through the financial aid application process and work with them to identify grants, loans and scholarship opportunities for which they may be eligible.

We recognize the financial commitment you and your family are making and encourage you to consider the importance of applying for financial aid. For additional information about your financial aid options, please reference Types of Aid.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss your individual circumstances and what financial aid resources may be available to make an NIU education within your reach.

Financial Aid

How long will it take for submitted documents or loan applications to be processed?

To ensure prompt processing, scan documents and email the images to or fax to 815-753-9475. Be sure to include both sides of the document. Mailing documents may result in longer processing times. Documents are processed in the date order received and processing time can vary depending on the specific documents submitted. Basic verification documents such as the Household Size Form or federal tax return transcripts will normally be reviewed within 4 days of submission. Be sure to monitor your Z-ID student email account, and your MyNIU To Do List, as these are the methods by which we would inform you if we needed clarification on anything.

If you or your parents have applied for a PLUS Loan online, you should expect the resulting loan amount to be visible on your awards screen within roughly a week. Private loans will take at least two weeks, due to the federal Truth In Lending Act.

Why did my financial aid amounts adjust?

Eligibility for the full amount of the Federal Pell Grant and/or Illinois MAP Grant is contingent on enrollment in a certain amount of credit hours (12 credit hours for Pell, 15 credit hours for MAP). When initially packaging you with these awards, we assume you will be enrolled in enough hours to qualify for the full amount. Recipients who are enrolled in fewer hours will receive adjusted, lower amounts of these awards. At various points prior to disbursement, the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office reviews a student's current hours of enrollment and adjusts these awards accordingly. This is considered the best practice in order to ensure that students have the most accurate information about their pending aid at any given time.

The Department of Education requires schools participating in the Title IV federal aid program to periodically adjust student budgets based on their level of enrollment; i.e. full-time, half-time and less than half-time. If your cost of attendance changed, it is most likely the result of the amount of hours you are enrolled in for the term.

How do I accept my student loans?

Accept your loans on your MyNIU Campus Finances. First-time loan borrowers must also complete the Master Promissory Note and Loan Entrance Counseling at the Federal Student Aid website.

How does Federal Work-Study employment work?

Federal Work-Study awards are not guaranteed and are earned as wages by working on and off campus with eligible employers. A Federal Work-Study award reflects the amount you can earn if hired. You must apply for a Federal Work-Study job and be hired in order to utilize the eligibility offered on your award notification. Federal Work-Study wages do not credit to your Bursar account. You earn paychecks for work performed. Regular student employment positions do not require an offering of Federal Work-Study on the award notification.

What is the EFC?

The information supplied on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used by the federal government to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC defines for the university what financial aid programs you are eligible to participate in and the amount for which you are eligible. A common misunderstanding is that the EFC is the amount you will owe the university. Rather, the amount owed is the student charges minus the financial aid awarded and disbursed.

Where should I send the check for a private scholarship I have been awarded?

All scholarship checks should be sent to the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office and will be directly applied to your Bursar account, one-half in the fall semester and one-half in the spring semester, unless otherwise specified by the donor. If the check needs your endorsement, please sign before mailing.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Office
Northern Illinois University
Swen Parson Hall 245
DeKalb, IL 60115

Financial Aid and Your Student Account

What enrollment status (number of registered hours) is my financial aid award based on?

Financial aid awards are generally calculated and issued prior to the beginning of a school year. Financial aid awards are based on an assumption of full-time enrollment until the week before a semester begins unless you have requested a part-time award.

Students register for upcoming semesters over time and may make numerous changes to their schedule and number of registered hours. This means that, for any given student, the number of registered hours fluctuates and for some students is not final until the first week of a semester.

The majority of NIU undergraduate students enroll full-time and need to know what their financial aid will be based on a status of full-time.

If, at any point during your NIU career, you plan to attend the following semester part-time and want your early award notification to reflect your plan, simply contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office and let us know how many hours you plan to take.

Financial aid awards adjust to actual registered hours the week prior to the start of each semester and again at the end of the add/drop period for the semester.

See Student Rights and Responsibilities

Does an account statement or the real-time Term Account Detail in MyNIU state the amount I will owe for an upcoming semester?

NIU issues a monthly account/billing statement. It is a snapshot in time and reflects actual charges, payments, and anticipated financial aid credits at the moment the bill is produced. This snapshot does not change until the next month.

The Term Account Detail in MyNIU is real-time and will change as payments are made and charges incurred. The anticipated financial aid will remain calculated and displayed for full-time, regardless of current registration, until one week prior to the beginning of a semester unless a part-time award has been requested.

