Politics isn't the only reason US students are flocking to Canada

While some experts believe President Trump's election may have contributed to a new wave of U.S. applicants to colleges in Canada, students also cite practical reasons for going abroad, Craig Smith reports for the New York Times.

At Ryerson University in Ontario, the number of international undergraduates will increase by nearly 50% in the fall. The number of American students who enrolled in the University of Toronto this fall doubled from the previous year, university leaders said. And officials at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia told the Times they saw twice as many applications from U.S. students this year than they saw in the previous year.

Canada beats US, UK as 'most desirable' country to study in

What's driving the trend? Some experts have pointed to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The day following the election, the University of Toronto's enrollment website received 10 times its usual traffic, according to university leaders. And officials at McGill University have said U.S. students submitted hundreds more applications on that day compared with the same date in previous years. Google searches related to studying in Canada also spiked that day.

But other evidence suggests recent U.S. politics can't fully explain the trend. Data from the Canadian Bureau for International Education shows the number of international students coming to Canada was growing before the election, jumping by 92% from 2008 to 2015. While there are no figures for Academic Year 2017 yet, officials in the country expect the trend to continue, Smith reports.

The key concern cited by U.S. students turning to Canadian schools is cost. For example, Maddie Zeif, an American student matriculating to the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the fall, says that before factoring in financial aid, costs for her will be lower than if she'd attended her home state's public institution and received in-state tuition.

Financial concerns are also influencing individuals pursuing graduate degrees. Megan Ludwig graduated from a large public university in the United States with a bachelor's degree. But she headed to a Canadian institution for her master's.

"Canadian tuition is half the price per semester or less than most U.S. universities and scholarships for master's positions are less competitive and more widely available," Ludwig told the Times via email.

How ROI concerns are affecting students' enrollment decisions

Financial concerns related to health care are also a concern for some students, such as Jane White from Illinois, who plans to start a master's program at Nipissing University in Ontario in fall 2017. Because of the Affordable Care Act, she was able to stay on her family's insurance until age 26.

But now, she uses a state health insurance plan. White says she's afraid that health care laws may change, making her unable to pay for her asthma medication. But she told the Times that both she and her husband would be eligible for health care in Canada through the university (Smith, New York Times, 5/19).

Also see: Financial concerns are the Number One reason students decline their dream schools


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