Partners in expanding access to study abroad programs

The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) and study abroad have long worked together in different ways, including co-hosting Funding Study Abroad sessions, holding financial aid advising hours in study abroad offices, partnering at Fairs and events across campus, streamlined financial aid awarding for students, a pre-departure loan for students, and scholarship awarding through WiSH.

In 2014, International Academic Program’s (IAP) created the Global Gateway (GG) programs with a goal to provide access to study abroad experiences for lower income students who are less likely to study abroad than their higher resourced peers.  Building upon successful cohorts, in 2018 IAP sought out the OSFA as a new strategic partner to assist with an expansion of the program.  The partnership provided alignment between the two groups:  GG providing a conduit for lower income students to study abroad while securing key faculty to lead programs and OSFA providing that funding as well as lending their expertise to evaluate income based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Since 2018, GG has provided approximately 170 students with the opportunity to study abroad and OSFA has provided over $1M in funding.  Students who study abroad in one of our three summer sites receive full funding for their program and fellowship stipends are also available at $5000/summer or  $10,000/semester for up to five students each duration.

The students are truly what makes GG great.  Their involvement in pre- and post-program engagements highlight their shared experiences and demonstrate the Wisconsin Idea in which they contribute to a global community.  One scholar noted, “Having Global Gateway on my resume helps employers know that I value diversity and an inclusive environment…During my time abroad, I gained leadership skills, lessons in cultural competency, and a new global perspective.”   Over 80% of GG scholars report that the program helped them increase their adaptability and flexibility, and improved their ability to understand and navigate cultural and geographic differences.  You can continue to explore student and faculty testimonials, current and past program blogs, and featured news:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GG programs were canceled for summer 2020.  However, through our partnership, OFSA committed to providing a funding opportunity for those impacted scholars to use $5,000 to study abroad at any point during their remaining time at UW-Madison.  Those students were also welcome to apply for GG in future sites which resumed in 2021 with a domestic program in Washington D.C.  Summer 2022 has us coming back to more of a pre-pandemic state in which we are planning on two sites:  Washington D.C. and Denmark.

This is a partnership that is a model for how to departments can work together on strategically aligned goals.  Stewardship for this program is easy because of the involvement of IAP and the unique students who participate in GG.  Helen Faith, Director of the Office of Student Financial Aid, summarizes the importance of this work, “The Office of Student Financial Aid is pleased to partner with Global Gateway to support access to study abroad programs, which have a transformative impact on students’ intellectual growth and development. We are committed to removing financial barriers to students’ participation in these powerful learning experiences.”


Written by Heidi Johnson, Lo Klink, and Susan Lochner Atkinson.