Have you ever thought about studying abroad, but lacked the accessibility to a passport to allow you to? The Global Education Office (GEO) at Keene State College is giving away free passports for eligible students. KSC students have the opportunity to apply for a free passport by Feb. 9 through GEO. Associate Director of the Global Education Office, Steven Spiegel, said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for many qualified KSC students to receive a free passport.”

Laura Romaniello / Art Director

Laura Romaniello / Art Director

Director of GEO Dr. Skye Stephenson said, “It’s something that we’ve always wanted to do in the Global Education Office.” This was made possible through partnering with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). “We have an agreement with CIEE, one of the largest and most historic study away programs…they’ve been really trying to target study away so more people have a chance to do that,” Stephenson said.

According to their website, CIEE is a non-profit organization promoting international education and exchange. Coordinator of Institutional Relations at CIEE, Diana Lo, said, “The initiative seeks to double the number of U.S. students studying abroad by 2020 by breaking down the main barriers: cost, curriculum, and culture. CIEE’s Passport Caravan will sponsor a total of 10,000 passports for students around the country as part of its participation in the national Generation Study Abroad initiative.”

KSC was selected, along with a 15 other institutions across the country, for this opportunity. “Keene State College applied to be considered as a partner for the program. We were impressed with their commitment to increasing access and diversity in study abroad that the administration demonstrated in their application,” Lo said.

CIEE is covering the cost of 50 student passports. “When we got the idea, I was nervous there might not be much student interest…but we’ve been having non-stop people filling it out. It’s great to know there’s so much interest,” Stephenson said. “We thought it would be good to just wait and see how many applications we have to be fair to everyone and then screen them and see if there’s more than 50, some people might fall on the waiting list.”

Some items that are required for students who are chosen to receive a free passport include an unsigned passport application form DS-11, proof of U.S. citizenship, proof of identity, a passport photo and photocopies of both proof of citizenship and identity. While the Global Education Office is not providing passport photo services for selected students, Stephenson said, “It has to be a headshot with a certain kind of background. CVS does it for around $10. The cost of a first-time passport is around $120 usually, so to get it from there isn’t too bad.”

For students to be eligible for the free passports, they must be a United States citizen and a full-time KSC student who has never had a passport before. This opportunity is not for passport renewal. The Passport Caravan will be taking place March 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the L.P. Young Student Center. Students must sign up through Skye Stephenson by Feb. 9, however. For selected students, a list of all required materials and steps for a passport can be found at the website for the U.S. Department of State- Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Rachel Vitello can be contacted at rvitello@kscequinox.com