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As high schoolers apply to colleges this fall, many international students weigh the costs of attending an American university.

Education at private colleges in the United States remains one of the most expensive in the world, yet almost 4,000 international students apply to Penn every year.

College junior and Prime Minister of Canadians at Penn Andrea Cheung explained that she chose to come to Penn even though it would cost more than an education at home because “none of the Canadian universities offer a liberal arts education.”

Cheung was attracted to small class sizes and renowned faculty, which made the tuition a reasonable price to pay.

Most universities in Canada, Europe and Asia are either wholly or partially subsidized by the government. Few private universities exist, and those that do are usually not as reputable as their public counterparts.

In comparison to universities abroad, private institutions in the United States, like Penn, rely more on tuition to fund the school. Penn’s tuition has reached an all-time high of $36,208 for the 2010-11 academic school year.

Penn’s tuition is the same for domestic and international students, but colleges abroad often charge a different rate for in and out country matriculants.

Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said the reason Penn does not charge different rates for domestic and international students is that, in contrast to state-funded schools abroad or public universities in the United States, “Penn receives research dollars, but we are a private institution, so we charge students the same rate,” he said.

To make Penn affordable for both domestic and international students, “we’re spending between $8 to 10 million in financial aid for international students,” he said, explaining that while not need-blind for international applicants, “we’re very supportive.”

Nikita Patel, a Wharton freshman from India who attended at a British high school in Dubai, said that for her and her friends, “a major consideration was cost” in choosing a university.

However, in the end, she chose to matriculate at Penn because an American education offers flexibility and exposure to many more opportunities.

While she almost chose to study in the United Kingdom due to its cost advantage, Patel felt that ultimately “the Wharton School was superior to any other college.”

Director of IvySelect College Consulting Michael Goran advises international students. He said that “many will pay for name-recognized schools,” even if they are much more expensive than local institutions in their home countries.

“A Penn or Yale or Columbia degree is worth something back home,” he said.

While Penn’s tuition is considerably more than those of many other countries’ schools, Goran said, “Penn is particularly good with financial aid.” However, Furda explained that only American citizens, primary residents, refugees and citizens of Canada and Mexico are considered on a need-blind basis.

Student Financial Services spokeswoman Marlene Bruno emphasized that the University is committed to working toward making Penn affordable for all students.

“Penn stands out as one of a few universities that do not include loans as part of a typical undergraduate student’s financial aid package,” she wrote in an e-mail.

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