Fulbright Scholarship - crazy to turn it down?


siggy
So I have won a Fulbright.

Problem: no other funding sources (for now, anyways, unless I finally buy that winning lottery ticket tomorrow) to cover the costs of the LLM, that is, I'd be putting myself further in the hole, going from "big student debt" to "massive student debt". But I'm almost willing to do so, just to accept the award.

Is that crazy? Or is it crazy to turn the award down?
So I have won a Fulbright.

Problem: no other funding sources (for now, anyways, unless I finally buy that winning lottery ticket tomorrow) to cover the costs of the LLM, that is, I'd be putting myself further in the hole, going from "big student debt" to "massive student debt". But I'm almost willing to do so, just to accept the award.

Is that crazy? Or is it crazy to turn the award down?
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avonlady
First of all, Yes! you would be crazy.

but, depend on if you have a plan to recouperate your losses---- You can't be a student your whole life--- gotta face the music sooner or later.

BTW which LLMs did you get into?
First of all, Yes! you would be crazy.

but, depend on if you have a plan to recouperate your losses---- You can't be a student your whole life--- gotta face the music sooner or later.

BTW which LLMs did you get into?
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siggy
I thought you might say it was crazy. :)
I thought you might say it was crazy. :)

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One of the big important details that people often forget about a Fulbright Scholarship is that in order to accept it, you have to promise to return to your home country immediately after your program of study. So, if you are planning on doing an LLM in the USA in order to land a job there after you graduate, you should not accept the Fulbright because if you do and you take a job you are violating the terms of your contract at the very least and possibly (don't quote me on this) not eligible for a work visa. I did my LLM at Columbia this year and all the Fulbright students respected their agreements and they could not work in the USA after graduating.
One of the big important details that people often forget about a Fulbright Scholarship is that in order to accept it, you have to promise to return to your home country immediately after your program of study. So, if you are planning on doing an LLM in the USA in order to land a job there after you graduate, you should not accept the Fulbright because if you do and you take a job you are violating the terms of your contract at the very least and possibly (don't quote me on this) not eligible for a work visa. I did my LLM at Columbia this year and all the Fulbright students respected their agreements and they could not work in the USA after graduating.
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Hi amsterdammer,

I agree the condition of returning to the home country is quite a tough one; I know a few who have turned down the offer - or who regret having accepted it - for that very reason . Moreover, I sometimes have the impression Fulbright has a better reputation in the US than in the home country - in which case you're actually asked to leave the country where that award could offer most benefits.

If I'm not mistaken though, you get one year after the LLM to stay in the US (that's at least what a friend could without any further trouble), after which you need to go back for two years. Any thoughts on that?

What I'm also wondering: what does 'go back' mean? Do you really need to return to your country of residence/nationality or can you just go anywhere that is not part of the US? I can hardly believe Fulbright could go as far as restricting your EU freedom of movement for instance, or can it?
Hi amsterdammer,

I agree the condition of returning to the home country is quite a tough one; I know a few who have turned down the offer - or who regret having accepted it - for that very reason . Moreover, I sometimes have the impression Fulbright has a better reputation in the US than in the home country - in which case you're actually asked to leave the country where that award could offer most benefits.

If I'm not mistaken though, you get one year after the LLM to stay in the US (that's at least what a friend could without any further trouble), after which you need to go back for two years. Any thoughts on that?

What I'm also wondering: what does 'go back' mean? Do you really need to return to your country of residence/nationality or can you just go anywhere that is not part of the US? I can hardly believe Fulbright could go as far as restricting your EU freedom of movement for instance, or can it?
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faten
I won a fulbright scholarship and accepted it but I too was worried about this clause. I asked them whether I had to go back to France or if I could just go to any European country and it seems that they allow you some EU freedom of movement but you need to get an agreement from the fulbright Commission and some department of State. I think it might apply to other, non european, countries (Canada/ex).

Besides, as you mentionned, if you find an internship, you can stay lone more year in the US and then after all it's only two years somewhere else until you're allowed to go back! It might be an opportunity to see and do something else, acquire more experience.

