UPDATE: Bridging Scholarship Policy and FAQ in Response to COVID-19

March 27, 2020 


Bridging Foundation Response to COVID-19 and Bridging Scholars FAQ

The Bridging Foundation joins our community in the U.S. and Japan in supporting our scholars during this challenging time.  Please see the information and FAQ below on how we will continue to do so.

Operations and Staff Contact

The Bridging Foundation is continuing to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of our student scholars, staff, board, visitors, and the public at large.  In consideration of safety and operational continuity for our mission-focused work, the Bridging Foundation staff will be teleworking until further notice. Our offices are currently closed. Staff are available by email, and will respond to messages during regular business hours in Eastern Daylight Time.

Please contact Ed Spitzberg, Interim Executive Director at espitzberg@jusfc.gov or Jean Falvey, Deputy Director at jfavey@jusfc.gov if you have any questions.

Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 Bridging Scholarship Program Grant Recipients

We want to support our Bridging Scholars and their safe return home now that their study abroad programs in Japan have been cancelled.  Since Bridging Scholarships are designed to help students who may otherwise not have the financial means to afford to study in Japan, we want to ease any additional financial difficulties the students could encounter on top of the disruption and disappointment they are experiencing with the suspension of their study abroad programs.

To that end, we have developed a policy that will allow scholars options including:

  • Deferring any unused portion of their scholarship grant for up to twelve (12) months; or,
  • If the scholar chooses not to or is unable to study abroad within 12 months, the scholar must return the scholarship grant so that we can offer it to another student.


  • If an exchange program is canceled, the scholar need only return the scholarship minus non-refundable documented expenses in categories of air travel and lodging.
  • If the scholarship is completely unused or there is a balance remaining, in lieu of reimbursing USJBF, the scholar may provide a written intention within 30 days to defer the scholarship for up to twelve months.If the scholar does not attend a program in that time period, they must refund the balance. If the Bridging Foundation has not yet awarded the funds, we will wait to do so until the deferred program is confirmed.
  • If an exchange program is still on but a scholar chooses not to go, the scholar must return 100% of the scholarship if awarded, and will not receive the funds if not yet awarded.

Scholars who have already used their scholarship for non-refundable travel or lodging expenses will not need to return those amounts. Please contact Susan Schmidt at susan.schmidt@colorado.edu and aatj@aatj.org if you are a current scholar or applicant with any questions.

Fall 2020 Bridging Scholarship Application Round Still Open

We are still accepting Bridging Scholarship applications for students who wish to study an academic year or semester in Japan beginning in  fall 2020.  We encourage any interested student to apply by April 10, 2020 Decisions and scholarship grants will be announced by late July 2020.

We are hopeful that study abroad programs will resume normal activity by this fall. In the event that a student’s study abroad program in Japan will not resume operations by September, we will work with the student to defer their grant according to our policy above.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. If I’ve already received funds and my program is cancelled, do I owe you a refund?

Bridging Scholarships are designed to help our scholars cover expenses associated with studying in Japan.  We realize that many of our current scholars have had significant expenses, and helping you with them is part of our mission.

So if you have received funds already and have documented expenses for non-refundable travel or lodging, no need to refund.  Please send Susan Schmidt  documentation of those expenses.

If you have not spent your entire scholarship, and are not deferring (see below), we just ask you to refund the balance. Again, please contact Susan for any questions about your specific situation.

  1. What if I’ve already spent the award on non-refundable flights or lodging deposits?

Nope! Again, just document those expenses and send them to Susan. If you’ve spent part of your award and aren’t deferring, you just need to refund the remaining balance.

  1. I’ve received a scholarship but haven’t used any of the funds yet. May I defer my scholarship to next year?

Yes.  We just need you to inform us in writing (an e-mail to Susan Schmidt is fine) by April 30.

You will then have until April 30, 2021 to inform us you intend to attend the program and use the funds. If you have a received the funds already, you do not need to refund them unless you do not attend a program by April 30, 2021.  If you have not yet received the funds, we will hold them until you attend the program, up to April 30, 2021.

  1. I have received a scholarship but I no longer wish to attend. What happens to my scholarship?

We understand in this uncertain time that your choices may have changed. In that case, if you have received funds, you need to return it to us.  If you haven’t, we will retain the funds.

In either case, you need to let us know in writing, to Susan Schmidt.

  1. I want to apply for a Bridging Scholarship, but I’m not sure what the status of my school’s exchange program will be in the 2020-21 academic year yet?

Yes! We encourage all interested students to apply.  We plan on having the same flexibility described above with the next round of scholars.

6. OK, I need to contact Susan Schmidt.  What is her contact information?

Susan is happy to hear from you and help answer your questions by email at susan.schmidt@colorado.edu and aatj@aatj.org