WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to encourage institutions of higher education to expand study abroad opportunities to nontraditional locations for American students. The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act is named after the late United States Senator Paul Simon, who encouraged Congress to prepare the next generation of Americans with the global knowledge and skills needed for success in an increasingly interconnected world. Senators Dick Durbin (IL) and Roger Wicker (MS) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“Study abroad programs are an enriching component of a well-rounded academic and cultural education.  Providing our students with the opportunity to visit, study in, and be our ambassadors to nations around the world is essential for American leadership in the 21st century,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act alongside my colleagues and ensure that over the next decade, 1 million students from every walk of life and background are able to take advantage of international education programs.”

“Diverse, international experiences are incredibly valuable for today’s students who want to compete for jobs in tomorrow’s economy and lead the way in building a more prosperous, peaceful, and stable future," said Congressman Schneider. "Senator Paul Simon championed study abroad for American students of all backgrounds and I am proud to get to carry on his legacy with this bipartisan bill co-led by Congressman Fitzpatrick and Senators Durbin and Wicker."

“Senator Paul Simon always knew the value of understanding how the world works and how we are all interconnected,” said Senator Durbin. “This legislation builds on Senator Simon’s vision by creating 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, they will be better prepared to lead successful lives and expand their worldview.”

“Study abroad is a valuable experience for many American college students who hope to become our country’s future leaders,” said Senator Wicker. “I appreciate this effort to expand access to study abroad for thousands of undergraduates who would not otherwise have the opportunity.”

The goals of the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program are to:

  • Increase the 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 by prioritizing grants for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Institutions, and institutions that qualify for the Department of Education’s Strengthening Institutions Program, so the demographics of study abroad participation better 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.

This bill is supported by the following organizations: NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, Academic Programs International (API), American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers, American Association of Community Colleges, American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), American Association of Teachers of French, American Council on Education, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), American Councils for International Education, Association of American Universities, Association of Marshall Scholars, California Language Teachers' Association (CLTA), CETRA Language Solutions, Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO), DECTFL (Delaware Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages), Diversity Abroad, Fluency Consulting LLC, Foreign Language Association of Georgia, Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA), Fund for Education Abroad, Global Virginia, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling, IES Abroad, Institute of International Education, International Association for Language Learning Technology, International Educators of Illinois, Joint National Committee for Languages, Kentucky World Language Association, Language Magazine, Linguistic Society of America, Michigan World Language Association (MIWLA), National Association for College Admission Counseling, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, National Council for Languages and International Studies, National Education Association, New Mexico Organization of Language Educators (NMOLE), Partners of the Americas, Pennsylvania Council for International Education, Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT), Southwest Conference on Language Teaching, TESOL International Association, The Alliance for International Exchange, The Forum on Education Abroad, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United Negro College Fund, University of Kentucky, Vermont Foreign Language Association, West Virginia Foreign Language Teachers Association, and Wisconsin Association for Language Teachers.