Leave and Support

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program’s success depends on support from U.S. colleges, universities, and institutions to provide the leave, salary support, and benefits that awardees often need to take their award. We encourage applicants to inform their department or university about their application as soon as they consider applying for a Fulbright. Once a Fulbright award is granted, selectees should begin conversations as soon as possible with chairs, deans, or provosts to receive permission for leave and to discuss financial support and the continuation of benefits. We find that applicants who speak with relevant administrators early in the application process face fewer difficulties negotiating institutional leave and/or support after receiving their award. This page provides additional details to help navigate leave and support.

Award Type 

Fulbright awards are fellowships, not grants: Fulbright stipends are paid directly to the recipient. Therefore, awards do not cover overhead expenses and are not typically routed through institutions.

If your administration requests confirmation of the award type and overhead rate, please contact scholars@iie.org for a formal letter explaining the funding mechanism.

Research Leave 

Institutions often require that faculty receive official permission for leave during the award period. Policies for sabbatical leave can be found in the faculty handbook, often located on the provost or dean of faculty’s webpage. Policies vary widely by institution regarding pay, and many also limit the number of scholars on sabbatical and/or favor those with external funding. Non-sabbatical leave policies and practices are subject to even more variation, so it is important to clarify leave policies at the time of applying for a Fulbright. At larger or more decentralized institutions, policies can even vary among academic units.

Institutions, schools, and departments also often have deadlines for faculty to request sabbatical or leave. Because Fulbright awards are announced from January to April, many institutions’ deadlines for leave requests pass prior to selection. These deadlines are often based on precedent, so knowledge of past arrangements can help scholars negotiate for deadline exceptions.

The Fulbright Scholar Program at scholars@iie.org, along with your institution’s Scholar Liaison (for institutions that have one) can serve as resources to help negotiate leave.

Teaching Replacement 

There are a few common scenarios for teaching replacement: some institutions cover the cost of teaching replacement, others cancel the scholar’s courses, and some even wish for the scholar to pay for hiring an adjunct replacement. The following compromises may be helpful: 

  1. Requesting that teaching obligations be redistributed, teaching missed courses in other semesters/quarters or over the summer 
  2. Offering to conduct additional service during the award period or afterwards instead of teaching 
  3. For scholars planning to teach on their Fulbright: coordinating with the host institution to teach courses in both locations via video-link, as time zones permit.
Clocks and Reviews 

Selectees should ask how their leave will impact their tenure clock and annual review. Tenure-track scholars should confirm whether leave will defer the date they are expected to come up for tenure.  Awardees should also ask how their performance will be reviewed during the award period.

For tenure-line faculty, receiving a fellowship can positively impact a performance review. However, this can be more complicated for contingent faculty and faculty at community colleges, who are often reviewed based on term contracts or on teaching only. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program encourages contingent faculty to apply for awards, and therefore recommends that applicants verify performance review issues at the time of application.

Financial Support and Benefits 

Fulbright U.S. Scholar awards are intended to cover the cost of travel and living in-country, but not to cover research costs or replace salaries at grantee’s home institutions. Stipends are often less than salary replacement and 53% of Fulbright scholar grantees report receiving some form of remunerative support during the award period as well as continued benefits. “Remunerative support” refers to such arrangements as salary coverage in the form of sabbatical pay or salary supplements (“top-ups”, “making the salary whole”). 

In cases where the scholar’s only option is leave without pay, they should negotiate for the continuation of benefits.  If benefits are not forthcoming, the awardee may seek continuation of their medical coverage through COBRA. 

Adjunct and Contract Faculty

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar program encourages adjunct and contract faculty to apply for awards.  Contract faculty applicants should begin discussions with their school and department to address changes to their contract. Contingent faculty will want to verify their benefits or job protection with their home institution when they consider applying for or receive a Fulbright. These faculty should also consult the above tips on Teaching Replacement since coverage costs may be higher than for tenure-line faculty. Please consult with your head of faculty affairs, Provost’s office, or, where available, your union for further information.