Study Abroad Fair draws 400 students; new grant will help first-year students get passports

Vanderbilt’s annual Study Abroad Fair exceeded attendance records, hosting more than 400 undergraduate students, 17 campus partners and 10 external study abroad program partners, representing educational opportunities across the globe. The Aug. 29 event also showcased a new, barrier-breaking resource for eligible students: the opportunity to apply for a passport, free of charge. 

Funded by an Institute of International Education grant received by the Office of Experiential Learning and Immersion Vanderbilt in the Office of the Provost, the initiative is part of the ongoing strategy to make study abroad more accessible for all students. 

“The IIE grant advances our mission to enhance equity in access to study abroad and enable students to make global connections as they explore beyond the institution,” said Amy Johnson, assistant provost for experiential education and undergraduate affairs. 

While Vanderbilt’s financial aid applies toward study abroad during the academic year, the cost to obtain a passport can still be a barrier for those who want to pursue an international learning experience.   

Students interact with study abroad program representatives at the Study Abroad Fair. Photo credit: Vanderbilt University.

 The passport funding opportunity is a welcome form of support for the process, explained first-year student Jada Mitchum, who visited the Study Abroad Fair to explore programs and location options.  

“I have never traveled outside of the United States, and I am excited to broaden my horizon on a study abroad experience during college,” Mitchum said.  

Approximately 50 percent of undergraduate students study abroad during their Vanderbilt career, earning credit toward their major or minor on VU-approved study abroad programs. Students may also declare study abroad as an immersive experience for Immersion Vanderbilt. 

In addition to hosting informational events such as the Study Abroad Fair, the Office of Experiential Learning and Immersion Vanderbilt provides study abroad advising for individual students and groups. In the first week of the new academic year alone, EL&IV offered advising to 228 students, helping them explore options and set goals for their international experiences. 

The IIE passport grant is now open. To be eligible, students must be in their first year at Vanderbilt, at least 18 years old, eligible to receive Pell Grant, a U.S. citizen and have never previously obtained a U.S. passport. The first 25 eligible applicants will be nominated to the IIE. Those who are awarded the grant will receive extra assistance from EL&IV with the passport process and in planning their study abroad experience. Other students can also receive assistance with their passport paperwork from the study abroad advisers.  

For questions about the IIE passport grant or study abroad, please email