Senate Proposes Drastic Cuts to Fulbright-Hays

On Thursday, June 9 the Senate Appropriations Committee sent to the Senate floor a Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill that would cut Fulbright-Hays by 69% to $2.168 million while maintaining level funding for Title VI at $65.103 million. The proposed cut to Fulbright-Hays would devastate the program—if enacted, there will be no new competitions for Fulbright-Hays grants in the coming year.

What is Fulbright-Hays?

Title VI and Fulbright-Hays are the Department of Education’s programs that support foreign language learning and international education. Fulbright-Hays, specifically, ensures that students and teachers can acquire language and area expertise with on-the-ground experience overseas through two programs: Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad, which provides grants to colleges and universities to fund individual doctoral students to conduct research abroad, particularly in world regions not normally included in U.S. curricula; and Group Projects Abroad, which supports seminars, curriculum development, group research, and advanced intensive language programs for American teachers, students, and faculty abroad.

These programs have been extremely effective. A 2008 Department of Education study concluded that participants in the Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad program were more likely to finish their degrees and did so in less time than their peers, and that 90% of graduates directly utilized their foreign language and area studies expertise in their careers. 

Haven’t these programs been targeted before?

Overall, the Title VI and Fulbright Hays infrastructure has been severely depleted in recent years. Due to disproportionate funding reductions since FY 2011, Fulbright-Hays’ budget has already declined from $15.6 million in FY 2010 to $7.1 million in FY 2016. Title VI’s budget, meanwhile, has declined from $110.3 in FY 2010 to $65.1 in FY 2016, resulting in 25% fewer nationally recognized resource centers, 18% fewer undergraduate and doctoral fellowships, fewer training opportunities for students and teachers, and fewer outreach activities to government and business.

Just last year, the humanities community rallied to defeat a proposed 35% cut to Title VI which would have amounted to a 63% decrease in funding since FY 2010. After more than 15,000 letters to Congress and many meetings with Congressional staff, the programs ultimately received level funding in the final omnibus appropriations package.

What’s Next?

The Senate has sent this draft legislation to the floor, where we expect that it will pass, as it did in committee. However, the House has not yet released its own draft Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill. It is important that the House draft provides level-funding for Fulbright-Hays, thereby setting up a difference to be resolved in conference or in a final omnibus appropriations package.

At this critical time as the House considers funding levels for Title VI and Fulbright-Hays, please urge your Members of Congress to oppose cuts to Fulbright-Hays! Click here to send a message to your elected officials. It takes just one minute!

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