WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., today introduced the bipartisan Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act, which renames a competitive grant program run by the Department of State to the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program. This grant helps institutions of higher education expand study abroad opportunities to nontraditional locations for underrepresented American college students.
“Study abroad is a valuable experience for many American college students who hope to become our country’s future leaders,” Wicker said. “I appreciate this effort to expand access to study abroad for thousands of undergraduates who would not otherwise have the opportunity.”
“Senator Paul Simon always knew the value of understanding how the world works and how we are all interconnected,” Durbin said. “This legislation builds on Senator Simon’s vision by creating more opportunities for American students of all backgrounds to see and experience the world. By giving the next generation of students the chance to study abroad after COVID-19 shut the world down, they will be better prepared to lead successful lives and expand their worldview.”
Currently, only ten percent of American college students participate in study abroad before they graduate, and participation isn’t representative of today’s college campuses.
The goals of the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program are to:
- Increase the overall number of undergraduate students studying abroad annually to one million students within 10 years;
- Increase the number of minority students, first generation college students, community college students, and students with disabilities studying abroad, so the demographics of study abroad participation reflect the demographics of the undergraduate population; and
- Increase the number of students who study abroad in nontraditional destinations, with an emphasis on economically developing countries, while maintaining health and safety guidelines and procedures informed by Department of State travel advisories and other appropriate Federal agencies and resources.