Frequently Asked Questions for Students

Better days are ahead.

You’ve faced incredibly challenging circumstances this past year. Our academic programs, services and resources will help you pivot, press on, overcome and finish what you started. So please hang in there. You’ve got this. And we want to help. We believe in you and are committed to providing you with a future full of opportunity. As we return to the vibrant campus Huskies know and love, we want you to truly experience what makes Huskie life so special.

Fall 2021 Re-enrollment

I haven’t registered for fall classes yet. Is it too late?

It’s not too late, but we encourage you to register for classes as soon as possible. The classes you need might fill up quickly! Our Academic Advising Center or the academic advisor assigned to you through your college or department will personally guide you through registration.

Through our Academic Advising Center or the academic advisor assigned to you, you’ll also receive one-on-one support to create an academic plan for success. We’ll provide the best resources and skills possible to help you be your best self this fall and beyond.

If you are on academic probation or face academic dismissal, our new Huskie Academic Support Center will provide support to help you write an appeal letter. Personal appointments can be scheduled. All services are free.

My grades were lower than I thought they would be, and I'm worried I can't get my GPA back up, what options do I have?

You can repeat a course in which a grade of D or F was received. Both grades show up on your transcript, but only the second grade counts in your GPA. Reach out to our Academic Advising Center or the academic advisor assigned to you for options and one-on-one guidance as soon as possible. You’ll also have access to individual and group tutoring sessions, academic skills development, writing/research assistance and more in our Huskie Academic Support Center. We’ll help with:

  • Specific courses or subjects like math and chemistry.
  • Research and writing for class assignments, presentations, resumes and cover letters.
  • Study skills, test anxiety and time management tips.

Scholarships

I was notified that I lost my Merit Scholarship because of my grades, how do I find out if I meet the newly revised requirements to have it reinstated?

NIU has revised the requirements to maintain the Merit Scholarship for all students who received that scholarship in the 2020-2021 academic year. Communications have been sent to students who failed to meet the minimum grade point average to continue to receive the Merit Scholarship, but who are once again eligible to receive it under the new requirements. This reinstatement is automatic, you do not need to submit a request. You can also check your myniu.niu.edu account to see if your scholarship has been reinstated.

The revised Merit Scholarship requirements apply only to students who were enrolled in the 2020-2021 academic year and those new requirements apply to those students for as long as they are still eligible to receive the scholarship. Eligibility requirements for other scholarships, including AIM HIGH and the Huskie Pledge, remain unchanged. You may refer to the renewal criteria webpage or contact scholarships@niu.edu if you have any questions.

Help with Finances

I haven’t re-enrolled yet because I’m not sure I can afford it. What should I do?

Students who would like to talk through their options are encouraged to contact Financial Aid and Scholarships via email (finaid@niu.edu or for scholarship-specific questions scholarships@niu.edu) or phone (815-753-1395).

We want to help you take action and address any financial matters so you can have a plan for fall. Here are some things to consider:

  • Your first bill for fall 2021 isn’t due until Sept. 28.
  • FAFSA: Although we strongly encourage students to complete and submit the FAFSA as close to Oct. 1 as possible each year, it’s not too late to file for the 2021-22 academic year – and filing is free! Don’t allow those possible dollars to get away.
  • Filed your FAFSA but haven’t yet received an aid offer for 2021-2022? Check your MyNIU to-do list! You might need to submit some information before you’ll be notified of your aid eligibility.
  • Developing and using a financial plan can help you to move forward with your goals. The NIU Planning and Cost Estimatorwill help guide your financial planning of tuition, fees and housing charges.
  • The Huskie Installment Plan (HIP) allows students to spread their NIU semester expenses across four equal monthly payments instead of making lump-sum payments at the beginning of each term. Early application is recommended, with a priority deadline of July 15 and a closing date of July 31.
    • A non-refundable participation fee of $50 per semester is required for enrollment in HIP. This fee will be divided equally into the monthly installments.
  • Book it: NIU’s Book Charge Period, from July 26 through Sept. 3, allows students to purchase books and supplies at Huskie Books and Gear (in the Holmes Student Center) with their NIU OneCards. Purchases are applied to student accounts and then can be paid with eligible financial aid or other payments. After Sept. 3, however, students cannot use their OneCards to buy books and will need to pay out of pocket.
  • The Student Emergency Fund is open at various times throughout the semester for students facing short-term financial emergencies. For more information contact the Center for Student Assistance at studentassistance@niu.edu.
  • You can work on campus to help finance your education or simply to earn some spending money – and all of the jobs are posted in one convenient place: Huskies Get Hired.
  • Use this time to complete all items on your to-do list before classes begin Aug. 23.
I received a non-Satisfactory Academic Progress letter. Can I appeal?

