USA Receives Grant for Students to Study Abroad
Posted on June 17, 2021 by Joy Washington
The Office of International Education at the University of South Alabama has been selected by the Institute of International Education (IIE) to receive an IIE American Passport Project grant that will enable 25 South Alabama students to obtain a U.S. passport and support their study abroad journeys.
South Alabama is one of 40 institutions named to the inaugural cohort for the grant, with a goal of promoting diversity, inclusion, access and equity in study abroad opportunities. The grant also will support the IIE global membership network, which encourages students to go abroad who otherwise might not participate in an international experience as part of their college education.
“Upfront costs can be a huge hurdle for USA students,” said Dr. Bri Ard, director of International Education & Study Abroad. “During the 2018-19 academic year, more than 40 percent of our students received a Pell grant and 70 percent received some sort of financial aid. USA has shown a commitment to serving these students by developing cost-effective opportunities and dedicating more than $100,000 in scholarship funding to students annually. However, we believe there is more work to be done in order to make study abroad at USA accessible to our entire student body. IIE’s American Passport Project is one way we are working to accomplish that goal.”
South will provide innovative programming, engagement efforts, advising and support for those students they have identified with the goal of sending them on a study abroad program during their college experience. A passport is the first step, and Ard noted that many South Alabama students come to college having never held a passport.
“We know that assisting students in obtaining a passport is only one step in getting them prepared for travel, so we will also aim to provide resources, guidance and courageous conversations on how their personal identities can be supported while abroad,” Ard explained. “From the time of selection, students will be asked to identify study abroad programs in which they are interested as well as any current perceived barriers to study abroad. OIE will then work with the students, parents, academic advisors, financial aid, and other stakeholders to establish the best term and program for the student to study abroad.”
Ard said OIE will also conduct relevant workshops for the cohort, including what to pack, how to book a flight and other pertinent information for first time travelers.
In this first year, IEE received nearly 200 applications proposing various ways higher education institutions of all types and locations would be able to utilize the grant to support diverse student populations. This effort provides aid to $1,000 U.S. students to procure their U.S. passports and provide study abroad guidance.
IIE, a non-profit with 17 offices and affiliates worldwide, designs and manages more than 200 study abroad, workforce training, leadership development programs and scholarship with participants from more than 180 countries.