Representatives Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and John Katko (NY-24) recently reintroduced the bipartisan Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act. The 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," 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. Katko.
"The U.S. 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 president Peter McPherson. "Study abroad experience is indispensable in today's global economy. And crucially, the Simon bill would increase the number of students studying in nontraditional countries, especially in the developing world."
The goals of the grant program are to do the following:
- Increase the overall number of undergraduate students studying abroad annually to 1 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;
- 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 Language Magazine, Joint National Committee for Languages, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Partners of the Americas, American Council on Education, Institute of International Education, American Association of Community Colleges, the Forum on Education Abroad, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and the American Councils for International Education. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Dick Durbin (D-lllinois) and Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi).