One of the major impediments for international students to attend college in the United States is cost. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2017–2018 school year was $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. However, there are some interesting developments by a number of universities that can make college much more affordable.
Starting this fall incoming international undergraduate students at Eastern Michigan University will pay the same tuition rate as everyone else, including Michigan residents who enroll at the public university. Incoming international undergraduates will pay $413.60 per credit hour, the same rate as all other undergraduate students, which represents a 60 percent reduction compared to the current international tuition rate of $970 per credit hour.
Most international students coming to American public universities pay out-of-state tuition rates, which can be two to three times the rate state residents pay. Some institutions even charge a third, higher rate to international students. Public universities in the U.S. have increasingly come to rely on the higher tuition rates paid by international students to balance their budgets and offset the impact of cuts in state appropriations.
Another university in Michigan, Lake Superior State University announced late last month that it would extend a flat tuition rate of $485 per credit hour to students from around the world. Previously the university had a flat tuition rate just for students from North America; students from outside the continent had to pay a $727 per credit hour rate.
Another institution that charges a flat tuition rate for all students — in-state and out-of-state domestic and international — is Minot State University, in North Dakota, which received approval for its one-rate tuition policy in 2008. Katie Tyler, Minot State’s enrollment services director, said the university enrolled 309 international students — about 10 percent of its population — in fall 2017. The majority, 186 students, came from Canada, and the other 123 students came from elsewhere. In 2017-18, an international student coming to Minot State could expect to pay annual undergraduate tuition and fees of $6,809.
A policy in the Minnesota State College and University system also lets universities charge resident tuition to international students at their discretion. Minnesota State University, Mankato, automatically awards all international students a “cultural contribution scholarship” that allows them to pay a rate that’s only about 10 percent higher than in-state tuition; students must maintain certain academic standards and contribute a minimum of 25 “cultural contribution hours” per semester in order to remain eligible.
St. Cloud State University offers a similar “Academic and Cultural Sharing Scholarship” for international students that cuts the tuition for international students to the in-state rate.
St. Cloud State has more than 1,500 international students, representing about 10 percent of its student population.