March 12, 2007


Lantos, Ros-Lehtinen Launch Historic Effort to Promote College-Level Study Abroad

Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today announced a joint effort with the committee’s Ranking Member, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) to launch of a historic $800 million dollar effort to give millions of college students the chance to study abroad.

The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act (H.R. 1469) aims to establish a mechanism so that within a decade at least one million American students will be able to study overseas each year.

“This is an incredibly important bill that will democratize study abroad for American students in the way that the GI bill democratized higher education,” Lantos said. “Today, many American college students face financial and institutional impediments to study abroad. The Senator Paul Simon Act and the foundation it creates will tear down these barriers, and make foreign study a normal rather than an exceptional part of a college education.

“Today, our nation faces a deficit of cultural knowledge that is an impediment to our efforts to fight the global war on terrorism, and to keep America competitive in a global economy,” Lantos added. “Our foreign affairs agencies are hard pressed to find recruits that have first hand understanding of critical cultures and languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Pashto, and Dari. The Senator Paul Simon Act will rectify this by vastly expand the talent pool of young American with global skills.”

“Expanding the number of American students who study abroad learning a second language and new culture advances our national interest,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Through this program, we are promoting a new generation of diplomats, intelligence analysts, and international businesspeople.”