In November 2012, NAFSA, Association of International Educators, published a report, “The Economic Benefits of International Students to the U.S. Economy: Academic Year 2011-2012”. According to the report, international students and their dependents contributed approximately $21.81 billion to the U.S. economy during the 2011-2012 academic year.

Specifically, the total number of foreign students in the United States in 2011-2012 was 764,495. Their contribution to the U.S. economy from tuition and fees alone was over $15.8 billion. The contribution from students’ living expenses was over $13.9 billion, and the contribution from living expenses of foreign students’ dependents was $397 million. After subtracting the U.S.-based financial support of nearly $8.4 billion, the total contribution of foreign students and their families to the U.S. economy comes to over $21.8 billion.

Spending by students and their dependents totaled $3.2 billion in California, $2.6 billion in New York, $1.5 billion in Massachusetts, $1.4 billion in Texas, $1.1 billion in Pennsylvania, and $1 billion in Illinois. The report notes: “By any measure, international education makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy.”

However, as the report notes, the $21.81 billion figure is a conservative estimate that does not include the “multiplier effect” which spending by foreign students has on the U.S. economy. That is, some of the money spent by foreign students becomes someone else’s income, some of which is also spent, becoming a portion of someone else’s income, etc. Additionally, the NAFSA estimate does not capture the contributions which many foreign students go on to make as part of the high-skilled U.S. workforce and the U.S. business community.

As such, foreign students make significant contributions to the United States economy by pumping money not only into the colleges and universities they attend, but the surrounding businesses as well. In addition, many foreign students go on to become highly innovative scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs who add value to the U.S. economy in myriad ways that are often difficult to quantify.

Full text of the report is available online.

Attorneys at I.S. Law Firm have helped international students from all over the world come to the United States, change or extend their status, or obtain permanent residency in the United States. Please contact us for a consultation today: +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].