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DFI - Applicant Information

Application Renewal

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What is DFI?

The Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois Program (DFI) was established by the Illinois General Assembly and signed as Public Act 093-0862 (Appendix B) on August 4, 2004. Only students interested in employment in higher education are awarded this highly competitive fellowship.

DFI serves as a program of financial assistance to implement the policy of encouraging minority students to enroll and complete academic programs at the post baccalaureate level and to enhance the diversity of faculty and staff of Illinois institutions of higher education. Want more information and/or assistance applying, Click here.

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. The application deadline is posted on the DFI web page and provided to each institution's Institutional Representative each year. Individual institutions may set an internal deadline prior to the specified date for processing purposes. Please check with your institutional representative to comply with the application deadline. 

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:

  1. An earned baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning;

  2. Minimum grade point average of 2.75 on a grade scale of 4.0 = A in the last 60 hours of undergraduate work; or over a 3.2 in at least 9 hours of graduate study;

  3. 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. A FAFSA must be filed each year to maintain eligibility.

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 postsecondary 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:

  1. Doctorate Degree - Four (4) Years
  2. 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.