Frequently Asked Questions for Students

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Academics - Fall 2020

Will NIU change the grading policy for the fall 2020 semester?

Although we offered students the option to convert any of their courses to Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading for the spring 2020 semester, traditional grading will return for the fall 2020 semester. If you have questions about grading, please consult with your academic advisors. Newly admitted students will work with academic advisors during orientation. If you’re not sure who your advisor is, check MYNIU, or contact your advising office. For contact information for each advising office, see How to Register.

Added 5/19/20

Course Delivery

How will courses be offered in the fall 2020 semester?

Fall offerings will include online, face-to-face and hybrid courses. Here’s what you can expect from each of these course-delivery methods.

  • Online courses – Fully online courses are being designed with careful planning to be flexible and to foster a sense of community, so that students are not learning on their own. In these courses, you might experience live conferencing and lectures; recorded content with no required meeting; or some combination of the two. In all cases, students and their professors will have an active presence in the virtual classroom.
  • Face-to-face courses – These courses will be like what you’ve experienced in the past. Courses selected to be face-to-face—including laboratory classes and clinicals—require personal interactions, and the class sizes are small enough, or the academic spaces large enough, to maintain proper physical distancing.
  • Hybrid courses – In hybrid courses, your learning experience will include both online and face-to-face interactions. For example, a science or engineering course might have online lessons with regular hands-on laboratory experiences.

It’s important for you to connect with your advisor to understand your options or make any necessary schedule changes. Newly admitted students will receive more information about classes in advance of orientation, where you will work with your advisor on selecting the best options for you. Please continue to check your NIU email for updates.

Updated 6/17/20

Which classes will be in-person this fall? Online? A combination?

When you register for courses in MyNIU, the course mode will be labeled accordingly as online, hybrid, face-to-face, etc. It will be important for you to connect with your advisor to understand your options or make any necessary changes. Newly admitted students will receive more information about classes in advance of orientation, where you will work with your advisor on selecting the best options for you. Please continue to check your NIU email for updates.

Updated 6/17/20

How did NIU decide which courses would be face-to-face?

Courses selected to be face-to-face—including laboratory classes and clinicals—require personal interactions, and the class sizes are small enough, or the academic spaces large enough, to maintain proper physical distancing.

Added 6/17/20

Will online courses be similar to the remote learning we experienced last spring?

Because we’ve had more time to plan and prepare, you can expect a more robust online experience. Our fall online courses are being designed with careful planning to be flexible and resilient—and to foster a sense of community so that students are not learning on their own. In these courses, you might experience live conferencing and lectures; recorded content with no required meeting; or some combination of the two. In all cases, students and their professors will have an active presence in the virtual classroom.

Added 6/17/20

Will my online classes require me to log in at a certain time or on my own time?

It will depend on the course and the professor. Generally, in an online course, you might experience live conferencing and lectures that require you to log in at a certain time; recorded content with no required meeting; or some combination of the two. In all cases, students and their professors will have an active presence in the virtual classroom.

Added 6/17/20

What is a hybrid course?

In hybrid courses, the learning experience will include both online and face-to-face interactions. For example, a science or engineering course might have online lessons with regular hands-on laboratory experiences. When you register for a hybrid course, you will see both online (100%) and a classroom listed under the “room” for this course. There will be course meeting times listed. When you click on the course detail, you will see what days the course will meet face-to-face and what days the course will be held online. 

Added 6/26/20

What if I don’t want to take any online courses?

If you have concerns about online learning, please speak with your advisor. While there are face-to-face offerings for the fall, it’s likely you’ll have online courses in your schedule. Unfortunately, the uncertain situation with the pandemic—and current physical distancing guidelines—have required the university to proceed in this fashion.

Added 6/17/20

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 are undecided on your major, you can also call the Academic Advising Center at 815-753-2573 or email aac@niu.edu. If you currently have a major, contact your department or college office to identify your advisor. If you are a prospective student, contact the Admissions Office at 815-753-0446.

Added 6/17/20

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 students will meet with the class 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 will 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 7/1/20

When I’m registering for online classes in MyNIU, I notice that some courses are F2F with students meeting on staggered days. What does that mean?

In a small percentage of face-to-face (F2F) courses, classrooms cannot accommodate a full contingent of students at one time because of physical-distancing requirements. In those cases, students will either attend class or watch livestreamed events on a staggered and rotating schedule. For example, half of the students in a course might be in a physical classroom on Tuesdays, with the other half watching livestream; and vice versa on Thursdays. Faculty members will determine the staggered-attendance schedules for those classes and will communicate to the students prior to the start of classes.

Added 6/26/20

Protective Measures

Will physical distancing be maintained in face-to-face courses?Updated

Yes. NIU is following federal, state and local public health guidance, and we have incorporated additional sanitation and safety measures to protect students, faculty and staff. Accordingly, we expect recommendations for physical distancing, hand hygiene and face covering to be followed in classrooms and academic spaces. More information about classroom protocols may be found on the Classrooms and Classroom Protocols page.

