Based on the Open Doors 2016 data unveiled last week by the Institute of International Education (IIE) - which revealed a record 1,043,839 international students were enrolled in higher education - Nafsa said there was a 7.5 per cent increase in dollars contributed to the economy, and a 7.4 per cent rise in job creation.
"Despite the fact that international students comprise just over five per cent of enrolment in US colleges and universities, they continue to bring billions of dollars to our nation's economy and hundreds of thousands of jobs for the American people," said Nafsa Executive Director and CEO, Marlene M. Johnson.
However, she cautioned that the USA's global market share of international students was declining in the face of global competition. "If our campuses and communities are to continue to benefit from both the academic and economic benefits these students bring, we must ensure that our government policies encourage them to choose the United States as their first choice for education."
Nafsa said that 400,812 jobs were supported by international education in 2015/16, and claimed that for every seven international students enrolled, three jobs are created.
Tuition fees and accommodation were the main areas of spending, but international students contributed significantly to the dining, retail, transportation, telecommunications and health insurance sectors.
California has the highest state-level contribution from international students at US$5.2 billion, followed by: New York (US$3.9 billion); Massachusetts (US$2.3 billion); Texas (US$1.9 billion); and Pennsylvania (US$1.7 billion).
The research was conducted for Nafsa by Jason Baumgartner of Indiana University's Office of International Services using tuition and expense data from the Department of Education's National Center of International Statistics.
By Matthew Knott