Finally, it seems there's a loophole in the system: International Organizations. As I'm more interested by working in an IO than in a firm, I asked whether they were subject to the same 2 years clause and it seems that they aren't! :)

This scholarship is the difference between having to accept any job at the end of your LLM, to pay back your loan and getting to be picky and get the right job. I chose the latter.

Hope it helped :)
I won a fulbright scholarship and accepted it but I too was worried about this clause. I asked them whether I had to go back to France or if I could just go to any European country and it seems that they allow you some EU freedom of movement but you need to get an agreement from the fulbright Commission and some department of State. I think it might apply to other, non european, countries (Canada/ex).

Besides, as you mentionned, if you find an internship, you can stay lone more year in the US and then after all it's only two years somewhere else until you're allowed to go back! It might be an opportunity to see and do something else, acquire more experience.

Finally, it seems there's a loophole in the system: International Organizations. As I'm more interested by working in an IO than in a firm, I asked whether they were subject to the same 2 years clause and it seems that they aren't! :)

This scholarship is the difference between having to accept any job at the end of your LLM, to pay back your loan and getting to be picky and get the right job. I chose the latter.

Hope it helped :)
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siggy
Thanks to everyone for the insights. This is all very helpful. I'm definitely leaning toward accepting the Fulbright. Though working in NYC is enticing, I am much more likely to return to my home country to work thereafter. Incidentally, I can say that the fulbright is seen as one of the most prestigious scholarships in my home country... always mentioned in the same breath as a Rhodes. I think more than any other awards, the Rhodes and Fulbright are the two scholarships that any average person has likely heard of.

Thanks to everyone for the insights. This is all very helpful. I'm definitely leaning toward accepting the Fulbright. Though working in NYC is enticing, I am much more likely to return to my home country to work thereafter. Incidentally, I can say that the fulbright is seen as one of the most prestigious scholarships in my home country... always mentioned in the same breath as a Rhodes. I think more than any other awards, the Rhodes and Fulbright are the two scholarships that any average person has likely heard of.
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These are all excellent posts. All i would add is that i was shortlisted for the Fulbright before I did my LLM and I ended up getting a job as an associate at a big NY firm, so while I was initially very disappointed by not getting the Fulbright, in the long wrong the $15k (that's what it is for canadians) would have paled in comparison to the salary I will earn at a NY shop. That' just one situation, but it's a pretty good illustration of the possible perils of the fulbright, as i would not have been able to accept the job if i was on a fulbright.
These are all excellent posts. All i would add is that i was shortlisted for the Fulbright before I did my LLM and I ended up getting a job as an associate at a big NY firm, so while I was initially very disappointed by not getting the Fulbright, in the long wrong the $15k (that's what it is for canadians) would have paled in comparison to the salary I will earn at a NY shop. That' just one situation, but it's a pretty good illustration of the possible perils of the fulbright, as i would not have been able to accept the job if i was on a fulbright.
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I think it all depends!!!!

i was awarded a fulbright scholarship to Harvard Kennedy School for an MPP in international Finance a two year program;by good riddance i was also admitted to Harvard Law School for an LLM.

After hard thinking i opted for the Fulbright and turned down HLS...reason??? I could always come back and do the LLM later on after the two years..further the economic downtrun in the US coupled with the fact that i came from a county which most NY Law firms do not recruit from militated against HLS.
I think it all depends!!!!

i was awarded a fulbright scholarship to Harvard Kennedy School for an MPP in international Finance a two year program;by good riddance i was also admitted to Harvard Law School for an LLM.

After hard thinking i opted for the Fulbright and turned down HLS...reason??? I could always come back and do the LLM later on after the two years..further the economic downtrun in the US coupled with the fact that i came from a county which most NY Law firms do not recruit from militated against HLS.

