NEW PALTZ — A semester of study overseas is becoming an academic necessity in the increasingly global economy. Legislation recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman (R-20th) will start making overseas experience possible for lower income students.
Gilman’s legislation, the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (D-26th) and expected to go before the full House for a vote as early as mid-July. During subcommittee mark-up, the bill’s name was changed to the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.
If approved, it will provide grants up to $5,000 for students with “limited financial means” for international study.
“As Americans, we need to be prepared to operate in an international environment and economy,” says Gilman, who chairs the House International Relations Committee. “That preparation starts at a young age and is the reason I introduced this measure to assist college-level students to study abroad.”
In creating the proposal, Gilman turned to SUNY New Paltz President Roger W. Bowen for assistance.
Bowen has long been a proponent of international studies and has made it a priority at the New Paltz campus. New Paltz currently sends about 14 percent of its students overseas each year – an aggressive program when compared to other public universities and the overall U.S. total of one percent.
Although New Paltz’s study abroad program is very successful and considered extremely robust for a public university, Bowen says many students have not been able to include the overseas experience in their undergraduate work because of costs.
“Students today need a global experience. Educational exchange is the most effective way to transform nations into people,” says Bowen. “This legislation will open international opportunities to so many deserving students who do not have the money to study abroad — many of which are at New Paltz and other campuses in our SUNY system.”
New students coming to New Paltz are encouraged to come to school with a passport. Bowen says this builds an expectation that their New Paltz experience should include time abroad. “We’re planting the seed with the student and Representative Gilman is providing the means for dedicated students who otherwise would not be able to study abroad.”
For more information about international study programs and their benefits, visit the SUNY New Paltz web site at http://www.newpaltz.edu.