Students who received non-Satisfactory Academic Progress letters have until Nov. 29 to appeal those; however, students should act as soon as possible to work with their academic advisors to know if they are approved before the start of fall classes. If students enroll in fall classes and later are not approved, their accounts will carry large balances with no financial aid to pay for those.

  • Federal and state regulations require that students are making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to be eligible to receive financial aid, including student loans and federal campus work-study.
  • We especially encourage you to seek support if you face academic probation or academic dismissal. Our Huskie Academic Support Center will help you write an appeal letter. You should also keep the Huskie Academic Support Center in mind as your one-stop shop for individual and group tutoring, coaching on academic skills and writing and research support.
I’m not eligible for federal financial aid. Is there anywhere I can turn for help?

Eligible undocumented and transgender students who are disqualified from federal financial aid still have time to file the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid as part of the RISE (Retention of Illinois Students & Equity) Act to be considered for financial aid from the state.

RISE provides a pathway for these qualified students to apply for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, the state’s largest need-based grant program for low-income college students.

I can't afford to retake the number of classes that I need to retake. Are there any financial aid options for me?

If you’ve struggled academically, we can help. We provide options, opportunities and one-on-one guidance to help you put an academic and financial plan in place for success. You can repeat a course in which a grade of D or F was received. As soon as possible, you should reach out to our Academic Advising Center or the academic advisor assigned to you for guidance.

We especially encourage you to seek support if you face academic probation or academic dismissal. Our Huskie Academic Support Center will help you write an appeal letter. You should also keep the Huskie Academic Support Center in mind as your one-stop shop for individual and group tutoring, coaching on academic skills and writing and research support.

We also want to help you take action and address any financial matters so you can have a plan for fall. Here are some things to consider:

  • Federal and state regulations require that students are making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to be eligible to receive financial aid, including student loans and federal campus work-study. Students who received non-Satisfactory Academic Progress letters have until Nov. 29 to appeal those; however, students should act as soon as possible to work with their academic advisors to know if they are approved before the start of fall classes. If students enroll in fall classes and later are not approved, their accounts will carry large balances with no financial aid to pay for those.
  • Your first bill for fall 2021 isn’t due until Sept. 28.
  • Although we strongly encourage students to complete and submit the FAFSA as close to Oct. 1 as possible each year, it’s not too late to file for the 2021-22 academic year – and filing is free! Don’t allow those possible dollars to get away.
  • Developing and using a financial plan can help you to move forward with your goals. The NIU Planning and Cost Estimator will help guide your financial planning of tuition, fees and housing charges.
  • The Huskie Installment Plan (HIP) allows students to spread their NIU semester expenses across four equal monthly payments instead of making lump-sum payments at the beginning of each term. Early application is recommended, with a priority deadline of July 15 and a closing date of July 31. (A non-refundable participation fee of $50 per semester is required for enrollment in HIP. This fee will be divided equally into the monthly installments.)
  • You can work on campus to help finance your education or simply to earn some spending money – and all of the jobs are posted in one convenient place: Huskies Get Hired.
  • The Student Emergency Fund is open at various times throughout the semester for students facing short-term financial emergencies. For more information contact the Center for Student Assistance at studentassistance@niu.edu.
  • For questions and/or to schedule an appointment, we encourage you to contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office directly at 815-753-1395 or finaid@niu.edu, or the Office of the Bursar at 815-753-1885 or bursar@niu.edu.

Advising and Registration

Who can I talk to about my course schedule or professors?

