Fewer International Students Are Applying to U.S. Colleges

March 26th 2017

Nicole Levin

After a decade of rapid growth in applications from international students, colleges are noticing a worrisome trend: fewer international students applied to American colleges this year. 

International applications are down at thirty-nine percent of universities, according to an NBC News report on research from by admissions officials across the country. 

The most significant decline came from the Middle East, The Atlantic reports, where undergraduate applications decreased by 39 percent. Students listed the travel ban, available work visas and attacks on foreigners as reasons for why they might not want to attend school in the United States, according to the Washington Post. The travel ban has also made it difficult for some students to return to the country

"They're afraid to come," Terrie Fox Wetle, dean of public health at Brown University told the Post.

And Michael Klag, dean of public health at Johns Hopkins, told the Washington Post that international students were "incredibly disturbed" by Trump's travel ban. Even students from countries unaffected by the travel ban may see the country as less welcoming to international students. For example, two Indian men were fired on and one died recently in Kansas, where their alleged shooter had apparently mistaken them for Iranians. India isn't on the travel ban list and Iran is—but Indian students likely face fresh fears. 

Many universities depend on international students for their revenue, since they pay considerably more tuition. The one million international students contribute an estimated $36 billion dollars to the U.S. economy and supported 400,000 jobs a year, according to NBC. 

International applicants also positively impact the competitiveness of school's programs and campus diversity that enriches the college experience. Once they've graduated, international students make up one-fifth of all STEM workers in the U.S. with a bachelors degree, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research

Walter Caffey, vice president for enrollment management at the University of New Haven told the Atlantic that "what international students bring to our domestic students is invaluable." 

Not all universities noticed a drop in international applicants, 35 percent of schools actually reported an increase. GW's applicants were up this year, however, as the the President of George Washington University Steven Kapp told the Post, most applied before the Trump travel ban was announced. 

He will have to wait to see how many students actually enroll in the fall to see the true effects of the ban.