Fall semester charges and pending aid are reflected beginning on the July statement and charges and pending aid for spring on the November statement.

NIU students who complete a FAFSA can charge books to their NIU account. Book charges will increase the amount due on any previous statements.

The charges and amount due on account statements and Term Account Detail prior to the beginning of a semester will increase if you register for additional courses, charge books or otherwise incur costs subsequent to reviewing the account balance. Conversely, the charges and amount due may decrease if you drop a course, waive health insurance or make a payment prior to the start of a term.

It is important to remember that your pending aid is the maximum aid assuming eventual full-time enrollment for future terms unless you have requested a part-time award but your charges are “to date.”

How do I figure out exactly what I will owe prior to the start of a term?

If you are registered full-time, have a financial aid award and have your housing option completed if on campus, the Term Account Detail and Account Statement will provide the amount you will owe unless you change housing options, charge books, etc.

If you have not yet registered for all courses but intend to be full-time and have a financial aid award, use the Tuition Estimator to determine what your full-time tuition and fees will be and add the difference in the estimator amount and the amount you have been charged based on current registration. As soon as your registration is complete, view Term Account Detail for balance.

If you plan to attend part-time, have requested a part-time financial aid award and have completed registration, the Term Account Detail and Account Statement will provide the amount you will owe unless you charge books, change registration, etc.

When is financial aid disbursed (paid) to the bill? Why has only some of my aid disbursed? What is the difference in financial aid payments and pending financial aid?

Awarded financial aid that is restricted to paying NIU educationally related charges is reflected under payments beginning with the July bill date for fall and November bill date for spring. The aid that disburses before a semester begins does not create a refundable credit balance. Other aid, that is refundable if all aid exceeds charges, such as the Federal Pell Grant and Federal Direct Loans, will show as pending aid until the end of the add/drop period for the respective semester.

Refunds of credit balances from aid cannot be made until registration is closed for semester courses. The add/drop period extends through the first two weeks of classes. On Monday of the third week of classes, registration will be final for full and first half classes, all aid will disburse and refunds (if there is a credit balance) will be issued. Bookstore charges or tuition and fees related to late registration or second half courses could create an amount due even for students who have received a refund.

For purposes of determining what a student owes for a semester, assigning financial holds, assessing late fees or calculating payment plan amounts prior to the start of a term, aid that is listed under “Payments” or “Pending” is treated the same.

My Award

What is considered when offering an award?

Financial aid awards are determined based on the information provided in the 2018-2019 FAFSA. New students who completed their FAFSA using estimated 2016 tax information may be offered an estimated award letter which will expire after the fall 2018 semester if actual tax information is not provided on a subsequent FAFSA. Continuing students who estimated 2016 tax information must update their FAFSA with actual tax information before being issued an award notification. Before offering an award the information must be verified to be accurate for students who have been selected for verification. Additionally the award is offered assuming you will be enrolled full time for the entire academic year. Any changes to enrollment status may affect the amount of financial aid you are eligible to receive. Please contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office if you have any questions about how your enrollment status may affect your financial aid eligibility.

When will financial aid award notifications be issued?

New and transfer students attending Northern Illinois University for the first time can expect to receive their financial aid award notifications by the end of March. Award notifications for continuing students are expected to be sent out in May. Students who are selected for verification must provide all required documents in order to be offered an award letter. All students are encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to provide actual tax information once 2016 taxes have been filed.

When should I accept my financial aid award?

There are two types of aid you must accept, merit-based scholarships and federal student loans. While you are encouraged to accept all sources of financial aid as soon as possible, you may accept aid at almost any point within the academic year with the following exceptions:

Merit-based scholarships must be accepted by the date indicated in the scholarship notification letter.

Federal student loans must be accepted prior to the last day of the term you are attending.

Federal, state and institutional grants are automatically accepted.

What is Cost of Attendance and how does it differ from what I can expect to pay for school?

Cost of Attendance (also known as the Budget) represents an estimate of all of the expenses you can expect to pay while attending college. This amount includes expenses such as travel and miscellaneous personal expenses you may incur but that are not charged by the university. To estimate what the actual costs are you will be charged by the university, you are encouraged to visit the NIU Planning and Cost Estimator available through the Office of the Bursar. This tool allows you to input some general information such as the number of hours to attend for the year and select a residence hall to project the anticipated expenses for the academic year.


