The U.S. remains the top destination in the world for more than 1 million visiting students — hosting more than double the next country, the United Kingdom. But while 1.5 percent more students studied in the U.S. last year, the rate of new enrollments — specifically, undergraduate students — declined by 6.6 percent, a trend first seen the preceding year, according to the Institute for International Education's (IIE) annual Open Doors report.
Tuition costs of around $20,000 a year for public institutions to more than $70,000 for elite private universities, make the U.S. look less attractive to international students, as global competition increases, educators said.
65% of international students rely on "international funding sources" said IIE spokesperson Catherine Morris, "with well over half of all students (59 percent) funded through their own personal and family funding."
Among undergraduates, 82 percent rely on personal and family funding. Most are not eligible for financial aid at U.S. schools.
China and India send nearly half of all international students, 363,341 and 196,271, respectively, to the U.S. A currency correction in India two years ago wiped out funding sources for many students there hoping to head to the U.S. And Chinese students, who dominate the population of international students, report growing discontent with paying full tuition next to subsidized domestic students.
"The current financial model for higher education isn't sustainable," offered Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. "We can't raise tuitions and have burgeoning loan debts" for international or domestic students.