It should come as no surprise that the cost of higher education in the United States is at an all-time high. Even for domestic students costs have risen, on average, 6.2% a year over the last twenty years and international students are all too aware. International students, in general, are required to pay out-of-state tuition even at public universities and they may also have additional fees on top of this.

Thus the news that international student fees are also on the rise no doubt comes as unwelcome news. As a recent report from U.S.News & World Report indicates, however, not only is there a reason for these fees but also – more importantly – a significant benefit.

Though such fees, which can vary by state, school, and even program, are the result of several interrelated factors, generalizations can be made. First, these fees cover important logistical costs. International students by their very nature come from cultures whose languages and customs may be radically different from the US and may therefore require specialized support while on campus. In this context, then, international student fees are not all bad news. Such fees fund international student-specific academic counseling that would otherwise be untenable.

Secondarily, such fees are also used to provide academic and social programming that can enhance the international student experience in other ways. Thus many schools use these fund to provide their students with English as a Second Language seminars that will help them academically as well as mixers that help students from all walks of life interact socially.

So, while international student fees are not optional, many students can benefit from these activities and support channels. If you are wondering what these fees do, ask! Students should get the full benefit by taking advantage of the many opportunities they create. In so doing they will make the most of their money and, more importantly, their time abroad!