In February, the Programs Abroad Office hosted the Passport Caravan which offered 175 students the opportunity to receive a free passport in an effort to increase students’ opportunities to study abroad.
As a part of the Generation Study Abroad initiative, the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE) pledged 10,000 passports to US undergraduate students planning to study abroad.
CIEE brings the Passport Caravan to universities all across the United States providing 50 passports to undergraduate students at each stop.
The initiative aims to make study abroad possible for more U.S. students by breaking down the major barriers: cost, curriculum, and culture.
“We are always seeking to reduce barriers,” said Noah Rost, director of Programs Abroad and associate director of UT’s Center for International Education. “And one of the initial barriers that students face is the passport.”
The process for applying for a passport can be intimidating and confusing with the paperwork required as well as the front-end cost of $135.
The Center of International Education provided funding to raise the total to 150 passports and then partnered with the Haslam College of Business, which provided funding for 25 more passports for business students.
Undergraduate students like Uriah Richey—a sophomore from Knoxville—received an email about the opportunity last fall and went through a simplified application process.
“The process was very easy to apply. It was straightforward–I didn’t have any questions about it because it was simple.”
Once their application was approved, the students met with a passport agent at the Passport Caravan and will receive their passport via mail.
“Students are all over the map,” said Tyler D’Andrea, leader manager for Institutional Relations at CIEE. “It’s been really exciting to hear that the doors have been opened for them to embark on these journeys now that they have a passport in their hands.”
Richey is looking at studying abroad in summer 2019 and has considered countries like Italy, Spain, and South Africa to use her new free passport.
To learn more about study abroad opportunities, visit the Programs Abroad website.