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invictus88
I would not say it's crazy to turn down a Fulbright scholarship; I did so myself. You really have to weigh your options after the LL.M. In my country, Fulbright scholars have to leave the US immediately after their courses end, and cannot even stay to take the New York bar exam in July. Salaries in my country are very low when converted to US dollars, even in this time of a weak dollar. It is thus very difficult to repay dollar loans which are taken out to cover the balance not covered by a Fulbright scholarship (in most cases a Fulbright scholarship will only cover half of the total expenses to be incurred in pursuing a LL.M.), and is not an option for the average citizen of my country. Fortunately, I had the option of studying in the UK through a British Chevening scholarship, which covers all expenses. Even if I did not have this option though, I would have probably still chosen not to study in the US if it will mean I will be saddled with a huge debt which I may not be able to repay.
I would not say it's crazy to turn down a Fulbright scholarship; I did so myself. You really have to weigh your options after the LL.M. In my country, Fulbright scholars have to leave the US immediately after their courses end, and cannot even stay to take the New York bar exam in July. Salaries in my country are very low when converted to US dollars, even in this time of a weak dollar. It is thus very difficult to repay dollar loans which are taken out to cover the balance not covered by a Fulbright scholarship (in most cases a Fulbright scholarship will only cover half of the total expenses to be incurred in pursuing a LL.M.), and is not an option for the average citizen of my country. Fortunately, I had the option of studying in the UK through a British Chevening scholarship, which covers all expenses. Even if I did not have this option though, I would have probably still chosen not to study in the US if it will mean I will be saddled with a huge debt which I may not be able to repay.
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amguate
I'm curious, what happens if you take a Fulbright and while you're in the US you marry an American? I don't mean this as a plan but as something that may happen. I mean, you never know! Would you still not be allowed to stay?
I'm curious, what happens if you take a Fulbright and while you're in the US you marry an American? I don't mean this as a plan but as something that may happen. I mean, you never know! Would you still not be allowed to stay?
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schmanny
Hi,

The deadline for fulbrights is still open for my country. I don't really know much about the LLM system in the States but I was thinking of applying after a professor of mine put me in touch with the admissions office of the LLM program in Washington University in St. Louis. She basically said if I got the Fulbright they would try their best to cover the rest of my tuition.(for the International LLM) I suppose the plan after that would, given the downturn in the States, and the requirement that you must be resident in your home country for 2 years, go to London and try and get a job with a US firm there. Are you allowed to stay in the States to sit the NY Bar after completing the LLM? Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated!
Hi,

The deadline for fulbrights is still open for my country. I don't really know much about the LLM system in the States but I was thinking of applying after a professor of mine put me in touch with the admissions office of the LLM program in Washington University in St. Louis. She basically said if I got the Fulbright they would try their best to cover the rest of my tuition.(for the International LLM) I suppose the plan after that would, given the downturn in the States, and the requirement that you must be resident in your home country for 2 years, go to London and try and get a job with a US firm there. Are you allowed to stay in the States to sit the NY Bar after completing the LLM? Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Oldtimer
I would not say it's crazy to turn down a Fulbright scholarship; I did so myself. You really have to weigh your options after the LL.M. In my country, Fulbright scholars have to leave the US immediately after their courses end, and cannot even stay to take the New York bar exam in July.


I am aware that my comment is coming about three years late, but disregard this assertion which is plainly incorrect. Although the 2 year "go out of the US" requirement is pretty thought and should be considered carefully (it is not really "go back home" because there is no way they could police that), in particular if the amount of money they are giving you is relatively small, Fulbright will automatically give you permission to stay a bit more to take the NY Bar Exam and up to 1 year if you manage to get a job at a Law Firm. As others said above, the big loophole are the IO's which is the ONLY chance of staying.
<blockquote>I would not say it's crazy to turn down a Fulbright scholarship; I did so myself. You really have to weigh your options after the LL.M. In my country, Fulbright scholars have to leave the US immediately after their courses end, and cannot even stay to take the New York bar exam in July. </blockquote>

I am aware that my comment is coming about three years late, but disregard this assertion which is plainly incorrect. Although the 2 year "go out of the US" requirement is pretty thought and should be considered carefully (it is not really "go back home" because there is no way they could police that), in particular if the amount of money they are giving you is relatively small, Fulbright will automatically give you permission to stay a bit more to take the NY Bar Exam and up to 1 year if you manage to get a job at a Law Firm. As others said above, the big loophole are the IO's which is the ONLY chance of staying.
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invictus88
I would not say it's crazy to turn down a Fulbright scholarship; I did so myself. You really have to weigh your options after the LL.M. In my country, Fulbright scholars have to leave the US immediately after their courses end, and cannot even stay to take the New York bar exam in July.


