Should foreign students pay the same for college as U.S. students?

Lauren Williams's picture

During the period of prosperity after World War II, state coffers from tax revenues overflowed and its universities reaped the benefits. Great teaching, impressive facilities, and solid educational experiences offered an undergraduate residing within state boundaries an amazing deal.

Fast forward 40 years and you discover that tax revenues no longer kept pace with the rising costs of running state colleges. Construction, payroll, pension payouts, and technology all had big price tags. For a period of time, generous benefactors, winning football programs, and March Madness endowment investment strategies all moved things forward, but these dollars soon dried up as a powerful national recession took hold. A substantial funding gap triggered a dramatic increase in the cost of tuition for state residents to send their kids to college.

Despite efforts by state university administrators to get more money to balance budgets, shortfalls continued and a search for new revenue streams began in earnest. Admitting a higher percentage of students not residing in the state was seemingly a straightforward solution. Nonresident tuition doubled or sometimes tripled the price paid by in-state residents. As an example, the University of California admitted 22,761 out-of-state or international students, systemwide, in 2013, which is 27.47 percent of the total admitted in that year. International students make up 48.51 percent of this number, so nearly half of those admitted to UC schools from outside state borders are from another country. Additionally, over the past three years the number of International students admitted to UC schools has more than doubled.

Non-Californians’ tuition is $36,078 annually, compared to $13,200 for those living in state. Certainly there are no qualms with students from outside California paying more. However, should graduates from American high schools be charged the same tuition as those from other nations? It might be argued that it is our global responsibility to open the doors of our institutions of higher learning without a discriminatory eye, certainly a politically correct position to take. But, this may well underestimate the importance of a college education to the stability of our national economy, and it is this possibility that should be considered. 

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