NAFSA supports public policies that increase opportunities for American college students to gain the global education that is necessary for them to thrive in the global economy. A generation ago, there was a national concern that students without access to computers would fall behind their peers and be at a competitive disadvantage in seeking jobs; the same can be said today of students without access to global educational opportunities. Study abroad is a learning opportunity that enables students to develop critical skills and that contributes in vital ways to preparing students for the competitive global environment into which they will graduate.

Policy Priorities

  • To make study abroad the norm, not the exception, for today's college student. Congress should pass the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act to incentivize higher education to increase study abroad and provide a cost-effective, sustainable way to ensure more diverse U.S. undergraduates can study internationally.
  • All policy leaders-from the national, state, and institutional levels, should use their platforms to articulate the importance of knowing other cultures and languages and should encourage students to seek out international learning opportunities.
  • The President should include funding in each year's budget that prioritizes study abroad and international learning experiences.
  • The private sector should invest in public-private partnerships such as the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, with greater investment from those companies and sectors who are the main beneficiaries of a globally proficient workforce.
  • Colleges and universities should exert greater leadership to ensure that every student seeking a path to an international learning experience can find one; tailoring study abroad programs to nontraditional students' needs; making learning abroad accessible, affordable, and attractive; and integrating global learning into the curriculum.


The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act
The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act would establish a new federal study abroad program to incentivize higher education institutions to remove the institutional, curricular, and cultural barriers that keep students from studying abroad.

The bill was introduced in the 116th Congress by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and John Katko (R-NY). The bill sponsors are working to reintroduce it in the 117th Congress. 

Take Action

  • Send a message to your members of Congress urging their support for the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act and for new and federal funding for study abroad to ensure that a larger and more diverse number of students gain the global skills, knowledge, and experiences necessary to compete in today’s global workforce. 
  • Sign up for our Connecting Our World policy and advocacy newsletter to stay abreast of our campaigns to advance these policies and how you can help. It is delivered once-a-week and the asks of you are always quick but impactful. Add your voice to the call for a more peaceful, globally connected world!

Impact of Study Abroad

Executive Branch Initiatives

100,000 Strong in the Americas
The 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative was created to increase educational exchanges in the Western Hemisphere and strengthen U.S. relations with the countries of the Americas through student mobility. NAFSA has partnered with the U.S. State Department and Partners of the Americas to create the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund to help implement this initiative.

The Innovation Fund is a public-private partnership designed to raise money for grants to higher education institutions that have shown a commitment to expanding academic mobility within the Western hemisphere.

Join Innovation Fund