I am aware that my comment is coming about three years late, but disregard this assertion which is plainly incorrect. Although the 2 year "go out of the US" requirement is pretty thought and should be considered carefully (it is not really "go back home" because there is no way they could police that), in particular if the amount of money they are giving you is relatively small, Fulbright will automatically give you permission to stay a bit more to take the NY Bar Exam and up to 1 year if you manage to get a job at a Law Firm. As others said above, the big loophole are the IO's which is the ONLY chance of staying.


I am not sure what the regulations are with respect to other countries, but with respect to the Philippines, I am absolutely certain that you have to depart from the US within 30 days after the completion of your studies if you are a Fulbright scholar. Fulbright scholars from the Philippines are granted J-1 visas annotating this restriction. Furthermore, these scholars will not be granted a US visa within 2 years from their return to the Philippines. They can of course leave the Philippines to go to other countries, but will not be allowed to re-enter the US for the 2-year period. Any existing US visas (even a 10-year multiple-entry tourist visa) are cancelled upon the issuance of the J-1 visas.
<blockquote><blockquote>I would not say it's crazy to turn down a Fulbright scholarship; I did so myself. You really have to weigh your options after the LL.M. In my country, Fulbright scholars have to leave the US immediately after their courses end, and cannot even stay to take the New York bar exam in July. </blockquote>

I am aware that my comment is coming about three years late, but disregard this assertion which is plainly incorrect. Although the 2 year "go out of the US" requirement is pretty thought and should be considered carefully (it is not really "go back home" because there is no way they could police that), in particular if the amount of money they are giving you is relatively small, Fulbright will automatically give you permission to stay a bit more to take the NY Bar Exam and up to 1 year if you manage to get a job at a Law Firm. As others said above, the big loophole are the IO's which is the ONLY chance of staying.</blockquote>

I am not sure what the regulations are with respect to other countries, but with respect to the Philippines, I am absolutely certain that you have to depart from the US within 30 days after the completion of your studies if you are a Fulbright scholar. Fulbright scholars from the Philippines are granted J-1 visas annotating this restriction. Furthermore, these scholars will not be granted a US visa within 2 years from their return to the Philippines. They can of course leave the Philippines to go to other countries, but will not be allowed to re-enter the US for the 2-year period. Any existing US visas (even a 10-year multiple-entry tourist visa) are cancelled upon the issuance of the J-1 visas.
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c.ronaldo
yes, it would be crazy.
yes, it would be crazy.
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Oldtimer
I do not know if they have changed the rules in the last five years or different rules apply to citizens of the Philippines, but that was certainly not my case. I was a Fulbright recipient and got authorized to stay for longer for the Bar exam with no problem (I just called IIE asking for the permission and they rearranged everything). I even have two friends who got the Fulbright and were authorized to stay working in the US for one more year.

Furthermore, I entered the US in several occassions for both business and leisure during the 2 year home requirement and nobody questioned me or cancelled my 10 year normal visa. As far as I understand, they have a problem with you working in the US, not with you visiting the country during those two years.

My best advise would be to get in contact with the US consulate and ask directly before taking a decision. You can also check this website from the department of State: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1267.html
I do not know if they have changed the rules in the last five years or different rules apply to citizens of the Philippines, but that was certainly not my case. I was a Fulbright recipient and got authorized to stay for longer for the Bar exam with no problem (I just called IIE asking for the permission and they rearranged everything). I even have two friends who got the Fulbright and were authorized to stay working in the US for one more year.

