Fulbright Foreign Student Program Frequently Asked Questions

Students hold up Fulbright sign while providing water to runners at a race

General Questions: 

Q: Are high school students or recent high school graduates eligible for the Fulbright Program? 

A: No, the Fulbright Foreign Student Program supports graduate-level studies only. 

However, the U.S. Department of State offers many other educational and cultural exchange programs, for various audiences. To find out more, please visit the website of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural: https://exchanges.state.gov/   

Please also visit the website of the U.S. Embassy in your country for country-specific programs. 

 

Q: Does the Fulbright Program provide support for undergraduate degrees?  

A: No, the Fulbright Foreign Student Program supports graduate-level studies only. 

However, the U.S. Department of State offers many other educational and cultural exchange programs, for various audiences. To find out more, please visit the website of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural: https://exchanges.state.gov/   
Please also visit the website of the U.S. Embassy in your country for country-specific programs. 
 

Q: Can Fulbright participants stay in the United States after their program, or do they need to return to their home country? 

A: Upon completion of their program, Fulbrighters are required to return to their home country to complete the two-year residency requirement before becoming eligible to apply for other visas. 

 

Q: Can I participate in Fulbright if I have a disability? 

A: Yes! Fulbright welcomes applicants of all backgrounds and experience, including those with disabilities.  Please contact your Amideast office or local U.S. embassy to discuss any assistance you may need getting information for or applying to the program.  Once selected, your Amideast advisor will also help advise on accommodations on U.S. campuses.  

 

Application Questions: 

Q: Does the Fulbright Program provide support for PhDs? 

A: Most Fulbright Foreign Student Program awards are for master’s level studies.  However, a few countries provide opportunities for Ph.D. study. Please see your country’s page for further information. Those that may be eligible include Egyptian, Moroccan, and Jordanian students.  

 

Q: Which nationalities can apply? 

A: Amideast administers awards for students from select countries and locations throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Applicants from the following countries are invited to apply: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates. Please note that you must be a national and current resident of the country which nominates you.  

If you are from another country or region not listed above, please check the U.S. Embassy or Fulbright Commission in your country for details regarding Fulbright Program opportunities.  

 

Q: I do not see my country on the list of countries Amideast works with. 

A: If you do not see your country listed, please visit https://foreign.fulbrightonline.org/. 

 

Q: I am currently living outside my home country. Can I still apply? 

A: Applicants may only apply through the country of their citizenship.  

 

Q: How do I apply? 

A: Please see our website for country-specific information.  

 

Q: When can I apply? 

A: Application deadlines vary by country.  Most applications are due between April and June. Please see each country for specific deadlines and details. In 2021, the application opens on February 1st for most countries.  

 

Q: What level of English do I need to apply? 

A: Applicants of all English language skill levels are invited to apply for the Fulbright Program. There is no minimum TOEFL score required; however, graduate study in the United States typically requires students to have an IBT TOEFL score of 80 to be successful.   
 
Qualified applicants with TOEFL scores slightly below this level, and therefore who need to enhance their English language skills may be nominated to participate in a Long-Term English (LTE) program before the start of their Fulbright grant.  

 

Q: Will my TOEFL score affect my interviews? If I have a high TOEFL score, am I more likely to get an interview? 

A: A number of factors are considered when selecting nominees. TOEFL scores are taken into consideration but are not a primary factor in the final selection.  

 

Q: Does the Fulbright Program support medical or dental degrees? 

A: The Fulbright Program does not support clinical studies in medicine, dentistry, or veterinary sciences where legal restrictions apply. However, applications with undergraduate degrees in clinical fields may pursue relevant master’s degrees in related subjects such as public health, global health, biology, chemistry, and more. Please contact your local U.S. Embassy, Amideast office, or Fulbright Commission for answers to specific questions you may have on the eligibility of the degree you wish to pursue.  

 

Q: Is there is a specific number of annual Fulbright grantees, or does the number vary each year?  
A.The number of Fulbright awards varies year to year, subject to funding and other factors.  

 

Q: Can I still apply if I have previously received other State Department-sponsored scholarships? 
A. Applicants who do not have significant experience in the United States are preferred, but outstanding applicants who have previously received other U.S. government-sponsored scholarships may be considered.  
 

Q: I completed my undergraduate degree in the United States. Can I still apply? 

A: Yes, but preference is given to those applicants who have not had significant experience living in the United States. 
 

Q: How long does it take a Fulbright Commission, Amideast field office, or U.S. Embassy to review applications? 

A: In general, applicants are notified of their status in the fall. However, as the selection process is a comprehensive, merit-based, and multi-step process that takes place over several months, your local U.S. Embassy, Fulbright Commission, or Amideast office determines the timeline.  

