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Michigan Economy and Universities Positively Impacted by Foreign Students

Photo by Ford School on Flickr used for Foreign students help Michigan economy blog post

Foreign students’ coming to Michigan universities has resulted in a positive gain for local schools and their surrounding cities. Foreign students pay a much higher tuition rate than in-state students so the university sees a financial benefit. Most of the foreign students in Michigan are centered in Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Metro Detroit, with those areas each ranking among the top 30 nationally for attracting foreign students. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor ranks eighth nationally as one of the colleges or universities with the most foreign students.

Additionally, foreign students help revitalize the Michigan economy. The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, estimates more than $70 million was spent by those on student visas in metro Detroit during the four-year time period studied. Additionally, the Brookings Institution found that the Detroit metro area had some of the lowest average total costs and tuition overall for foreign students, making it an attractive area for foreign students to choose to attend school.

Most foreign students are in fields that the US has a lot of employment vacancies, predominately in the fields of science, technology, math and engineering (STEM). Currently there is a program called Optional Practical Training (OPT) that can authorize students who are on an F-1 visa to work in the United States for a period between 12 to 29 months after they graduate from a U.S. higher educational institution. While other kinds of work visa programs have caps, like the H-1B visa, this student visa OPT program does not have any caps. The only catch is that students must apply for the OPT program prior to graduation.

The metro Detroit area currently ranks in the top 10 cities for retaining students with an OPT program.  Additionally, of the OPT program participants 58.50% of them are staying in metro Detroit. Wayne State University currently has a program that has 250 students studying there as a part of a Brazilian government program that sends college students to study in the United States. Wayne State has the highest concentration of program participants at any university in the U.S. The program specifically targets the STEM fields, with two thirds of foreign students studying in the STEM, business management or marketing fields compared to only 48% of U.S. students studying in those fields.

Another key finding from the Brookings Institute is that 45 percent of foreign students extend their visas to stay in the same metropolitan area as their college or university. This is especially important for the Michigan economy, where there is a pool of STEM field jobs that need a qualified applicant pool.

If you are looking to obtain a student visa or extend your stay in the United States after graduation please contact our office to find out more information.

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