You should talk to your advisors when creating your fall schedule. If you’re unsure who your advisor is, the advising website will help you. Additionally, if you're undecided on your major, you can also contact the Academic Advising Center at 815-753-2573 or aac@niu.edu. If you currently have a major, contact your department or college office to identify your advisor. If you're a prospective student, contact the admissions office at 815-753-0446.

Is NIU continuing to offer academic advising services during this time?

Yes. Until further notice, we're offering non-face-to-face advising opportunities. Your academic advisor will reach out to you to make arrangements that work for you. You can contact your advisor as well. Options could include the following:

  • Virtual video conferences.
  • Phone calls.
  • NIU emails.
  • IM chats.

If you’re not sure who your advisor is, check MyNIU or contact your advising office. For contact information for each advising office and any additional updates, see How to Register. 

Updated 6/18/21

When I’m registering for online classes in MyNIU, I see the terms “synchronous” and “asynchronous.” What do these terms mean?

Synchronous online courses occur in real time and include activities such as live lectures or live conferencing. Synchronous courses are taught 100% online, but you'll meet at a set time each week via an online platform such as Blackboard Collaborate or Microsoft Teams. We’ve recently updated the MyNIU system, so when you register for a synchronous course in MyNIU, the system will indicate the course is online (100%) synchronous where the "room" is listed. You'll also see course meeting times listed.

Asynchronous online courses occur through online channels without real-time interaction and include activities such as recorded lectures and self-guided lessons. Asynchronous courses are taught 100% online, but do not have an assigned meeting time for the course. Instead, you can view lectures or work on lessons within a flexible time period, set by your instructor. We’ve recently updated the MyNIU system, so when you register for an asynchronous course in MyNIU, it will indicate the course is online (100%) asynchronous where the "room" is listed. There will not be listed course meeting times.

Updated 9/4/20

Academic Assistance

I’m going to be a sophomore, and I’m still not sure what to major in. What should I do?

If you’re undecided, we can help you turn uncertainty into a decided advantage.

  • We have more than 100 areas of study, from STEM fields to the visual and performing arts. The first year or two of college can be a valuable time to explore our undergraduate degree programs, while still earning credits and staying on pace toward a timely graduation.
    • You can apply as “undecided any college major” with our Academic Advising Center, which will work with you from orientation through your second year.
    • Your advisor will help you explore majors while you complete your general education requirements and will even suggest courses to help you explore your interests and career paths that play to your strengths.
    • Yet another option for undecided students is to apply to NIU as an undecided major within a college. For example, if you know you want to major in business, but can't decide between finance or accountancy, you can apply as undecided in the College of Business and learn more about career options in those fields.

It’s very common for new students to be undecided about their major area of study. Across the nation, most students—as many as 80 percent in some surveys—will switch majors at one point during their time in college. Thoroughly exploring your options will help you make a good choice. Whether you’ve decided on your major, have narrowed the decision down or are still exploring, we’re here to help. Check out the NIU 4-year degree paths to explore different majors and develop a plan.

How do I get my textbooks, especially if I’m not on campus?

For detailed information on textbooks, see Textbooks and Course Materials Information for Students.

Textbooks can be ordered online at Huskie Books & Gear. You can shop for materials one of two ways. If you enter your student ID number, preceded by a zero, the list of materials needed for all your classes will populate. Simply add them to your shopping cart for purchase. You can also shop for materials by course.

If you have financial aid or a scholarship, you can use your OneCard ID at Huskie Books & Gear to charge the cost of your books and school supplies to your bursar account.

Support and Resources

Protective Measures

Is the COVID-19 vaccine required for students?

NIU will require all students who will live in residence halls or participate in face-to-face classes or in-person research or artistry this fall to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Students can request an exemption as rationale for not submitting proof of vaccination:

  • Medical: If you choose the medical exemption, you will be required to submit a signed statement of medical exemption from your primary care provider.
  • Religious: If you choose the religious exemption, you will be required to submit a statement explaining that immunizations conflict with your religious beliefs.

