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Merit Scholarships for New Incoming Students


Most merit scholarships for incoming freshman and transfer students are awarded based on the information submitted with the application for admission to NIU.  Some scholarships are competitive and may not be awarded to all qualified students. 

Merit Scholarship Academic Criteria

To determine scholarship eligibility for incoming freshman students, NIU computes an academic index score, which utilizes the cumulative high school grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) and composite ACT score (or SAT equivalent).  The highest composite ACT score or SAT (math plus verbal) will be used.  Eligibility for transfer scholarships is determined by a review of the cumulative transfer grade point average and total transferable hours completed at the time of admission to NIU.

Huskie Legacy Award

Child(ren) of NIU alumni who meet NIU's published admission criteria for incoming freshman and transfer students and the priority scholarship deadline are eligible to receive the Huskie Legacy Award.  The Legacy Award is awarded at the time of admission and provides $1,000 for the student's first year at NIU.

Fall Admission

Scholarships will be awarded as long as funds remain available - incoming freshman students should submit a completed application for admission along with all required official transcripts and ACT/SAT scores as early as possible to be considered for the maximum scholarship amount. December 1 is the priority deadline for all merit scholarships, with the exception of the Presidential Scholarship, which has a deadline of November 15.  Once a student has been admitted to NIU, they will automatically be considered for merit scholarships and notified of their award.  Some scholarships may require an interview or participation in a campus engagement activity to receive the full amount of the award.  Students will be notified in their award letter if additional steps are required.

Scholarships will continue to be awarded on a rolling basis as long as funds remain available.  In addition, all students should submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible, beginning in January for 2016, or October for 2017.  NIU will review academic credentials and financial need to determine eligibility for NIU grants.

Spring Admission

Students intending to enroll for the first time in a spring semester must meet the priority deadline of October 1 in order to receive consideration for merit scholarships.  The Presidential Scholarship is not awarded for the spring semester.

Previous Admission

Students who have been admitted for a previous academic term at NIU and do not attend, but wish to change their term of admission, must reapply to NIU.  At that time they will be subject to evaluation under new scholarship criteria and award amounts.  Admitted students will be awarded the highest level scholarship for which they are eligible, based on available funding.

Financial Aid

The Scholarship Office and the Student Financial Aid Office will work together to maximize students' financial opportunities, but not all estimated awards may be utilized due to funding restrictions.  Students should file the FAFSA (available January 1 for 2016 or October 1 for 2017) as soon as possible to be considered for the most financial aid.

Other Scholarships

For other scholarship opportunities provided by generous donors to the university, please visit the ScholarshipFinder search engine You may also want to review our resources and tips web pages. 

Contact Us

Scholarship Office
Swen Parson Hall 245K
Northern Illinois University
815-753-4829 or
Fax: 815-753-9475

Business Hours
8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.