AIM HIGH Frequently Asked Questions

AIM HIGH Renewal

If you received the Freshman Excellence Scholarship or the Transfer Excellence Scholarship for fall 2019, or if you received the Transfer Achievement Scholarship in fall 2020 or beyond, below are the answers to all of your questions about renewing your scholarship each year. The renewability of this scholarship is contingent on future state appropriation and funding for the AIM HIGH program.

What are the AIM HIGH renewal requirements?

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.
  • 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. 

Most 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.

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 were restricted to new entering students in fall 2019, and has since expanded to students entering NIU in fall 2020 and beyond. NIU has also set additional eligibility criteria within the state parameters. These scholarships are renewable.

What are the other 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 February 1 priority deadline. NIU will use the submission date of your initial FAFSA regardless of the inclusion of our school code. However, we cannot calculate your eligibility until NIU has been added to your FAFSA.
  • The household income at the time of initial application will be the income used throughout the duration of the program (even if the income changes in subsequent FAFSAs submitted by the applicant).
  • Complete the NIU admission application including submission of all required documents by February 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. 2021 income will be used to determine 2023-2024 eligibility based on the chart below.
Number of People in Household AIM HIGH Maximum Income*
One $77,280
Two $104,520
Three $131,760
Four $159,000
Five $186,240
Six $213,480
Seven $240,720
Eight ** $267,960

*Household limits may vary from year to year.
**For more than eight people in the household, add $27,240 for each person.

Do I need to file a FAFSA?

Yes. The AIM HIGH legislation requires you to file a FAFSA or Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid to determine your initial eligibility each year. NIU's priority deadline is December 1.

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 and NIU Partner Scholarship funds are not refundable, but can be used toward NIU educationally related charges such as tuition and fees, on-campus housing, NIU meal plans, books charge to your NIU student account and standard parking permit charges. Total aid may have to be reduced if AIM HIGH and NIU Partner Scholarship funds, when combined with other aid restricted to NIU charges, exceed those charges or, when combined with all aid including student loans and federal work-study, exceed your federal cost of attendance.

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

AIM HIGH scholarship funds, like 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.

I lost my AIM High scholarship, but now I meet the criteria. Can my scholarship be reinstated?New

If you lost your AIM HIGH scholarship due to falling below the GPA requirement, you may contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office to request reinstatement if you now meet the GPA requirement.

If you lost your AIM HIGH scholarship because you were enrolled less than full time (12 hours) at any point, you may not be eligible to receive the scholarship for future semesters, however, you can submit a one-time appeal to have your AIM HIGH scholarship reinstated if you return to full-time enrollment.

AIM HIGH Partnership Awards for CPS/DeKalb County

Beginning Fall 2024 NIU is making a change to AIM HIGH Partnership Awards for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) /DeKalb County. 

How will this change benefit students?
  • This will increase the total award amount for each student from $3,000 to $4,000.
  • This will help students/families with financial planning by knowing that they can expect to receive this same amount in each of their four years.
  • Previously, students were often challenged with a $3,000 gap in their financial aid after the first year.
  • Collectively, this will help increase student retention and persistence, a key university goal and focus of NIU’s Strategic Enrollment Management Plan 2.0.
How many students will this impact?

The number varies from year to year, but over the past few years the number of new first-year students from CPS and DeKalb County has been between 500 and 700.

Why make this change now?

We are responding to many of our students and community-based organizations who work with high school students. They asked for awards that are committed to and renewable for all four years of enrollment.

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