Aspiring Chinese college students boost US economy

Updated: 2013-06-25 15:20

By Mao Jing (

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Latest statistics have revealed that international students contribute more than $20 billion to the US economy every year, of which more than $4.4 billion comes from Chinese students. The economic benefit from foreign student education is becoming a new highlight in the US economic recovery, China Economic Weekly reported.

Data show that nearly 200,000 Chinese high school graduates chose to study abroad in 2013, and the number has been annually growing by 20 to 30 percent over the past decade. The US has been the top academic destination for Chinese students for many years.

Today, many parents are supportive of their children’s aspirations to study abroad. Families nowadays begin planning their child’s education budget early, said a consultant from the Beijing Aoji Education Group, an intermediary agency which helps students study abroad.

The winter and summer breaks are the busiest seasons for intermediary agencies. The agencies make detailed plans for their customers and guarantee them they can obtain a US visa and college offer.

But a perfect customized plan is costly. First, the expenses which come with taking the appropriate tests are high. In order to study in the US, high school graduates need to take at least two exams, the TOFFEL and SAT.

The SAT test fee is around $100 but there isn’t a test center on the Chinese mainland for students to take it, which means they usually have to fly to Hong Kong. Round trip transportation to Hong Kong from a northern city in China costs around 2,000 yuan ($325), and the student is always accompanied by at least one parent. Hotels near the SAT test center in Hong Kong cost about 1,200 yuan per night. On top of meals and other expenses, taking the SAT just once can costs upwards of 10,000 yuan .

In addition, one-on-one tutoring for the SAT can cost anywhere from 600 to 800 yuan per class, and if students who want to score highter than 2,200 (the minimum passing score to apply for elite US colleges) , they often sign up for an 80 to 100 class course. So the test preparation alone can cost more than 60,000 yuan .

The second major financial hurdle has to do with the intermediary and application fees for US colleges. An intermediary fee for a detailed full-service plan is at least 35,000 yuan, while the application fee depends on how many and what kinds of schools students apply for.

If all goes accordingly, a student needs 100,000 to 200,000 yuan before he or she can step into a US college, aside from 300,000 yuan on tuition and living expenses per year. In total, it takes about 1,200,000 yuan to obtain a 4-year college degree.

Studying in America costs many Chinese families a lot of money, while America repeatedly benefits from the money earned by Chinese students who study there.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at Stanford University’s graduation ceremony on June 16 that immigration economy has become a new impetus to the US economic revival. He called for the reform on immigration policy and suggested that every graduate from fields of science, technology, mathematics and engineering should get a US green card.