ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) – Freshman enrollment at Northern Illinois University (NIU) has improved by 12% this fall, which is the largest year-to-year increase in two decades. Administrators believe the enrollment surge is due to several factors.
NIU has implemented a test-blind policy for both admissions and scholarship consideration, as well as eliminating application fees for possible incoming students.
The goal with these policies is to make higher education as accessible as possible for lower-income families.
“A lot of families struggle to provide a college education, for themselves or their family members. And we have a strong commitment to lowering those barriers to make sure students can access higher education,” said Beth Ingram, Executive Vice President and Provost at NIU.
According to NIU leaders, there are 95 students from Rockford enrolled at NIU this year compared to 20 last year.
A big reason for this increase is The Rockford Promise Program, a scholarship for qualified RPS 205 students to receive free tuition.
“When we can create a relationship and synergy with a community, to ensure that their students can attain a four-year degree, I think that’s very valuable. It’s been a very robust program,” said Ingram.
50% of the incoming NIU Freshman are first-generation students.