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Global citizens pursuing cross-border education in America

University Business – By Stefanie Botelho

Flywire, a leading provider of high-ticket payment solutions, connecting educational and healthcare institutions with consumers on six continents, just completed a survey with PYMTS.com called the ‘Global Citizen Index.’ The study looks at a growing segment of consumers around the world with the desire to improve their lives and pursue their dreams outside the borders of their home countries. For many, this journey begins with education. And the U.S. is the number one destination for international education.

The online survey elicited the response of 620 Global Citizens – both current and former students – from India, China and South Korea (the top three countries with percentages of foreign students in the U.S). It focused on their decisions to leave their home countries for school in the US, including which degrees they pursued, the cost, how they paid, their family backgrounds and other factors that influenced their decisions.

Some of the interesting findings include:

· Residents of different countries sought different levels of education. 93 percent of Indian students sought a graduate degree, compared to 29 percent of Chinese students and 21 percent of South Korean students.

· And different fields of study. While a majority enrolled in business, computer or engineering programs, only 36 percent of South Korean students surveyed sought education in the mainstream fields. That compares to 91 percent of Indian students and 51 percent of Chinese students enrolled in business and STEM degrees. South Korean students were more likely to enroll in programs with a concentration in social sciences, art, psychology and law.

· The annual income of the Global Citizen varies by country. In South Korea, with a high average living cost of $36,101, one earns an average of $96,101 annually compared to India, where one earns $30,889 per year on average.

· Chinese and South Korean students tend to pay a lot more out-of-pocket for their educations abroad than Indian students. Responses reveal that Indian students spend 35 percent less than South Korean students and 33 percent less than Chinese students.

· When it comes to paying for college, more than 80 percent of Chinese student respondents were found to rely on family financial support to cover their tuition costs. Similarly, close to 60 percent of South Korean students reported relying on their immediate family for tuition and living expense support. Indian students, however, were highly reliant on bank loans to support themselves – more than 60 percent of those surveyed.

· The vast majority of students surveyed from all three countries are provided for, at least in part, by their families. Fathers serve as the primary provider for financial needs. Among those surveyed, 65 percent of Chinese students, 78 percent of Indian students and 67 percent of South Korean students depended on their fathers for financial support. In China, however, mothers were also found to play an important financial role. About 26 percent of responding Chinese students said their primary provider was their mother.

The survey revealed a number of other interesting findings and includes profiles of a student from each of the three countries. Nearly a million international students traveled to the United States in just the last two years to pursue their educations and dreams. As varied as their individual backgrounds may be, the research was conducted to determine factors, both common and uncommon, that comprise the fabric of the American international student body.

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