Initiated by a group of Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management alumni, the new need-based financial aid packages will be granted to Master of Public Policy admitted students who come from not-for-profit organizations, social organizations and enterprises.

Each year, the financial aid packages of 50-100% tuition fees will be granted to two or three admitted students, starting from the Master of Public Policy Class of 2024 (MPP2024). The financial aid program will run in five years.

The packages aim to support admitted students of both Policy Analysis (PA) and Leadership & Management (LM) concentrations of the Master of Public Policy program. The students must be full-time workers in community development institutions, social enterprises, social organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and non-governmental organizations.

According to three founders of the fund, the financial aid packages target certain students who cannot afford to pay tuition fees to study at FSPPM.

We hope this initiative will support candidates who are passionate about serving the community and improving their personal capacity to contribute more and go further in their community service path. We acknowledge that some admitted students have given up on their dream of pursuing Master of Public Policy at FSPPM because of financial constraints,” one of the fund’s founders, who is a MPP4 alumna, shares.

The founders assume the financial aid packages partially satisfy other FSPPM alumni’s desires to give back to the school. They hope that the initiative will also pave the way for philanthropic efforts from Fulbright students who receive financial aid from philanthropists while studying at Fulbright and wish to pay it forward after becoming successful in their career after graduation.

In many developing countries around the world, school fees and related education costs pose a significant barrier to children’s education, and are often linked to non-attendance, dropout, and the entry of children into child labor. In Vietnam, the situation is not that much of a difference.

According to Circular number 86/2015/ND-CP issued by the government, the school fees for a child to go from pre-school to university in the public-school system is, on average, VND112,550,000 (USD4,826.33). This means that, for one child, an average Vietnamese family needs to pay roughly VND75,000 ~ VND155,000 (USD3.22 ~ USD6.65) per month for K-12 education and VND2,200,000 (USD94.34) per month if their child makes it to university.

It may not look a lot but for such a developing country as Vietnam, that number can be a fortune for many families. On average, the Vietnam GDP per capita is USD2,566. In other words, for a nuclear family with two children, the school fees alone can cost up to 25-45 percent of the total household income. In addition to school fees, costs associated with uniforms, shoes, books, transportation fees and extra classes are obstacles to education for children.

To exacerbate the problem, according to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, economic inequality is worsening in Vietnam. In 2010, the top 20% make 9.2 times more than the bottom 20%. This increased to 10.2 times in 2019, said former Deputy Prime Minister (now National Assembly chairman) Vuong Dinh Hue. The growing economic inequality means that the educational achievement gap between the children of the wealthiest and the children of everyone else is widened even further.

Many poor families pull their children out of primary school because they cannot afford the cost of the school fees and education materials, or because they need the child to work in the fields or to earn money. Those who are lucky enough to stay in school may find it hard to catch up with their classmates from wealthy families because they cannot afford to go to extra classes or language classes. Those who complete high school are less likely to attend college than students from higher-income families. For some children, the effects of poverty on education present unique challenges in breaking the cycle of generational poverty and reduce their chances of leading rewarding, productive lives.

This widening educational achievement gap may threaten Vietnam’s economic growth. With only a select few individuals receiving the best education and enrichment, Vietnam cannot effectively develop the economic potential of its future workforce. To grow the economy, there exists a need to provide educational and enrichment opportunities for children across the income spectrum, rather than only a select few at the top. The important question is how.

Scholarships

There are ample proposals and rich debate on how to combat educational achievement gap and ensure more low-income students can get access to proper education. One of those proposals is scholarships, especially scholarships for higher education. Scholarship supporters argue that by offering scholarships to low-income students, schools and universities can target specific audience, widen opportunities and improve outcomes. However, most scholarships in Vietnam are merit-based, meaning students with high academic achievements have higher chance of getting a scholarship.

This brings us back to the discussion on academic opportunities. Wealthy families can more likely afford a variety of positive adolescent activities, such as prep-school, language classes, sports participation, school leadership, extracurricular activities and volunteer work, for their children. These activities broaden their experience and academic achievements, make them more well-rounded and place them at the top of the merit-based scholarship recipient list.

Moreover, low-income students, especially those from the provinces, do not have much access to the scholarships available to them. Due to this information gap, high-achieving low-income students do not even apply to the scholarships for which they are qualified. Thus, some may argue that scholarships, instead of solving the problem of inequality, only worsen it if they are not properly designed and implemented.

