NIU President Douglas D. Baker included the following message within today’s NIU Today news headlines to students, employees and annuitants. A similar message is being distributed to the university’s alumni base.
As I walked across campus to and from meetings the past two weeks, I met many of our incoming students and their families as they participated in new student orientation. I am encouraged by the increased size our incoming freshman class, and my impression from those I have met is that NIU continues to attract quality students. This is a direct reflection of the hard work by our faculty and staff to develop and implement strong student-focused programs.
Last week the subsidized federal student loan rate doubled to 6.8 percent for NEW loans dispersed after July 1, 2013; it does not affect existing student loans. For students and families with questions about the financial aid process and what this change may mean for them, the NIU Financial Aid Office is prepared to provide the necessary information to help make an informed decision regarding handling potential impacts of this decision.
Meanwhile, Congress has an opportunity this month to find a legislative compromise that would lower the student loan interest rates retroactive to July 1. In two weeks, I will be in on Capitol Hill to meet with members of the Illinois Congressional delegation about a number of topics affecting NIU and public universities, and student loan interest rates will be among the top issues we will discuss.
At NIU, we realize a college education represents a sizeable investment in your future. Our aim is to responsibly manage our own fiscal resources in order to keep college affordable while providing institutional merit aid and need-based assistance. Last year, NIU and our Foundation provided undergraduate students with about $25 million in scholarships, waivers and grants. Increasing merit aid has been and will continue to be a priority, and we are thankful to those whose generosity is helping to make this possible.
The return on investment for an NIU education is excellent; NIU ranks in the top third of all colleges and universities in terms of future income, according to a Payscale.com survey, and it is ranked among Washington Monthly’s 150 best national universities for social mobility. What this means is that NIU grads get good jobs.
Higher education has never been more important to our state’s economic health. We must keep college affordable and accessible in order to develop and keep our best and brightest minds in the state. At NIU, we remain committed to that goal, working hard to make sure our students have all the necessary resources—academic, technological, social and financial—to be successful.