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NAFSA Estimates More Than $4.5 Billion Hit to International Ed

May 22, 2020

U.S. colleges will lose at least $3 billion due to anticipated international student enrollment declines this fall, according to estimates derived from a survey NAFSA: Association of International Educators did on the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on international education.

In other findings, colleges potentially lost nearly $1 billion due to shortened or canceled study abroad programs this spring and summer and spent approximately $638 million for financial support for international students, scholars, faculty and staff who remained on campuses when courses were moved online. Forms of financial support included housing refunds, tuition scholarships, food money and rent money.

The NAFSA survey also found widespread concerns about layoffs, furloughs and other changes to working conditions for professionals working in college study abroad offices and offices serving international students and scholars. Sixty-five percent of respondents said that staff positions in education abroad offices have already been or may be impacted, with impacts including reduced hours, furloughs, eliminated positions, hiring freezes and salary reductions. Twenty-one percent said staff positions in international student and scholar offices would be impacted by COVID-19, 51 percent said they would not be impacted and 24 percent said it was too soon to know.

NAFSA distributed the survey to individuals in international education leadership positions in April and received a total of 346 responses. The survey results are broken down by institution type. A spokeswoman for NAFSA explained that the dollar estimates for total economic impact were derived by extrapolating the survey results across the total number of institutions of each type nationally.

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