The United States Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs awarded 215 UC undergraduates its prestigious Gilman Scholarship this year, with 51 honorees at UCSB alone.

Students received a total of $910,000 system wide and grants at UCSB alone added up to $207,500, more than any other campus. Over 2,000 of the endowments are distributed nationally each year and recipients can receive up to $5,000.

Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director of UCEAP Jean-Xavier Guinard said the fact that 10 percent of the awards were given to UC students is a reflection of strong academics within the system overall.

“UCEAP student success in this highly competitive award is a testament to the quality of the UC education system, the UCEAP program and its students,” Guinard said.

According to Guinard, more lenient guidelines have prompted a dramatic increase in the number of applicants to the program, making UC students’ overwhelming success particularly impressive.

“This year, the minimum time abroad for Gilman Scholarships was reduced to four weeks,” Guinard said. “As a consequence, the applicant pool and competition for Gilman Scholarships has increased tremendously and the number of UC students receiving awards has significantly increased.”

Campus EAP Director Juan E. Campo said the scholarship opens the invaluable experience of studying abroad to those who would not be able to afford the opportunity otherwise, and reinforces the university system’s public foundation.

“It provides [students] with the ability to study abroad,” Campo said. “One of the strategic priorities of the UC system is accessibility — to make study abroad accessible to all students; the Gilman scholarship helps make this possible.”

To apply for the Gilman Scholarship, students must be U.S. citizens and attend a two-year college or four-year university, with most of the grants given to students displaying a high level of financial need, such as Pell Grant beneficiaries.

According to the scholarship’s website, it strives to provide much-needed financial aid to a more diverse pool of applicants.