WASHINGTON – Representatives Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and John Katko (NY-24) recently reintroduced the bipartisan Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act. This bill would establish a competitive grant program, run by the Department of Education, for colleges and universities to expand study abroad opportunities for undergraduate students. It is named after the late Illinois Senator, Paul Simon, who encouraged Congress to come together and prepare the next generation of Americans with the global knowledge and skills needed in an increasingly interconnected world.
“I’m proud to introduce legislation to honor the life and legacy of Senator Paul Simon – who was such an important person in my life. Senator Simon’s service undoubtedly improved the lives of hardworking Illinoisans and has set an example which I have always admired and followed,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “This bipartisan legislation carries out his commitment to creating new opportunities for our young people, upholds his tradition of working across the aisle and will help our next generation of leaders be well-equipped to take on some of the most pressing challenges facing our global society.”
“I am pleased to join Representative Bustos in introducing legislation that upholds the bipartisan tradition of the late Illinois Senator, Paul Simon while working to foster a globally competitive workforce through investment in educational experiences,” said Rep. John Katko. “In an effort to carry on Senator Simon’s legacy, I am proud to work with my colleague from across the aisle to offer legislation that will afford college students the opportunity to study abroad and gain culturally-rounded experiences.”
“The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act is an excellent example of the best of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill and we thank Representatives Bustos and Katko for their leadership on this issue. This bill will expand opportunities for U.S. college students to learn about the world and gain insights that will help them become more globally competitive,” said Esther D. Brimmer, NAFSA Executive Director and CEO.
“The United States needs to vastly and rapidly increase the number and diversity of its students studying abroad. The Simon Act would help do exactly that,” said Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson, who served as Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Commission. “Study abroad experience is indispensable in today’s global economy. And crucially, the Simon bill would increase the number of students studying in non-traditional countries, especially in the developing world. We thank Representatives Bustos and Katko for their work crafting bipartisan legislation that would significantly strengthen America’s economic and strategic standing in the world through more skilled, globally fluent college graduates.”
The goals of the grant program are to do the following:
- Increase the overall number of undergraduate students studying abroad annually to one million within ten years;
- Increase the number of nontraditional and minority students studying abroad so that 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 study abroad in developing countries.
The bill is supported by more than 50 organizations including the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Partners of the Americas, American Council on Education, American Association of Community Colleges, the Forum on Education Abroad, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the Association of American Universities, the Fund for Education Abroad, the American Councils for International Education and more.
Bipartisan companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).