Who is eligible to apply for a Parent PLUS Loan?Eligible Parent PLUS applicants must be either:
  • a biological parent of the student.
  • married to a biological parent of the student whose information is provided on the relevant academic year's FAFSA.
  • the legal adoptive parent of the student.

In addition, the parent borrower must be either a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen, and must not be in default or owe a refund to any financial aid program. The student must be enrolled at least half-time (six hours per semester).

The parent must submit to a credit check by the United States Department of Education to be eligible for a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan. You authorize the credit check when you sign the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan Request Form. To be approved the parent must have a satisfactory credit history. However, income-to-debt ratio is not considered.

How does my parent apply for the Parent PLUS Loan?

Application Process

  • Parents should go to the Federal Student Aid website and 'Sign In.'
    • Parents sign in using the same FSAID they used to sign the FAFSA. FSAIDs can be requested at the Federal Student Loan website if they do not already have one.
  • Click 'Request PLUS Loan'
  • Choose 'Parent PLUS'
  • Follow the steps to complete the application

Master Promissory Note (MPN): Required for first-time PLUS borrowers

  • Go to the Federal Student Aid website and follow the same 'Sign In' steps as above
  • Click 'Complete MPN'
  • Choose 'Parent PLUS'
  • Follow the steps to complete the promissory note
How much should I request for the Parent PLUS Loan?

Parents can choose to request either the maximum eligible amount or request a specific dollar amount when completing the Parent PLUS application. Whenever possible, borrowers are encouraged to request only the amount of loans that are necessary to pay for their expenses to limit future interest expenses. If a parent requests the maximum loan amount, the PLUS loan will be offered up to the Cost of Attendance minus any other financial aid that has already been awarded. (Cost of Attendance amounts are available on NIU's Bursar Office website).

Parents who wish to request a specific amount for the Parent PLUS loan are encouraged to visit the NIU Planning and Cost Estimator. The estimator allows you and your parents to input your anticipated enrollment, housing plans and awarded financial aid in order to determine the Approximate Yearly Total Due. This amount should help determine how much to request for a Parent PLUS Loan.

Remember parents can borrow up to the Cost of Attendance; parents may wish to borrow more than the amount of the Approximate Yearly Total Due if the student wishes to use financial aid to help pay for living expenses.

What if I get denied the Parent PLUS Loan?

If a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan Application is denied, it may be possible for the student to borrow an additional amount of the Unsubsidized Direct Loan in their own name. Freshman and sophomore students, are eligible to receive up to $4,000 additional unsubsidized loan, while juniors and seniors are eligible up to $5,000 additional unsubsidized loan. If a parent chooses the option of "Not Pursue PLUS Loan" or "Undecided" on the PLUS Application, the additional unsubsidized loan eligibility will automatically be offered to the student. If a parent chooses the option of "Appeal Decision" or Pursue Endorser", the information about these processes will be provided from and should be submitted back to Direct Loan Servicing. Options for when a PLUS is denied are included on the application. The Financial Aid and Scholarship Office will proceed based on the choice made on the application. If a change to the originally selected option is necessary, the student should contact us for more information.

Who is eligible for the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan?

Eligible Graduate PLUS applicants must be either a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen, and must not be in default or owe a refund to any financial aid program. The student must be enrolled at least half-time which is 4.5 hours in the fall and spring semesters, and three hours in the summer semester. If you are graduate student in the College of Law, half-time enrollment is six hours in the fall and spring semesters, and four hours in the summer semester.

You must submit to a credit check by the United States Department of Education to be eligible for a Federal Graduate PLUS Loan. You authorize the credit check when you sign the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Request Form. To be approved, you must have a satisfactory credit history. However, income-to-debt ratio is not considered.

My parents just applied for the Parent PLUS Loan, when will I see it on my awards?

When a parent applies for the Parent PLUS Loan the Department of Education performs a credit check to determine if the parent will be eligible to receive the Parent PLUS loan. The results of the application are sent to the school within 3-5 business days. The Financial Aid and Scholarship Office processes all loan requests in the order received. Peak application times may take up to two weeks from when the application was submitted before offering additional funding.

How Do I Apply For a Graduate PLUS Loan?

Application Process

  • Go to the Federal Student Aid website and 'Sign In.'
    • An FSAID is required for the student to apply for the PLUS Loan, as well as to sign a Master Promissory Note.
  • Click 'Request PLUS Loan'
  • Choose 'Graduate PLUS'
  • Follow the steps to complete the application

Master Promissory Note (MPN): Required for first-time PLUS borrowers

  • Go to the Federal Student Aid website and follow the same 'Sign In' steps as above
  • Click 'Complete MPN'
  • Choose 'Graduate PLUS'
  • Follow the steps to complete the promissory note
What if I get denied the Graduate PLUS Loan?

