NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. Colleges Gradually Increasing Aid to Foreign Students

February 1, 2002

Until recently, foreign students seeking to attend U.S. colleges could expect little in the way of financial assistance from the schools. And with the federal government restricting aid to domestic students, only foreigners with wealthy parents could afford to attend our colleges and universities.

But that is slowly changing. Colleges are increasingly willing to hand out merit or need-based scholarships to foreigners out of institutional funds.

  • Of the more than 250,000 foreign undergraduates in this country, some 8 percent receive financial aid from their institution -- while 81 percent rely on family money.
  • That compares with about one-third of U.S. undergraduates getting such aid from their schools.
  • U.S. universities have often provided fellowships and other aid to foreign graduate students -- with about 40 percent of the country's 240,000 in this category receiving such help.
  • There has long been greater competition to attract graduate students than undergrads.

But now the emphasis is shifting somewhat because U.S. colleges have lost market share of undergraduates in the face of aggressive recruiting by schools in Britain and Australia, and as economic collapses from Asia to Argentina impoverished potential applicants.

While some Americans perceive a misplaced favoritism benefiting foreigners at the expense of domestic students, college administrators point out that the former generally achieve higher grades and graduation rates than their domestic counterparts.

Source: Daniel Golden, "Foreign Students Now Get a Break at Some Colleges," Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2002.


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