Polk State receives American Passport Grant to support underrepresented students with studying abroad

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

The Institute of International Education (IIE) has selected Polk State College to receive an IIE American Passport Project grant that will enable up to 25 Polk State students to obtain their first U.S. passports and open the pathway to study abroad. In its fourth year, IIE awarded 51 institutions in the IIENetwork, the largest cohort to date.

A key program under the IIE Center for Access and Equity, the American Passport Project represents 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. The program prioritizes students early in their higher education experience to allow ample time to go through the passport application and study abroad planning process with advising and support from the awarded institutions. Through the American Passport Project, IIE aims to grant 10,000 U.S. students their passports by the end of this decade.

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. The program has supported 176 higher education institutions in 41 states since its inception in 2021. In this fourth cohort, 41% of the institutions represent racial/ethnic minority-serving populations – HBCUs, HSIs, AANAPISIs, and MSIs – or are community colleges. 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.

Polk State is a nationally recognized Hispanic-Serving Institution with a student population that is approximately 28% Hispanic. Additionally, approximately 44% of Polk State students receive need-based Pell grants, illustrating financial need. With a robust Global Initiatives Program and a slew of study abroad opportunities, the IIE American Passport Project grant will further diversify the College’s population of students who study abroad by funding passports for those who may not otherwise have the ability to pay for them.

The College’s application for the grant explained that “many students don’t believe studying abroad is an option for them because of financial limitations.”

“The passport scholarship offers vital funding that will encourage students to consider study abroad opportunities they may not have otherwise. In the words of [a] student who recently received a scholarship, study abroad ‘challenged me…, and influenced my love and goals for learning other languages. This opportunity would have never happened without the support of Polk State’s scholarship.’ The impact of such scholarships can last a lifetime, encourage further academic ambitions, and produce well-rounded global citizens.”

Information about Polk State study abroad opportunities is available at www.polk.edu/institute-for-global-initiatives/study-abroad.

About IIE

The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the leader in designing and implementing international education strategies and program services. We work with governments, policymakers, educators, and employers across the globe to prepare students and professionals for the global workforce and equip them to solve the increasingly complex challenges facing our interconnected world. With support from donors, we also create initiatives that assist students, scholars, and artists whose lives and work are threatened; expand teaching and learning across cultures; and provide opportunities to underserved populations. A not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 16 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,600 higher education partners.

In its work around the world, IIE’s global offices and experienced staff have developed significant expertise, capabilities, and best practices in a set of core areas. Our cutting-edge approaches developed in these fields are formalized in a set of Centers of Excellence: IIE’s Center for International Partnerships and IIE’s Center for Access and Equity. IIE’s Center for Access and Equity aims to advance accessible programming and equitable practices in community building that enrich and expand international education, exchange, and opportunity for all.

The IIENetwork is IIE’s global membership association supporting the strategic advancement of international education. Through the IIENetwork, IIE shares decades of experience and expertise, generates resources, and leverages knowledge and practices with members who are working to strategize and actualize international education efforts, including building international and academic partnerships, recruiting international students, and advocating for study abroad and student mobility.

About Polk State College

Located in Winter Haven, Florida, and established in 1964, Polk State College is a multi-campus institution serving more than 14,000 students with Bachelor of Applied Science, Bachelor of Science, Associate in Arts, and Associate in Science degrees, as well as 9,000 individuals in a wide range of certificate and workforce training programs. The College also operates three charter high schools.

Polk State’s advantages include small class sizes; hands-on learning; dedicated faculty; day and night classes; online options; affordable tuition; excellent financial aid; and a diverse community and vibrant student life, including fine arts opportunities, clubs, and intercollegiate athletics.