Colorado State University’s first passport fair took place all-day Thursday in the Laurel Village Pavilion and saw an attendance of 127 people.
Students could either make an appointment or walk-in with the proper, prepared paperwork to get their passports.
Hosted by the Education Abroad department, the event intends to get students thinking about international opportunities and remove a potential barrier, according to Aimee Jones, assistant director of Education Abroad.
“In order to have an international experience—whether it’s study abroad, intern abroad, travel abroad, research, or as part of your career—the one thing you absolutely will need is a passport,” Jones said. “We’re hoping by getting students thinking about that first step of getting a passport, they will then take the next step to think about having an international experience.”
A United States passport costs $135, not including the cost of the photo, and is valid for 10 years, which means it can be applied to any other travel opportunities as they arise. Students can now get passport photos in the RamCard Office.
During the fair, 92 students applied for free, having received free passport scholarships.
To be eligible for the scholarship, students like Alexandra Lager, a junior electrical engineering major, need to be U.S. citizens, have a campus staff member’s nomination, demonstrate a financial need and never have had a passport before.
Although Lager was not able to do study abroad because of limited opportunities for her current year and major, she said she still wants to travel, potentially to Denmark where her ancestors owned a castle.
“The fact that I know that I have my passport, (and) … I have one less thing to worry about is really inspiring,” Lager said. “I was actually hoping to get my passport two years ago, like as a birthday present, but it was never in the budget for my family or myself … but, now that I have a passport, I’m so excited.”
According to Jones, a fall 2018 passport fair is already in the works along with 100 free passport scholarships.
Passports from passport fairs usually arrive within two to five weeks, according to Jones, which is about half the time of traditional applications.
Jones said the many students have found it easier and more comfortable to get their passports on campus with CSU staff.
Sophomore Spanish major Hannah Wieseler said the fair came at the perfect time as she was planning to go to Valparaíso, Chile in spring with hopes of learning to speak Spanish fluently.
“Ever since I declared (a) Spanish major, I’ve wanted to do a study abroad,” Wieseler said. “And, it’s kind of intimidating because there’s so much you have to do…so it was really nice to have the University’s support with the passport stuff.”
Wieseler was a walk-in applicant and said she found the process very easy.
Several official passport agents from Denver came to help with the event. The fair also included booths from the Peace Corps, Education Abroad and the Office of Financial Aid, who informed students about the financial aspects of education abroad.
“Finances can be a barrier and we don’t want (them) to be,” said Erica Norris, financial aid coordinator.
According to Norris, 99.9 percent of financial aid can be applied toward travel abroad.
“This is really our last shot (to travel abroad) before you have a mortgage, before you have kids, you know,” Wieseler said. “I’m grabbing life, and I’m gonna go for it—so, I’m excited. I would encourage other people to just take that risk, just do it.”
Collegian reporter Samantha Ye can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @samxye4.