If a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Application is denied, it may be possible for the student to use an endorser. Information about this process will be provided from and should be submitted back to Direct Loan Servicing. Options for when a PLUS is denied are included on the application. The SFAO will proceed based on the choice made on the application. If a change to the originally selected option is necessary, the student should contact the SFAO for more information.

What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans?

The subsidized loan is based on financial need, while students qualify for the unsubsidized loan regardless of financial need. Students eligible to borrow subsidized loans are not charged interest on the loans while they are enrolled at least half-time. Interest on unsubsidized loans begins accruing while you are enrolled in school. You may choose to defer the interest payment on an unsubsidized loan until you begin repayment.

Where do I go for assistance with choosing a private student loan?

Private Loans are meant to supplement federal and state aid when the Cost of Attendance (COA) is not fully covered by your financial aid. There is a comprehensive list of private loan lenders and additional information regarding private loans at the FinAid website. Valuable information about the private loan process and interest rate calculations is provided at this website and should be read carefully.

What other options do I have?

If your financial aid does not cover all of your educational or living expenses, PLUS Loans are not necessarily your only option. Private Student Loans from a number of national lenders are available to borrowers with good credit. Information about these alternative loans can be found on our site.

NIU also offers a payment plan, called the Huskie Installment Plan (HIP). This program may prove beneficial to those who plan to pay some or all of their charges for a given semester out-of-pocket. Information about HIP can be found at the Office of the Bursar.


What scholarships does NIU offer?

Northern Illinois University offers several types of scholarships. Merit scholarships are awarded to new students at the time of admission, and are based upon high school or transfer academic credentials. Merit scholarships are automatic and do not require a separate application. Other institutional or donor-funded scholarship opportunities are available from various academic and student service departments; those scholarships require an application through MyScholarships (previously known as AcademicWorks).

How do I apply for scholarships?

Whether you are a prospective or current NIU student, you will need to use your student Z-ID and password to log into the MyScholarships system and complete an online general scholarship application in order to be considered for scholarships.

When do I apply for NIU scholarships?

Our online application for competitive scholarships will be available in MyScholarships in November for scholarships for the following academic year.  A common deadline for competitive scholarships is January 31, so over winter break is a great time to apply for scholarships.

What are the deadlines for merit scholarships? Your application for admission plus all required documents (transcript, test score, application fee or waiver) must be received by the priority deadline to be considered for a merit scholarship.
  • Spring 2019 Admission
    • October 1, 2018 is the priority deadline for all merit scholarships, including the Huskie Legacy Award
    • The Presidential Scholarship is not awarded for the spring semester
  • Summer or Fall 2019 Admission
    • December 1, 2018 is the priority deadline for all other freshman merit scholarships, including the Huskie Legacy Award
    • March 1, 2019 is the priority deadline for transfer merit scholarships, including the Huskie Legacy Award
Do I only have to fill out multiple applications for competitive scholarships?

When logged into MyScholarships, you will be prompted to fill out the general application. When you complete the general application, you will be considered for dozens of awards! Based upon your major and other identifying criteria, you may be prompted to submit additional information. You will be able to save your application to continue working on it, before actually submitting it. However, you will need to apply for scholarships every year, as the available opportunities change from year to year.

How do I send a recommendation letter?

Good news! Not all scholarships require recommendation letters. If you need a recommendation or reference letter, you will be notified during the application process. You will be asked to enter the name of your reference, along with their email address. MyScholarships will then generate and send a request directly to the individual. We highly suggest notifying your reference prior to listing them on your application.

Who decides if I receive a scholarship?

Each program area has their own processes, timelines and review committees.

How will I know if I get a scholarship?

You can log into MyScholarships to check on the status of your application(s) under My Applications. You will also receive an email communication with further instructions if you are offered a scholarship.

If I am awarded a scholarship, how do I get my money?

All scholarship awards will be posted on your MyNIU student account and applied directly to your educational expenses for the term indicated.

What if I have more questions?

Contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office at or 815-753-1395.

How do I donate towards scholarships?

The generous support of our donors makes a difference in the lives of NIU students. Alumni, community members, student organizations and philanthropists have many options to help a Huskie! Contact the following departments to learn more about ways to donate to NIU's scholarship funds.

