Illinois College Finds A Way To Help Low-Income Students Go Abroad

Stormy Almanza figured she'd graduate from Augustana College this spring without ever studying abroad. After cobbling together scholarships and loans to cover tuition at the small, private college in Illinois, she didn't have the funds to go overseas. Even the application fees for a passport seemed like a stretch.

So it might come as a surprise to learn that Ms. Almanza recently spent six weeks studying in Ghana, where she took courses at a local university, lived with a host family, and worked as an intern at a nonprofit group. She was able to go thanks to a program called Augie Choice, a five-year-old pledge by the college to give $2,000 to each and every one of its 2,500 students for international study.

This year more than half of Augustana's graduating seniors studied overseas, the college says, up from 37 percent before Augie Choice began. And of the students on international programs, half of them qualified for federal financial aid. Previously just a third of the participants were from the lowest income groups. Over all, about 60 percent of Augustana's students receive federal aid.

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