The university will notify students within 3 business days from submission if their requests are approved. Students who are not vaccinated will be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing. See information posted in our COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement General Questions section.

Will I have to wear a protective mask during face-to-face courses?

All employees, students and guests, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask indoors while on campus. You're expected to supply and maintain your own face masks. Bandanas and neck gaiters—made of thin, stretch tubes of fabric down the neck—aren’t effective for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and are not acceptable face coverings while on campus.  

If you can't wear a face mask because of a disability, contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) as soon as possible. The DRC will determine any reasonable accommodations. Faculty can request to view any approved accommodation documentation you receive from the DRC.

Student Employment

Where can I find information about jobs on campus?

You could work on campus to help finance your education or simply to earn some spending money – and all of the jobs are posted in one convenient place: Huskies Get Hired.

  • You’ll find many employment opportunities at NIU, including administrative and academic work.
  • These jobs include federal work-study employment, which is open to you if you were awarded federal work-study as part of your financial aid package. You can earn up to the amount on your financial aid notification letter.
  • Having a job on campus enables you to refine your career goals, gain valuable work experience, apply knowledge learned in the classroom and develop professional skills.
Where are emails related to my student employment sent?

Communications about your student employment are sent to your student employee email account. This is the account that was created when you became a student employee. It usually begins with a “A1” and ends with “@mail.niu.edu” (for example: A123456@mail.niu.edu). It is separate from your student Z-ID account. If you need help accessing your student employee email account, contact the Division of Information Technology at ServiceDesk@niu.edu

International Students

What vaccines will the university accept from international students?

NIU strongly encourages students to be vaccinated prior to arrival to the United States and will accept the following vaccines as of July 8:

U.S. Vaccines with FDA Emergency Use Authorization

  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Moderna
  • Pfizer-BioNTech

International vaccines authorized for emergency use by the WHO:

  • AstraZeneca
  • Covishield (Serum Institute of India)
  • Sinopharm (Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products)
  • Sinovac-CoronaVac 

Students who were vaccinated outside the United States with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine or WHO-approved vaccine from the approved NIU list and have received all the recommended doses do not need any additional doses. People who received the first dose of an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses do not need to restart the vaccine series in the United States but should receive the second dose as close to the recommended time as possible.

Added 7/16/21

I will have received one dose of non-FDA approved vaccine before I come to the U.S., will I be able to get my second dose when I arrive?

No, we will not have access to any vaccines not approved in the U.S. The university and local health department will discuss your options with you which will include receiving a full series of one of the vaccines approved in the U.S. at least 28 days from your dose received outside the U.S. If you choose not to receive this full series, you will be considered unvaccinated and will need to follow all masking and social distancing requirements.

Added 7/16/21

What if I have an opportunity to receive a first dose of a WHO approved vaccine (that is not approved by the FDA) but will be unable to get a second dose before I leave for NIU – should I wait until I get to the U.S. to get vaccinated?

We urge all students to get vaccinated as soon as possible, but in situations like this you may want to take into account the additional challenges that may be created by getting partially vaccinated shortly before your departure. If you choose to wait until you arrive in the U.S., we urge you to take every precaution as you travel and until you are vaccinated. There is no shortage of COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. so if you have an opportunity to receive the vaccine in the U.S. before arriving at NIU, you may do so. Be sure to have proper documentation of the first dose so we can give you an appropriate second dose if you receive Pfizer or Moderna (Janssen is only one dose).

Added 7/16/21

Do I need to get a vaccine if I already had COVID?

Yes, all students who previously had COVID-19 should get a vaccine. According to the CDC, experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Added 7/16/21

Can I maintain my F-1 status?

Yes, if you are enrolled as a full-time student. The types and modalities of classes you take, or your location, do not impact your status.

I am staying outside the United States this semester. How do I receive a new I-20?
  • Even if you already completed the form under the earlier guidance from the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), you must email ifso@niu.edu with your full name, your SEVIS ID, your Z-ID and confirmation that you will remain outside the United States and enroll full time.
  • New I-20s will be created as part of the normal SEVIS registration process and should be ready in late September.
  • ISSS will provide additional processes and timelines at a later date.
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