 

Finalist Questions: 

Q: How should I prepare for the interview?  

A: Here are some tips from previous successful applicants: 

“Don’t try and over-impress with your words in the interview. If you’re passionate about your field and have a clear vision, you will be impressive. Just be yourself during the interview. Focus on your goals and how they are related to what you are applying for.”- Alia, 2015, Fulbrighter from Egypt 

“Choose an area of study that you’re really passionate about. That goes a long way in the interview. They can tell who’s really passionate about their field and who’s not.”- Aissa, 2017 Fulbrighter from Tunisia 

“Originality is not overrated, and selection committees who review about a thousand applications every year value it highly.” – Gaya, 2016 Fulbrighter from Algeria 

“Have a clear vision of what you intend to study and what kind of career path you are planning to take after finishing your academic program.” – Soumaya, 2016 Fulbrighter from Tunisia 

“In your application and interview, show the panel your motivation and dreams for a better future for your country and your people.” – Muhammed, 2017 Fulbrighter from Egypt  

“Be yourself, and don’t be afraid to show your uniqueness. Find what makes you different from everyone else and embrace it.”– Zeyad, 2017 Fulbrighter from Jordan 

 

 
Q: Will I get to choose the universities to which I apply?  How many applications can I submit? 


A: After consulting with your Amideast advisor on your qualifications, preferences, and academic interests, and in consultation with your Amideast advisor, Amideast will help you to identify and apply to U.S. universities. The U.S. Department of State and/or the relevant Fulbright Commission will make the final decisions regarding placement at a U.S. university.  

 

Pre-Departure Questions:  

Q: Can I take English classes before beginning my academic studies? 

A: Fulbright grantees are eligible to participate in long-term and short-term pre-academic English language courses. The U.S. Department of State or Fulbright Commission invites students who would benefit from a pre-academic English course to attend. These courses are offered in various locations across the United States and run prior to the start of a student’s academic program. Amideast will provide more specific information before the program start date.  

 

Q: Can I apply for graduate assistant jobs in my first semester? 

A: It is recommended that you wait at least one semester before beginning employment. This gives you time to adjust to your academic program and familiarize yourself with campus opportunities. Some students, however, will be required to serve as a graduate assistant immediately due to the terms of their award package. These students will be notified of this position during the placement period.  

 

Q: How and when should I choose elective courses? 

A: Some electives may only be offered at specific times of the year, so you should discuss options with your academic advisor during the first advising appointment. Please note, however, that only the minimum number of required course credits are covered by the grant, and you will be required to pay for any additional elective courses you choose to take. 

 

Q: Is it possible to change my schedule once I arrive? 

A: Yes, you can make changes to your schedule upon arrival; however, you must consult your academic advisor and Amideast Program Officer before finalizing the schedule to ensure that the proposed changes do not extend your program past the maximum funding date of the grant.  

 

Q: Do you have any tips on how to efficiently manage the stipend and make better use of it? 

A: Cities across the United States can have vastly different costs of living, so one of the best ways to manage a stipend within a specific city is to reach out to other students living in the area for advice and recommendations. University international offices are also a great resource for information about affordable housing, transportation, and local amenities.  Finding housing with roommate(s) will greatly decrease monthly rent and utilities costs. Please note that stipend amounts are set and cannot be increased. 

 

Q: Am I required to apply for a Social Security Card? 

A: Yes, all Fulbright grantees are required to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). Occasionally, grantees will need to visit the Social Security Office several times before the office issues them a number and a card. If you are unable to attain an SSN, only then should you apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). 

 

Q: Will I have health insurance during my program? 

A: Yes, you will be covered under the Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges Health Benefits plan (ASPE). This plan covers accidents and illnesses, but will not cover routine checkups or preventative care. Your host university may require you to enroll in their health care plan or to purchase an additional plan to cover more routine services.  

 

Q: Am I responsible for finding my own housing? If so, how can I find suitable housing? And can Amideast act as a guarantor for my new apartment? 

A: You are responsible for securing and paying for your own housing. Amideast will provide general guidance on the housing search and resources available to graduate students. Please note that Amideast cannot serve as a guarantor on any lease.  

 

Q: How do I open a bank account? 

A: You will receive detailed information about how to open a bank account upon arrival in the United States. Amideast issues the first monthly stipend in the form of a check, which you must use to open a bank account. You will receive more information during the Pre-Departure Orientation. Please check the grantee resource page for more information.  

 

Q: Can I bring my family? 

A: Fulbright grantees from some countries are eligible to bring dependents with them on a J-2 visa. This visa status is restricted to immediate family members only (spouse, children).  

