DFI Fellowship

Please Note: Due to the State of Illinois's budget, information for the 2016-2017 academic year has not been released. You should check the Illinois Board of Higher Education's website at http://www.ibhe.org/ for updates.

NLU has received application materials for the Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois Fellowship Program (DFI) for the 2015–2016 academic year, deadline Feburary 17, 2015. The Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois Program (DFI) was established by the Illinois General Assembly and signed as Public Act 093-0862 on August 4, 2004. The purpose of DFI is to increase the number of underrepresented faculty and staff in Illinois as well as Illinois institutions of higher education and higher education governing boards. The program has been a major source of fellowship support for African American, Latino, Native American and Asian American graduate students. The funding ranges from $10,000-$15,000 a year.

The DFI fellowship is designed to encourage underrepresented students to pursue masters and doctoral degrees in any graduate field. The program provides an annual stipend to each award recipient maintaining full-time enrollment (6 or more hours per semester) throughout the academic year (fall, winter and spring) terms. Fellows at NLU also receive a one third tuition waiver each term during the fellowship period. The tuition and fees remaining are the responsibility of the student. Doctoral students may receive a maximum of four years of fellowship support, master’s students up to two years. Recipients may also hold a Graduate Assistant student employment position if their financial aid award supports it. Awards may be made to students in any of the programs leading to a graduate degree or doctoral degree at NLU, but the career goals of the applicant should be employment in the Illinois higher education community, whether as faculty, staff or employment with a governing board.

Applicants must complete an online eligibility check prior to subm itting their application. The DFI access code is DFI2016 is required for the online eligibility check.


The Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois (DFI) is a highly competitive program. It is imperative that each application submit the strongest case possible in an effort to be awarded the fellowship.

The Point System:

The fellowship committee operates on a point system and each of the following categories is graded for a total of one hundred points. Some of the most important categories are:

The Professional Goals Statement 40 points

The largest point area is the professional goals statement which is worth 40 points. This particular statement is extremely important. Remember that one of the conditions of the fellowship is to ensure employment after graduation. Specific detailed descriptions of exactly what you are planning to do after graduation that makes the connection between the research in your field of study, work in higher education and teaching or doing research or administration. One of the conditions of the scholarship of that the fellow must be employed within the state of Illinois at the completion of their degree. Be sure to include your willingness or desire to become employed within the field after the completion of your degree.

The Statement of Underrepresented Status 18 points

The statement of underrepresented status should reflect both a strong identification with your ethnic group and a detailed personal description of how your membership in that group has influenced your educational and personal development as well as associated between your ethnic group and your selected field of study.  

Letters of Recommendation 20 points

Make sure you speak to the individuals who are providing your letters of recommendations to ensure they include information regarding your academic performance in your field of study. It’s imperative that all of your letters are as current as possible and reflect the opinion of your professor and academic mentors. If employment was or is in your field of student employers can provide recommendation letters. You should share with the person writing the letter on your behalf the purpose of the DFI Program and your Professional Goals Statement.

Academic Ability 18 points

This area will examine your Grade Point Average (GPA), standardized test scores and academic standing. The DFI committee will assess your academic ability by examining your graduate and/or undergraduate GPA, academic and career goals, the grammar and spelling in your essays, academic activities (conferences attended, research conducted, achievement awards received, etc.) and references made to your academic ability in your recommendation letters. 

Additional Tips

  • The 2015–2016 DFI application deadline is February 17, 2015. If the completed application is not received by the deadline, the application will be disqualified. 
  • Applicants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by February 15, 2015.
  • It is extremely important that you read the entire application thoroughly and carefully and provide the requested information. Don’t underestimate the importance of your statements. At least three reviewers will review your application.
  • Answer only the question that is being asked in complete sentences.
  • Provide all of the requested documents prior to the deadline of February 17, 2015.
  • If you have questions or need clarification, please contact Lucreshia Head, the DFI Representative at NLU, via email at Lhead@nl.edu or phone at 847.947.5443.  



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