How to Create Your Summer Fulbright Application Plan: 2018-19 U.S. Applicants

May 19, 2017 • Views -

How to Create Your Summer Fulbright Application Plan: 2018-19 U.S. Applicants

Applying to a Fulbright U.S. Student Award for Study/Research or a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) award can be a long, tedious process, much like applying to graduate school. Once you get over the first hurdle of selecting the right award and country, you should create a timeline of activities to keep you on track.

If you are an enrolled undergraduate or graduate student, you will need to apply for the Fulbright award through your university. The first step is contacting your university’s Fulbright Program Advisor to let them know your intentions (here’s how to find them). The first thing you will need to know is your university’s internal deadline for Fulbright applications, which are typically in September but may be as early as August. The FPA can also give you details on any assistance, workshops, webinars or events the university provides for Fulbright applicants.

If you are not an enrolled student, you can still see if you can apply through your university as an alumnus and access invaluable university resources, or you can apply At-Large. If you apply At-Large, the deadline for submitting your application to Fulbright is October 6, 2017.

It’s May – don’t wait to begin your application later in the summer. You’ll need as much time as possible to thoughtfully prepare your application, essays and project proposal. Often applicants procrastinate or underestimate the amount of time it will take to prepare a strong application. No need to be that person if you’ve got a plan.

The Fulbright award for Study/Research and Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) awards requires the following components:

  • a completed Biographical Data form
  • a 2-page Statement of Grant Purpose
  • a 1-page Personal Statement
  • an Affiliation Letter – e.g., a letter of support from an institution that will host you during the fellowship (for study/research grants only)
  • Foreign Language competency forms
  • 3 recommendations
  • Transcripts
  • a Critical Language Enhancement Award statement (optional – for select countries only)
  • examples of artistic work (for creative and performing arts projects only)

Below is a suggested timeline of activities for creating a Fulbright application plan.


  • Read the application requirements carefully and determine what documents you’ll need to provide. Start working on the easiest ones first:
    • Request transcripts from your university
    • Complete the Biographical Data form
    • Complete the Foreign Language Forms
  • Identify your university’s internal deadlines for application materials (if applicable) and put them on your personal calendar with reminders a few weeks ahead. Give yourself a final deadline of one week before the official deadline and stick to it to be safe.
  • Brainstorm some general, overarching ideas for your fellowship project proposal. Start thinking creatively about how you can tie those ideas to something in the news, and something time-specific (more details on this in my article Project Proposal Ideas).
  • Reach out to former Fulbright fellows that have done similar projects or have a similar background to yours. They can give you project ideas, tips on the application process and can often introduce you directly to potential host institutions.
  • Update your resume.
  • As you work on your application, make sure all of the documents are backed up in a cloud service such as Dropbox or Google drive. You can even email yourself the documents. Don’t depend on your computer hard drive or USBs.



  • Secure a host institution and ask the host to provide you a Letter of Affiliation.
  • Share your Personal Statement and Statement of Grant Purpose drafts with people who can provide good feedback (e.g., your Fulbright Program Advisor, professors, Fulbright alumni)
  • Request reference letters from 3 people and provide them your draft Statement of Grant Purpose.


  • Send friendly reminders to your referees to return or submit their letters.
  • Complete final versions of your Personal Statement and Statement of Grant Purpose.
  • Ask at least two people to read all your final application components for grammatical and formatting issues. It’s hard to see typos and grammatical mistakes when you’ve read them a million times.

Early September – October

  • Relax, you’re doing well on time!
  • Submit the application on time to your university or directly to Fulbright – ideally, no later than one week in advance of the deadline to avoid any technological glitches. Most fellowship organizations, including Fulbright, are extremely strict about application deadlines and will not accept any excuse for late materials.
  • Make sure to receive a confirmation that your application and reference letters have been received, ideally before the deadline.
  • Thank your referees and be sure to follow-up with them in the Spring when you know the status of your application.

Now if you are that person who found out about Fulbright awards just weeks before the application is due, don’t despair. If you are highly organized, it’s possible to cram these tasks into a small window of time. With organizational skills and optimism, anything is possible!

Read more Fulbright application tips:

Tips for Fulbright Applicants: How to Choose the Right Grant

Tapping Your University’s Resources: Zoë Gioja on the Fulbright Application Process

5 Powerful Personal Statement Openings of Fellowship Winners

Tips for Polishing Your Fulbright ETA Application

© Victoria Johnson 2017, all rights reserved.

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