FLEX Future Leaders Exchange Program

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What is the FLEX program?

The FLEX program was created by the United States Congress in 1992. It established a year-long, fully funded exchange program for secondary school students to travel to the United States for a year. Now in its twenty-seven year, the FLEX academic year program has provided scholarships to over 28,000 secondary school students from Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia. The goal of the program is to promote mutual understanding between citizens of the United States and countries in the region, as students learn more about the U.S. and teach Americans about their countries. In 2020-21, approximately 900 students will study in the U.S. on the FLEX program. Each scholarship recipient will live for one year as a member of a U.S. host family and study in an American high school.

Secondary school students with disabilities are invited to participate in the competition. Approximately 30 students with disabilities are invited to the U.S. on the FLEX program each year. Selected students with disabilities must meet the same criteria as other participants in the program.

Who pays for the program?

This scholarship program is fully sponsored by the United States government and administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State with funding appropriated by the U.S. Congress. ECA fosters understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries around the world. ECA programs include educational and training programs that promote personal, professional, and institutional ties between private citizens and organizations in the United States and abroad.

The FLEX program is supported at the local level by U.S. citizens and local secondary schools that voluntarily host, educate, and support students with no financial compensation.

How are students selected?

Independent panels of American professionals in education and international relations in the United States will select program finalists and alternates. Selection will be based on merit as evidenced in a comprehensive application, teacher reference, and demonstrated preparedness for a year-long exchange experience. Students also will be required to provide medical evaluations and be certified as medically fit to participate in the program.
The selection process will be completed in spring 2021, and all applicants will receive notification of their status by mid-May 2021. English-language proficiency is important but it is not the only element in selection.

What does the scholarship provide??

The FLEX scholarship provides the following:

  • Round-trip domestic and international travel (from home to the United States and back)
  • Monthly allowance to help students participate in social activities and buy necessary personal items
  • Placement with a selected and screened U.S. host family for one year
    Enrollment in a U.S. secondary school
  • Program orientation activities including pre-program preparation and re-entry preparation
  • Program activities arranged in local U.S. communities
  • Medical insurance, excluding pre-existing conditions and dental care
What is NOT provided?

The FLEX scholarship does NOT cover the following costs:

  • Any costs associated with receiving an international passport
  • Personal expenses not covered by the monthly stipend
  • Excess baggage costs
  • Telephone calls made from the U.S. to home or internet use, including access to e-mail
How will I benefit from the exchange experience?

The FLEX program offers students an opportunity to learn about the people and culture of the United States. FLEX participants are also young ambassadors who teach Americans about the people and culture of their home countries. Students gain an appreciation for and develop sensitivity to other cultures, experience personal growth and independence, and become better prepared for adulthood in an increasingly interdependent world. Students form strong ties with their American host families and U.S. communities, building relationships that often last a lifetime. Many alumni have attended prestigious universities upon their return home, and later found exciting jobs that use skills learned during their stay in the United States.

What are some of the possible disadvantages?

Students who are interested in this program should consider whether taking part in a yearlong exchange program may have a potentially adverse impact on their academic or personal future. Things to consider include but are not limited to:

  • Will I have to repeat a year of school after returning home?
  • Will I be home too late in 2021 to take final school examinations/university/institute entrance examinations?
  • Will my university or institute defer my admission if I have already been accepted?
  • Will I be eligible to graduate with honors at my home school?

Finally, although students attend a U.S. high school, the school curriculum is substantially different from that in your home country, and likely you will not learn the same subject material.

Who organizes the program?

American Councils for International Education organizes recruitment, selection, orientation, and travel arrangements for the FLEX program. Founded in 1974, American Councils is an international non-profit organization working to improve mutual understanding between countries, exchange ideas among individuals, and enhance collaboration through education. It designs, implements, and supports innovative programs in the United States, Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
Over the past 40 years, American Councils has become one of the premier U.S. international education and training organizations. It administers more than 30 exchange and training programs, including several U.S. government programs for secondary school students, university and graduate students, teachers, and professors. Since 1992, American Councils has professionally administered academic, professional, and cultural programs for tens of thousands of participants from Afghanistan, Africa, Eurasia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Southeast Europe.

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