Lisa Freeman 10 22 19

(WLBK photo)

UPDATE:

Our sister station WLBK reports that NIU has $1 million in state funding to be able to offer eligible freshmen free tuition next year.

As reported earlier this week, the new "Huskie Pledge" grant will cover first-year tuition and fees for freshmen with at least a 3.0 high school GPA. Students need to live in Illinois and their family can’t make more than $75,000.

Students can continue to get the same grant amount for up to four more years if they remain eligible.

NIU President Lisa Freeman announced the new grants during her state of the university speech, earlier this week.

So, how is NIU going to pay for it? Instructional Communications Associate Director Joe King says they’ll be using $1 million the university received through the state’s "AIM HIGH" program.

The state targeted AIM HIGH towards full-time students going to one of Illinois’ 12 public universities for the first time.

Each school gets to decide its own eligibility requirements. This is NIU’s second year of AIM HIGH, and King says the Huskie Pledge grants are taking the place of last year’s programs.

Those programs offered assistance to transfer students and high school students with at least a 3.25 GPA. While an exact number isn’t known, King says NIU expects several hundreds of students will receive Huskie Pledge grants.

How much each student receives will vary. The Huskie Pledge grant covers tuition and fees not covered by other financial aid. King says a student getting the state MAP grant, the federal Pell grant, and NIU merit scholarships may only need 100 dollars or less for the rest of tuition and fees, while a student getting just state assistance may need a few thousand dollars.

The priority application deadline for the Huskie Pledge grant is Feb. 1.

King says if all the AIM HIGH funding is spent before then, the university will find other funding for eligible students.

ORIGINAL

Our sister station WLBK reports that some new Northern Illinois University students will be going to school for free regardless of their ACT or SAT score, and those same test scores may no longer matter for admission to NIU in the future.

NIU President Lisa Freeman announced a new grant program for eligible students called "Huskie Pledge" during her State of the University speech on Tuesday.

The grant is for next year’s full-time freshmen. They have to be Illinois residents with a high school GPA of at least 3.0 and a family income of no more than $75,000.

Freeman says the university is trying to make higher education available to as many people as possible, while pointing out that the cutoff point for income is higher than what’s offered at some other state schools.

While GPA will be considered, ACT and SAT scores will not be used to determine if a student receives the grant. Freeman says their data shows that GPA, and not standardized test scores, predict whether a student will succeed at NIU.

Freeman says the goal is to remove standardized test scores from all financial aid decisions over the next two years.

Elimination of ACT and SAT scores may also be extended to admissions. The faculty will decide if the test scores should be removed from the criteria considered when deciding if a student gets into NIU.

Freeman says she would support the move.