Affirmative action

In Vietnam, to ensure specific aims of equity of and access to tertiary education can be met, some key policies have been created and implemented. For example, students from special groups will enjoy extra points for their National High School Exam. These groups include: students from remote and mountainous areas (namely Region 1), from rural area (namely Region 2-NT), and students whose parents are ethnic minorities or veterans with disabilities.

Another example is the University Entrance Nomination policy, in which every year a number of students from disadvantaged provinces may be nominated to enter the assigned public universities without participating in any university entrance exams. The number of students is proposed by the provincial governments based on their socio-economic development level. These students, however, are still required to pass the national upper secondary exams as well as pursue an intensive one-year education before entering normal university courses. Ethnic minority students are given preference when the provincial governments make their selections.

While affirmative action such as these policies may improve diversity in the university, Professor Michael Sandel, the author of the famous book Justice, argues that it brings two problems – one practical, the other principled. The principled objection reasons that affirmative action causes unfair in admissions and violates the rights of applicants who are qualified but belonged to the majority group. These students may have higher academic achievements than the affirmative-action students but are put at a competitive disadvantage through no fault of their own.

The practical objection claims that affirmative action may “damage the self-esteem of minority students, increase racial consciousness on all sides, heighten racial tensions, and provoke resentment” among the majority group. This view is also shared by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of David and Goliath. According to Gladwell, students benefited from affirmative action may not really benefit from it. Being among peers who are more academically equipped, these students may feel insecure, left-out, and unsuccessful. It may even result in drop-out for some.

Free education

In Justice, Professor Sandel mentions that to bridge the inequality gap, “a politics of the common good would take as one of its primary goals the reconstruction of the infrastructure of civic life.” This includes investing in top-quality, free public schools to which rich and poor alike would want to send their children.

In a perfect world, free education can help to reduce the financial burden from the students and encouraging them to get enrolled into higher education more actively. However, the world is not perfect and there are limitations to this solution.

It is undeniable that, managing higher education without taking any tuition fees is difficult for the schools. These schools have to get support from the government to maintain their academic and infrastructural costs. Such substantial public financing results in higher tax and cannot be easy to come by in the near future.

Thomas Piketty in his book Capital in the 21st Century argues that free education leads to “spending more public money on students from more advantaged social backgrounds, while less money is spent on university students who come from the modest background.” One of the reasons for this outcome is that free education does not include free cost of living. Most universities are located in big, urban cities where the cost of living can pose as a barrier for low-income students. Since tuition isn’t the only driver of college affordability, simply eliminating tuition expenses would still leave low-income students with unmet need for living expenses—the real cost of higher education for the majority of students.

So what can be done to reduce educational inequality and promote access to higher education for poorer households? While free education can be a great policy, it takes time to be implemented, tested and perfected. Educational disadvantage has built up over decades and it will take decades to fix it.

In the meantime, it requires a combination of effort, financing and skills to address the short-term solution: Aid.

Aid

In order to improve diversity and offer more opportunities for low-income students to access to education, schools and universities should consider providing the appropriate form of aid prior to, during, and after admissions. This is also the practice that Fulbright University Vietnam (Fulbright) follows in the hope to fulfill its mission to the Vietnamese society.

To bridge the information gap, Fulbright conducts outreach activities to high schools across the country. The objective of this program is to put Fulbright within the reach of any student no matter how financially unattainable a goal it may seem, by giving them the right information and guidance needed to understand the opportunity and the application process.

Fulbright also provides buses for schools in the provinces to come to its admissions events, which are organized in key cities of Vietnam, and at Fulbright campus. These activities give the students a taste of the life at Fulbright, extra-curricular activities, and demo classes instructed by the University’s undergraduate and graduate faculty.

The Fulbright Admissions team also provide help to interested students who indicated an existing interest in studying at Fulbright but were not sure about acting on that interest due to lack of knowledge or financial resources to attend university and/or not being familiar with the steps involved in applying to Fulbright and for financial aid.

Fulbright’s admission process is inspired by prominent American institutions, but mindful of the Vietnamese cultural, social and educational background. Taking into account the imminent educational achievement gap, Fulbright University has designed an application package that is unique and exciting. It allows every student to demonstrate who they really are. Fulbright’s evaluation process is also designed in a way that every student is considered fairly, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

Fulbright is also the first university in Vietnam to offer a need-based financial aid, which is solely awarded based on a family’s financial circumstances and does not take into account a student’s academic merit. This need-based financial aid package covers not only the tuition fees, but also the living expenses to mitigate the barriers for low-income students to attend Fulbright.

