NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Foreign Students Studying In U.S.

December 7, 1998

The Institute for International Education reports that the number of foreign students studying at American colleges and universities is once again on the rise, after remaining stable for four years. Their numbers increased by 5.1 percent in the 1997-98 school year.

  • A total of 481,280 are studying in the U.S.
  • Experts were surprised by the increase, and attributed it to energetic overseas recruiting by American universities and the appeal of the lower cost of two-year community colleges because of the Asian economic crisis.
  • While four-year colleges in the U.S. are expensive for foreigners, they find the costs at two-year institutions -- which are one-half to one-tenth as expensive as four- year schools -- a bargain, which has pushed foreign enrollment in them up 20 percent in the past five years.
  • An earlier report, issued by the U.S. Information Agency and the Educational Testing Service, showed that five years ago about 40 percent of all international students studied in the U.S. -- but that had dropped to 32 percent by the 1996-97 academic year.

Fluctuations in the number of foreign students attending colleges in this country are watched carefully by education administrators because many of those students do not seek financial aid and therefore constitute an important source of revenue.

Source: William H. Honan, "Study Finds Increase in Number of Foreign Students at U.S. Colleges," New York Times, December 7, 1998.


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