At the University of Washington in Seattle, 18 percent of freshmen come from abroad, most from China, reports Tamar Lewin for the New York Times. University of Washington foreign students pay $28,059, almost three times as much as in-state students, according to the university’s payment schedule. Foreign student tuition helps offset the cost of subsidizing tuition for low-income Washingtonians, which represent more than 25 percent of the class, reports Lewin.

A dramatic increase in the number of foreign students is not unique to the University of Washington. The number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 5 percent during the 2010-11 academic year, according to Open Doors, an annual report on higher education prepared by the Institute of International Education. This is the fifth consecutive year that Open Doors shows growth in the number of international students. Today there are 32 percent more international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities than there were a decade ago.

Foreign students in the United States contribute about $21 billion a year to the national economy, according to the Institute of International Education. Some education experts see selling education services as a way to balance our trade deficit with China, reports the Center for Studies in Higher Education. “This is a way of getting some of that money back,” said Phillip Ballinger, dean of admissions at University of Washington in an interview for the New York Times.

Foreign Student Profile

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Where are they from? China (157,558, up 23 percent); India (103,895, down 1 percent); South Korea (73,351, up 2 percent); Canada (27,546, down 2 percent); Taiwan (24,818 down 7 percent); Saudi Arabia (22,704, up 44 percent)

What do they study? Business and management (22 percent of total); engineering (19 percent); mathematics and computer science (9 percent); physical and life sciences; (9 percent); social sciences (9 percent)

Where do they study? California is the leading host state for international students (96,535, up 2 percent); followed by New York (78,888, up 4 percent); Texas (61,636, up 5 percent); Massachusetts (38,698, up 10 percent); and Illinois (33,766, up 9 percent).