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The Office of Study Abroad at the University of Arkansas announced Monday that it would provide scholarships to Pell-eligible and other qualifying first-year students to cover the cost of a U.S. passport, in an effort to increase access to study abroad programs.

The University of Arkansas, along with 39 other institutions, won a grant from the Institute of International Education to remove one barrier for studying abroad -- funding a passport. The American Passport Project will cover the cost of passports for approximately 25 University of Arkansas students. Other schools within the university -- including Engineering's ECAP program, the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, the Honors College and Walton College -- have since added on to the grant to fund 150 more students' passports in the 2021-22 academic year.

The program is meant to promote equity in study abroad, as students with limited means struggle to go abroad because of long-term planning and financial hurdles, the university said. According to data from the spring 2016 National Survey of Student Engagement, 54 percent of University of Arkansas freshmen surveyed said they were interested in or planned to study abroad, yet only 17.9 percent of that graduating class completed a study abroad experience.