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Open Doors Data

Special Reports: Economic Impact of International Students

International students contribute $24.7 billion to the U.S. economy, through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Higher education is among the United States' top service sector exports, as international students provide revenue to the U.S. economy and individual host states for living expenses, including room and board, books and supplies, transportation, health insurance, support for accompanying family members, and other miscellaneous items.

Economic Impact of International Students (Open Doors, 2013)

Open Doors reports that more than 63% of all international students receive the majority of their funds from personal and family sources. When other sources of foreign funding are included, such as assistance from their home country governments or universities, over 70% of all international students' primary funding comes from sources outside of the United States. And the percentage is even higher for undergraduate students – more than 80% of all undergraduate international students receive the majority of their funding from person and family sources.

More detailed breakdowns of the economic contributions of international students and their dependents to the U.S. economy and to individual host states are prepared by NAFSA, using enrollment figures from the Institute of International Education's Open Doors 2012 report, tuition and living expenses from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) produced by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education, and analysis of the data by Jason Baumgartner at Indiana University – Bloomington's Office of International Services.

Download economic impact data from NAFSA using Open Doors data (267 KB, PDF)

This analysis indicates that international students and their dependents contributed approximately $24 billion to the U.S. economy during the 2012/13 academic year.

See NAFSA's statistical analysis of the economic benefits of international education to the United States for detailed reports on these economic contributions by state and Congressional district.

On the Open Doors website, you can also see State Fact Sheets with detailed information for each state, including the leading host institutions in the state, the leading place of origin for international students in the state, the number of Americans from each state who study abroad, and the number of Fulbright students and students who received Gilman International Scholarships to study abroad.