Presidential Scholars Program

Who We Are

The NIU Presidential Scholars are a prestigious cohort of high-achieving students who contribute to the diversity of NIU's student population and demonstrate a commitment to our shared values.

Award Levels

The NIU Presidential Scholars Program recognizes outstanding first-year students for their hard work and academic accomplishments. Eligible students are guaranteed a minimum merit scholarship of $5,000, $6,000 or $7,000 per year (for up to four years) and have the opportunity to compete for a Presidential Scholarship. This competitive scholarship covers the cost of full tuition, fees and on-campus room and board, along with a book stipend, for up to eight semesters. State and federal grants will be used in determining the amount of each scholar’s Presidential Scholarship. Approximately 10 incoming first-year students will receive this award each year.

Dates and Deadlines

Eligible students will be invited to apply after the December 1 admission deadline. An email and postcard with the application details will be sent by mid-December.

  • December 1, 2023: deadline to submit an application for admission and all required documents for admission. Late submissions will not be considered. Postmarks are not considered.
  • December 11, 2023 - January 11, 2024: online application will be available. January 11 is the deadline to submit the scholarship application. Late submissions will not be accepted.
  • Mid-February 2024: applicants are notified of application status on a rolling basis. Finalists will be invited to participate in a virtual interview. Interview dates/times are TBD.
  • Mid-March 2024: recipients notified.

Eligibility Requirements

  • First-time, full-time, incoming freshman student for fall 2024.
  • Minimum 3.8/4.0 cumulative (weighted, if higher) high school GPA.
  • Domestic residency.
  • Must file the FAFSA or Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid by February 15, 2024. Recipients will be required to accept all state and federal grants and will be held to the maximum award amount up to the cost of attendance.

How to Get the Presidential Scholarship

The university considers the following factors:

  • Academic achievement
    • Exceptional academic achievement is extremely important.
    • First-year students must have a cumulative high school grade point (weighted) average of 3.8/4.0 will be invited to apply.
    • Many applicants will have completed AP, IB or advanced coursework and will have demonstrated a keen interest in acquiring knowledge within and outside of the classroom.
  • Community, civic and co-curricular involvement
    • The Presidential Scholarship application includes short personal statements and allows you the opportunity to present your unique experiences and accomplishments in these areas.
    • Our Presidential Scholars demonstrate their commitment to understanding their role in society, contributing to the greater good and modeling this commitment through leadership and sustained community involvement.
  • Personal statement prompts:
    • In addition to completing a basic questionnaire, you must respond to the following prompts in 125 words or less each
    • Service can be completed in formal or informal settings, such as through school, a community organization, a place of worship, or on your own. Reflect on an import service opportunity you have had. How did your actions improve the lives of others?
    • A leader can be described as anyone who wants to work with others to make a difference. This type of leadership is carried out in formal or informal roles, such as with family, or in a school or social situation. Describe one experience where you were able to make a difference through your leadership.
    • Injustice can be experienced on a personal and/or societal level. Please share a social justice issue that resonates with you and explain what you have done or would like to do to support this cause.
    • What academic and/or personal goals would you like to achieve by the time you complete college?

Renewal Requirements

The Presidential Scholars are subject to yearly renewal requirements:

  • Continuous full-time enrollment (fall and spring semester each academic year).
  • Minimum 3.3 cumulative grade point average per academic year.
  • Enrolled in an undergraduate (non-professional) program of study.
  • Active participation in the University Honors Program, including satisfactory completion of University Honors graduation requirements.
  • Scholarship available for up to eight semesters.
  • Must file the FAFSA or Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid by February 15 each year. Recipients are required to accept all state and federal grants and will be held to the maximum award amount up to the cost of attendance.
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