Once admitted, Fulbright students also receive many other forms of aid to help them complete their four-year journey at Fulbright without feeling insecure about their capabilities. For those seeking added language support prior to starting the undergraduate program, Fulbright has a seven-week Bridge Program that runs the summer prior to the start of classes. Throughout the four-year, should a student feel struggle with his or her academic work or personal issues, the Learning Support team and the Wellness Center will provide them with appropriate aid, either in the form of private counseling sessions or mentorship.

At Fulbright, we believe knowledge is for everyone, and education must be accessible for the students from every status. Every person has the right to acquire knowledge as much as he or she wants. The journey to ensure equality in education is a long one, but it should not deter us to initiate the first step.

Thach Thao

As the Spring admissions cycle for Class of 2024 is closing soon, students are rushing to finish their applications. Many questions have been sent to Fulbright asking about the Financial Aid application, which seems rather intimidating and complicated. Le Khanh Doan, a Fulbrighter from Ben Tre province shares tips from her own experience to help applicants complete their Financial Aid application successfully.

I knew Fulbright through a friend of mine, and I immediately started to get interested in how the school is constructed as well as the spirit of Fulbright. When I applied to the school, one of the most interesting parts were filling out the financial aid application. What appealed to me was the fact that this financial aid helps bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. The Vietnamese society is comprised of many social classes, and students from all backgrounds deserve a fair chance to get educated.

Through the application process, I learned more about my family’s finance, and I’m really glad I had the chance to participate in it.

Tip number 1: Start early.

The Admissions team had come to my high school once, and I asked them about the financial aid program. I also attended one of Fulbright’s demo classes in November 2018, and a session on financial aid. The Admissions and Financial Aid team answered many of my concerns about financial aid and helped me better understand Fulbright’s need-blind admissions process.

Yet, once I started working on my own application, it was not easy at all. I spent only three weeks out of the allotted three months to complete the admissions application, but the financial aid application took me an entire month. The financial aid application was challenging because it required a lot of information, for which my parents had to go to the bank many times and they had to search for documents they don’t usually use. It took a lot of time to collect them all and to complete the form.

Fortunately, my parents understood how important this was to me, so they were pleased to help me finish this application. After the application deadline, two of the Admissions officers directly came to my house, and my father were truly impressed with how the university really cares about the students.

The financial aid application is long, and it may be tiring. Some of my friends gave up halfway because there was so much information they had to provide, but I think it’s worth the time and effort, so don’t give up.

Tip number 2: Be honest.

While filling out the application, some people may feel uncomfortable disclosing private information. I myself felt that, having to share so many details about my family to “strangers”. But the more information you provide, the more transparent and accurate you are, the better they can assess the application and grant you the financial aid you deserve. It’s a win-win situation.

I think it’s mysterious how the Admissions team can discover the “hidden gems”. Not all students possess phenomenal extracurricular records or outstanding GPAs, but Fulbright sees potential in everyone. It’s interesting to be around individuals from different backgrounds, with different abilities. Once students are admitted to Fulbright, they are all eligible for the need-based financial aid. I know that the Admissions and Financial aid team evaluate each application very carefully, through many rounds before deciding on the offer, so you have to trust them and provide candid information.

Tip number 3: Understand the procedure

The financial aid is based on the student’s financial status, so it is different from one to another. To be honest, I had actually expected to receive a slightly higher offer of financial aid than the amount I got. We are a middle-class family, both of my parents have stable jobs and stable income but as I have a younger brother, my parents will have to save money for his education later on. I didn’t want my education to put too much of a financial burden on the family, but I believe the amount I received is fair and our family can accept that. Without the financial aid, I wouldn’t have been able to study at Fulbright.

People have asked me if my studying at Fulbright means my family have to live frugally. Actually, it’s not that different from our lifestyle in the past; I think we just need to be more careful with our spendings than we used to be since my education is biting into the family’s savings. We also have to be aware of the fees we now have to pay every semester, which is different because for the last 12 years of studying, my tuitions fees had been quite modest. But it is worth it, and I think we’re doing ok. It is true that the results vary and it may not match our expectations, but keep in mind that the university is fair and what you receive will be enough.

Moreover, the school has a policy that whenever our family has a sudden change in the family’s income, we can always submit a form to ask them to reevaluate the financial aid, and they will take that into consideration. Fulbright will make sure you get through four years of studying, so worry not!

