The quality of an American college education isn't dropping, but the numbers of international students taking advantage of it are. These students bring in $13 billion to our economy every year, and many colleges are already preparing for the hit.
"It concerns me in every possible way," says the NIU director of international programs.
Applications from foreign students are dropping big time at Northern Illinois University. On average they're down 28 percent. As far as revenue for the college, it doesn't mean good things.
"If the 28 percent decline was reflected in enrollment, that would be a significant hit to the bottom line," says Pierce.
But why the dip? International students like Karuna Verma say it's been their dream to study in the United States. However, she's seen firsthand why many are discouraged.
"Out of my 10 friends, only two got a Visa, the other eight were rejected," says Verma.
Since September 11th the Visa process for students like Verma has grown more difficult, and instead of American campuses, students now opt for others in England or Germany.
"They think it's easier to apply for a Visa in a country that readily grants one," explains Verma.
"Because of that window of opportunity our colleagues have said great, please come here. They have significantly revved up competition. There’s now significant global competition," says Pierce.
To stay in the game, NIU has added two positions to help speed up their admissions process. They also have people working with the State Department and Department of Homeland Security to help change the Visa application process. Pierce also has a plan in the works to promote NIU to students in other countries as well as offer them help in obtaining a student Visa.
Numbers at Rockford College reflect a similar picture. In the past five years the population of international students has dropped 21 percent. Admissions directors there also blame the decline on the difficulty in attaining student Visas.