For students to study abroad, a passport is an obvious necessity. But for some, the fee for passport processing and photos can be a barrier. University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) is finding a way to address this challenge.
In collaboration with the Comprehensive Studies Program (CSP) and the Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS), the LSA Scholarship Office, LSA has launched its fourth annual Passport Program. All first-year LSA students who are eligible for Pell Grants receive $205 from the college to cover the cost of applying for a passport; this includes students in the Bridge Scholars PLUS program, Summer Bridge Scholars Program, CSP Summer, first-year LSA Scholarship recipients, and first-year transfer students. They take that money and apply for a passport at a special event on campus, where they can also get their passport photos taken, assistance from U.S. passport officers on how to complete the application process, and learn more information about study abroad opportunities. This year, 251 students received passports through the program, which is one of many ways LSA is making studying abroad more accessible and affordable for students. Since its inception in 2015, 209 students have been able to study abroad in 48 countries and 130 programs around the world.
“The processing fees and cost of photographs alone can be a barrier to studying internationally,” said Elizabeth R. Cole, interim dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. “Through this unique LSA scholarship program, we are working to ensure that all students have the access and resources to study abroad. This opens the door to vast personal, academic, and professional opportunities that give students valuable and transformative experiences.”
The LSA Scholarship Office has a long-standing commitment to ensuring students with financial need have the resources and support to get the most out of their college experience. In 2016-2017, the office awarded $1.7 million in scholarships to LSA students, which provided more than 400 students with financial aid opportunities to study abroad. LSA Scholarship won Diversity Abroad’s 2018 Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion in International Education (EDIIE) Award for extraordinary efforts and impact in providing financial support and increasing access for more students to study abroad.
“We want all of our students to have a full learning experience, regardless of financial need. This is about providing access and removing barriers to opportunity,” said Doug Fletcher, Director of Scholarship Programs at the LSA Scholarship Office. “Rather than waiting for students to apply for funding and then applying for a passport, they have the chance to apply for a passport before anything else. We’re taking a proactive approach to student scholarship.”
To donate to the LSA Passport Scholarship Program, visit www.leadersandbest.umich.edu.