NIU Foundation
The NIU Foundation develops and supports a culture of giving throughout the NIU community. Donations to student scholarships through the NIU Foundation provide financial assistance to students of academic merit and/or financial need.
Alumni Association
The NIU Alumni Association has provided financial assistance through scholarships and trusts to thousands of students over the past 50 years, thanks to generous donations from NIU alumni.

You may also contact individual schools and departments to inquire about ways that you can help support students through scholarship funds. Student organizations should contact the Student Association to learn how to donate to NIU scholarships.

Using the MyScholarships system to Apply for Scholarships

How do I search for scholarships in the MyScholarships system?

Visit the MyScholarships home page. You don't have to log in to search for scholarships. The search will return any scholarship with the search term in the title or description of the scholarship.

I submitted my General Application. How do I know what I am being considered for?

The auto-matching takes place behind the scenes, but a list of scholarship applications that were submitted by this process will be listed under your "applications" page. A match does not mean that you will receive an award; all NIU scholarships are competitive, and will be determined by committees within each department.

What are Recommended Opportunities?

Recommended opportunities, also known as "apply-to," are scholarships that require you to submit additional information to be considered. For example, you may have to answer additional questions, submit a specific essay, or provide reference information. You have to first save and submit your general application before being directed to recommended opportunities.

Can I update my General or Recommended scholarship applications?

Yes. You can update the information in your applications at any time prior to the deadline(s).

When will I find out if I will be awarded a scholarship?

Review for most scholarships will begin in February. You will be notified by an email to your student account if you are selected for an award. In most cases, you will be asked to log into MyScholarships to accept or decline the offer.

Does NIU have scholarships for study abroad?

Some academic departments offer financial support for specific study abroad programs. Be sure to look in MyScholarships, or check with your department. However, you should also contact the Study Abroad Office directly at 815-753-0700 to learn about all of their financial resources.

I changed my major. Can I apply for new scholarships?

You should check back before the deadline if your GPA or major has changed. You will automatically be matched to scholarships that meet your updated applicant record, however, there may be a new conditional application or recommended opportunities to complete.

Is MyScholarships the only place to apply for NIU scholarships?

No. MyScholarships contains the majority of competitive NIU scholarships. However, you should check with your academic college or department, and/or student organization(s) to see if there are additional opportunities for financial assistance. For example, study abroad and other travel grants as well as research reimbursements are not processed in MyScholarships. Huskie Link may also have some leadership award opportunities.

How do I thank my scholarship donor? If you were awarded a scholarship that has a living donor, you will be required to submit a post-acceptance questionnaire in MyScholarships. This information will be shared with your donor.


How can I see the exact charges for my student?

You can go into the student's MyNIU account. On the 'Student Center' page, about a third of the way down is a blue line that says 'Finances;' under it, click on 'Term Account Detail,' then click on the specific semester you are looking for. This will show you all of the exact charges, payments, financial aid, pending financial aid and refund information for that semester. Please note that it's a snapshot page. You will need to print it if you need it for future reference. If anything on the account changes, the information on this page will change. For more information please go to the Bursar Office website.

How do I provide a prospective landlord with evidence of my financial aid?

The best summary of financial aid awarded is actually accessible to you through MyNIU. Go to MyNIU > Student System > Self Service > Campus Finances > Accept/Decline Awards. This screen shows the amount of aid you have been offered, and the amount that you have accepted. Printing this screen will show this information, juxtaposed with your name and the NIU logo, in a format that longtime DeKalb landlords should be familiar with.

Can financial aid pay for my books?

Financial aid recipients may charge books and supplies to their Bursar account at either the NIU Bookstore or the Village Commons Bookstore (VCB) for a limited time at the start of each semester. It is important to note that the amount you charge will be added to your Bursar account. You will be responsible for covering these charges either with financial aid or by paying out of pocket if your financial aid has been exhausted.

For additional information please visit the NIU Bookstore website.

Why was I charged for student health insurance? How do I cancel this policy?

You're automatically enrolled in the Student Health Insurance (SHI) plan if you're taking at least nine semester hours, and the fee will appear within 48 hours of registering for classes. If you have comparable health insurance coverage, you may cancel the SHI by submitting a waiver by the 10th day of classes. Visit

Unpaid Bills and Outstanding Balances

What happens if I am unable to pay my entire bill before the due date? Will I be dropped from my classes and dismissed from the residence hall?

