WASHINGTON, November 16, 2015 - NAFSA: Association of International Educators announced results from its latest economic analysis of international students studying in the United States. The new data released today found that the 974,926 international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities contributed $30.5 billion and supported more than 373,000 jobs to the U.S. economy during the 2014-2015 academic year. This is a 9.8 percent increase in job support and creation, and a nearly 14 percent increase in dollars contributed to the economy from the previous academic year.
California, New York and Massachusetts saw the largest benefits from spending by these students and their families on living expenses, tuition and fees. Further analysis shows that three U.S. jobs are created or supported for every seven enrolled international students, by spending in the following sectors: higher education, accommodation, dining, retail, transportation, telecommunications, and health insurance.
Despite the annual increase in economic benefits, the United States is still behind in the global competition for talent. While the number of internationally mobile students has more than doubled over the past fifteen years, the U.S. market share of international students is down by 8 percent, according to Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development and Project Atlas data. NAFSA attributes this decline, in part, to the urgent need for the United States to enact comprehensive immigration reform and to develop other proactive government policies and strategies to ensure the country remains globally competitive.
"Despite the fact that international students only comprise less than five percent of enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities, they continue to bring billions of dollars to our nation's economy and hundreds of thousands of jobs for the American people," said NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson. "We are pleased that NAFSA's analysis provides free access to both state and congressional district data to present a more comprehensive picture of how international students and scholars contribute to our local communities."
During this celebration of International Education Week (November 16-20), NAFSA also calls attention to its longstanding policy recommendations, which contain critical enhancements to the nation's ability to benefit from the important contributions of international students and scholars. These suggested policy reforms, some more than a decade in existence, provide a vital roadmap to increasing the United States' ability to compete for the world's best and brightest.
"We are a nation that prides itself on welcoming immigrants to this country to visit, study or work," explained Johnson. "But as we witnessed last week with the court's decision to temporarily block immigrant deferred action programs, our immigration system is broken. Congress must pass commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform in order to improve the face we show to the world, build more meaningful relationships with future generations of foreign leaders, and not lose out on the economic, academic, and cultural contributions from international students."
The economic analysis was conducted for NAFSA by Jason Baumgartner of Indiana University's Office of International Services, using enrollment data from the Institute of International Education's Open Doors 2015 report, which is produced in partnership with the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and using tuition and expense data from the Department of Education's National Center of Educational Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.