Financial aid •

October 28, 2022

NIU financial aid: a complete guide

Want to attend NIU but not sure how to pay for it? Learn about your NIU financial aid options here.

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Northern Illinois University (NIU) is a public research university in DeKalb, Illinois. It offers 55 majors, 59 minors, and 8 pre-professional programs. It also has 1 of only 4 public law schools in the US!

If you're interested in applying to NIU but wondering how you'll pay for it, we've got you covered.

Let's break it all down.

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A snapshot look at Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University was chartered in 1895 as Northern Illinois State Normal School. It was founded as a teacher’s school, but it eventually became a full-blown university with 7 degree-granting colleges. 

Today, it has a total student population of 16,769—almost all students are Illinois residents, with only around 700 from out of the state.

Of that number, 12,277 are undergrads, 4,185 are graduate students, and 307 are College of Law students.

NIU is best known for its business and engineering programs, but it offers plenty of other majors, too. 

Ranking: 298-389 in National Universities

Size: 16,769

Demographics: 48.2% white, 19.2% Black, 21.1% Hispanic/Latino, 5.9% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.1% Native Hawaiian; 47.2% male, 52.8% female

Tuition: $9,606

Acceptance rate: 48%

Average GPA of accepted student: 3.3

Key dates and deadlines (2021)

  • Application: August 1

  • Financial aid deadlines: April 1 (FAFSA priority), June 30 (FAFSA regular); December 1 (freshman merit scholarships), March 1 (transfer merit scholarships)

A look at scholarships offered by NIU

Scholarships are a great way to pay for tuition, books, supplies, and more at NIU. 

When you apply for admission at NIU, you’ll be automatically considered for NIU merit scholarships. These scholarships are based on GPA—you need at least a 3.0 GPA in high school to qualify.

Freshman applicants can win up to $7,000 per year, depending on their GPAs.

Additionally, as an NIU student, you can use the MyScholarships tool to monitor and apply for other NIU scholarships. 

The NIU financial aid office website also contains a list of scholarships available, grouped into different categories based on scholarship type.

Outside of NIU’s scholarship aid offerings, you can seek out private scholarships for more financial help.

For more on which scholarships you can apply for and how Mos can help, check out our financial aid tips and tricks.

Student loans

Student loans are another way to cover the costs of attending NIU. 

NIU has a central webpage with lots of information about student loans and their various types.

Federal Direct Loans are one of the most common student loan types. They come from the federal government, so they tend to offer lower rates and certain protections.

There are two broad types:

  • Subsidized: Interest doesn’t build up until you leave school and a 6-month grace period ends. It doesn’t build up if you defer your college admission, either.

  • Unsubsidized: Interest begins building immediately.

Private student loans are available if you need funding beyond your federal student loan awards. However, these tend to have higher interest rates and don’t come with the perks of federal loans.

Need more help finding the right student loan for you? Check out Mos and work with an advisor who will help you find the best way to invest in your education.

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The Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a financial aid document the federal government uses to determine what financial aid programs you’re eligible for. Every student should fill out the FAFSA each year and as early as possible. 

Plus, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) uses FAFSA to determine if you’re eligible for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant. This is a grant for Illinois residents attending Illinois schools, like NIU. 

Since it's a grant, you don’t have to pay the money back if you receive an award!

You can start filling out the FAFSA on October 1 before the academic year you’d like to file for. The deadline is usually the last day of June of the academic year you attend.

For example, if you’re filing for 2021–2022, then the first day you could have applied was October 1, 2020. The last day you can apply is June 30, 2022.

For more on applying for FAFSA, including important dates and how to make sure your application is submitted successfully, head to our or download the Mos app.

Northern Illinois University financial aid FAQs

Now that you know more about the different types of financial aid that you can use to pay for school at NIU, let’s go over some frequently asked questions.

What is Northern Illinois University’s cost of attendance?

NIU is a public state school. However, NIU recently got rid of out-of-state tuition to make tuition equal for everyone. All students get the in-state tuition rates!

That said, the cost of attendance averages at $27,218 per year, according to the school’s financial aid office

Of course, your living expenses and major can change your cost of attendance.

Cost of attendances

NIU has a calculator that can help you figure out your total cost of attendance.

Is there a deadline to accept financial aid?

You must accept federal student loans before the last day of the semester you’re attending. 

You can contact the scholarship office at NIU to learn about deadlines for NIU scholarships. However, you should try to accept them as early as possible to make sure you get the money you earned.

Can part-time students receive financial aid?

Yes, part-time students can be eligible for federal financial aid. You may also qualify for certain private scholarships outside of NIU that can bring down your costs even further.

Universities like Northern Illinois University that you might be interested in

If you want to attend school in Illinois but don’t believe that NIU is right for you, here are some comparable schools in the state.

Illinois State University

Illinois State University (ISU) is a public university in Normal, Illinois. It offers a diverse selection of majors across 6 colleges.

ISU is Illinois’s oldest public university. Like NIU, it was founded as a school for teachers, so it’s known for its College of Education.

Southern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University Carbondale is a public university in Carbondale, Illinois. It’s the oldest and flagship school of the Southern Illinois University system.

SIU has over 200 majors across 9 colleges, offering a lot of options for prospective students. Plus, the school owns over 3,000 acres of hilly and wooded lands for outdoor education.

Southern Illinois University outdoors

The University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago is a public university and part of the University of Illinois system. It’s located in downtown Chicago. 

This school has about 86 undergraduate degree programs and 70 minors in many fields. 

The Wall Street Journal ranked UIC as one of the ‘Best Value’ universities, and U.S. News & World Report placed it in the top 20 institutions for diversity.

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NIU is a relatively affordable school—especially if you’re an out-of-state student—and offers several scholarships to help cover some of the cost of attendance.

Think about your budget, your major, and what kind of experience you want in college before deciding if NIU is right for you.

If you’re looking for the best way to pay for school, Mos can help.

With Mos, you can get help negotiating for more financial aid, apply for hundreds of scholarships and grants with ease, and even get help with writing scholarship essays. 

To get started, check out Mos

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