The Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and it supports students in their studies of foreign languages and cultures. An undergraduate student is typically awarded $10,000.
“We were in this really bizarre situation in which we had students that were notified they had the FLAS even though they were told there was a contingent on federal funding,” said Shai Tamari, associate director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, one of the six centers at UNC that applies for the grant.
The delayed notification was stressful for students depending on the scholarship.
“For me it’s about waiting till when and how much to pay and that sort of thing,” said Bliss Green-Morehead, a senior Asian Studies and Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literature major. “It’s definitely hard to work year-round and figure out how to pay for it if you think you’re going to have the scholarship and then you don’t.”
Beth-Ann Kutchma, senior program officer at the Center for Global Initiatives, said the Department of Education is not at fault.
“They were just dealing with a lot of bureaucracy,” Kutchma said.
“It just kept getting pushed and pushed and pushed. They never implicated a reason.”
The U.S. Department of Education officially notified UNC on Wednesday that four of the University’s six centers received the money for the fellowships. Not all recipients of the scholarship will receive their money, Kutchma said.
The Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies and the Carolina Asia Center did not receive the money they were promised.
“It was challenging because it was a situation that none of the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships administrators ever had to experience before,” Tamari said. “We all work closely with the students so we all were feeling their pain while they were going through this.”
In order to be eligible for the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships, students must take a foreign language and a cultural class.
“I think most of us were frustrated, especially when you’re looking at your senior year and you’re trying to get all your ducks in a row,” senior Paul Ashton said.
“I’m holding out for a scholarship I’ve spent six weeks in a class for that I don’t necessarily need to be in.”