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Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois Fellowship


The DFI Fellowship Program’s goal is to increase the number of minority full-time tenure track faculty and staff at colleges and universities in Illinois.

Eligibility Requirements


Applicants must be admitted to a Master’s or Doctoral program UIC at the time of application. If awarded, the applicant must enroll as a full-time student (12 hours). DFI Fellowship Program Applications must be submitted to the UIC Graduate College by Monday, February 22, 2021, @ 5:00 PM CST via the Graduate College’s folder: 2021-22 New DFI Fellowship Application Submission Folder ONLY! 

Illinois Residency

To be classified as an Illinois resident, an applicant must have received a baccalaureate degree from an accredited educational institution in Illinois or received a baccalaureate degree from an accredited educational institution outside of Illinois and has lived in Illinois for a period of at least three years prior to applying for a grant.

Underrepresented Groups

African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. “Traditionally underrepresented minority group” means any of the minority groups designated in the Act which are represented in Illinois post-baccalaureate enrollment at a percentage rate less than the percentage of the minority group’s representation in the total Illinois population. The Illinois Board of Higher Education shall determine annually which groups are underrepresented based upon census data and annual graduate enrollment reports from Illinois institutions of higher education.

Academic Ability

  • Applicants must possess above-average academic ability as evidenced by:
  • An earned baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning;
    A minimum grade point average of 2.75 (scale 4.0 = A) in the last sixty hours of undergraduate work or over a 3.2 (scale 4.0 = A) in at least 9 hours of graduate study;
  • Unconditional admission to a master’s or doctoral degree program at UIC.

Academic Pursuit

Applicants in all academic disciplines are eligible. Applicants must be pursuing a doctorate or master’s degree. Applicants must plan on pursuing a career in teaching or administration at an Illinois post-secondary institution or Illinois higher education governing board.

Financial Need

Applicants must demonstrate financial need.  Applicants must have a financial need of at least $10,000 for eligibility.  Please complete the Federal Applications for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) must be filed each year to maintain eligibility. Information regarding the student’s Total Direct Expenses minus the Expected Family Contribution [EFC] determines financial need [Need].  Please consult the 2021-22 DFI Application and the UIC Office of Student Financial Aid to determine the impact of accepting the DFI Fellowship stipend and tuition and partial fee waiver.

Terms of the Award

 Upon graduation or separation from the DFI institution, an award recipient must agree to actively seek and accept when offered a teaching or non-teaching full-time appointment at an Illinois post-secondary educational institution or accept a position as an employee of this state in an administrative, educational-related position equal to the number of years for which he or she receives the DFI fellowship. Students failing to fulfill this condition of the award shall be required to repay 20 percent of their cumulative award amount, subject to revision by the DFI Program Board.

The DFI Award is available for a maximum of four years:

Doctorate Degree – Four (4) Years
Master Degree – Two (2) Years
Master’s degree holders funded through DFI are eligible to apply for additional years of support for doctoral study; total DFI funding is not to exceed four years

2021-22 DFI Fellowship Program Application


UIC graduate students must submit applications directly to the Graduate College via No Departmental Transmittal Forms are required. Applications and supporting documents should, preferably, be submitted as one single PDF using the following naming convention:


Students must submit the applications to:

2021-22 New DFI Fellowship Application Submission Folder  ONLY!  Only complete applications will be reviewed.

Students must submit their applications directly to the UIC Graduate College. Applications must include the following items as one PDF:

  1. Official Letter of Acceptance (From the degree program. Unconditional Admission is required)
  2. 2021-22 DFI Application – (All sections completed and signed)
  3. 2021-22 FAFSA  (
  4. New Applicant Screening Form (On page 9 of the application)
  5. Statement of Professional Goals
  6. Statement of Underrepresented Status
  7. Voter’s Registration Card/Proof of Illinois Voter Registration  (
  8. Three Letters of Recommendation (Addressed to Dr. Lunaire Ford, UIC DFI Institutional Representative,
  9. Official Transcripts (No Photocopies or Faxes)

Transcripts may be sent via email directly to Lunaire Ford, Assistant Dean, UIC Graduate College, at Transcripts must show the original institutional watermark and not indicate that it is a copy.

*Letters of recommendation should be addressed to the   Alternatively; recommenders may upload letters to the Graduate College’s secure folder at 2021-22 New DFI Fellowship Application Submission Folder. Letters must be saved in PDF using the following naming convention:


Example: If a recommender named Susan Smith were the writing a letter of recommendation for an applicant named George Washington, the file would be named as follows:


Submit the letters to 2021-22 New DFI Fellowship Application Submission Folder ONLY!

Transcripts and Letters of Recommendation may also be sent to the Institutional Representative via email.  


UIC may submit up to 25 new applications for 2021-22. Application reviews occur at both the campus and the state levels. The campus-level review ensures that all applications are complete, thorough, and eligible. Institutional representatives forward eligible and competitive applications to the DFI Board for the second review at the state level.

Eligible and competitive applications that follow the submission process imperative for success in both the campus-level review and state-level competition. Applicants will be notified in March 2021 of the status of their applications. The IBHE/DFI Board will notify the UIC DFI Representative of the awards in June 2021.  Please note that the funding for this fellowship for the 2021-22 academic year (FY2022) is contingent on the availability of funds appropriated by the Governor and Illinois General Assembly.


Students or Faculty in need of assistance with the DFI Fellowship Application may view the 2021-22 DFI Fellowship Application Workshop Presentation view the following link:

(Coming soon)


New DFI Fellowship applicants with loans should be very clear,in advance, about any financial impact that receiving the fellowship may have.

Contacts : Dr. Lunaire Ford, DFI Fellowship Program Institutional Representative,

You may also visit the DFI Fellowship Program website at