I was talking to my good friend Paul Wolansky the other day. Paul is a professor teaching screenplay writing at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University, one of the leading film universities in California. He is also an accomplished screenplay writer and film maker who has won several awards for his most recent film. He was telling me that about a third of the students in his classes are foreign students, many from China. That intrigued me. So I inquired a bit further into those numbers.
College Tuition: Differences for Resident v. Non-Resident Students
The College Board, an organization representing over 6000 of the world’s leading colleges follows statistics about student enrollments. According to it, with the exception of last year, the number of international students who enrolled in American universities has consistently increased over the last decade. Even though the number of foreign students enrolled in U.S. colleges dropped for the first time last year, they still topped over one million. It is clear from this number that there is a strong demand for higher education in America and for foreign families to send their children to college here. Foreign students are also important to America because they bring in some nine billion dollars to the U.S. economy each year.
However, studying at an American college as a non-resident of the United States is not always that easy for many foreign families. With the already-high price of college tuition in general, the cost can double or even triple for non-resident students. On average, according to The College Board, tuition fees for 2017-2018 at a state college was around $ 10,000 for local students, but it was $25,000 for out-of-state students and non-residents. Take a concrete example dealing with foreign students. At Arizona State University, in-state undergraduates pay $10,370, and international undergraduates pay $28,270 in base tuition and fees for the 2016-17 academic year. Similar numbers can be found at Purdue University in Indiana: a resident of Indiana will pay $ 5000 per school year to attend that college but a non-resident will pay over $15,000 to attend Purdue. And these numbers don’t take into account the expensive housing costs at American colleges, nor the cost of health insurance. To afford tuition at a U.S. college alone, many foreign student need to apply for a student loan, or consolidate an existing one.
Ways to Receive Free or In-State Tuition as a Non-Resident
So, you may be wondering why a foreign student would ever choose to enroll in an American college, knowing the heightened expenses they will have to pay. Fortunately, many universities in the U.S have recognized this issue and have deliberately set out to accommodate the financial needs of foreign students. In fact, some of the top universities in the U.S., like Columbia University, Harvard University, and Stanford University, actually offer hundreds of foreign students aid—and in some cases, even full tuition.
There are also many other ways, besides financial aid programs, to receive in-state tuition as a nonresident. Legacy scholarships that award new students for having alumni relations at the school, are an example. Furthermore, some states have agreements that reduce tuition rates for students coming from certain locations. There are also regional exchange programs. Students can also apply for countless college scholarships based on their merit and academics, which will help lower tuition rates.
Many countries will also often scholarships and bursaries specifically for native students to attend foreign universities. For example, the U.K.’s Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Scholarships offer students the chance to enroll in a foreign graduate program at full tuition. There are also Fulbright Scholarships and specific bursaries set up with universities in the U.S. like Harvard University to fund the tuition of foreign students. So while the cost of attending college in America is expensive, there are ways for foreign students to afford universities in the U.S. and receive a top-quality education.
I have written about one other way foreign students can afford studies in the U.S. In my previous articles about foreign investors using E-2 or L-1 visas to fund film projects with U.S. film makers, I briefly mentioned the advantages of in-state tuitions. Any foreign parent with college-age children and who has looked into the matter, will tell you it is not unreasonable to expect savings of $ 25,000 per year per child. Projecting the savings of an E-2 or L-1 visa family with two children, that could mean $50,000 U.S. per year. In a four year scenario that could amount to $ 200,000 U.S. or even more. When coupled with the cost savings and rebates that can be garnered from government support for the film industry, these savings can substantially offset the investment required in the beginning to obtain the visas in the first place.
But film making is not the only area where these visas could be beneficial for student tuitions and working in the United States. The same plan I outlined using David Ward as an example in film, could be implemented with someone like Lamont Dozier in setting up a record label. As a Grammy winning song writer who has written over 50 number 1 hits, including songs for some of Motown’s greatest stars, Dozier’s music could serve as an excellent foundation for a foreign investor willing to invest say, $ 750,000 U.S. to obtain a collection of say 12 new songs Dozier could write for a new foreign owned label, that would facilitate working in the music business in the U.S.
In short, while difficult, foreign parents can find ways to pay for their children to study in the United States and get ahead in life. Apart from the traditional methods mentioned in this article, the investor visa route provides another way to ease the financial cost for those families interested in getting involved in the film or music industries.
This article is reprinted from an article formerly published in the Forbes.