Foreign Students Alleviate Universities' Burdens, Boost Local Economies photo by Sylvar. photo by Sylvar.
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Of the 118 metro areas covered in the report, five are in the Buckeye State. Columbus ranks highest in the number of foreign students attending area universities, at just under 10,000. Cincinnati ranks second with over 6,000. Cleveland has nearly 5,500, Akron has 4,800, and then finally there’s Dayton with roughly 4,000.

Brookings researcher Neil Ruiz says in Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State draw in the lion’s share of foreign students, at 80 percent. Most are aiming for Masters degrees, with an emphasis in business or engineering.

“This is a huge educational export into the United States," says Ruiz. "And a lot of state schools which are troubled because of budget cuts, turn to international students who are paying full tuition and probably international fees to attend the universities.”

And it’s not just the colleges and universities benefiting from the influx.

“Just over the five year period of 2008-2012, they brought in about $137 million in tuition, and almost $60 million in living costs to the local area.”

Foreign students need F-1 visas to study in American colleges. Their ranks went from 110,000 in 2001 to more than half a million in 2012.

Ruiz says despite this growth, foreign students only comprise just over 3 percent of those studying at U.S. universities.

Nationally, New York has by far the most foreign students – more than 100,000. Los Angeles trails at more than 68,000, and Boston ranks third with more than 53,000.

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