WASHINGTON — More American teenagers are heading abroad for their college years as a way of attending a top-rated school at a lower cost, Canadian and British college recruiters say.
More than 10,000 Americans are earning graduate and undergraduate degrees in Canada, and 15,000 are pursuing degrees in the United Kingdom. Even with extra fees for international students, colleges and universities outside the United States in many cases cost less than the tuition at private colleges or the out-of-state charges at public universities.
American student interest has gone up as tuition rates rise here nationwide and state spending for higher education declines. The University of British Columbia, for example, reports a 33 percent growth in U.S. applications since 2008.
Annual tuition costs for international students in Canada ranged from about $14,000 to $26,000 last year, according to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.
The average tuition last year at an American public university was nearly $21,000 for out-of-state students and almost $28,000 at a private four-year school, according to the College Board. The averages, of course, don't show the great variation of costs at actual schools.
"Students tell us they were looking for a top-ranked West Coast university in an outstanding location," said Aaron Andersen, manager of international recruitment at the University of British Columbia. "When they realize it is also an international experience close to home, and an incredible value compared to many other comparable U.S. institutions, (that) often pushes UBC to the top of their list."
An additional lure is that American students can work in Canada for three years after graduation.
Maegan Cowan, a senior at UBC from Oakland, Calif., said she originally wanted to go to New York University, George Washington University in Washington or UBC. "And UBC, even with paying international tuition, was way cheaper," she wrote in an email.
Tuition, fees and room and board at UBC this year are about $34,000. Tuition and fees alone at New York University and George Washington are more than $41,000. Room and board is extra.
Lila Weintraub said she chose McGill University in Montreal because she wanted to leave her home state of Maryland and go to school in a city.
"Most schools fitting that description are extremely expensive, so even being an international student at a school in Canada ends up being much cheaper for me," she said.