Frequently Asked Questions About AIM HIGH

To be eligible for an AIM HIGH or NIU Partner Scholarship, you must meet criteria set by the state of Illinois and NIU.


What is the AIM HIGH program?

NIU was awarded funding from the state of Illinois for scholarships to increase the enrollment of Illinois students in Illinois public universities. These funds, referred to as AIM HIGH scholarships, have residency, family income and other criteria. They are restricted to new entering students. NIU has also set additional eligibility criteria within the state parameters. These scholarships are renewable.

Additionally, NIU has established our own new, non-renewable scholarship programs from an investment of institutional funds equal to the AIM HIGH state funding. These new ‘partner scholarships’ are restricted to students who meet the basic AIM HIGH residency and family income requirements. However, they may be used to increase affordability and encourage enrollment of students not included in the AIM HIGH program.

How can I be considered for an AIM HIGH scholarship?
  • Apply as a first-time entering freshman or transfer student to NIU by the priority date of December 1 (freshmen) or March 1 (transfers). Scholarships and grants will be awarded after the priority deadline as funds remain available.
  • Submit a FAFSA by the priority date of December 1 each year.
  • Enroll in NIU full time (12 hours per semester) for fall 2019.
  • Meet minimum merit scholarship requirements (GPA and SAT/ACT criteria).
What are the eligibility requirements?

AIM HIGH requirements (as defined by the state of Illinois) are:

  • Be an Illinois resident who attended an Illinois high school.
  • Be a first-time incoming freshman or transfer student.
  • Be seeking your first undergraduate four-year degree.
  • Be a citizen or eligible non-citizen (be eligible for federal student aid).
  • Not have received a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent of 135 semester credit hours.
  • Not be incarcerated.
  • Not be in default on any student loan.
  • Not owe a refund or repayment on any state or federal grant or scholarship.
  • File a FAFSA by the December 1 priority deadline. NIU will use the submission date of your initial FAFSA for 2019-2020 regardless of the inclusion of our school code. However, we cannot calculate your eligibility until NIU has been added to your FAFSA.
  • Complete the NIU admission application including submission of all required documents by December 1 (new freshman) and March 1 (transfers).
  • Have a household income at or below six times the poverty level. This information will be collected on the FAFSA. 2017 income will be used to determine 2019-2020 eligibility based on the chart below.
Number of People in Household AIM HIGH Maximum Income (for fall 2019)*
One $72,360
Two $97,440
Three $122,520
Four $147,600
Five $172,680
Six $197,760
Seven $222,840
Eight ** $247,920

*Household limits may vary from year to year.
**For more than eight people in the household, add $25,080 for each person.

How is the requirement of attending an Illinois high school defined?

For incoming freshmen:
Students must have attended an Illinois high school and graduated from that school immediately before enrolling at NIU.

For transfer students:
Students must have attended an Illinois high school, but are not required to have graduated from a high school in Illinois. NIU can identify students who graduated from an Illinois high school. Students who graduated from a high school outside of Illinois must self-identify. Please contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office for additional information.

Do I need to file a FAFSA?

Yes. The AIM HIGH legislation requires you to file a FAFSA each year. NIU's priority deadline is December 1.

When will I be notified if I qualify for an AIM HIGH scholarship?

You will be notified as part of your financial aid package. NIU typically begins financial aid packaging in February.

Can I receive more than one AIM HIGH scholarship?

No. You will only receive one AIM HIGH scholarship. However, some students may be eligible for an additional partner scholarship in addition to their merit scholarship and AIM HIGH scholarship.

What costs are covered?

AIM HIGH scholarship funds, NIU partner scholarships and Illinois State Monetary Program (MAP) Grants can only pay tuition and fees. For MAP-eligible students, AIM HIGH, MAP and the NIU Scholars award may exceed tuition and fees when combined. NIU Scholars award funds not applied to tuition and fees can be applied to on-campus housing, meal plans and standard parking permit charges. Scholarship awards may be reduced if they exceed allowable charges.

Does AIM HIGH cover special programs such as study abroad or concurrent enrollment?

No. AIM HIGH scholarships and partner scholarships will not apply to study abroad charges or concurrent enrollment.

Is the program renewable?

AIM HIGH scholarships are eligible for renewal based on the following criteria:

  • Full-time enrollment.
  • Maintaining an NIU cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher.
  • Filing a FAFSA by the December 1 priority date.
  • Meeting the family income threshold for the respective FAFSA income year.
  • Making Satisfactory Academic Progress. Please see policy for detailed information.
  • Meeting all other AIM HIGH criteria.

Some NIU merit scholarships have a higher GPA renewal criteria than the AIM HIGH minimum. 

New freshman AIM HIGH scholarships are renewable until 135 credit hours have been earned or the first NIU degree has been completed.

Transfer AIM HIGH scholarships are renewable until 135 credit hours have been earned, including transferred hours, or completion of the first NIU degree.

The City Colleges of Chicago STAR Scholarship is renewable for one additional year. All other NIU Partner scholarships are one-time, non-renewable awards.

The AIM HIGH and Partner Scholarships are contingent upon annual state appropriation.

I will be an NIU student-athlete. Can I receive an AIM HIGH scholarship?

Student-athletes will need to receive approval from the Huskie Athletic Compliance Office before they can accept an AIM HIGH scholarship or other award.

Are current NIU students eligible for AIM HIGH scholarships?

No, AIM HIGH is for first-time undergraduate transfer or freshman students. The state legislation creating the AIM HIGH program restricts initial awards to students entering a university for the first time. 

Can graduate students apply for AIM HIGH scholarships?

No, AIM HIGH is for first-time undergraduate transfer or freshman students. 

How do I maximize usage of all awarded scholarships and grants?

AIM HIGH scholarship funds, like the Illinois State Monetary Award Program (MAP) Grant, can only pay tuition and fees. NIU funded scholarships are restricted to NIU educationally required charges such as tuition, fees, room and board, and standard parking permits. These scholarships are non-refundable. Awards may be reduced if they exceed allowable charges.

For MAP-eligible students, AIM HIGH, MAP and NIU merit scholarships may exceed tuition and fees when combined. NIU merit funds not applied to tuition and fees can be applied to on-campus housing, meal plans and books. If the combination of restricted and non-refundable grants and scholarships exceeds tuition and fees, living on campus is an option that will decrease or eliminate any reduction in an award amount.

Pell-eligible students can use Pell funds for on- or off-campus living expenses if the Pell Grant exceeds NIU tuition, fees and books when combined with all other grants.

Who should I contact with questions?

The Financial Aid and Scholarship Office is available to answer any questions. Please visit the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office website for contact information and hours of operation.