On taxpayers' dime, foreigners get free college in US

According to the program's website, students will "return home with new skills and expertise to help them contribute to the economic growth and development of their country."

A U.S. government program spends more than $15 million per year in order to help foreign students attend community college in the U.S.

As thousands of American college students struggle to afford the rising cost of college, the U.S. State Department is helping to fund community college for more than 300 foreign students, according to a recent report released by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.). 

The program, called the Community College Initiative Program (CCI), received $5,275,000 in the 2019 fiscal year to pay for community college costs for foreign students from up to as many as 12 different countries. The program’s projected funding for the next three years is expected to be $15,825,000.

CCI provides scholarships for visa assistance, round-trip travel to and from the United States for program dates, one year of community college tuition and fees, meals, books, housing, and other incidentals. Students are only eligible for one year of studies. 

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According to a State Department website, students will “return home with new skills and expertise to help them contribute to the economic growth and development of their country.”

The CCI website lists a number of requirements which include: being 18 years of age, having a “basic knowledge of English,” and have a diploma from a secondary school. 

Participants can also select from several field areas, such as: “agriculture, applied engineering, business management and administration, early childhood education, information technology, media, public safety, and tourism and hospitality management.”

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Paul’s office also used tuition estimates from Community College Review to note that the CCI’s full funding could be used to fund one year of community college for more than 3,000 American students. 

David North, a resident scholar on the interaction between education and migration at the Center for Immigration Studies, told Campus Reform that while the CCI is an example of waste, he wishes Paul would focus on the Optional Practice Training (OPT) program for foreign students.

“Dealing with foreign students, and more important [sic], foreign alumni in the U.S. labor market. The Senator should focus his sights on the $3 billion spent every year in the OPT program, every bit of this money, taken from the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, subsidizes employers who have decided to hire an alien, not an American, in a post-college position.”

A State Department spokesperson defended the CCI to Campus Reform, noting that international students “bring benefits to our country.” The spokesperson also said that they contributed $45 billion to the economy and 455,000 jobs last year.

“When international students and American students meet in classrooms, through internships, on athletic fields and in campus clubs, they establish lifelong connections that lead to increased trade, entrepreneurship, scientific collaboration and innovation, fueling economic growth and prosperity both for the United States and the world,” the spokesperson said.

The State Department also added that the CCI Program “empowers participants from underrepresented and underserved communities to be engaged leaders in civil society,” and “fosters relationships among underserved youth, including women, from diverse ethnic, religious, and national groups, and with American student counterparts.”

Campus Reform has previously reported on the OPT program.

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