 

Q: What information do I need to provide if I want to bring dependents? 

A: In order to bring dependents, you must provide proof of sufficient funds and purchase commercial health insurance coverage for all dependents as your stipend is not intended to cover a family’s expenses. All financial support for accompanying dependents must be paid from your personal funds. You can find more information on the grantee resource page. 

 

Q: Whom should I contact for dependent health insurance questions? 

A: The ASPE insurance plan does not cover dependents, but the dependents of Fulbright grantees are required to purchase and enroll in a health insurance plan while in the United States, per visa requirements. For questions and information about insurance policies and purchase plans for dependents, please contact the international student advisor at your university or your Amideast advisor. The ASPE guide can be found here. 

 

Current Student Questions: 

Q: What are our implicit duties as “cultural ambassadors” during our program? 

A: We encourage Fulbrighters to find activities and events to join in their local campus and community. Fulbrighters can share their culture with others by participating in clubs and sports, cooking their favorite foods for friends, and more. We also encourage Fulbrighters to give back to their host community by volunteering for community service. In order to maximize their outreach, we encourage Fulbrighters to share their stories with the Fulbright MENA Communications Officer for possible highlights on the Fulbright MENA Blog or on Fulbright MENA social media.    

 

Q: When should I begin searching for a summer internship? 

A: Fulbright participants interested in summer employment should begin contacting organizations and sending applications as early as January. Fulbrighters must submit requests for academic training at least 6 weeks prior to the internship start date in order to secure timely authorization.  

 

Q: Do we need to complete a work authorization application for all employment opportunities? 

A: In order to work while on your Fulbright grant, you must receive prior authorization from Amideast. The position must be directly related to your field of study, and work cannot exceed more than 20 hours per week during the semester/quarter or 40 hours per week during the summer. You can find authorization forms and instructions on the Grantee Resources website.  

 

Q: Do I need to complete a work authorization application for all employment opportunities?  

A: Yes, detailed information is available in the grantee handbook located on the Grantee Resources website.  

 

Q: What exactly does the $500 monthly cap in work earnings mean? 

A: Fulbright participants who have an approved work authorization are required to submit their paystubs each month to their Amideast advisor. This is a requirement of on-campus employment and academic training that happens during the academic program. If Fulbrighters earn over $500 per month (after taxes), their next monthly maintenance stipend will be reduced by the extra amount. For example, if a grantee earns $600 for one month, their next monthly stipend will be reduced by $100. 

 

Q: Am I required to file taxes every year? If so, why? 

A: Yes, all foreign Fulbright recipients are required to file U.S. federal and state taxes each year, because they have received United States-sourced income through their Fulbright grant. Amideast Fulbright grantees will use a service called Sprintax to file their taxes by the required deadline each year.  

 

Q: Do I need to be involved in academic activities to receive my stipend during the summer?  

A: Yes, in order to receive a monthly stipend, you must be involved in academic activities in the United States that are related to your Fulbright program. Academic activities include completing summer coursework, research related to a thesis, or academic training.  

 

Q: Do we have to report all travel? 

A: Fulbright grantees must report all travel. Information reported should also include dates of travel, location, and an emergency contact in the area. Travel outside of the U.S. must be approved by the Amideast advisor prior to purchase. When reporting international travel, grantees must also send a copy of their travel itinerary that shows the dates of their departure from and return to the U.S. Amideast must ensure that the DS2019 is valid during the period of travel and provide a valid travel signature.   

 

Q: How do I apply for a thesis allowance? 

A: Fulbright grantees can request a thesis allowance by completing a Thesis Expense Allowance form located on the Grantee Resource page. The form must be signed by the grantee and their advisor, submitted to the Amideast advisor, and include receipts for the expenses. 

 

Q: Do I need to be involved in academic activities to receive my monthly maintenance allowance during the summer? 

A: In order to receive the monthly stipend, grantees must be involved in academic activities. Academic activities include completing summer coursework, conducting research related to a thesis, or academic training.  

Students who will travel out of the United States, are working (such as those on an internship) outside of the United States, or who do not participate in academic activities over the summer will not receive their monthly maintenance allowance. 

  

Q: How can I connect with other Fulbrighters in my community while I’m in the United States?  

A: Local Fulbright clubs and the office of international programs on campus are great places to connect with other Fulbrighters in your area. Many local chapters have Facebook groups and other social media accounts that you can join once you are in the United States. Fulbright MENA students may be invited to Slack channels which they can use to contact current Fulbrighters. Please speak to your Amideast advisor for more details or email Fulbright.media@amideast.org  

Make sure to register for the Fulbrighter networking platform, the exclusive global community for Fulbright alumni and grantees, where you can meet current and former Fulbrighters across the globe, and form and access local Fulbrighter community groups by interest, academic field, or geographic location. 

