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NIU pushes scholarships to lure students from county

DeKALB – New recruitment efforts have been successful in attracting DeKalb County students to Northern Illinois University.

One of those tools is a $4,000 scholarship for local high school students who have at least a 2.75 cumulative grade-point average.

“Local students grow up hearing about NIU, and they drive by the campus,” said Anne Hardy, director of NIU’s scholarship office. “This is really giving them the opportunity to see NIU as a choice for higher education.”

The DeKalb County scholarship program started in 2011, and 61 local students enrolled at NIU with the scholarship last year.

Hardy expects as many as 90 students to enroll with the scholarship this fall semester. She said NIU officials won’t know how many students will attend until September, when fall enrollment numbers have been calculated.

Hardy said NIU stepped up its local recruiting efforts through the scholarship program because many local students have chosen to attend community college before entering a four-year school.

“[Community college] is a great choice for many students, but we also wanted to make NIU an affordable option,” she said.

She said students who attend four-year universities as freshmen are immersed in student culture early on rather than as a junior.

Students at each of the county’s eight public high schools received NIU scholarships, Hardy said.

Full-time students who use the scholarship in their first year can apply again for another $4,000 scholarship to use in their second year of school, capturing as much as $8,000 total. The scholarships are applied toward tuition.

“I was honored and very thankful to receive this scholarship,” scholarship recipient Victoria Voorhis, senior at DeKalb High School, said in a news release from NIU. “I didn’t want to waste this opportunity, and I knew if I chose to attend a different college, I would regret my decision. I, as well as my dad and family, am very appreciative that I have received this, and I am truly looking forward to starting this new chapter in my life at NIU.”

According to an NIU news release, the number of incoming DeKalb County freshmen for 2012 is up 37 percent from a year ago.

Qualifying students who apply to NIU are automatically considered for the scholarship, and Hardy said the number of recipients depends on how many students are in the pool and how much funding is available.

Other new recruitment efforts include an increase in general merit scholarship programs and a tour day for DeKalb, Sycamore and Sandwich high school students.

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