Updated 7/22/20

Will classrooms be cleaned on a regular basis?

Yes. In all cases where there will be face-to-face interactions during the fall semester, classrooms or academic spaces will be disinfected before students meet with their professors.

Added 6/17/20

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

To help keep our community healthy, students and instructors will be required to wear protective face masks in class, including when they are speaking. Students are expected to supply and maintain their own face masks. We will provide each member of the faculty and staff with two washable face masks. Additionally, we plan to provide face shields to faculty who request them to support classroom lectures and discussion. Disposable face masks will be available in departmental offices for faculty members who wish to have some available in classrooms for emergency student use.   

Students who cannot wear face masks or other personal protective equipment because of a disability should proactively contact, or be referred to, the Disability Resource Center (DRC) prior to the start of the fall semester. The DRC will engage in an interactive process to determine any reasonable accommodations. Faculty can request to view the approved accommodation documentation that students receive from the DRC. More information about classroom protocols may be found on the Classrooms and Classroom Protocols page.

Updated 7/22/20

Support and Resources

I learn best face-to-face and most or all of my classes are online, what should I do?

Regardless of the course delivery method, we are committed to ensuring your success. We have developed a Keep Learning website that provides important information about campus resources that you can access at any time. For example, you’ll find online learning tips and online learning tools to help you stay engaged. Read more about assistance and remote learning resources you can turn to for support.

The Keep Learning website will be regularly updated as we receive additional questions. It not only includes important resources, but also contact information should you have technological issues. Remember to contact the Center for Student Assistance if you experience any issues that impact your success. If you need further assistance or you want to discuss your options, please contact your academic advisor.

If you’re unsure who your advisor is, this website will help you. Additionally, if you are undecided, you can call the Academic Advising Center at 815-753-2573 or email aac@niu.edu to find out who your advisor is. If you currently have a major, contact your department or college office. If you are a prospective student, contact the Admissions Office at 815-753-0446.

Added 6/17/20

What if I'm struggling to reach my professor?

We're ready to help you. If you're having difficulty connecting with your professor, please contact your department chair. If you're not sure who is your department chair, please contact your academic adviser. For contact information for each advising office, see How to Register.

Added/Updated 3/19/20

Financial - Fall 2020

Will tuition be discounted for fall 2020?

No. Although our method of delivery is changing to proactively confront the most difficult of circumstances, our faculty continue to teach, and our students will continue to learn and earn credits toward their degrees. The educational experience is different, but the quality and value remain high.

Tuition covers the cost of credit-bearing courses whether they are taken face-to-face or online. For example, tuition for these courses cover faculty salaries, technology resources, and academic support services. At some universities, online courses cost more than face-to-face courses. However, because our commitment to affordability, the NIU undergraduate tuition rate is the same for on-campus and on-line courses.

Added 5/19/20

Will the Student Emergency Fund be available for fall 2020?

The Student Emergency Fund was established to provide assistance to NIU students who have been impacted by COVID-19 or whose circumstances have been exacerbated as a result of the pandemic. To date, over 3,900 students have received support through this fund. These funds are designed to help students continue their education; therefore, they are reserved for students who are enrolled in summer or fall courses.

Emergency funds are limited. Students who have not already received assistance from this fund will be given priority consideration. The NIU Student Emergency Fund application is available online. Due to the large amount of applications we’ve received, we ask for your patience as we review funding decisions. Please note: If you turn your application in after July 15, you will receive a decision by Aug. 15.

Updated 7/2/20

Housing and Dining - Fall 2020

Will residence and dining halls be open? Updated

Yes. Each student living in our residence halls during the 2020-21 academic year will have an individual room with no roommates, which provides physical distancing consistent with public health recommendations. Because NIU is committed to affordability, we’ve discounted the price for single rooms to the double-occupancy level. You can view those room-and-board rates online. Neptune and New Hall dining rooms will be open along with the Stevenson Retail Dining Center. Gilbert Hall dining is not open this fall, but those students can eat at Neptune and New Hall. Please see the FAQs on the Housing and Residential Services and Campus Dining Services websites for more information.

Updated 7/22/20

Do I have to live on campus?

No. In an effort to support your choices about a college experience during unpredictable times, new students who feel most comfortable living at home will not be required to live on campus. For those students who do plan to live on campus, each will have an individual room with no roommates, which provides physical distancing consistent with public health recommendations. Because NIU is committed to affordability, we’ve discounted the price for single rooms to the double-occupancy level. You can view those room-and-board rates online. Please see the FAQs on the Housing and Residential Services for more information.