Furthermore, I entered the US in several occassions for both business and leisure during the 2 year home requirement and nobody questioned me or cancelled my 10 year normal visa. As far as I understand, they have a problem with you working in the US, not with you visiting the country during those two years.

My best advise would be to get in contact with the US consulate and ask directly before taking a decision. You can also check this website from the department of State: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1267.html
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Bla Bla
I do not know if they have changed the rules in the last five years or different rules apply to citizens of the Philippines, but that was certainly not my case. I was a Fulbright recipient and got authorized to stay for longer for the Bar exam with no problem (I just called IIE asking for the permission and they rearranged everything). I even have two friends who got the Fulbright and were authorized to stay working in the US for one more year.

Furthermore, I entered the US in several occassions for both business and leisure during the 2 year home requirement and nobody questioned me or cancelled my 10 year normal visa. As far as I understand, they have a problem with you working in the US, not with you visiting the country during those two years.

My best advise would be to get in contact with the US consulate and ask directly before taking a decision. You can also check this website from the department of State: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1267.html


I second this post. Fulbright is actually lenient about it's requirement. The only strict thing is the 2-year home residency reobligation. If you can secure a 1-year internship in the US, then they normally allow it.
<blockquote>I do not know if they have changed the rules in the last five years or different rules apply to citizens of the Philippines, but that was certainly not my case. I was a Fulbright recipient and got authorized to stay for longer for the Bar exam with no problem (I just called IIE asking for the permission and they rearranged everything). I even have two friends who got the Fulbright and were authorized to stay working in the US for one more year.

Furthermore, I entered the US in several occassions for both business and leisure during the 2 year home requirement and nobody questioned me or cancelled my 10 year normal visa. As far as I understand, they have a problem with you working in the US, not with you visiting the country during those two years.

My best advise would be to get in contact with the US consulate and ask directly before taking a decision. You can also check this website from the department of State: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1267.html </blockquote>

I second this post. Fulbright is actually lenient about it's requirement. The only strict thing is the 2-year home residency reobligation. If you can secure a 1-year internship in the US, then they normally allow it.
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LLMblogger
I think it is pretty crazy to turn it down. I really don't think that the Fulbright is about money; it is a recognition of your high achievements to date and is likely to pave the way for an interesting career.
Yes you can make more working at a commercial law firm, but that doesn't set you apart the way a Fulbright does. Take it!
I think it is pretty crazy to turn it down. I really don't think that the Fulbright is about money; it is a recognition of your high achievements to date and is likely to pave the way for an interesting career.
Yes you can make more working at a commercial law firm, but that doesn't set you apart the way a Fulbright does. Take it!
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invictus88
I do not know if they have changed the rules in the last five years or different rules apply to citizens of the Philippines, but that was certainly not my case. I was a Fulbright recipient and got authorized to stay for longer for the Bar exam with no problem (I just called IIE asking for the permission and they rearranged everything). I even have two friends who got the Fulbright and were authorized to stay working in the US for one more year.

Furthermore, I entered the US in several occassions for both business and leisure during the 2 year home requirement and nobody questioned me or cancelled my 10 year normal visa. As far as I understand, they have a problem with you working in the US, not with you visiting the country during those two years.

My best advise would be to get in contact with the US consulate and ask directly before taking a decision. You can also check this website from the department of State: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1267.html


The information I have with respect to Fulbright scholars from the Philippines is accurate as of 2008, as I was supposed to be a Fulbright scholar for the 2008-2009 school year. Out of curiosity, Oldtimer, where are you from? Fulbright does indeed have different regulations per country, such as the maximum amount of funding each scholar gets. For the 2008-2009 school year, Fulbright scholars from the Philippines were entitled to a maximum amount of only US$32,500.00. Different caps were set for other countries. Any expense (whether tuition or living expenses) over this amount had to be shouldered by the scholar or covered by any tuition waiver granted by the university. If neither was possible, the scholar had to opt for a cheaper (and in all likelihood, less prestigious) university.
<blockquote>I do not know if they have changed the rules in the last five years or different rules apply to citizens of the Philippines, but that was certainly not my case. I was a Fulbright recipient and got authorized to stay for longer for the Bar exam with no problem (I just called IIE asking for the permission and they rearranged everything). I even have two friends who got the Fulbright and were authorized to stay working in the US for one more year.

