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Record Number Of International Students Attend U.S. Colleges

International students who come to the U.S. for college contribute more than $24 billion to the economy, according to an analysis that came out Monday. A record number of international students — nearly 820,000 — came to U.S. colleges in the 2012/2013 school year, says the Institute of International Education.

The rise continues a return to growing numbers after a decline that was tied to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Much of the recent growth was driven by students from China and Saudi Arabia, according to the Open Doors report on education, which is compiled with the help of the U.S. State Department.

Overall, students from China, India, and South Korea make up 49 percent of all international students in the U.S. China leads the way, with nearly 235,000 students.

As for Americans studying abroad, the report found that 283,000 students earned academic credit outside the U.S. in 2011/2012, the most recent year available for study.

"Study abroad by American students has more than tripled over the past two decades, from approximately 71,000 students in 1991/92 to the record number in 2011/12," according to the report. "Despite these increases, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point during their undergraduate years."

Here are the top five destinations for U.S. students:

  • The United Kingdom
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • France
  • China

"There were significant increases in the number of Americans studying in several destinations outside Europe," according to the report, "primarily to places in Latin American, including Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru."

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