Study Abroad: Not Just for the Privileged

Today I was proud to introduce bipartisan legislation designed to give millions of college students the chance to study abroad.

The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act (H.R. 1469), which is co-sponsored by our committee's Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), aims to establish a mechanism so that within a decade at least one million American students will be able to study overseas each year.

This is an incredibly important bill that will democratize study abroad for American students in the way that the GI bill democratized higher education.  Today, many American college students face financial and institutional impediments to study abroad.  The Senator Paul Simon Act and the foundation it creates will tear down these barriers, and make foreign study a normal rather than an exceptional part of a college education.

Our nation faces a deficit of cultural knowledge that is an impediment to our efforts to fight the global war on terrorism, and to keep America competitive in a global economy.  Our foreign affairs agencies are hard pressed to find recruits that have first hand understanding of critical cultures and languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Pashto, and Dari.  The Senator Paul Simon Act will rectify this by vastly expand the talent pool of young American with global skills.