Merit Scholarships: Frequently Asked Questions

How is my merit scholarship applied to my account charges?

If you are a first-year student you will receive your award over eight consecutive semesters/four years. If you are a transfer student you will receive your award over four consecutive semesters/two years. This does not include summer.

The scholarship will appear as pending aid on your Financial Aid Offer and will apply to your account charges after the second week of classes.

If you receive other institutional aid your merit scholarship may be reduced. The remainder cannot be refunded or rolled over to future semesters.

What charges can my merit scholarship pay?

Merit scholarships can cover tuition, mandatory fees, material fees, on-campus housing, meal plans, standard student parking permit, and books purchased at the University Bookstore. However, you are responsible for additional costs of attendance, which may include remaining tuition and fees, housing and dining costs, books and personal expenses.

Merit scholarships cannot pay study abroad charges, fines such as parking tickets or late fees, Huskie Bucks or other non-educational expenses.

What are the academic requirements I need to maintain to receive my scholarship each semester?

You are required to enroll in at least 12 credit hours each semester for your scholarship to apply to your charges.

The renewal GPA is 3.3 for the Presidential Scholarship, and 2.75 for all other merit scholarships. Some cohorts may have different GPA renewal criteria. If your cumulative NIU GPA drops below the requirement, you will be allowed one grace semester to increase it. During this grace semester, you will still receive the scholarship if you are enrolled in at least 12 hours.

If your cumulative NIU GPA falls below the requirement for two semesters your merit scholarship will be revoked. Appeals are generally not accepted unless there has been an extreme circumstance.

If your scholarship is revoked, but you later increase your cumulative GPA to the required level, contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office to request scholarship reinstatement. Reinstatement is not automatic and depends on available funding.

You must also remain in good academic and judicial standing to be eligible for scholarship renewal.

The scholarship is renewable eight consecutive semesters/four years for first-year students and four consecutive semesters/two years for transfer students. This does not include summer.

If you are concurrently enrolled at another institution, you must complete a consortium agreement and receive approval from your major college office in order to be considered eligible to receive the scholarship.

Can I use my merit scholarship during the summer?

Scholarships typically are distributed only for the fall and spring. However, if you are graduating in less than four or eight semesters and would like to use your scholarship during the summer, please contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office at Advisor approval may be required.

Can I use my merit scholarship if I enroll as a graduate student?

Merit scholarships are reserved for undergraduate students. If you enroll in a professional sequence program or any other program that will elevate you to postgraduate or graduate status throughout the next four years, your award will immediately cease.

If you have early admission to graduate school and are concurrently taking undergraduate and graduate coursework, please contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office to verify what charges the scholarship may cover.

I don't see the scholarship on my account. When will it be posted?

Scholarships will be posted as part of your financial aid and will be included in your spring or fall financial aid notification.

Scholarships are applied directly to your NIU student account charges prior to the beginning of fall and spring semesters, and will disburse to those charges after the 10th day of classes.

I will be receiving other awards (such as state or federal veteran’s benefits, dependent waiver, other private scholarship, etc.). Can I still use the merit scholarship?

If you have other awards that fully pay your charges, the Financial Aid and Scholarship staff will work with you to maximize your aid; for example, sometimes a merit scholarship can help pay for a meal plan or bookstore charges. However, merit scholarships can’t be refunded, rolled forward, or accumulated for use in another term. In some cases, you may have to forfeit the merit scholarship to fully utilize other benefits.

Can I use my scholarship to purchase books?

If you have scholarships or financial aid, you can use your NIU OneCard (which you will receive at orientation) to purchase books at the University Bookstore during the open charge period. The charges will be put onto your student account along with your tuition, fees and other charges. There is a $700 limit to bookstore charges each semester.

How do I accept my merit scholarship?

To accept your scholarship, you must confirm your intent to enroll at NIU by accepting your admission in MyNIU. This will allow the university to reserve your scholarship and send information to you about your next steps.

By enrolling at NIU, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions of this scholarship.

If you enroll at NIU but wish to decline this scholarship, please notify the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office by emailing

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