All I’m trying to say is, this application is not as intimidating as it might seem. You just need to have enough time to gather all the necessary documents, be straightforward throughout the process, and trust the Admissions and Financial Aid team to take care of the rest.

Anh Thư reports

 

 

 

Clearing misconceptions

Ngoc Lam did not at first believe he had the right profile or financial capacity to study at Fulbright University Vietnam. He discovered the university through the Everest Launchpad summer program, and first applied in 2017 unsuccessfully. But for Ngoc Lam, this was surprisingly less an issue of lacking academic achievements, and more about different expectations regarding what Fulbright looks for in students.

Ngoc Lam remembers: “Back then, I briefly researched liberal arts education, but the concept is still very new for Vietnam. I had never done anything like this before. The undergraduate program was entirely new and there was very little information available. Students in Vietnam are used to very different university applications: we tend to focus on GPAs, grades, and extracurricular activities that can bolster our profile. I had no extracurriculars because I was so intent on improving my grades at school. I really wasn’t confident throughout the application process, as there were so many talented contenders, and didn’t really understand the qualities Fulbright was looking for: community-mindedness, a spirit of exploration, and desire for self-discovery. At Fulbright, our background doesn’t define us. Our character does.”

Ngoc Lam (far left) and fellow Fulbrighters

This is why, armed with a better understanding of the admission process, Ngoc Lam attempted again in 2018. This time, he submitted a new original piece of work, a sample of a seven-chapter story he published. Inspired by One Piece, a Japanese manga, his short novel combined the lessons he learned from the serial with his personal life experiences. This was a new experience for Ngoc Lam, and felt like a risk. After all, he is not a professional novelist. “I’m not a wonderful writer who earns money online. I just wrote it in my leisure time to help teach English to children in an orphanage in Nha Trang, my hometown. It was too long for the Admissions team to read, so I submitted three chapters.”

Ngoc Lam was admitted at Fulbright but was concerned over how he would be able to afford tuition costs: “Tuition is significantly higher than that of other universities in the country. Don’t get me wrong, in hindsight, I realize we have an amazing faculty with excellent academic qualifications. Professors are thoughtful, attentive and kind. Fulbright students get access to speaking events, and conferences inviting researchers from prestigious institutions that students can attend to at no extra cost. This requires a lot of resources. Still, I was shocked the first time I looked at Fulbright’s fees. I come from a middle-class family in Nha Trang, so I wasn’t sure we were eligible for financial support. But a family like my own just could not afford to pay full tuition. It was my mom who trusted we would receive financial aid and convinced me I would be able to study here. We realized the process is very different to most other universities.”

Indeed, Fulbright doesn’t offer merit-based scholarships or grants solely for low-income families, using instead a need-based financial aid model. “Fulbright has a place for everyone. Once we are admitted, the financial aid team will assess a lot of information about our financial situation to make sure anyone who is admitted can afford to study. But that means the process requires a lot of trust and effort from everyone involved.”

A strict but fair system

Ngoc Lam remembers the Financial Aid application process was arduous and time-consuming. The application is supported by a variety of documents and questions, and seemed especially discouraging for a twelfth graders already busy with schoolwork: “There were extremely specific questions, such as ‘Where has your family traveled to in the last five years?’ or ‘Can you provide the contact of an acquaintance who can verify this information?’ We had to do our best and gather all the required financial statements. They even asked for photos of my house, taken from the inside as well as from the outside. Financial officers also visited us to confirm we had replied accurately. I was astonished by these questions and how strict the process was. I don’t think any high school student like me could complete it by themselves, which is why having the help of my parents was so important.”

But for Ngoc Lam, it was all worth it. “It’s because the process is so strict that we can trust Fulbright’s Admissions team. If you think about it, financial aid officers have to make decisions over large amounts of money. In the end, their decisions make the difference for families like mine, between being able to afford sending their kid to Fulbright or not. Filing in accurate and honest financial information has resulted in an appropriate offer that allowed me to study here.”

Financial Aid on a mission

Most, if not all students at Fulbright receive some form of financial aid like Ngoc Lam. But beyond the immediate benefits, this further ensures the student body at Fulbright is socially diverse, and not an elitist institution. Ngoc Lam finds he benefitted from a learning environment that fosters a multitude of opinions and life experiences. “I’m studying with many talented classmates, whom I admire a lot. Before entering Fulbright, I thought of myself as a rather mature teenager, but I had a lot to learn from them. They broadened my horizons on matters like sex and gender, feminism, but also issues like racism.”

