Haslam Passport Giveaway Enables Underrepresented Students to Study Abroad

Haslam’s International Programs and Study Abroad recently provided passports to 46 students free of charge.

June 5, 2023

The cost of obtaining a passport is $165, but the opportunities that small booklet opens are priceless. A total of 46 students — predominantly from communities underrepresented in study abroad programs — recently took home free passports, valid for 10 years, from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business. Haslam’s International Programs and Study Abroad (IPSA) coordinated the Passport Giveaway program in cooperation with the college’s Office of Access and Community Connections (OACC), the Knox County Clerk’s Office and IPSA’s study abroad partner, Worldstrides. IPSA and OACC funded the students’ $165 passport application and execution fees, totaling $7,590.

Breaking Barriers to Going Abroad

The goal of the Passport Giveaway program is to increase access for students historically underrepresented in study abroad programs, and the initiative goes far beyond covering passport fees. According to Lauren Jacobs, assistant director for International Programs and Study Abroad, for many students, the first hurdle in studying abroad is obtaining a passport.

“The barrier is financial, but also the social capital involved in understanding how to locate the correct documents and complete the passport application,” Jacobs said. “By providing funding and high-touch support in this initiative, we were able to reach many students who would never even have considered study abroad opportunities.”

To overcome these barriers, priority was given to Haslam students who have not previously held a passport, have a desire to participate in international experiences at UT, have high financial need and are from underrepresented populations.

The result? Out of the students awarded passports, 85 percent had financial need, 65 percent are first-generation college students, 55 percent are students of color and 24 percent are transfer students. The students awarded passports come from eight different majors in Haslam.

Pamela Sanchez, OACC’s coordinator for Retention and Education, said her office was happy to partner with IPSA in the Passport Giveaway program because the many tasks required for studying abroad can be overwhelming and outside students’ reach.

“We allocated funds to make sure that students who want to study abroad or travel the world have one less expense on their plate,” Sanchez said. “Being able to close a gap in a student’s abroad experience opens the door for more students to take advantage of these educational opportunities.”

Study Abroad, Here We Come

Studying abroad provides students the opportunity to live, learn and work abroad in different business settings in a variety of countries. It encourages students to expand their perspectives, broaden their appreciation of different cultures and deepen their understanding of international business practices. The Passport Giveaway program sets the stage for all those outcomes.

Sara Easler, assistant dean for International Programs and Study Abroad, said, “Once they have that passport in hand, we encourage students to take advantage of one of the many different study abroad opportunities in Haslam. We assist students with finding the right program for their major, identifying degree-progressing credits and locating funding opportunities for their study abroad program, such as our Haslam Undergraduate Study Abroad Scholarship, funded by generous donors to the college.”

Two students who took advantage of the giveaway program are using their passports already. Anthony Torres, senior accounting major, studied international business in Chile during spring break, and Katlyn Larkins, sophomore marketing major, will study in Berlin this summer.

“Being awarded a passport has opened doors for me to travel across the world now and in the future,” Larkins said. “My dream of studying abroad this summer in Berlin, Germany, to explore its culture and history is now a reality. I feel so thankful and excited to be given this opportunity!”

Passport Giveaway 2023-2024

IPSA is happy to announce the Passport Giveaway will run again in 2023-2024 with funding for 50 passports. Interested undergraduate Haslam students can apply from September 18 to October 2 through the announcement in Haslam Headlines. Selected students will send off their fully funded passport application at the Passport Giveaway event held November 16 as part of International Education Week 2023.

Jacobs says the Study Abroad team is looking forward to working with its partners to provide passports for more students like Torres and Larkin, so more students can explore new vistas of opportunity.

About Haslam Abroad 

Haslam Abroad develops and supports highly experiential programs and international opportunities that enrich participants’ overall academic experience through exposure to ways of thinking about and doing business in other countries. Through the Office of International Programs and Study Abroad, Haslam students have an incredible variety of study abroad opportunities all over the world, with programs ranging from short-term and faculty-led programs to longer semester or even academic-year exchanges. Business study abroad programs are primarily taught in English and available to all majors and collaterals. Learn more about Haslam’s international programs, and begin your journey to studying abroad today.


Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, rmcnutt4@utk.edu