Students will not be dropped from their classes or dismissed from the residence halls if their entire balance is not paid as of the end of the first billing period. Payment of all charges for a term is due one week prior to the start of the term to which the charges apply. Through this account, students can pay the full account balance at this time or an amount less than the full amount. Students who pay less than the total amount due by the respective due date will be assessed a monthly late payment fee of 1.08% on the remaining unpaid portion, with a minimum late fee charge of $0.50. For additional information regarding payment policies please visit the Bursar Office website.

What are my options for paying an unpaid balance?

Based on your dependency status there may be several options to help resolve an unpaid balance.

Dependent students may have a parent complete a Parent PLUS Loan application which if approved can be used to cover most outstanding charges for the current year. Dependent students whose parents have applied and been denied a Parent PLUS loan may qualify for an increase in Unsubsidized Stafford loans.

Any student can apply for private student loans.

Depending on the time of year, students can also apply for a Huskie Installment Plan to make regular monthly payments throughout the semester. Additional information on the Huskie Installment Plan can be found at the Bursar Office website. Student who do not want to sign up for the Huskie Installment Plan are also able to make payments throughout the semester. Payment option information is available at the Bursar Office website.

My parents just applied for the Parent PLUS Loan, when will I see it on my awards?

When a parent applies for the Parent PLUS loan the Department of Education performs a credit check to determine if the parent will be eligible to receive the Parent PLUS loan. The results of the application are sent to the school within 3-5 business days. The Financial Aid and Scholarship Office processes all loan requests in the order received. Peak application times may take 5 to 7 business days from when the application was submitted before offering additional funding.

Disbursements and Refunds

When does financial aid disburse, and when will I receive my refund?

For the majority of students, disbursements occur about two weeks after classes begin (earlier for Law students). Refunds will be generated over the rest of the third week of classes. To receive a refund, you must have financial aid in excess of your charges. We recommend that students consider signing up to have their refund directly deposited into their personal bank account. Refund checks will be sent through the mail to students who do not take advantage of this service. Parent borrowers who opt to have any Parent PLUS refunds sent to the borrow rather than to the student have the option to receive the refund as a direct deposit or paper check.

NIU has a very flexible add/drop policy that allows students to change their enrollment through the second week of classes. By issuing refunds after add/drop is closed, students are assured that the refund is based upon the most up-to-date enrollment. The Financial Aid and Scholarship Office will recalculate each student's financial aid eligibility after the add/drop period is over based on their enrollment at that time. It is at this point the financial aid funds will disburse to the Bursar account for refund processing.

I just received my refund, why do I still have a balance owed on my account?

You may have a balance on owed on your account for two reasons:

A charge was applied to your account after the refund was calculated and/or
Your refund was from a financial aid disbursement and you have one or more charges on your account that financial aid cannot pay. Students can choose to use their financial aid refund to pay these charges.

Financial aid eligibility is based on the costs associated with your enrollment for this academic year. Financial aid regulations restrict the charges that can be covered by your financial aid. Miscellaneous charges, such as orientation fees, graduation fees, late fees, parking tickets fines and balances from prior years cannot automatically be paid with a financial aid disbursement. If you have a balance on your account, the unpaid charge may be related to one or more of these items.

The financial aid disbursed to your account paid outstanding fall tuition and fees, any bookstore and housing and dining charges. The remainder of your financial aid is the refund you have been issued. You may use part of your financial aid refund or other personal funds to pay the miscellaneous charges you owe.

Title IV Authorization

I received an email about Title IV Authorization, what does this email mean?

Federal financial aid funds may only be used to cover certain charges associated with tuition, room and board, and books. In order for Title IV funds to be able to pay other charges you must provide your authorization to use any excess funds. Title IV funds can never be used to cover prior year charges or non-education related charges such as parking tickets, fines and/or recreation charges.

This authorization can be given online through MyNIU and is valid until rescinded. View a tutorial of how to provide this authorization. The Title IV Authorization may be rescinded at any time but will require you to contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office.

Exit Counseling

What is exit counseling and do I have to complete it?

Exit counseling is designed to inform you of the grace period, interest rates, repayment options and incentives, and terms and conditions of your loans, as well as the availability of deferment, forbearance and consolidation. An important thing to note, students are only offered a grace period once, if you use your grace period and then return to school, repayment will begin immediately after you graduate. Exit counseling for Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized loans can be found at the Federal Student Loans website and for Federal Perkins loans at the Heartland ECSI website.

NIU School Code

Use NIU's School Code when completing the FAFSA.


Contact Us

Financial Aid and Scholarship Office
Swen Parson Hall 245

For scholarship-specific questions

Additional Contact Info