Furthermore, I entered the US in several occassions for both business and leisure during the 2 year home requirement and nobody questioned me or cancelled my 10 year normal visa. As far as I understand, they have a problem with you working in the US, not with you visiting the country during those two years.

My best advise would be to get in contact with the US consulate and ask directly before taking a decision. You can also check this website from the department of State: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1267.html </blockquote>

The information I have with respect to Fulbright scholars from the Philippines is accurate as of 2008, as I was supposed to be a Fulbright scholar for the 2008-2009 school year. Out of curiosity, Oldtimer, where are you from? Fulbright does indeed have different regulations per country, such as the maximum amount of funding each scholar gets. For the 2008-2009 school year, Fulbright scholars from the Philippines were entitled to a maximum amount of only US$32,500.00. Different caps were set for other countries. Any expense (whether tuition or living expenses) over this amount had to be shouldered by the scholar or covered by any tuition waiver granted by the university. If neither was possible, the scholar had to opt for a cheaper (and in all likelihood, less prestigious) university.
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Oldtimer
Dear invictus88,

I come from a middle income family in a small latinamerican country which is poorer than the Philippines so, trust me, I know how daunting the financing part can be. On the role of the country offices in the Fulbright program, I've already agreed with you on the power they have in setting how much money they give to each student (if you recall from my example above they only gave me 10 grand, which borders the absurd compared to the generous 32 grand they offered you!). The national offices may even put an emphasis on different areas to reflect what they consider to be the needs of the country (e.g. it may all be about getting doctors or engineers). By the way, the website for the place in which I got my loan as a foreign student is this one in case it is of help to anybody: www.studentloan.com

The part where we do not seem to agree is on the visa requirements and conditions for extension. I would assume the national offices have little discretion on these provisions as the overall requirements are set -and are ultimately enforced- by the Department of State (note how their website seems to treat all J1 and J2 visa holders the same) and the extension requests are handled directly by IIE in the US, not by your home office.

However, since apparently my experience may not be applicable to all Fulbrighters, and if this issue is a deal breaker for the person considering whether to accept it, then the appropriate course of action would be to raise the issue directly with the IIE and the US consulate in your country.

Invictus, I regret to learn that your experience with Fulbright was not a fruitful one. But as a former beneficiary of the program I felt compelled to point to the positive impact it has had on the lives of many others. Good luck! Oldtimer
Dear invictus88,

I come from a middle income family in a small latinamerican country which is poorer than the Philippines so, trust me, I know how daunting the financing part can be. On the role of the country offices in the Fulbright program, I've already agreed with you on the power they have in setting how much money they give to each student (if you recall from my example above they only gave me 10 grand, which borders the absurd compared to the generous 32 grand they offered you!). The national offices may even put an emphasis on different areas to reflect what they consider to be the needs of the country (e.g. it may all be about getting doctors or engineers). By the way, the website for the place in which I got my loan as a foreign student is this one in case it is of help to anybody: www.studentloan.com

The part where we do not seem to agree is on the visa requirements and conditions for extension. I would assume the national offices have little discretion on these provisions as the overall requirements are set -and are ultimately enforced- by the Department of State (note how their website seems to treat all J1 and J2 visa holders the same) and the extension requests are handled directly by IIE in the US, not by your home office.

However, since apparently my experience may not be applicable to all Fulbrighters, and if this issue is a deal breaker for the person considering whether to accept it, then the appropriate course of action would be to raise the issue directly with the IIE and the US consulate in your country.

Invictus, I regret to learn that your experience with Fulbright was not a fruitful one. But as a former beneficiary of the program I felt compelled to point to the positive impact it has had on the lives of many others. Good luck! Oldtimer
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