College of Charleston Receives American Passport Project Grant

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The College has received a grant from the Institute of International Education's American Passport Project to open the path to study abroad for students.

passport sitting on top of a map

The College of Charleston is one of 51 institutions to receive an Institute of International Education (IIE) American Passport Project grant this year. The grant will enable up to 25 CofC students to obtain their first U.S. passports and open the pathway to study abroad.

A key program under the IIE Center for Access and Equity, the IIE American Passport Project seeks to reach diverse student populations and institutions that serve students who identify within demographics underrepresented in U.S. study abroad or those who often do not obtain a U.S. passport. In this fourth cohort, the majority of the awarded institutions are focusing on these priority demographics for their respective campuses: first-generation college students, racial/ethnic minorities, students with demonstrated financial need and students who have never traveled abroad. 

At the College, the Center for International Education is partnering with the School of Languages Cultures and World Affairs to establish the Pathways to Passports program, which will identify eligible students from across campus, including those involved with the Global Ambassadors Program, the International Scholars Program, the ARCH Scholars Program, the 1967 Legacy Program and SPECTRA.

“Our hope is that, by eliminating an early barrier to study abroad, we can encourage broader participation in study abroad programs at the College of Charleston,” says Melissa Ochal, director of the College’s Center for International Education.

Indeed, the IIE American Passport Project prioritizes students early in their higher education experience to allow them ample time to go through the passport application and study abroad planning process with advising and support from the awarded institutions.

The program represents the IIE’s commitment to creating access to international education opportunities and enabling equity by removing a financial barrier, thereby increasing the diversity and inclusion of students studying abroad. With a goal of granting 10,000 U.S. students their passports by the end of this decade, the IIE American Passport Project has supported 176 higher education institutions in 41 states since its inception in 2021.

A nonprofit organization founded in 1919, the IIE is the leader in designing and implementing international education strategies and program services. Its Center for Access Equity aims to advance accessible programming and equitable practices in community building that enrich and expand international education, exchange and opportunity for all.

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