There is a high cost of studying at an American university. First you have to get into the United States.
To get into a U.S. college or university, Chinese students are required to take an English language test, either ILTS or TOEFL. SATs are not required for undergraduate studies, but GMATs and LSATs are required for graduate programs.
Taking the tests is an ordeal in itself; $600 and hundreds of hours are spent in cram programs prepping for the test.
Next in line are the testing companies that charge $150 for the test.
Some American colleges and universities also will require that a validation service be used to verify the information submitted at a cost $175 to $300.
Then the wait begins as applications percolate through the system.
Finally, student and school are matched up, and the school sends an I-20, which is prerequisite for a student visa application.
The next step is generally a visa specialist, who helps prepare your papers, including your proof of financial responsibility (ability to pay at least a year and a half of school and living fees) and get you ready for the oral interview at the U.S. Consulate.
A $130 fee is then paid to the U.S. Embassy, and the interview date is set. On the day of the interview, people start showing up at the U.S. embassy an hour or two before the doors open.
The embassy approves about 70% of the applicants, but why some get a visa and others don’t is never explained. After interviewing a number of students who have gone through the process, it is clear they were frightened and bewildered by the process.
Biz Times suggests the embassy in Beijing processes around 500 visa applications a day, which would come out to about $2.5 million a year.