Is Studying in the U.S. Worth the Cost for International College Students?

Just under half of international students think so, according to a recent survey.
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Jessica Bryant is a higher education analyst and senior data reporter for BestColleges. She covers higher education trends and data, focusing on issues impacting underserved students. She has a BA in journalism and previously worked with the South Fl...
Updated on April 3, 2023
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  • Most international students don't believe or are unsure whether the value of a U.S. education justifies the cost.
  • International students in the U.S. express mixed sentiments about whether their U.S. education prepared them for career exploration.
  • Most of these learners find their schools' career centers helpful in navigating U.S. employment.
  • The majority (84%) of international students still say they'd recommend studying in the U.S. to friends back home.

The cost of an education in the U.S. comes at a high price, especially for students from abroad.

On top of already high U.S. college costs, international students must also account for living expenses, transportation to and from their home countries, and health insurance expenses.

Considering the cost of studying in the U.S. as an international learner, it's important for these students to get the best return on their investment.

A recent survey conducted by Interstride asked more than 1,000 international students whether the value of studying in the U.S. justified the cost. Over half of respondents answered "no" or "don't know."

Forty-nine percent of survey participants said that yes, that from a career standpoint, the value of a U.S. education justifies the expense. However, 29% said it does not, and 22% were unsure.

International students' views also varied regarding how prepared they felt to pursue careers. Of Interstride's survey respondents, 46% said they were prepared to explore career options in the United States. Thirty-four percent said they were not prepared, and 20% were unsure.

Of the students who felt unprepared, the most commonly cited reasons were difficulty getting jobs, internships, and a lack of knowledge about work and training visas.

A large majority of respondents (81%) reported that their colleges' career centers were helpful. Of those students, most said their career centers featured job listings that were appropriate for international graduates.

Nearly 20% of Interstride's survey participants did not use their career centers or did not find the centers helpful. More than a quarter of these learners reported that their schools' career centers did not have connections with U.S. employers who would hire international graduates.

Even with some bumps along the way, the overwhelming majority of surveyed students (84%) said they would recommend studying in the U.S. to their friends and peers back home. Just 5% of students said they would not, and 11% were unsure.

If you're looking for more information on studying in the U.S., visit either one of BestColleges' international student guides: International Students' Guide to Studying in the USA or College Guide for International Students.

Studying in the U.S. as an international student can be a stressful process. Here’s everything you need to know to make your transition smoother.