The University of Iowa

Report: International students bring more than $306 million to Iowa economy

November 15th, 2012

By Cassidy Riley, The Daily Iowan

The University of Iowa’s international student population accounts for roughly one-third of the state’s monetary contributions by foreign students.

Although the UI’s international program is not the largest in the state, it brought in roughly $101 million to the state’s economy in the 2011-12 academic year.

Iowa State University had the most international students of all state universities, but only brought in a little over $87 million, according to a report released by National Association of Foreign Student Advisers.

Each academic year, that group releases a report about the amount of money international students contributed to the country’s economy and breaks it down by state. For the 2011-12 school year, the organization reported international students in Iowa brought in more than $306 million.

“All of us in Iowa want to see the state grow and prosper, but the fact that international students are contributing so substantially to the tune of more than $306 million throughout 2011-2012 is just tremendous,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said. “It’s a great benefit to the state, clearly, to have that big of an economic boost to our economy,”

UI Associate Provost Beth Ingram said international students make such a strong contribution to the state’s economy, because they pay over $26,000 a year in out of state tuition, while contributing additional revenue through living expenses and housing.

“They go out to restaurants, they go to concerts, they buy clothes,” she said. “When we keep students here, that’s part of the economic benefit.”

Moore emphasized how international students at the UI do more than benefit the economy.

“In addition to the economic benefits, it’s equally important to recognize that international students and their families also build connections between us here in Iowa and other nations,” he said. “They share their cultures and perspectives in our classrooms and in our communities and they also raise the level of global awareness among everyone they come in contact with.”

James Dorsett, director of the International Students and Scholars Office at Iowa State University, said while ISU’s contribution to the state’s economy may be smaller than the UI’s they are proud of their program.

“We welcome those students and yes, we do recognize the monetary value, the financial value that they bring but we like them for so many other good reason,” he said, referencing the cultural benefits the students bring to campus. “We think all those things are important and as the number of Iowa high school students has flattened out we’ve been very lucky to have more students from out of state and overseas. It’s helped us reach record enrollments.”

Of the three regent universities, the University of Northern Iowa has the fewest international students, with 488. The amount of money the students  brought in was roughly $12 million. International students at UNI are still paying out of state tuition and contributing to the economy of the state.

Airinna Hasnul, one Malaysian international student at UNI, said she doesn’t mind paying more for her education.

“For me, I am coming here for an experience and to get an education and I knew going overseas would cost more, but if I’m helping the economy that’s a good thing,” she said.

Will Cai, a UI international student from China and the president of the UI Organization for the Active Support of International Students said he is indifferent to how his tuition costs help Iowa’s economy, he only cares about his experience.

“What we are getting will benefit us for the rest of our lives,” he said. “There are a lot of things that you can’t value by money.”