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Over One-Third Of NIU Incoming Freshmen Received 'Huskie Pledge' Grant Covering Tuition & Fees

Holmes Student Center at Northern Illinois University.

719 Northern Illinois University freshmen received the Huskie Pledge grant this fall, during the first semester it was offered. It covers remaining tuition and fees for Illinois residents with a minimum 3.0 GPA in high school and whose family income is no more than $75,000.

Sol Jensen is the VP of enrollment management, marketing and communications at NIU.

“It certainly made up over a third of our incoming class. And it certainly showed that there was a high demand and a need for a program like this,” he said.

He said the average award amount was just over $2,500. Three-quarters of recipients are first-generation college students.

The university saw a slight enrollment increase in the fall, despite enrollment faltering at other schools due to the pandemic.

Jensen said the pledge played a key role, especially in attracting students from the DeKalb County area. He said COVID-19 might make initiatives like this even more vital.

“We would hate for the students who have this type of talent and determination to not attend college only because of financial means," he said. "And so, we're trying to do our part to try and help fill that gap."

Students can keep receiving the grants for up to four additional years, as long as they maintain a 2.5 GPA at NIU and their household income doesn't exceed $80,000.

The program is funded through Illinois’ “AIM High” scholarships. State higher-ed budget cuts could be looming as the pandemic continues, but right now Jensen says the school is full steam ahead for next year’s class.