Foreign Students Becoming Integral to Budgets of Universities

International students and their dependents contributed $21.81 billion in 2011-12 to the U.S. economy, according to a NAFSA report. This contribution increased by 40% from pre-recession time contribution of $15.5 billion in 2007-08, indicating that international student mobility is recession-proof.

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, a private university, enrolled largest number of foreign students in the US and received $289 million in tuition and fees from 9,269 students.

Contribution of foreign students to the US economy is growing due to two primary factors–1) larger number of students coming to the US and more importantly 2) more students enrolling at undergraduate level, where students are self-funded and hence financial aid outflow is limited.

As I mention in my previous blog, growth was led by just 108 “Research Universities” which enrolled nearly two-fifth of all international students in the US. In addition, 2/3rd of these research universities are public institutions.

The growth in foreign student enrollment becomes most obvious in the case of some of the most reputed public research institutions in California as shown in the table. For example, at UC-Berkeley, tuition and fees from foreign student grew by double the rate as compared to number of foreign student enrollment, indicating higher rate of enrollment of self-funded students. Foreign students contributed $154 million and $176 million to UC-Berkeley and UCLA respectively in the form of tuition and fees in 2011-12.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha


  1. Rahul, have you discounted in the tuition and fees amounts any aid particularly at the graduate level that internationals students would have received, or are those numbers gross revenue?

Comments are closed.