The Congressional Restoration of Fulbright Funding

via The Alliance for International Exchange

December 16, 2015

House passes third CR; FY16 omnibus includes $1 million increase for State Department exchanges

Earlier this morning the House passed a third continuing resolution (CR) to extend government funding for an additional six days through Dec. 22, CQ reports. The Senate is expected to vote on the CR today, and if passed, the CR will give lawmakers more time to pass the FY16 omnibus bill since the short-term CR passed last Friday (Dec. 11) is set to expire at midnight tonight.

The FY16 omnibus appropriations bill released last night would fund State Department educational and cultural exchange programs at $590.9 million. The funding level remains $32 million below the President’s FY16 request, but represents a $1.0 million increase over the FY15 enacted level of $589.9 million. The omnibus also outlines funding levels for specific programs, including:

  • Fulbright, $236 million (-$485,000);
  • IVLP, $89.665 million (flat funding);
  • Citizen exchanges, $102 million (+$2 million);
  • Young Leaders Initiatives, $19 million (-$1.0 million under the combined allocations for the YALI $15 and YSEALI $5 programs in FY15; the FY16 allocation also includes the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative).

The omnibus further stipulates that the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program receive at least $4 million in FY16. This language is consistent with House and Senate bills earlier this year, in response to a proposed 50 per cent funding cut to the program by the State Department earlier this year (the Alliance reported). The bill additionally contains language reinstating seafood processing placements for the J-1 Summer Work Travel program (page 1146-47 full bill text).

A chart outlining State Department exchange program funding levels provided by the omnibus can be found in the bill report language here (pages 8-9).

Congress is expected to pass the omnibus this week, according to CQ, “but extending the funding [with a CR] into next week gives lawmakers ample breathing room if progress is delayed.”

via Alliance for International Educational & Cultural Exchange

July 10, 2015

Senate allocates $590.9 million for State Department exchanges

The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the FY16 State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) spending bill yesterday, providing $49.0 billion in overall funding and allocating $590.9 million for Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs.

The Senate funding level for State Department exchanges is just over $8.3 million above the House request of $582.531 million; $1 million above the FY15 enacted level of $589.9 million; and $32.179 million (about 5 per cent) below the President’s request of $623.079 million.

The Senate bill specifically requests no less than $236 million for the Fulbright Program, the same level as in FY15. The bill also requests notification if the State Department intends to make any substantive changes to funding for existing programs:

“Provided further, that any substantive modifications from the prior fiscal year to programs funded by this Act under this heading shall be subject to prior consultation with, and the regular notification procedures of, the Committees on Appropriations.”

The accompanying report includes language to address funding for both the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program and Young Leaders Initiative:

“The Committee is concerned with the Department of State decision to reduce funding by $2,000,000 for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program in fiscal year 2015, and recommends $4,000,000 for the program to avoid such a reduction in fiscal year 2016.” “Funding for the Young Leaders Initiative shall be made available on a cost-matching basis, and the Committee expects that additional funds for this program will be raised from private sources. The Secretary of State is directed to consult with the Committee on a sustainable funding mechanism for these programs.”

During the committee mark-up, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered an amendment to increase spending to the President’s request level. Leahy also highlighted exchanges, particularly the Fulbright program, as an area that suffers when spending decisions are made under “austere spending caps.” Though the amendment failed, Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) expressed support for increased funding if a broader agreement can be reached “outside this committee.”

The legislation was approved 27-3 and is now available for consideration by the full Senate.

J-1 Au Pair, Summer Work Travel, and High School language

The report also includes the following language addressing the Au Pair, Summer Work Travel, and High School programs:

Au Pair Program.

“The Committee is aware of reports that participants in the Au Pair program have been compensated at the Federal minimum wage level which in some instances is below State and local minimum wage levels. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to report to the Committee not later than 45 days after enactment of the act on whether State and local minimum wage levels apply to the Au Pair program, and, if so, the Department of State guidelines for applying such wage levels.”

Summer Work Travel and High School Exchange Programs.

“The Committee directs the Department of State to inform the Committee in a timely manner of any instances of coercion, exploitation, or other abuse associated with the Summer Work Travel and high school exchange programs.

“A provision under this heading in the act permits participants in the Summer Work Travel program to be employed in seafood processing positions until September 30, 2016, if such placements comply with all requirements of the program. As with other positions, Summer Work Travel sponsors shall, upon request, provide evidence to the Department of State that such requirements are being met for seafood processing positions, and failure to provide such evidence will justify a compliance review of the sponsor.”

February 2, 2015

The President’s FY16 budget, released earlier today (see pages 31-33), requests $623.079 million for Department of State international exchange programs, a 5.6 per cent increase over current levels—a robust number in difficult budget times, and a concrete sign of the Obama administration’s support of exchanges. The budget supports the Fulbright Program at the level of $236 million, and provides increased funding for three “signature presidential Youth Leadership Initiatives,” the Young African Leaders Initiatives (YALI), the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI), and a new Young Leaders in the Americas Initiative.

Details of the President’s FY16 budget request include (also see the chart below):

    • $236 million for the Fulbright Program, a slight decrease of $485,000 from the estimated FY15 level;
    • $20 million for YALI, a $5 million increase;
    • $8 million for YSEALI, a $3 million increase;
    • $5 million for the new Young Leaders in the Americans Initiative;
    • An increase for Global Academic Exchanges, including Educational Advising and Student Services, and English Language Programs;
    • Flat-funding for American Overseas Research Centers;
    • $800,000 for Study Abroad Capacity Building;
    • Continued funding at $5 million for the new J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange program;
    • $398,000 for the new Virtual Exchanges “Collaboratory”;
    • $18 million for an Exchanges Rapid Response fund, which will “support rapidly deployed public diplomacy activities that respond to countries experiencing conflict or crisis, dramatic political transition, and significant societal transformation” (such as Cuba);
    • A $10.276 million cut to the Citizen Exchanges line item; and
    • A $2 million cut to the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).


December 17, 2014

President Obama signed the 2015 federal budget into law that not only fully restored Fulbright funding at its previous 2014 levels but also increased it by $1.8 million to $236,485,000.


December 12, 2014

Educational and cultural exchange programs are funded at $589.9 million in the FY15 omnibus appropriations bill released last night and expected to be voted on by both Chambers of Congress this week. This funding amount is $12 million more than the President’s FY15 request of $577.9 million and $21.2 million more than the FY14 enacted level of $568.6 million. The FY15 omnibus also contains increases over the FY14 level for every specified program, including:

    • Fulbright:$236.485 million (+$1.8 million)
    • Gilman:$12.5 million (+$400,000)
    • Citizen Exchanges:$100 million (+$1.213 million)
    • IVLP $89.665 million (+$293,000)


The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is funded at $15 million and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) at $5 million, consistent with the Senate’s recommendation.

Fulbright Saved


A top-level chart of Department of State exchange program funding levels can be found here (pages 6-7).

The bill also includes language (see page 1,097) requiring the Department of State to submit a report detailing changesto bemade to existing exchange programs and to engage in more consultation moving forward:

“Provided further, That a portion of the Fulbright awards from the Eurasia and Central Asia regions shall be designated as Edmund S. Muskie Fellowships, following consultation with the Committees on Appropriations:

“Provided further, That not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing modifications made to existing educational and cultural exchange programs since calendar year 2013, including for special academic and special professional and cultural exchanges:

“Provided further, That any further substantive modifications to programs funded by this Act under this heading shall be subject to prior consultation with, and the regular notification procedures of, the Committees on Appropriations.”