University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Fellowship Finder

Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois (DFI) Fellowship Program

Deadline: Anticipated 2/2024 ( Previous deadline 2/10/2023 )

DEADLINE: For UIUC students, applications (both new and renewal) must be submitted electronically to the Graduate College's Office of External Fellowships by 5:00 p.m. on February 10, 2023.  As part of the application process, FAFSAs must be completed online by February 8, 2023. Students at other universities may have different internal deadlines.  Those students should check with their graduate school for details.   

Offered by the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), DFI fellowships support underrepresented graduate students who intend to teach or become administrators in higher education in the state of Illinois following graduation. To be eligible, a student must be a US citizen or permanent resident, a member of a group traditionally underrepresented in higher education, a resident of the state of Illinois, enrolled in or accepted into an on-campus master’s or doctoral program, able to demonstrate financial need, and able to demonstrate academic excellence. Applicants must also commit to working full-time in higher education in the state of Illinois starting upon graduation and continuing for as many years as was supported by the fellowship. 

The program's goal is to increase the number of underrepresented full-time tenure track faculty and staff at Illinois' two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities.

Award Amount:

Duration of Support:



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 education-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.

TO APPLY (The application process below applies to UIUC students and students seeking to use the fellowship at UIUC. Other universities will have their own application process.):

There are separate application processes for new applicants and renewal applicants.  Read the appropriate set of guidelines below depending on whether you are a new or renewing applicant. 

For New Applicants:  

Applicants should read the instructions below and the instructions on the DFI webpage well in advance of the deadline. There are several parts to a completed application. Incomplete applications, late applications, and applications that do not follow the instructions below will be disqualified without review.    

Applicants and letter writers should each prepare their respective materials, as instructed below.  Applicants must scan their materials into a single pdf and submit the file electronically to the Graduate College's Office of External Fellowships through this Box folder by the campus deadline. The pdf should be named as follows: LastName, FirstName - DFI2023 (for example: Smith, John - DFI2023).  The pdf must contain the following documents, arranged in the following order:

  1. Completed DFI Application Form. All questions and checkboxes on the form must be completed.
  2. Copy of your official acceptance letter for the degree program for which funding is being sought.  If you no longer have your acceptance letter, you will need to obtain a copy from your department.
  3. Completed Financial Information Form (found on page 14 of the DFI Application Form).  To complete the Financial Information Form, applicants must complete a 2023-24 FAFSA online no later than February 8, 2023 (applicants should ignore the February 14 deadline listed in the application).   Applicants who do not complete the online FAFSA by this date are ineligible for the DFI fellowship. 
  4. Copy of your FAFSA Confirmation Page Email that shows your expected family contribution (EFC) and your estimated loan eligibility amount.  You will receive this confirmation email from the Dept of Education upon completing your online FAFSA application. Please note that this is separate from your Student Aid Report. The document needed for the DFI application is the email you received from Federal Student Aid after you completed your online FAFSA registration, and the subject line of that email reads "FAFSA Confirmation Page E-mail." The confirmation document that you include in the application must show the EFC.  
  5. Professional Goals Statement.  See the DFI Application Form for guidelines on this statement.
  6. A copy of the applicant's Voter Registration Card is required from students who did not receive a high school or post-secondary degree from an accredited educational institution in Illinois.  In other words, applicants who are claiming Illinois residency by virtue of their having lived in Illinois for at least three years must submit a copy of their Voter Registration Card.
  7. Statement of Underrepresented Status. See the DFI Application Form for guidelines on this statement.
  8. Official transcripts.  Students currently enrolled at UIUC must submit an official UIUC transcript.  Students entering UIUC in the fall of 2023 must submit official transcripts from their current institutions.  Transcripts must be included as part of this pdf. 

ALL materials above must be submitted according to the instructions, through the online portal, by the campus deadline.  Applications not following these instructions will be disqualified.

Selection Process: The University of Illinois may submit only 25 new applications for consideration by IBHE.  The Graduate College will convene a review panel to review applications and select the 25 finalists.  Review criteria will include evidence of academic achievement (GPA, publications, presentations, etc.), coherence and strength of the statements, and the level of endorsement found in the recommendation letters. Finalists’ applications will be sent to IBHE, and IBHE will select awardees.  

For Renewal Applicants:  

UIUC students who are eligible for renewal should submit the following items:

Applicants must scan these three materials into a single pdf and name the file as follows: Last Name, First Name - DFIRenewal2023 (e.g., Smith, Jane - DFIRenewal2023).  The file should then be uploaded to this Box folder by February 10, 2023.

UIUC Contact:
Ken Vickery, PhD
Director of Fellowships
Graduate College

IBHE Contact:
Brook Stewart
Assistant Director





Categories: Annual stipend of at least $10,000; Social Sciences; Sciences/Engineering/Math; Fine Arts; Humanities; US Citizens, Nationals, or Permanent Residents; Master's; Early Years of Doctoral Program; Dissertation Research; Fellowship/Grant; University of Illinois Students; Underrepresented Students

If you have questions or if this listing needs updating, please contact us.