Ngoc Lam’s experience with Financial Aid did not end there. Understanding the role of Fulbright’s Admissions and Financial Aid department, he had the chance to participate as an intern: “I really believe in what financial aid is doing, and I hope I can contribute to help the students who come after me. From my observation and experience with the courses, together with the teachers, the Admissions team as well as the Communications team, we helped clear misconceptions and supported many applicants. I was also a co-creator for the Fulbright Experience Day.

The Admissions office wants us to join them because they want us to help shape Fulbright. And our goals are the same: to create a place where students can learn what they need, what they like, regardless of their background. A school unlike any other in Vietnam.”

Antoine Touch

 

On Equality of Educational Opportunity

In many developing countries around the world, school fees and related education costs pose a significant barrier to children’s education, and are often linked to non-attendance, dropout, and the entry of children into child labor. In Vietnam, the situation is not that much of a difference.

According to Circular number 86/2015/ND-CP issued by the government, the school fees for a child to go from pre-school to university in the public-school system is, on average, VND112,550,000 (USD4,826.33). This means that, for one child, an average Vietnamese family needs to pay roughly VND75,000 ~ VND155,000 (USD3.22 ~ USD6.65) per month for K-12 education and VND2,200,000 (USD94.34) per month if their child makes it to university.

It may not look a lot but for such a developing country as Vietnam, that number can be a fortune for many families. On average, the Vietnam GDP per capita is USD2,566. In other words, for a nuclear family with two children, the school fees alone can cost up to 25-45 percent of the total household income. In addition to school fees, costs associated with uniforms, shoes, books, transportation fees and extra classes are obstacles to education for children.

To exacerbate the problem, according to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, economic inequality is worsening in Vietnam. In 2014, the top 20% make 9.7 times more than the bottom 20%. This increased to 10 times in 2018, said Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue. The growing economic inequality means that the educational achievement gap between the children of the wealthiest and the children of everyone else is widened even further.

Many poor families pull their children out of primary school because they cannot afford the cost of the school fees and education materials, or because they need the child to work in the fields or to earn money. Those who are lucky enough to stay in school may find it hard to catch up with their classmates from wealthy families because they cannot afford to go to extra classes or language classes. Those who complete high school are less likely to attend college than students from higher-income families. For some children, the effects of poverty on education present unique challenges in breaking the cycle of generational poverty and reduce their chances of leading rewarding, productive lives.

This widening educational achievement gap may threaten Vietnam’s economic growth. With only a select few individuals receiving the best education and enrichment, Vietnam cannot effectively develop the economic potential of its future workforce. To grow the economy, there exists a need to provide educational and enrichment opportunities for children across the income spectrum, rather than only a select few at the top. The important question is how.

Scholarships

There are ample proposals and rich debate on how to combat educational achievement gap and ensure more low-income students can get access to proper education. One of those proposals is scholarships, especially scholarships for higher education. Scholarship supporters argue that by offering scholarships to low-income students, schools and universities can target specific audience, widen opportunities and improve outcomes. However, most scholarships in Vietnam are merit-based, meaning students with high academic achievements have higher chance of getting a scholarship.

This brings us back to the discussion on academic opportunities. Wealthy families can more likely afford a variety of positive adolescent activities, such as prep-school, language classes, sports participation, school leadership, extracurricular activities and volunteer work, for their children. These activities broaden their experience and academic achievements, make them more well-rounded and place them at the top of the merit-based scholarship recipient list.

Moreover, low-income students, especially those from the provinces, do not have much access to the scholarships available to them. Due to this information gap, high-achieving low-income students do not even apply to the scholarships for which they are qualified. Thus, some may argue that scholarships, instead of solving the problem of inequality, only worsen it if they are not properly designed and implemented.

Affirmative action

In Vietnam, to ensure specific aims of equity of and access to tertiary education can be met, some key policies have been created and implemented. For example, students from special groups will enjoy extra points for their National High School Exam. These groups include: students from remote and mountainous areas (namely Region 1), from rural area (namely Region 2-NT), and students whose parents are ethnic minorities or veterans with disabilities.

Another example is the University Entrance Nomination policy, in which every year a number of students from disadvantaged provinces may be nominated to enter the assigned public universities without participating in any university entrance exams. The number of students is proposed by the provincial governments based on their socio-economic development level. These students, however, are still required to pass the national upper secondary exams as well as pursue an intensive one-year education before entering normal university courses. Ethnic minority students are given preference when the provincial governments make their selections.

