Merit Scholarships: Frequently Asked Questions

How is my merit scholarship applied to my account charges?

Broken down over eight semesters up to four years (or four semesters over two years for transfer scholarships), your merit scholarship is applied in direct segments to your student account balance each term as pending financial aid, with payment posting after the second week of classes.

Receiving other university grants or scholarships may result in a decrease in the amount of your merit scholarship award. If the full term amount is not allocated to account charges, the remainder will not be refunded or rolled over to future semesters.

What charges can my merit scholarship pay?

Merit scholarships can cover tuition, mandatory fees, material fees, on-campus housing, meal plans, standard student parking permit, and books purchased at the University Bookstore or Village Commons Bookstore. However, you are responsible for additional costs of attendance, which may include remaining tuition and fees, housing and dining costs, books and personal expenses.

Merit scholarships cannot pay study abroad charges, fines such as parking tickets or late fees, Huskie Bucks or other non-educational expenses.

What are the academic requirements I need to maintain to receive my scholarship each semester?

You are required to enroll in and successfully complete at least 12 credit hours each semester. Successful completion is defined as earning grades of D or better and does not include F grades or withdrawals.

You must maintain the cumulative NIU grade point average (GPA) indicated on your award letter. If you were admitted for fall 2020 or earlier, the GPA requirements are3.30 for Presidentials; 3.20 for NIU Scholars; 3.00 for all others. For fall 2021, the renewal GPA is 3.3 for Presidentials, 3.0 for transfer merit scholarships, and 2.75 for all other freshman merit scholarships. If your cumulative NIU GPA drops below the requirement, you will be allowed one grace semester to bring it back up. During this grace semester, you will still receive the scholarship as long as you are enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours.

Should your cumulative NIU GPA fall below the requirement for two semesters, or if you do not complete at least 12 credit hours each semester, your merit scholarship will be revoked. Appeals are generally not accepted unless there has been an extreme circumstance.

If your scholarship is revoked, but you later increase your cumulative GPA to the required level, please contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office to request that your scholarship be considered for reinstatement. Reinstatement will not be automatic and will depend upon available funding.

You must also remain in good academic and judicial standing to be eligible for scholarship renewal.

The scholarship is renewable for up to a total of up to eight consecutive semesters for freshmen students, or four consecutive semesters for transfer students.

If you are concurrently enrolled at another institution, you must complete a consortium agreement and receive approval from your major college office in order to be considered eligible to receive the scholarship.

Can I use my merit scholarship during the summer?

Scholarships typically are distributed only for the fall and spring. However, if you are graduating in less than four or eight semesters and would like to use your scholarship during the summer, please contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office at scholarships@niu.edu to make the request.  Advisor approval may also be required.

Can I use my merit scholarship if I enroll as a graduate student?

Merit scholarships are reserved for undergraduate students. Should you enroll in a professional sequence program or any other program that will elevate you to postgraduate or graduate status throughout the next four years, your award will immediately cease.

If you have early admission to graduate school and are concurrently taking undergraduate and graduate coursework, please contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office to verify what charges the scholarship may cover.

I don't see the scholarship on my account. When will it be posted?

Scholarships will be posted as part of your financial aid and will be included in your spring or fall financial aid notification.

Scholarships are applied directly to your NIU student account charges prior to the beginning of fall and spring semesters, and will disburse to those charges after the 10th day of classes.

I will be receiving other awards (such as state or federal veteran’s benefits, dependent waiver, other private scholarship, etc.). Can I still use this academic merit scholarship?

If you have other awards that fully pay your charges, the Financial Aid and Scholarship staff will work with you to maximize your aid; for example, sometimes a merit scholarship can help pay for a meal plan or bookstore charges. However, merit scholarships can’t be refunded, rolled forward, or accumulated for use in another term. In some cases, you may have to forfeit a scholarship to fully utilize other benefits.

How do I accept my merit scholarship?

To accept your scholarship, you must confirm your intent to enroll at NIU by accepting your admission in MyNIU. This will allow the university to reserve your scholarship, as well as send information to you about your next steps.

By enrolling at NIU, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions of this scholarship.

If you enroll at NIU but wish to decline this scholarship, please notify the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office in writing.

I received an AIM HIGH Excellence Scholarship in fall 2019 as an incoming freshman or transfer. How do I remain eligible to renew my award?

AIM HIGH Excellence scholarships awarded in 2019 to eligible freshmen will be available for a total of four years, while transfer recipients can renew for a second year.

Your award is renewable at the amount you received your first year, based on these criteria:

  • Full-time enrollment.
  • Maintaining an NIU cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher.
  • Filing a FAFSA by the December 1 priority date.
  • Meeting the family income threshold for the respective FAFSA income year.
  • Making Satisfactory Academic Progress. Please see policy for detailed information.
  • Meeting all other AIM HIGH criteria.
I received an AIM HIGH Transfer Achievement Award in fall 2020 as an incoming transfer student. How do I remain eligible to renew my award?

AIM HIGH Transfer Achievement Awards received for the first time in fall 2020 by eligible transfer students will be available for renewal until you reach 135 attempted credit hours or earn your degree.

Your must also continue to meet the following criteria:

  • Full-time enrollment.
  • Maintaining an NIU cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher.
  • Filing a FAFSA by the December 1 priority date.
  • Meeting the family income threshold for the respective FAFSA income year.
  • Making Satisfactory Academic Progress. Please see policy for detailed information.
  • Meeting all other AIM HIGH criteria.

Contact Us

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

For scholarship-specific questions

scholarships@niu.edu

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