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By David M. Bresnahan
June 26, 2002

Providing an education for foreign students is not the responsibility or obligation of the U.S. government, our schools, or our citizens so why do we do it in record numbers?

There are plenty of very high quality schools that will meet the needs of foreign students in their own nations. At a time when a college education is becoming harder and harder for our own citizens to obtain, and in light of the security risk when our nation is under constant threat of terrorist attack, it would seem prudent to consider a ban on funding foreign students.

Why should a U.S. kid miss out on an education because a college has money to give to a foreign student who takes the space and money needed by so many of our own and just might be a terrorist as well?

Hani Hanjour entered the U.S. on a student visa and participated in the 9/11 hijack that was not unusual.

The al Qaeda terrorist who rented the truck used in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center was also in the country on a student visa. Not only was he a top operative and a business manager for Osama bin Laden, he was also in the U.S. recruiting our citizens to join his cause.

Universities benefit from foreign students and do not want to cooperate with efforts to keep track of them. In 1996 opposition from universities and colleges prevented a tracking system from being implemented that had been placed into law. Money from foreign student grants, scholarships, and loan programs has greater priority with our institutions of higher learning than national security. In fact, many foreign students are also athletic heros that schools do not want to lose.

For too many decades we have been training our future business competition, as well as training our enemies. It is about time we reconsider our policies regarding foreign students.

Today a new study was released from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).  Harvard economist George Borjas argues in "An Evaluation of the Foreign Student Program" that the seemingly sensible, and even noble, aims of the program mask the fact that it fails to serve the national interest.

CIS is a non-profit, non-affiliated, non-partisan research organization that examines and critiques the impact of immigration on the United States.

Among Professor Borjas' findings:

"The total net gain to the economy from the employment of foreign students and foreign graduates is less than $1 billion per year.

"The 275,000 foreign students at public institutions alone receive a subsidy from U.S. taxpayers of about $2.5 billion per year.

"73,000 U.S. schools have been certified by the INS to accept foreign students, about twice the total number of state-accredited colleges, universities, vocational, and high schools in the country."

The facts speak loudly. We are not getting a return on our investment by spending billions on foreign students who do little to improve our economy and threaten our security.

It would seem that the time has come to drop all U.S. government funding of foreign students attending our schools. Take that money and provide grants and loans to U.S. students instead. What would happen to the U.S. economy if 275,000 additional Americans obtained a college education who would not have done so previously?

It would be a no-brainer to expect a greater impact on our economy than what we have received by giving the same money to non-citizens.

For those of you with children either in college or soon to be there, ask yourself why we charge more for out of state tuition, yet we actively recruit and give a free ride to foreigners. Indeed a financial aid officer at Westminster College of Salt Lake City once told me there was no money to help me in my last year of school.

"If only you were a foreign student there would be no problem," she said to me. Others have told me that they had a similar experience.

Take away the money for foreign students, and make student visas available only to those foreign students who demonstrate they are unable to get an equal education in their own country. That would be far more than fair than what we are doing now.

We do not owe the world an education, but we do have a responsibility to provide a means for our own people to pursue their own education to the fullest. The benefits to our country will be immense.

We must begin to put our own people first, and make the welfare of our nation our highest priority.

David M. Bresnahan - All Rights Reserved



David M. Bresnahan [email protected]  is an award-winning independent investigative journalist. He maintains an archive of his work at  and offers a free e-mail alert so you will not miss any of his news stories or commentaries.