Trump v. Clinton and the Economic Impact of International Students

International students contribute $30.5 billion to the U.S. economy and support 373,000 jobs in the U.S. But what if they stop coming here to study?

Seattle-based Study in the USA, a Department of Commerce partner, recently surveyed over 1,000 prospective international students from 130 countries about the U.S. presidential election.

Of the 975 responses, 639 said they would be more likely to come if Clinton were elected and less likely to come if Trump were elected. Only 91 said the would be more likely to come if Trump were elected and less likely to come if Clinton were elected.

“Due to Donald Trump’s very explicit racist remarks, I would not feel very comfortable studying in the USA,” explains one respondent.

There’s no way to predict exactly what the economic outcome would be if Clinton or Trump were to become president, but if the survey is a predictor of international student mobility to the U.S., a Trump presidency may have a significant impact on the economy.

International students often pay three times what a domestic student would pay for tuition and those students then become consumers, spending money on school and living expenses, travel, and activities. In addition, Open Doors reports that 72 percent of all international students receive the majority of their funds from sources outside of the United States.

NAFSA Economic Analysis

Below are the The Institute of International Education (IIE)’s top 10 states hosting international students and the economic contribution and jobs created by international students using NAFSA’s economic data.

1. California: $4.6 billion and 52,624 jobs

2. New York: $3.7 billion and 43,865 jobs

3. Texas: $1.7 billion and 21,524 jobs

4. Massachusetts: $2.2 billion and 29,009 jobs

5. Illinois: $1.4 billion and 20,881 jobs

6. Pennsylvania: $1.6 billion and 22,565 jobs

7. Florida: $1.2 billion and 15,086 jobs

8. Ohio: $1.0 billion and 13,518 jobs

9. Michigan: $1.0 billion and 13,533 jobs

10. Indiana: $919.2 million and 11,990 jobs

The economic benefit of international students is undeniable, but their benefit goes beyond dollars and cents. International students strengthen U.S. research, add cultural value to the classroom, and become ambassadors for the United States when they return home.

Jennifer Privette is the Editor and Assistant Publisher of Study in the USA. She can be reached via email: