Public Accountability Report Public Accountability Report

Northern Illinois University
(Appropriated Spending in Thousands)
  FY 2021 FY 2020
Reporting Programs Expenditures Headcount Expenditures Headcount
Northern Illinois University $ 87,823.8 3,294.0 $ 87,824.9 3,766.0
Totals $ 87,823.8 3,294.0 $ 87,824.9 3,766.0

Amounts may not sum to total due to rounding.

Agency Narrative

Northern Illinois University is dedicated to enriching and improving the lives of students and to enhancing and strengthening our region, state, and nation.

Enrolling more than 16,000 students – nearly all of them from Illinois – our seven colleges offer a wide variety of high-quality academic programs taught by outstanding faculty who provide both exceptional teaching and substantial outputs of research and artistry. External funding awarded to faculty and staff hit a 10-year high in fiscal year 2021, with 127 faculty and staff members winning 343 awards for research, instruction, outreach, public service, and other activities, totaling $80 million. Federal COVID-19 funds accounted for a significant share of that dollar amount, but even in their absence, sponsored funding is at its highest level in a decade, having increased by nearly 50% over the last five years.

Those grants consistently yielded an excellent return on investment. A recent report by the George W. Bush Institute ranked NIU third nationally for “innovation impact productivity” among peer institutions, a recognition of our success in turning research expenditures into patents, licenses, widely cited papers, and STEM graduates.

Those investments also pay off for students. The Brookings Institute has recognized NIU as being among a select group of the nation’s public universities that simultaneously produces important research while also extending social mobility opportunities to students from low-income households.

Essential to that success is NIU’s commitment to making college degrees an affordable, attainable goal for a student body that reflects the diversity of our region. To do so, we have adopted innovative approaches to financial aid and scholarships that create opportunities for qualified students who otherwise would not be able to attend college. Thanks to those efforts, NIU saw its incoming freshman class grow by 12% in the fall of 2021. It was the fifth straight year that the freshman class has grown, and this year’s increase was the largest year-over-year gain in two decades. The class is the most diverse in university history (38% are Black, 21% are Hispanic), and 57% of new freshmen are first-generation college students. The class boasts an average high school GPA of 3.34.

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges, our faculty and staff have demonstrated tremendous creativity, flexibility, and determination to ensure that we provide students an outstanding education despite the circumstances. The financial impact of the pandemic has been significant due to both revenue loss and increased expenditures to mitigate the spread of the virus. NIU will continue to examine every option and take multiple steps to reduce our costs, address losses incurred to date, and be responsive to the myriad challenges COVID-19 will continue to present in the year ahead.

Northern Illinois University leaves an impressive footprint on its community and continues to provide a significant return on investment to the State of Illinois. More than 150,000 NIU alumni reside and work in Illinois, with 60% of graduates working in an area related to their degrees. The annual impact Northern Illinois University has on its region is nearly $600 million, which is more than seven times the institution’s annual state appropriation.



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