NIU awarded funds to help recruit, retain students

The+NIU+Huskie+Pride+Statue+and+Holmes+Student+Center+are+recognizable+landmarks+to+help+new+students+find+their+way+around+campus.

Northern Star File Photo

The NIU Huskie Pride Statue and Holmes Student Center are recognizable landmarks to help new students find their way around campus.

Yari Tapia, Opinion Editor

DeKALB – The Illinois Board of Higher Education awarded NIU $456,286 for the 2020 to 2021 academic year to help recruit and retain students most in need, according to a Monday news release from IBHE. The funding comes from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and eight other colleges were awarded as well.

“As part of our laser focus on equity, IBHE, in conjunction with Gov. JB Pritzker’s Office, will use these dollars to support students with the greatest need,” Ginger Ostro, who is an executive director for the IBHE said. “Each of the institutions is demonstrating evidence-based efforts to recruit and retain first-generation, low-income, underrepresented, and rural students. The bottom line is that we want these students to stay the course.”

NIU will be able to further support the students’ academic success and needs by closing gaps in regards to access to technology, according to the release. The funds will allow NIU to support its students academically, socially and emotionally through multiple methods, one of those being peer mentors.

The funds can also be used for checking out equipment, giving students tools to make financial and career decisions, teaching language, assistance with childcare, increased goods for the food pantry and remote healthcare. 

“This funding originally comes to Illinois from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, and we know from working with colleges and universities across the state that COVID-19 has brought to light many inequities for at-risk students,” Stephanie Bernoteit, the deputy executive director for IBHE, said. “We are pleased that Illinois could dedicate some of those dollars for programs designed to increase post-secondary attainment for that group of potential and returning students.”

The program was available for NIU along with all other four-year public and private/non-profit institutions in Illinois that were accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.