Government shutdown stalls fellowships applicants

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 | 6:45 p.m. CDT; updated 1:57 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 10, 2013

*CORRECTION: The Fulbright U.S. Student Program was incorrectly identified in an earlier version of this article. This story has also been updated to clarify that some programs, such as the Critical Language Scholarship Program, are open and accepting applications.

COLUMBIA — Some federal agencies are not accepting or processing fellowship applications during the government shutdown, Tim Parshall, director of the MU Fellowships Office, said.

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*The shutdown started Oct. 1. Six of the 10 programs for which MU students are currently applying through Parshall's office involve federal funding, Parshall said. They are: the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, the Boren Fellowships, the Critical Language Scholarship Program and the George J. Mitchell Scholar Program.

More students than that may be applying for fellowships, but they are not required to report to Parshall.

Some programs, such as the Critical Language Scholarship Program, are open and accepting applications.

But the National Science Foundation, a huge contributor to fellowships, is closed for now. Its inactive website states that no new payments or contracts for fellowships will be made while the government is shut down.

The deadline for Science Foundation fellowships is early November, and generally 20 to 30 MU students apply, said Robin Walker, director of professional development and external relations for the MU Graduate School. Students are starting to panic, especially if they didn't get started on their application before October began.

Would-be applicants get a message saying they can't submit their forms just now, Parshall said.

The three-year fellowship offers $30,000 each year to those awarded, Walker said. Nationally, the National Science Foundation awarded 2,064 fellowships out of the 13,000 applications last year.

"It's real high stakes," Walker said.

Applicants are advised to proceed as though deadlines will remain the same. Walker said the lack of information and communication because of federal employee furloughs have left professionals who advise fellowship applicants without answers. 

"We need to go through this dark, uncertain time together," Walker said.

*For fellowship applications, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program has the closest deadline of Tuesday.

"There is no reason that Fulbright will be affected in the short-term," Parshall said. "I think that it would be affected in the long-term if the government shutdown went for much longer."

Current Fulbright recipients are not affected because a contractor independent from the government, the Institute of International Education, administers and processes Fulbright funding, Parshall said.

"At this point, two current holders of Fulbrights have heard of no impact on their situation," Parshall said.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.


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