Higher-ed funding idea: Charge international students more

Only a handful of state universities nationwide levy a surcharge on international students. The University of Illinois recently began charging an extra $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the program.

Purdue University last year added a $2,000-a-year international fee, which prompted demonstrations in February by Chinese students studying at Purdue.

Tom said he wasn’t bothered that so few other state universities levy a surcharge. “Sometimes you need to be a leader,” he said.

Washington’s community colleges already charge a higher rate for international students — about $10,000 for three quarters, including fees. In-state students pay about $4,400.

At the UW, which has the largest international student population, the bill, SB 5893, would increase the price of undergraduate tuition by about $6,000 — to $35,000 a year.

Sen. Barbara Bailey, a co-sponsor of the bill, says she doesn’t think the extra charge would have any effect on enrollment because Washington schools are so well-regarded internationally.

“Most of our foreign students are not particularly low income; they have means, and I think they will come, regardless,” the Oak Harbor Republican said.

The UW’s 6,000 international students apply to many schools around the country, and some do consider the UW a relative bargain compared with private schools like Harvard, said Era Schrepfer, executive director of the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS).

The independent, nonprofit organization on the UW campus works on building a global community in the Puget Sound region.