Gilman Scholars Increase the Racial Diversity of College Students Who Study Abroad

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is sponsored by the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the U.S. State Department. The scholarships provide up to $5,000 to disadvantaged students who wish to study abroad for a semester when they are in college. This year about 1,200 students will receive the scholarship awards.

In the 2006-07 academic year, 120 African-American college students received Gilman scholarships for studying abroad. In 2007, 43 of 120 black Gilman scholars were students at historically black colleges and universities.

Blacks make up only 4 percent of all American college students who study abroad. But 15 percent of Gilman scholarship recipients are black. Therefore, it appears that the program is opening a door to scores of black students who otherwise would not be able to study abroad.

More than 70 Gilman scholars in the 2006-07 academic year used the funds to study in African nations. Nine percent of all Gilman scholars studied in Africa compared to just 3 percent of all American college students who studied abroad.

The number of black Gilman scholars has more than doubled in the 2005 to 2007 period.

Some 43 percent of the black students who applied for Gilman awards in 2007 were accepted into the program. For whites, the acceptance rate was only 30 percent.

The scholarship program was founded by the U.S. Congress and is administered by the Institute for International Education. Gilman was a congressman from New York who served for 15 terms until his retirement in 2003. He chaired the House Committee on International Relations.