NSU international students have $5 million economic impact on region

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ABERDEEN, S.D. There are 85 international students seeking degrees and 95 college exchange students in the Hub City that are generating a $5 million economic boost in the region. We took a look at how these students, representing more than 42 countries, have that large of an impact in the Aberdeen area.

The economic impact in the NAFSA study is defined by the international students' tuition, personal and living expenses.

"It costs a lot of money for them to school here from that far away and their parents and the kids try to get every bit out of it they can, so they participate in all the activities, they go to all the events, they show up at the parades they show up at community events," Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levsen said.

The international students are limited when it comes to work when they come to Northern State University for school.

"They are permitted to work on campus up to 20 hours a week and a majority of international students do not actually hold jobs, so they are paying directly through their own sources for their living expenses and personal expenditures," NSU Director of International Programs Leigh Neys said.

But, those who are able to get an on-campus job appreciate the opportunity.

"I like the environment. I mostly like the people I work with, they help me to build my skill and develop and have more experience," NSU Freshman Betser Roney said. Roney is from Haiti and is majoring in business.

Many international students are happy with their choice to live in the Hub City.

"I love the Aberdeen community. I don't have any problem with anyone, everyone is kind to me and I think everyone is really supportive for international students," NSU Senior Jarreth Mertina said. Mertina is from Curacao and is majoring in international business and marketing. He's also a transfer student from Cloud County Community College in Concordia, KS and transferred to NSU for the learning opportunities as well as to run track.

NSU officials are seeing a consistent growth in the number of international students that are accepted each year. Many believe that those who have a positive experience go back to their home country and spread the word. They hope the more their international programs grow, the more economic impact their students will have on the region.

NSU has the second highest economic impact for South Dakota universities. South Dakota State University is ranked at number one with $18.4 million.