  

Q: Where can I find an EFT form? 

A: You can find the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) form on the Grantee Resources website under the Arrival Forms section.  

 

Q: Can I take a lighter course load in my last semester if I have successfully completed all of my courses and only have my thesis left to complete? 

A: Yes, you may take a lighter course load during your final semester; however, grantees must obtain advance authorization from Amideast and the U.S. Department of State. The Amideast advisor will request a letter of support from an academic advisor. 

 

Q: How can I apply for a conference allowance? Am I eligible for one? 

A: Every Fulbright student is eligible for a one-time conference allowance of up to $500. This allowance can only be used for a conference in the United States and directly related to the student’s program of study. Students should submit a request to their Amideast advisor and are eligible for either an advance of funds or may receive the allowance request as a reimbursement. If the student receives the conference allowance as an advance, and does not provide receipts, the balance due will be deducted from monthly maintenance allowance. 

 

Departure and Re-entry Questions: 

Q: Am I allowed to plan an extended layover during my return travel? 

A: No, extended layovers are not permitted under any circumstances. As Fulbright is a government-funded program, Amideast is required to purchase flights on the most direct route to your home country and in accordance with the Fly America Act. 

 

Q: Can I pursue a Ph.D. in the United States after the completion of my master’s program? 

A: Upon the completion of your degree program, you are required to return to your home country for a period of two years. If you wish to pursue a Ph.D. in the United States immediately after you have finished your master’s, you must request a transfer of your J-1 visa sponsorship to the university where you will complete your doctoral studies. Please note that the U.S. Department of State will rigorously review such requests and there is no guarantee of sponsorship transfer. You can find more detailed information on the Grantee Resource page.  

 

Q: Where should I send my final transcript and diploma? 

A: Please send your final transcript to the following address: 

Amideast-Fulbright 

c/o “Name of your Amideast Advisor.” 

2025 M Street NW, Suite 600 

Washington, DC 20036 

 

Alumni Questions: 

Q: Does Amideast have a Fulbright alumni resources website? 

A: Yes. Amideast Fulbright provides its alumni with resources and opportunities on its website.

 

Q: I am a Fulbright alumnus/na, but I don’t have a Fulbright email address. How do I get one? 

A: Please visit the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ International Exchange Alumni website registration page and follow the instructions listed. Upon successful registration, you will receive a Fulbright email address. 

  

Q: As a Fulbright alumna/alumnus, can I write a blog for Amideast? 

A: Yes, Amideast Fulbright loves to hear from and promote its alumni! Please email Fulbright.media@amideast.org to receive more information about how you can contribute to the blog.  

 

Q: Are Fulbright alumni eligible for any special funding or grant opportunities? 

A: Yes. Amideast administers two different Fulbright alumni grant competitions: The Fulbright Alumni Development grant and the Fulbright Community Action grant.  

 

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ International Exchange Alumni site offers many opportunities for registered United States government-sponsored exchange program participants and alumni. It also offers an annual grant competition through the  Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF): https://alumni.state.gov/aeif 

 

Q: Now that I am a Fulbright alumnus/na, where can I find out more about alumni groups in the MENA region? 

A: Amideast Fulbright has a list of Fulbright alumni groups in the MENA region on its website. Please visit: 
 

All current and former Fulbrighters are eligible to join the Fulbrighter networking platform, where you can meet current and former Fulbrighters across the globe, and form and access local Fulbrighter community groups by interest, academic field, or geographic location. 

 

 

Q: Is there a global Fulbright Alumni directory? 

A: Yes! Please visit the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ International Exchange Alumni website.    

 

You will first need to register here and follow the instructions on the website. Once you are a member, you will have access to the alumni directory.  

 

Additionally, the Fulbrighter social networking platform and app debuted in August 2019. This free, private platform allows Fulbright alumni and current Fulbright participants around the world to connect, network, engage, and collaborate with the ease of one shared network.  

Within the Fulbrighter platform, participants can establish groups and create pages tailored to their interests. Within the app, users can create and/or join multiple affinity groups based on their current location or the location of their Fulbright experience, shared interests, and field of specialization, among others. The network was established to allow users to expand their personal and professional Fulbright networks across world regions and lead to greater collaboration among Fulbrighters across the globe.  

Fulbrighters may access the platform on a browser here or download the app to a smartphone from the App Store and Google Play. For more information, please click here

DOS logoFulbright logoThis is a program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by Amideast.