Yesterday, the House Foreign Relations Authorization Act was passed favorably out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. While the bill's primary purpose is to authorize funding for the operations of the U.S. Department of State, it also includes innovative programs critical to accomplishing U.S. foreign policy and public diplomacy goals like the Simon Study Abroad legislation. The Simon bill aims to dramatically increase the number of American undergraduates who study abroad in quality programs across the globe, focusing particular attention on ensuring access to study abroad across the college demographic and encouraging study abroad in the developing world. Currently, only about one percent of U.S. undergraduates study abroad – this bill seeks to change that.

The legislation is expected to go to the House floor for a vote as early as the first week of June – so take action now!

Add your voice to the campaign by sending a letter to your representative urging him or her to vote "YES" to H.R. 2410 when it comes up on the House Floor. Once you’re done, you will have the option to share this letter writing opportunity with your colleagues, students, friends and family.

Key components of this legislation in advancing U.S. public diplomacy efforts include:

  • Establishing the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation, which will dramatically increase participation in study abroad, ensure that such experiences are universally available to U.S. students from all backgrounds, and emphasize study abroad in non-traditional locations, such as developing countries:
  • Doubling the size of the Peace Corps;
  • Increasing the authorization amount for the U.S. Department of State’s educational and cultural exchange programs to $633,243,000 for FY 2010, and “such sums as may be necessary” for FY 2011;
  • Creating educational exchange programs to provide scholarships to students from various regions of the world to study in the U.S.
  • Authorizing the hiring of an additional 1,500 Foreign Service Officers over the next two years and improving the Department of State’s tools for recruiting and training Foreign Service Officers

You can also Join us on Facebook and be part of the growing movement online in support of Study Abroad.