It’s no secret that the cost of higher education in the United States is exorbitant. But education is still considered a calling card or a dream ticket – even more so, perhaps, for international students traveling to the U.S. to pursue a cross-border education with aspirations for better opportunities and enriched lives. And with cross-border education inevitably comes hefty cross-border tuition.
For Global Citizens – individuals who are typically experienced international travelers and have the wealth or discretionary income to support the pursuit of personal priorities – education is currently the biggest area of opportunity sought outside their home countries. Cross-border health care, among other pursuits, is expected to become a bigger area moving forward, especially as the means to transfer large sums of money, with fewer hidden fees, becomes increasingly accessible with evolving cross-border technologies.
In the inaugural edition of the PYMNTS.com Global Citizen Index™, a Flywire collaboration, we examine the cost of higher education at American colleges and universities for students who hail from outside of the United States. In this Q2 2016 Index, we focus on students from China, India and South Korea who have completed or are working toward their degrees in the U.S. to learn about their life as a Global Citizen and how they pay for that degree.
To understand Global Citizens’ motivations and backgrounds, PYMNTS.com created a confidential online survey that was sent to both current and former students studying abroad in the U.S. The survey focused on several factors related to their decision to pursue cross-border education. This research also helped define the “Global Citizen” classification.
As reflected in the graph above, most Global Citizens surveyed for the Index primarily fund their foreign educations through family support. Global Citizens are typically not remarkably wealthy, but they do have enough wealth or discretionary income to support international investments, like education, because they are personal priorities.
Other key takeaways from the Global Citizen Index™ for the second quarter of 2016 include:
- The vast majority, of Indians (93 percent) studying abroad are pursuing graduate degrees. Chinese and Korean students, however, are typically studying for a bachelor’s degree, with 72 percent of South Korean students and 61 percent of Chinese students pursuing undergraduate degrees.
- International students have diverse reasons for pursuing their education abroad. Sixty-eight percent of Chinese students cited a better education as the most or a very important factor in their decision to study abroad. Meanwhile, 64 percent of Indian students cited better career opportunities.
- Most students were living with their family before they decided to study abroad. Only 20 percent of South Korean students reported living by themselves or with spouses before coming to the U.S., and even fewer did so in India (6 percent) and China (5 percent).
Life as an international student
For snapshots about what life is like as a foreign student working to obtain a degree from an American college or university, PYMNTS profiled individual students from India, China and South Korea who have traveled abroad in pursuit of education. PYMNTS focused on students from those countries because they represent the top 3 countries with percentages of foreign students in the U.S. – 31 percent are from China, 14 percent from India and 6 percent from South Korea.
One student, Harish, an Indian student who pursued an MBA from Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, revealed what motivated him to leave India to study in the U.S., why he chose Bentley and what life is like as a Global Citizen.
Here’s a sneak peek:
“I wanted to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree so I could gain knowledge about the IT software industry and go forward in my career,” Harish explained. Another factor which weighed into his decision to study abroad was his frequent interaction with his company’s clients, most of whom were American and European, he said.
After thoroughly researching schools, tuition cost, reputation and employment opportunities, Harish applied to 11 schools in the United States, and ultimately decided to attend Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
“At Bentley I was offered a scholarship that compared to the other colleges, and it was very near to metropolitan cities,” both Boston and New York, Harish explained. “So I thought Bentley was right for me in order to help me pursue career opportunities [after graduation],” he said.
A $15,000 annual scholarship and a pocket full of dreams were enough for Harish to pursue his education in the U.S., even though it didn’t entirely cover his tuition fees or living expenses.
The scholarship, Harish recalled, was not easy to come by. The university requires him to maintain a 3.0 GPA, which has so far not been a problem with his 3.54 GPA score. Even though the monetary support is helpful, it has left him looking for other sources to pay for his living expenses.
For Harish, much like other students, surviving on savings alone was proving to be difficult, which led him to take on a $15.50 an hour, on-campus job at the school’s computer science lab that demands around 15 hours each week.
To download the 2016 Q2 PYMNTS.com PYMNTS.com Global Citizen Index™, a Flywire collaboration, please fill out the form below:
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About the Index
PYMNTS.com Global Citizen Index™, a Flywire collaboration, focuses on the economic impact of Global Citizens, individuals who typically are experienced international travelers, and have the wealth or discretionary income to support the pursuit of personal priorities, including cross-border education, health care and wellness for themselves and their family members, or other experiences outside of their home countries.