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DFI Fellowship

NLU has received application materials for the Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois Fellowship Program (DFI) for the 2017–2018 academic year and the deadline to Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) is Tuesday, August 15, 2017, which means the completed DFI Application must be submitted to the Insitutional Representative FRIDAY, AUGUST 4, 2017. 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 provide Fellowships to students pursuing post-baccalaureate degrees as part of the state's effort to diversify the faculties and professional staffs at Illinois higher education institutions.

The DFI fellowship is designed to encourage underrepresented students to pursue masters and doctoral degrees in any graduate field. DFI provides financial assistance, based on demonstrated financial need, for members of traditionally underrepresented groups to pursue and complete graduate degrees at Illinois institutions of higher education.  DFI is a program for graduate students traditionally underrepresented in higher education who have received postsecondary degrees from educational institutions in Illinois or who have three or more years of residency in Illinois and are citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Applicants compete in a statewide competition for DFI awards at over 30 Illinois institutions.

Selection of award recipients in this rigorous competition is based on a comprehensive review of the application materials.  All academic fields at the master’s and doctoral level will be considered for this award, however, the DFI Program Board has established the following priorities:  applicants interested in obtaining a full-time instructional position in Illinois higher education; applicants pursuing degrees in any of the sciences, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields; and applicants pursuing a doctorate or other appropriate terminal degree.  Stipend levels are subject to appropriations by the Illinois General Assembly.  Full-time enrollment is required while on DFI fellowship. 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.

The DFI Fellowship is renewable for one year for master’s students and up to three years for doctoral students, contingent upon the recipient making satisfactory academic progress toward completion of the degree.  Renewal definitions also are subject to revision by the DFI Program Board and administrative rules.  The DFI Fellowship 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.

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.


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.

  • Click on DFI New Application‌ to obtain the application. The deadline to IBHE is Tuesday, August 15, 2017, which means the completed DFI Application is due to the DFI Representative FRIDAY, AUGUST 4, 2017. If the completed application is not received by the deadline, the application will not be considered and will automatically be disqualified.
  • Applicants must complete the current 2017-2018 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • 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.
  • Answer only the question that is being asked in complete sentences.
  • Provide all of the requested documents to the Institutional Rep. prior to the deadline of Friday, August 4, 2017.
  • If you have questions or need clarification, please contact Lucreshia Head, the DFI Representative at NLU, via email at or phone at 847.947.5443.  


As a reminder, the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) will not be accepting applications online this year. You are not required to do so but you may submit a completed application at one of the scheduled meeting dates below:

  • Thursday, July 20th – Eastern Illinois University
  • Monday, July 24th – University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Tuesday, July 25th – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Wednesday, August 2nd – Northern Illinois University
  • Thursday, August 3rd – DePaul University (to meet with candidates from DePaul, Loyola, and Northwestern)
  • Friday, August 4th – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Wednesday, August 9th – Southern Illinois University Carbondale


  • If submitting directly to NLU Institutional Representative is FRIDAY, AUGUST 4, 2017.

  • If sumitting directly to the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017.

You may visit the Illinois Board of Higher Education online at for more information.


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