The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, thereby gaining skills critical to our national security and economic competitiveness. The Institute of International Education has administered the program since its inception in 2001.
A Gilman Scholarship enables American students to gain proficiency in diverse languages and cultures, skills that are critically important to their academic and career development.
The Gilman Scholarship Program broadens the student population that studies and interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints. The program aims to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries and world regions. The program also encourages students to study languages, especially critical need languages (those deemed important to national security). Veterans of military service are encouraged to apply, and preference is given to veterans when other factors are equivalent. By supporting undergraduate students who have high financial need, the program has been successful in supporting students who have been historically underrepresented in education abroad, including but not limited to first-generation college students, students in STEM fields, ethnic minority students, students with disabilities, students attending HBCUs or other minority-serving institutions, students attending community colleges, and students coming from U.S. states with less study abroad participation.
Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman
This is a congressionally funded program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and named after retired congressman Benjamin A. Gilman from New York. With his support, the program was established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000. Shortly thereafter in 2002, Congressman Gilman retired after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee.
Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.Benjamin A. Gilman
Over 2,900 scholarships of up to $5,000 will be awarded this academic year for U.S. citizen undergraduates to study or intern abroad.
Award amounts will vary depending on the length of study and student need. Applicants who are studying a critical need language while abroad in a country in which the language is predominantly spoken can apply for a supplemental award of up to $3,000, for a combined total of $8,000. This award is competitive and offered to a limited number of Gilman scholars each year. Not all students who are studying these languages will receive $8,000. In addition to receiving additional funds for language study, students who are awarded the Critical Need Language Award and complete their Gilman Scholarship requirements will be offered the opportunity to take the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI). This test and the results will serve as both an evaluation measure of the award and as a credential for the award recipient.
Critical Need Languages include:
Under Executive Order 13750, Gilman scholars are also eligible for 12 months of noncompetitive eligibility (NCE) hiring status within the federal government, with the possibility of extensions if certain criteria are met. NCE allows U.S. federal government agencies to hire eligible exchange program alumni outside of the formal competitive job announcement process and to compete for certain federal employment jobs that are only open to federal employees. Additional information is available on the U.S. Department of State’s Exchange Alumni website.
Award recipients are chosen by a competitive selection process and must use the award to defray eligible study or intern abroad costs. These costs include program tuition, room and board, books, local transportation, insurance, international airfare, passport and visa fees.
U.S. Department of State
For more than 50 years the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has sought to cultivate mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly, and peaceful relations, as mandated by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961.
ECA accomplishes its mission through a variety of exchange programs and other initiatives that support mutual understanding by protecting cultural heritage across the globe, and providing educational resources for people interested in learning about American culture and the English language. ECA programs engage participants from a variety of backgrounds and specialties.