Totals still lag below pre-pandemic high-water mark; reinforces need for coordinated effort to diversify and expand international student enrollment and ensure student success
For Immediate Release

Washington, November 13, 2023 – NAFSA: Association of International Educators announced new data today that show that the over one million international students at U.S. colleges and universities contributed more than $40 billion to the U.S. economy during the 2022-2023 academic year—up by nearly $6.3 billion (almost 19%) compared to the prior academic year—and supported more than 368,000 jobs. Though totals still fall short of the high-water mark set in the 2018-2019 academic year, this is the second consecutive year of recorded growth following the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that began in March 2020.

“International students are essential to the exchange of ideas and intercultural understanding on our campuses, in our communities, and in our workplaces,” said Fanta Aw, NAFSA executive director and CEO. “They are at the heart of so many technological advances, research innovations, and successful start-up companies in this country. Their contributions to the U.S. economy are impressive and it is heartening to see an annual increase for the second year in a row. Yet we do not make it easy for international students to bring their talents here. We must do more by advancing a national strategy for international education.”

A national strategy for international education would proactively recruit, retain, and graduate talented students and scholars from around the world as well as increase the number and diversity of U.S. college students who are able to study abroad. To this end, NAFSA helped form the U.S. for Success Coalition to further advance policies and practices that would increase and diversify the community of international students choosing the U.S. for study, research, and work and ensure their success at every step of their journey.

Additional key findings from NAFSA’s new economic research include:

  • The total number of jobs supported (368,333) by the financial contributions of international students is up 9.8 % compared to the prior academic year.
  • For every three international students, one U.S. job is created/supported.
  • Contributions by international students at community colleges rebounded after four consecutive years of decline: their activity was measured at $1.5 billion (up 16.5%) and they supported more than 6,000 jobs (up 8.6 %).
  • The five states that saw the largest amount of economic activity were (in descending order): California, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and Illinois—the latter bumping Pennsylvania out of the fifth spot.
  • Nine states broke the $1 billion mark (up from eight states last year).
  • NAFSA also analyzed the economic contributions generated by international students enrolled in U.S. college and university English language programs. International students enrolled in these programs contributed $370 million (up 53%), and supported 3,164 jobs (up 40.6 %). As with national figures, though their economic contribution is higher than last year, it remains well below pre-pandemic levels (47 % below 2019-2020 level).

Year-over-year trends and detailed job sector analysis as well as data by state and congressional district is available to view at

NAFSA’s analysis uses data from the following sources: enrollment data from the 2023 OpenDoors report, published by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs; tuition and expense data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center of Educational Statistics; and job creation data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and Bureau of Economic Analysis.

About NAFSA: Serving more than 10,000 members and international educators worldwide, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange. Visit us at To learn more about our advocacy efforts on behalf of international education, visit