Updated 6/24/20

How will NIU ensure distancing in dining or retail locations?
  • Dining halls will open at 50% capacity three times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with suitable time in between each service to thoroughly clean and sanitize.
  • Tables are spaced 6 feet apart.
  • Every meal will allow for take-out options.
  • Employees will constantly wipe down seating areas and other high-traffic or high-touch areas, and self-service stations will be eliminated.
  • Emphasis will be placed on speed of service to prevent a congregation of customers.
  • We are not offering the Huskie Classic plan this fall because that unlimited access does not provide physical distancing. Students with that plan are shifting to Block 19, which provides 19 all-you-can-eat meals per week.
  • Expansion of mobile ordering via Grubhub to limit the interaction between customer and cashier.
  • Check the Campus Dining Services FAQ for more information.

Updated 6/24/20

How will the dining/eating areas be cleaned and monitored?

Employees will constantly wipe down seating areas and other high-traffic or high-touch areas, and self-service stations will be eliminated. We’re also closing the dining halls in-between the breakfast, lunch and dinner services to allow time to thoroughly clean and sanitize. Check the Campus Dining Services FAQ for more information.

Updated 6/24/20

How are you supporting students who live in off-campus housing?

Students living in off-campus housing should work with their leaseholder to determine what options are available to them. Students’ Legal Assistance (815-753-1701) can assist with students in understanding their rights under leases. If you have questions and aren’t sure who to contact, the Center for Student Assistance (CSA) at 815-753-8300 or via email at studentassistance@niu.edu is also available as a call-in service during this uncertain time. The CSA will help you get connected to support for questions related to off-campus housing, food insecurity needs or legal matters.

Updated 5/19/20

Parking

Am I required to purchase a parking permit for fall if I only intend to come to campus a limited number of times this semester?New

Yes. There are multiple parking options on campus. If you're commuting and will only be on campus part-time, you may consider parking in the visitor lot or getting a free, green permit and parking near the Convocation Center. Please allow at least 30 minutes to park and walk, or to take a bus, to your campus destination. Please check the walking times guide for more information. A map of all campus parking is available on our website.

Student Employment

Can undergraduates work for NIU this summer?

Undergraduates can be employed in any capacity if their work can be accomplished remotely. We recognize that some jobs may require a presence on campus. In that case, an exception can be sought from the Provost. The policy will be re-evaluated Aug. 1.

Note: All NIU employees who return to NIU facilities in June and July must take this brief training on COVID-19 safety measures and protocols and should review the Keep Working website.

Added 6/18/20

How is the pandemic impacting the employment of graduate assistants this summer?

Graduate assistants who have successfully conducted their work remotely should continue to do so and should check in with their supervisors regarding their remote assignments. As NIU gradually reopens facilities and spaces on campus for research, scholarship and artistry, graduate assistants will be allowed to return to work at these NIU facilities. Please see this May 14 announcement for additional guidance.

Note: All NIU employees (including graduate assistants) who return to NIU facilities in June and July must take this brief training on COVID-19 safety measures and protocols and should review the Keep Working website.

Added 6/18/20

Where are emails related to my student employment sent?

Emails notification are sent to your student employee email account. This is the account that was created when you because a student employee. It usually begins with a “A1” and ends with “@mail.niu.edu,” A123456@mail.niu.edu, for example. This account and email address is separate from your student Z-ID account. If you need assistance accessing your employee email account, contact the Division of Information Technology at ServiceDesk@niu.edu

Added/Updated 3/25/20

Support and Resources

I don’t know how to get answers to my questions. Is there someone I can contact?

The Center for Student Assistance is available as a call-in service for students. The CSA helps students get connected to support for questions, such as those related to off-campus housing, food insecurity needs or legal matters. The CSA is available remotely at 815-753-8300 or via email at studentassistance@niu.edu. The center also has emergency food assistance available for registered students who are not on a campus meal plan.

Updated 3/20/20

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

Yes. Until further notice, we are 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.

To reduce barriers to registration, all registration holds will be temporarily removed. 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 4/17/20

What if I don’t have access to a computer and/or WiFi, what happens to me?

It is our goal to ensure that you have access to the services you need. For laptop requests or WiFi hot spots, please email lib-admin@niu.edu. Our Continuity LibGuide has the latest information on technology resources available.

Visit our Keep Learning site for more tips and resources on online learning. If you need technology support so that you can keep up with your classes, please call the DoIT Service Desk at servicedesk@niu.edu or 815-753-8100.

If you need further assistance, contact the Student Assistance Center at studentassistance@niu.edu. Additionally, the NIU Emergency Fund was established to provide assistance to NIU students who have been impacted by COVID-19 or whose circumstances have been exacerbated as a result of the pandemic.

Updated 6/18/20

International Students

Can I maintain my F-1 status?New

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.

Added 7/25/20

I am staying outside the United States this fall. How do I receive a new I-20?New
  • 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.

Added 7/25/20

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