Your Study Abroad Resource to Find Answers, Funding, and Programs

Top Ten Reasons to Study Abroad

Studying abroad is one of the most rewarding educational opportunities you can experience while in college. It is important that students from all backgrounds take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. Study abroad can make a significant impact on your understanding of the rest of the world. Students who study abroad also make an impact on citizens of other countries as they meet a diverse group of U.S. college and university students who are studying abroad.

Every year, more and more students are heading to foreign lands to study for credit. The most recent figures from the Institute of International Education show that during the 2004-2005 academic year, over 205,000 U.S. students studied abroad.1 Despite this continued growth, the total number of students studying abroad represents only about 6% of total undergraduate student population in the U.S. For those students who do study abroad, this experience is not only an academic highlight of their undergraduate studies but it's also a very marketable experience for their resume when applying for jobs and graduate studies.

The following table provides demographic data on race and ethnicity on participation in study abroad and comparatively with U.S. higher education enrollment and the national population.

Comparative Data on Race and Ethnicity in Education Abroad2

Race/Ethnicity U.S. Students Abroad 2004-2005 U.S. Higher Ed. Enrollment 2004 U.S. Population 2000
Caucasian 83.0% 66.1% 75.1%
African American 3.5% 12.5% 12.3%
Hispanic/ Latin@ American 5.6% 10.5% 12.5%
Asian-American 6.3% 6.4% 3.7%
Native American 0.4% 1.0% 0.9%
Multiracial 1.2% Not Available 2.4%
No Response X X X
  1. Institute of International Education Open Doors 2006,
  2. Sources: U.S. Census 2000,; Institute of International Education Open Doors 2006,; National Center for Educational Statistics - Digest of Education Statistics 2005,

In November 2005, the Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program released its report with the vision to send one million students abroad by the 2016-2017 academic year. To achieve this goal, the Commission firmly believes that "the demographics of the U.S. undergraduate students abroad should be similar to those of the U.S. undergraduate student population."3 A similar stance was taken by the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Strategic Task Force on Education Abroad when it released its report in 2003. The Strategic Task Force stated that, "the United States is failing to show the world the diversity of its population. Study abroad can be a truly eye-opening experience for Americans of all races who discover that people elsewhere categorize them more by national origin than by ethnicity."4 These two major reports are only two examples of the field's call for greater student diversity on study abroad programs.

You may hesitate in studying abroad because you don't know how you will be able to afford such an experience or you are concerned that you will be away from your family for too long. These are valid questions and concerns, which is why was created. offers students from diverse backgrounds a place to find answers to their common study abroad questions and concerns such as, what study abroad program length and destination is best for me, how does financial aid factor into paying for this opportunity, health and safety issues, or availability of support services for me while I'm abroad.

In addition to visiting you are encouraged to meet with the study abroad staff at your institution to learn about the various opportunities available to you and how the process works. It is also helpful to talk to your fellow students who studied abroad to learn about their experiences abroad. With proper planning you can participate on a study abroad program and add an international component to your undergraduate studies.

Mentors from across the United States who have studied abroad and understand the process have provided answers to a variety of questions that you may have. Mentors represent the diversity found throughout the United States and in U.S. higher education and we hope that you find their stories both informative and inspiring as you help your student make this educational leap abroad.

We hope that you will find this site to be a useful resource. We welcome your questions and comments-please go to

If you have additional questions, please also feel free to contact us using our online form (Contact Us).

  1. Global Competence & National Needs: One Million Americans Studying Abroad (2005), p. 27.
  2. Securing America's Future: Global Education for a Global Age (2003), p. 10.
CEA Global Education
GlobaLinks Learning Abroad in Australia