Indiana State University Newsroom

Study provides proof of significance of international students to Indiana State

February 11, 2015

They may not be native Hoosiers, but data shows Indiana State University's international students contribute heavily to the financial well-being of the campus and Terre Haute community.

Jeremy Bennett, a Terre Haute resident and research assistant at the Center for Global Engagement who is pursuing a doctorate in spatial and earth sciences, spent first semester compiling information and data on tuition from offices at Indiana State.

"My hope is that the results of this study provide members of the ISU community with a better understanding and appreciation for the economic impact that international students have on this campus, its students, and faculty," Bennett said. "International students not only benefit ISU through the sharing of their experiences and perspectives but also provide real substantial financial benefits, as evidenced by the fact that they provided a net financial contribution (revenues minus expenses) of around 17 million dollars for the 2014 academic year."

Bennett's work took place during fall semester when he determined the net revenues and costs associated with international students at ISU for the year 2014 by contacting campus staff, as well as using information from ISU websites.

John Conant, economics department chairperson who served as Bennett's advisor for the project, said that information helped determine the monetary contribution of Indiana State's international students was more than $17 million during the last academic year - the last year for which data was available. The information also helped verify information from the annual study conducted jointly by the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers and Indiana University.

"We thought public knowledge of the impact that international students play, both on the campus and the community, wasn't as understood as it should be," Conant said. "We decided to assess the impact (international students have) and that information to faculty and administration so they know."

That's about 10 percent of Indiana State's nearly $160 million total operating budget, not including the additional funds international students contribute to Indiana State through housing revenue.

"Sometimes people may complain about the presence of international students, but where would we be if you took $17 million out of our operations budget?" Conant said.

The data, he added, reinforces the need to address challenges and risk factors that are specific to international students and provide services to help them be successful at Indiana State.

"Indiana students may think of their choices for college as Indiana State, IU, Purdue, and Ball State. If you live in Saudi Arabia, China or Brazil and you want to get a U.S. education, you have thousands of places to choose from," Conant said. "You need to look at (international students) as an important population that has different needs and try to create the resources necessary to serve them."

The effect international students have can also be felt within the community, where they live, work and play.

"A lot of the international students live off campus and bring their families, so they rent apartments, buy cars, eat out and shop here, and all of that has a significant impact on the local economy," Conant said, citing the IU study that estimated international students at Indiana State contribute $23 million and 324 jobs to Terre Haute's economy. "There are 324 people in this area who have jobs because of international students at ISU, who support the grocery stores, auto repair businesses and other places because they're out spending their money and making direct investment in the community."

Much of that growth has come as Indiana State's international student enrollment jumped to nearly 1,100 international students in 2014. That is a little more than 8 percent of the university's total enrollment and is an 18.5 percent increase in the international student enrollment from fall 2013 when 926 international students were enrolled.

In the fall 2014, 83 countries - 11 countries more than the previous year - were represented on campus with Saudi Arabia having the highest enrollment (515 students), followed by India (110 students) and China (74 students).

"We've seen a lot of real estate development in the area around campus in the last six to eight years, and part of that is a function of international students coming in and living off campus," Conant said. "International students are a significant part of who Indiana State is and is a group that is growing rapidly, so it's in our best interest as a university and a community to make sure it continues to grow by being aware of this data and providing the support services they need to be successful."

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or

Story Highlights

Jeremy Bennett, a Terre Haute resident and research assistant at the Center for Global Engagement who is pursuing a doctorate in spatial and earth sciences, spent first semester compiling data to look at the financial impact of international students.

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