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NIU unveils 'Huskie Pledge' to fully fund tuition for low-income freshmen

DeKALB – As part of ongoing efforts to grow enrollment at Northern Illinois University, Illinois high school students could have their tuition fully funded beginning in Fall 2020 if they meet certain income and academic requirements.

NIU President Lisa Freeman unveiled the new initiative, called the Huskie Pledge, during her State of the University address. Illinois high school students who graduate this spring with a 3.0 cumulative GPA or above could have their first-year tuition completely covered if they live in a household with a net income of $75,000 or less.

“To a college-bound high school student, having the talent, drive and determination but not the financial means is debilitating and discouraging,” Freeman said Tuesday in her address.

She said the university’s data show student success is related more heavily to high school GPA and not what score a student receives on the SAT or ACT.

She said the university is re-examining certain admissions practices as they head into the 2020-2021 academic year, and that research shows standardized tests are often biased against students who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds or communities which are traditionally marginalized.

Those who receive freshmen year tuition coverage through the Huskie Pledge will be eligible to have the grant renewed for up to four more years provided they meet the GPA and income requirements, she said.

For the 2019-2020 academic year, total scholarship giving increased by more than 200%, Freeman said, and an additional $10.3 million is committed.

Freeman also identified other goals for the coming year at NIU, including improved disability services. She said the university has hired give employees who will work with the Disability Resource Center, which is also going to be relocating to the Campus Life Building which has more accessible space.

The university is also revising policy and practices related to sexual misconduct. In May, students held a protest against the university’s handling of Title IX cases, and called on staff to improve reporting, investigation and disciplinary policies to better advocate for survivors.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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