NIU pays Braven per seat, regardless of under-enrollment


President Lisa Freeman discusses potential program offered by Braven in collaboration with NIU at the April 7, 2022 Board of Trustees meeting. NIU’s contract with Braven dictates that the university pays for students to attend, regardless of under-enrollment. (Northern Star File Photo)

By Evan Mellon, News Reporter

DeKALB – NIU’s partnership with a nonprofit was intended to offer an online leadership course to benefit their students. However, their efforts could be causing them to lose money.

Braven, a nonprofit from Chicago, offers UNIV 301, an online course open to NIU students. The course is designed to help students develop professional communication and leadership skills.

NIU’s contract with Braven dictates NIU pay for the number of students expected to take the course, regardless of enrollment. This means the university still has to pay for a certain number of students to take the course, despite under-enrollment.

According to the contract, Braven does not refund the university if fewer students enroll than anticipated.

For Academic Year 2023, NIU anticipated 700 total students enrolling in the Braven course, paying $565 per student for a total of $395,500.

Braven’s course has 190 students enrolled for the Spring 2023 semester, according to NIU’s course information system. NIU is paying Braven $226,000 for its spring enrollment because their contract dictates the university pay for 400 students to take the course this semester, regardless of under-enrollment.

NIU is paying for an extra 210 students to take the course this semester, meaning the university is paying $118,650 for empty seats.

If this trend continues and NIU fails to fill seats for the Braven course next year, NIU could continue losing money due to a lack of enrolled students.