State Ready to Lead Nation in International Education Support

NEW PALTZ — With the introduction of Assembly Bill A.7318, New York State is poised to become the first state in the nation to provide financial assistance to college students planning to spend up to a year studying abroad.

The New York International Scholarship Program will provide $1,000 to students with a proven financial need to help defray international travel costs and extend time studying in a foreign nation. The legislation, if voted into state law, will work in tandem with the federal International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000 – legislation introduced by Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, R-Greenville, last year when he was chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

“The International Opportunity Act of 2000 was a first step for the country to make an international study experience a reality for all undergraduate students,” said the state bill’s author, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D-Kingston). “With our state program, we can make sure our New York college students can reap the benefits of overseas study without putting themselves in financial peril.”

Cahill’s bill is cosponsored/multisponsored by 20 other assembly members and is with the assembly’s Higher Education Committee for review. Cahill’s office is now working to identify sponsors in the state Senate.

While New York lawmakers are just beginning to consider the program, the language of Cahill’s bill is already in statehouses across the country. The Institute for International Education adopted the language of the New York bill and forwarded it to all state governors as “model language” for international scholarship legislation.

“The Institute for International Education would like to see comparable legislation introduced and enacted in state legislatures throughout the country,” said Allan Goodman, president and chief executive officer of IIE. “These scholarships would offer a further incentive to pursue an international education experience to financially needy students – and their experience will pay dividends to all Americans in all jobs as our country becomes more intercultural.”

While the Cahill bill is designed to work in support of the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, now known as the Gilman International Scholarship, the two programs share another link: SUNY New Paltz President Roger Bowen.

Bowen, a long-time proponent of international study, assisted Gilman with the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000 from its initial draft through its final passage in October 2000. Likewise, Cahill sought Bowen’s advice and support in writing the state bill.

“The idea for (the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000) originated when President Bowen came to Washington to talk about the extensive exchange programs operating within the European Union,” Gilman said in a speech at the Institute for International Education in October 2000. “We then crafted a program to reach college students who may not have thought about a study abroad option or would be precluded from such because of the additional cost.”

Likewise, Cahill’s interest in drafting a state program grew from discussions with Bowen. Cahill’s district includes SUNY New Paltz.

“While the federal scholarship stresses the need for greater international understanding for all American undergraduate students, we have an opportunity to give our New York students an extra boost,” said Cahill. “That boost will ultimately benefit our New York businesses, which are becoming more global every day and need employees with international experience.”

The co-sponsors for the Cahill bill include:

Arthur O. Eve
Roger L. Green
Aurelia Greene
Naomi C. Matusow
Felix Ortiz

The multi-sponsors include:

William F. Boyland
Barbara M. Clark
Vivian E. Cook
Gloria Davis
Herman D. Farrell Jr.
Diane Gordon
Richard N. Gottfried
Ivan C. Lafayette
John W. Lavelle
John J. McEneny
Joan L. Millman
Scott Stringer
Robert K. Sweeney
Darryl C. Towns
Keith L.T. Wright