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To make study abroad more accessible to students, colleges and universities are providing financial support through various initiatives, such as covering passport fees.

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More than half of college students want to travel abroad, according to College Pulse data. Over 80 percent of institutions anticipate study abroad numbers to increase in the 2023–24 academic year, while 14 percent anticipate numbers will remain the same, according to a spring 2023 report from the Institute of International Education.

However, studying abroad can cost several thousand dollars per term, depending on the host country, institution or partner organization.

Colleges and outside partners are funding initiatives to remove financial barriers that can deter students from studying abroad, clearing the runway to takeoff and travel.

Georgia State University—Free Passport Program

The first barrier to studying abroad can be the cost of a passport application. In 2021, Georgia State launched the Free Passport Program to encourage global engagement following the COVID-19 pandemic and increase the number and diversity of GSU students with passports, according to an October press release.

To receive a passport through the GSU program, a student must be a U.S. citizen who is applying for a passport for the first time and complete an online application with GSU Study Abroad. Upon acceptance, students are required to prepare documentation and schedule an appointment with GSU Passport Services or the local post office to start the process.

Students must provide evidence of citizenship, fill out the passport application and be prepared to pay a $130 passport fee, execution fee and photo fee. Georgia State reimburses the student up to $165 with scholarship dollars.

Recent funding from Delta Air Lines will cover 50 students’ free passports, or $8,500 in scholarships. As of October, more than 1,300 have received a U.S. passport through the program.

Arizona State University—Planning Scholarship

First-generation students at Arizona State University can apply for a Planning Scholarship, offered by the university Global Education Office (GEO), to cover some of the costs of study abroad. The scholarship is designed to address financial barriers that keep first-generation students from participating in high-impact practices such as study abroad.

To be eligible, students must be the first in their family to attend college, hold a cumulative GPA of 2.0 and demonstrate financial need as well as complete their first two semesters at ASU.

The scholarship, for up to $4,000, is flexible, so students can use it at any point over the five semesters following the spring semester of their sophomore year. Scholarship recipients will work alongside GEO staff to plan out their experiences, and students commit to completing a follow-on project.

The university will award over $1 million in scholarships to students for global education programs in the 2023–24 academic year, or around 250 full scholarships, according to an August news release.

University of Memphis—Study Abroad Access Initiative

In 2017, the University of Memphis Center for International Education Services partnered with TRIO and the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change to create the Study Abroad Access Initiative.

Through the initiative, low-income students who are a part of TRIO or the Hooks Institute’s African-American Male Initiative (HAAMI) can receive a $2,000 scholarship to cover a passport and round-trip flights to a Memphis study abroad program.

To be eligible, students must meet minimum GPA requirements and complete an online application. Pell Grant recipients must also attend a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship workshop to learn more about financial aid offerings.

Scholarship recipients meet with a study abroad adviser to discuss passport application processes, identify a flight for the program and give a presentation at a TRIO or HAAMI meeting upon their return.

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