Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois Fellowship


The goal of DFI Fellowship Program is to increase the number of minority full-time tenure track faculty and staff at Illinois’ two- and four-year, public and private colleges and universities.

Eligibility Requirements


Applicants must be admitted to a Master’s or Doctoral program at a participating institution at the time of application; and, if awarded, enroll as a full-time student as defined by the institution. DFI Fellowship Program Applications must be submitted to the UIC Graduate College by FridayFebruary 14, 2020, @ 5:00 PM CST via the Graduate College’s Box.com folder: 2020-21 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 post-baccalaureate degree program.

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 Cost of Attendance [COA] less the Expected Family Contribution [EFC] determines financial need [Need].  Please consult the 2020-21 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

2020-21 DFI Fellowship Program Application


UIC graduate students must submit applications directly to the Graduate College via Box.com. 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:

2020-21 New DFI Fellowship Application Submission Folder ONLY!  Only complete applications will be reviewed.  A complete application includes the following documents: 

  1. Official Letter of Acceptance [unconditional admission]
  2. 2020-21 DFI Application Form
  3. New Applicant Preliminary Questionnaire [On page 9 of the application]
  4. Statement of Professional Goals
  5. Voter Registration Card [copies are acceptable]
  6. Statement of Underrepresented Status
  7. Three Letters of Recommendation*
  8. Signed and Completed Application Form
  9. Signed and Completed Financial Form
  10. Official Transcripts [ No Copies]  – Sent to the applicant, scanned, & uploaded] w/ application

*Letters of recommendation should be sent directly to the applicant directly.  Alternatively, recommenders may upload letters to the Graduate College’s secure Box.com folder at:  2020-21 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: 2020-21 New DFI Fellowship Application Submission Folder ONLY!

Do not send documents [i.e., transcripts, letters, or attachments] to the Institutional Representative via email.  Applications not received according to the instructions above are unacceptable.


UIC may submit up to 25 new applications for 2020-21. 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 2020 of the evaluation of the status of their applications. DFI Representatives will be notified of IBHE/ Board Approval of Awards in June 2020.  Program funding for the 2020-21 academic year (FY2021) is contingent on the availability of funds appropriated by the Governor and Illinois General Assembly.


Students in need of assistance with DFI Fellowship Applications may attend one of the workshops listed below via the hyperlink: 2020-21 DFI Application Workshop

2020-21 DFI Fellowship Application Workshops [For New Applicants]

  • Tuesday, January 28, 2020 – 3:30-5 p.m., Room UH 650
  • Wednesday, January 29, 2020 – 2-3:30 p.m., Room UH 650
  • Friday, January 31, 2020 – 12-1:30 p.m., Room UH 650


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


You may also visit the DFI Fellowship Program website at https://www.ibhe.org/dfiapplicant.html