More than half of international students in the US rely on their families for financial support


60.3 percent of international students in 2016/17 in the US fund their education with personal and family income, IIE data showed.

US universities are the home of more than a million students coming from different countries of the world. The highly reputable higher education institutions make it the absolute leader in the lucrative market of international education.

In addition to the high-quality education they offer, US universities’ reputation relies on being expensive. Not many students can afford living and university costs in the US. Yet, how do more than a million foreign students manage to survive in the United States?

The IIE annual report for international students in 2016/17 showed that most of them fund their education with their personal and family income.

Asked about the source funding, students had to choose between these:

  • Personal and Family
  • U.S College or University
  • Foreign Government or University
  • Foreign Private Sponsor
  • Current employment
  • U.S Government
  • Other source
  • International organization
  • U.S Private Sponsor

Out 1,078,822 international students, 650,960 of them fund their education with their personal money and those received by their families. This means that more than half of students (60.3%) rely on their own financial means to survive.

Only three other sources were mentioned above 1 percent of students: U.S College or University, Current Employment, Foreign Government or University.

16.5 percent of international students said they finance their education through employment, while 15 percent take grants and scholarships from the university or college where they’re enrolled at and just 5.7 percent of them said they take support from their home country government or university.

For undergraduate students, it takes time to achieve their independence and adapt to their new life in the US. As these figures show undergraduate students who fund their education through a job showed no increase.   

A small number of 2,013 international students fund their education in the US through international organizations.

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