The withdrawal of U.S. troops from and consequent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has created more than 80,000 Afghan refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Many are already in the United States in search of places where they may begin to heal and build a new life. The Chicago area expects to welcome approximately 500 Afghan refugees in the coming months. Many area nonprofits and refugee organizations are working to help with settlement and housing.

To provide further support, Northeastern Illinois University will offer qualified refugees who settle in Chicago or nearby areas the opportunity to attend Northeastern, including its English as a Second Language (ESL) program, through University-sponsored discretionary waivers that will cover the cost of tuition and fees for 12 credit hours in the current academic year. The initiative will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for up to 15 continuing and prospective students. Housing will also be available for these students, if needed.

This program is not only consistent with the University’s stated values of Excellence, Access to Opportunity, Diversity, Community and Empowerment Through Learning, but also communicates Northeastern’s readiness to lead with a sense of responsibility and accountability to those historically displaced and dispossessed by circumstances beyond their control.

Those interested in this program are encouraged to apply online or contact the Admissions Office at or (773) 442-4050 for more information. 

Learn more about the Application Process

Apply online for student housing

Learn more about our Intensive English Program

Application Deadlines: 

Northeastern Illinois University has three semesters: fall, spring and summer. 

Please submit all required documents by the following dates below to be considered for the program. 

  • International undergraduate and graduate students: Deadline for Spring 2022 is October 1. 
    (Note: Please complete and submit the PDF version of the admissions application.)

  • Domestic applicants: Deadline for Spring 2022 is November 1. 


Will applicants located within the United States, and those located outside of the United States, both be considered for the Afghan Transition Program (ATP)?

Yes, people applying from both within and outside the United States will be considered for the program. However, due to the difference in application requirements (due to location), applicants must first complete a short questionnaire to help us advise you on the program/offerings that best fit your individual needs and situation. Please fill out Afghan Transition Program Interest Form to provide us with this information.

Will I need to pay the $30 admission application fee?

No; NEIU will waive the application fee for those who apply to the University through this program. Upon completion of the questionnaire and determination of which program is the best fit for you, we will provide you with the instructions you need to have the application fee waived.

Can I apply for all programs offered by NEIU?

Yes, you can apply as a degree-seeking bachelor's or master's student, as a “student-at-large” at either level, or for our English as a second language program, called SAELL.

View our academic programs

What are my chances of getting accepted into the Afghan Transition Program?

At the present time, NEIU is offering places to 13 students.

If I am accepted into NEIU through this Afghan Transition Program, what costs will be covered?

All tuition and fee costs, as well as housing in The Nest, for one academic year.

What costs are not covered by the Afghan Transition Program?

Books, transportation costs to come to the United States, any legal fees you might incur, external evaluation company fees, English Language exam fees, and all costs for attending NEIU after the first year.

Must I submit an English Language Exam in order to be considered for an academic program?

Yes, in almost all cases. NEIU accepts TOEFL, IELTS, PTE and Duolingo. If, however, you completed your last degree in an all English medium school, you can apply to have the exam requirement waived. The required scores for each exam are below:


Score to Apply for Bachelors

Score to Apply for Masters


PBT 500/IBT 61

PBT 550/IBT 79










What if I need to improve my proficiency in English before I will be ready for a university degree program? 

You can apply for NEIU's Intensive English Program, SAELL. SAELL focuses on improving academic English skills in reading, writing, listening, speaking, and grammar, so that students will be successful in a future university degree program. Afghan Transition Program awards can be applied to SAELL tuition and fees.

Must I live on campus?

No, it is not required to live on campus, and there are apartments within walking distance of NEIU. However you may choose to live on campus in The Nest, NEIU’s residence hall. The Afghan Transition Program provides one year of free housing for individual students in apartments (families or couples cannot be accommodated). Four men or four women share one apartment.