Indiana scholarship targeting Illinois students

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All business: Danielle Dotson, of Calumet City, Ill., is able to attend classes at the Indiana University Northwest School of Business and Economics through the Illiana Merit Scholarship which offers in-state tuition rates to qualified students from out of state. Seated next to Dotson is fellow student Bryan Garney of Lowell, Ind. | Supplied photo

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When Danielle Dotson, a 38-year-old college student and mother of five from Calumet City, Ill., learned that her university, Indiana University Northwest, was offering academically qualified Illinois students an Illiana Merit Scholarship worth up to $10,000 per year, she “literally cried.”

Dotson had already enrolled in classes at the IU Northwest School of Business and Economics and was prepared to pay out-of-state tuition rates. Earning her bachelor’s degree, she reasoned, would be worth the price.

Still, with five children, the oldest of whom will begin college in 2014, the idea of taking funds away from their education was a troubling notion for Dotson.

But she was determined to finish the degree she had begun years ago, before starting her family, and to prove to her 16-year-old son that “no matter what — through adversity, through having a family, through whatever — I can still get my degree and that will hopefully motivate him and his siblings behind him.”

The Illiana Merit Scholarship reduced Dotson’s tuition bill by about $4,600 for the Fall 2012 semester. But Dotson estimated her actual savings to be closer to $8,000 per semester when factoring in the student loan interest that she will no longer have to carry.

“To be able to receive so much money to go toward higher education when you have so many financial obligations at home; it is indescribable,” she said.

How it works

Recipients of the Illiana Merit Scholarship essentially receive the difference between the Indiana resident rate and the non-resident rate. Based on the rates for the 2012-13 academic year, for example, a student would receive a scholarship estimated at $10,851 per academic year. This figure is based on two terms at 15 credit hours each.

Ordinarily, non-Indiana residents would pay $16,894 for two 15-credit-hour terms.

“This is an incredible value for Illinois residents,” said IU Northwest Director of Admissions Linda Templeton. “IU Northwest offers a number of programs that simply aren’t available at nearby universities, at least not affordably.”

In the game

Becca Theriault, of Orland Park, Ill. was being recruited to play basketball for the IU Northwest Lady RedHawks. But, as an Illinois resident, an IU education seemed to be financially out of her reach, even with the basketball scholarship she’d been offered.

“I was planning on going somewhere else, and at the last minute I got a call from Coach Ryan Shelton,” Theriault recalled. “He told me about the Illiana scholarship. Otherwise, it was going to be too much for me to go here. If I didn’t have this scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to come here.”

The cost of going to another university where she could also play basketball was also unmanageable, Theriault said, so she transferred to IU Northwest from an Illinois community college. Now, she can play basketball and earn a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University for the same cost as someone from across the state line.


Past academic performance is the only eligibility requirement for the Illiana Merit Scholarship, according to university officials, and the scholarship is available both for undergraduate and graduate programs. Incoming freshmen as well as transfer students are invited to apply.

To be eligible, recent high school graduates must possess a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher and a combined SAT score of 1000 (critical reading plus math) or greater, or an ACT composite score of at least 21. Transfer and graduate students must have maintained a 3.0 cumulative GPA from a baccalaureate institution.

The scholarship is renewable from year to year as long as the undergraduate student maintains a 3.0 cumulative GPA and remains enrolled full time. Graduate students must maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA. Satisfactory progress toward the degree must be maintained.

Templeton identified the AACSB-accredited School of Business and Economics, which Dotson attends, and programs in the IU Northwest College of Health and Human Services, as particular draws for Illinois residents, along with programs in fine arts, pre-med, and education.

In addition to the IU Northwest Illiana Merit Scholarship, applicants may qualify for additional federal and campus financial aid, as well as privately funded scholarships. Students are encouraged to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to facilitate additional funding.

Undergraduates who wish to apply may visit and click on “Apply Now.” For questions about eligibility or qualifications, or to obtain graduate program applications and contact information, please send an email message to or call 1-888-YOUR-IUN.

Provided by Indiana University Northwest