While affirmative action such as these policies may improve diversity in the university, Professor Michael Sandel, the author of the famous book Justice, argues that it brings two problems – one practical, the other principled. The principled objection reasons that affirmative action causes unfair in admissions and violates the rights of applicants who are qualified but belonged to the majority group. These students may have higher academic achievements than the affirmative-action students but are put at a competitive disadvantage through no fault of their own.

The practical objection claims that affirmative action may “damage the self-esteem of minority students, increase racial consciousness on all sides, heighten racial tensions, and provoke resentment” among the majority group. This view is also shared by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of David and Goliath. According to Gladwell, students benefited from affirmative action may not really benefit from it. Being among peers who are more academically equipped, these students may feel insecure, left-out, and unsuccessful. It may even result in drop-out for some.

Free education

In Justice, Professor Sandel mentions that to bridge the inequality gap, “a politics of the common good would take as one of its primary goals the reconstruction of the infrastructure of civic life.” This includes investing in top-quality, free public schools to which rich and poor alike would want to send their children.

In a perfect world, free education can help to reduce the financial burden from the students and encouraging them to get enrolled into higher education more actively. However, the world is not perfect and there are limitations to this solution.

It is undeniable that, managing higher education without taking any tuition fees is difficult for the schools. These schools have to get support from the government to maintain their academic and infrastructural costs. Such substantial public financing results in higher tax and cannot be easy to come by in the near future.

Thomas Piketty in his book Capital in the 21stCentury argues that free education leads to “spending more public money on students from more advantaged social backgrounds, while less money is spent on university students who come from the modest background.” One of the reasons for this outcome is that free education does not include free cost of living. Most universities are located in big, urban cities where the cost of living can pose as a barrier for low-income students. Since tuition isn’t the only driver of college affordability, simply eliminating tuition expenses would still leave low-income students with unmet need for living expenses—the real cost of higher education for the majority of students.

So what can be done to reduce educational inequality and promote access to higher education for poorer households? While free education can be a great policy, it takes time to be implemented, tested and perfected. Educational disadvantage has built up over decades and it will take decades to fix it.

In the meantime, it requires a combination of effort, financing and skills to address the short-term solution: Aid.

Aid

In order to improve diversity and offer more opportunities for low-income students to access to education, schools and universities should consider providing the appropriate form of aid prior to, during, and after admissions. This is also the practice that Fulbright University Vietnam (Fulbright) follows in the hope to fulfill its mission to the Vietnamese society.

To bridge the information gap, Fulbright conducts outreach activities to high schools across the country. The objective of this program is to put Fulbright within the reach of any student no matter how financially unattainable a goal it may seem, by giving them the right information and guidance needed to understand the opportunity and the application process.

Fulbright also provides buses for schools in the provinces to come to its admissions events, which are organized in key cities of Vietnam, and at Fulbright campus. These activities give the students a taste of the life at Fulbright, extra-curricular activities, and demo classes instructed by the University’s undergraduate and graduate faculty.

The Fulbright Admissions team also provide help to interested students who indicated an existing interest in studying at Fulbright but were not sure about acting on that interest due to lack of knowledge or financial resources to attend university and/or not being familiar with the steps involved in applying to Fulbright and for financial aid.

Fulbright’s admission process is inspired by prominent American institutions, but mindful of the Vietnamese cultural, social and educational background. Taking into account the imminent educational achievement gap, Fulbright University has designed an application package that is unique and exciting. It allows every student to demonstrate who they really are. Fulbright’s evaluation process is also designed in a way that every student is considered fairly, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

Fulbright is also the first university in Vietnam to offer a need-based financial aid, which is solely awarded based on a family’s financial circumstances and does not take into account a student’s academic merit. This need-based financial aid package covers not only the tuition fees, but also the living expenses to mitigate the barriers for low-income students to attend Fulbright.

Once admitted, Fulbright students also receive many other forms of aid to help them complete their four-year journey at Fulbright without feeling insecure about their capabilities. For those seeking added language support prior to starting the undergraduate program, Fulbright has a seven-week Bridge Program that runs the summer prior to the start of classes. Throughout the four-year, should a student feel struggle with his or her academic work or personal issues, the Learning Support team and the Wellness Center will provide them with appropriate aid, either in the form of private counseling sessions or mentorship.

At Fulbright, we believe knowledge is for everyone, and education must be accessible for the students from every status. Every person has the right to acquire knowledge as much as he or she wants. The journey to ensure equality in education is a long one, but it should not deter us to initiate the first step.

Thach Thao