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NIU recognized for excellence in inclusion and outcomes

June 10, 2020

Strive for College, a national student mentoring nonprofit organization, has recognized Northern Illinois University for excellence in both outcomes and inclusion for low-income and first-generation college students.

“NIU has proudly served and deepened its commitment to a broad and diverse student population,” NIU Admissions Director Quinton Clay said.

“This comes as a result of student-centered prioritization, a commitment to researching and adopting best-practices, and careful analysis and positive receptiveness to feedback from NIU students and our community,” he added. “This spirit of continuous improvement and our desire to directly impact social mobility are pillars to our mission, vision and values.”

Strive for College identified outcomes and inclusion among its “critical benchmarks” for colleges working to improve trends among students who are the first in their families to pursue higher education or come from low-income households.

Those groups continue to be severely underrepresented on the nation’s college campuses, despite high educational aspirations. While over 80 percent of such students have expectations of going to college in the tenth grade, only 20 percent will earn a bachelor’s degree by the age of 25, according to Strive for College. Its data-based measures of actual performance demonstrate a tangible commitment to students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.

In the “outcomes” category, Strive for Five recognizes colleges that have seen high percentages of graduates (greater than 25%) from lower-income families who end up as higher-income adults.

In the “inclusion” category, Strive for College recognizes institutions where at least 25% of undergraduates receive Pell Grants, meaning at least 1 in 4 students come from low-income families.

More than 50 percent of NIU students are first-generation college students. Additionally, more than 40% of NIU undergraduates qualify for federal need-based Pell Grants, designed to help low-income students nationwide earn degrees.

Strive for College runs, an online community celebrating first-generation college students, and publishes the I’m First! Guide to College in support of first-generation college students. It also partners with colleges and universities to promote and strengthen their efforts on behalf of these students.

The nonprofit organization counts Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, American Express, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, UPS and The Common Application among its major funders and partners.