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5 most popular states in the US for students

Almost 6% of the total student body in the US comes from abroad, mostly from China and India. That's over 1 million international students every year, and it's been like that for 4 years running.1

The majority of international students head to the most populated states, or to those with the more well-known universities. Out of more than 4,000 universities and colleges, 70% of those students study at only about 200 schools.2

Here are the 5 most popular states in the US for international students.

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1. California

This west coast "Golden State" is the number-one destination for international students. It's home to 9 top-ranked universities and offers and a beautiful backdrop to boot. Students are also drawn to California's rich cultural history and diverse population.

Graduates coming out of Californian universities have gone on to found some of the most well-known tech companies, like Yahoo, Snapchat and PayPal. Many colleges in the state are "feeder" schools to top tech companies in Silicon Valley. 5

About to finish your degree? Use this time to prepare for life beyond school. Here are 9 things international college students can do before graduating to make the most of their time.

Did you know?

Dollar for dollar (salary for tuition), graduates from Stanford University (after 10 years of experience) end up with the highest salaries of all the US colleges. This could be because of the number of students majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) subjects.3

2. New York

The east coast "Empire State" is about diversity, creativity, resilience and convenience.

Out of all the higher-education schools in the US, New York University (NYU) has one of the highest rates of international student enrollment at over 13,000 students.2 That's 10% of the international students in all of New York State, studying at one school.

Did you know?

At least 50 countries are represented at NYU, with the majority of international students coming from China, India and South Korea.

3. Texas

After Alaska, the "Lone Star" state is the second-largest in America. The cost of living is lower in Texas than in other states, making it an attractive destination for international students.

As for big tech? Move over, Silicon Valley, there's a new kid on the block. Austin is the fastest-growing metro city in the US and is catching up quickly in that department. Even Apple thinks so, having broken ground on a USD1 billion new campus.

Over 70% of undergraduates and almost all of the first-year students going to Rice University live on campus, lending a very cosy feel to the school.

Did you know?

A quarter of all international students enrolled in universities in Texas come from India.

4. Massachusetts

The "Bay State" cities of Boston and Cambridge in New England are synonymous with Ivy League education. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one-third of the student population is international, with approximately 154 countries represented. Over a quarter of students at Princeton University are international.

Out of all the colleges and universities in Massachusetts, nothing beats Boston's Northeastern University when it comes to international student enrollment. After NYU and USC, Northeastern has the third-largest community of overseas students in the United States. 4

Did you know?

Boston is about as historical as it gets in the United States of America. It's home to the first public beach, the first American lighthouse, the first US chocolate factory, and the first subway system.6

5. Illinois

Taking fifth place with the highest number of international student enrollment comes the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). California has beaches and New York has the arts. Texas has BBQ, and Massachusetts has history. Illinois is the "Prairie State", and so universities here are affectionately called "cornfield" campuses.

The majority of overseas students come from China and the most popular majors are statistics, computer science, and engineering. Some universities, such as the University of Illinois and the University of St. Francis, offer scholarships for students looking for student aid.

Did you know?

In a town just outside of Chicago sits a McDonald's museum, on the very spot of the original hamburger joint. And fittingly, Illinois is home to the largest ketchup bottle in the world.

How HSBC can help you with your study abroad

If you've researched universities in the US but still have a lot of questions, you might find it easier to talk to a professional education consultant. We offer HSBC Premier customers access to advisors who can assist you with your questions about studying abroad.

We can also help you with all that goes along with studying abroad, such as education seminars, insurance products, opening a bank account, global transfers and borrowing options.

Ready to open an overseas account?

We can tell you the best way for you to apply for an overseas account. Simply select your current location and where you would like to open an account. We'll then walk you through the steps.


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1 Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States, Migration Policy Institute

2 "U.S. states hosting the most international students in the academic year 2018/19",

3 The top 50 US colleges that pay off the most,

4 NU rises to third most international students in the U.S., The Huntington News

5 5 Top Feeders to Tech and Silicon Valley, College Transitions

6 7 Unique Facts About Boston You Might Not Know , The Boston Home Team