[Get tips if you're considering a U.S. public college.]
Still, some students find their academic niche in different settings. In 2011-2012, about 11 percent of all international students were enrolled in U.S. community colleges, two-year institutions with typically low costs. Another third of students were enrolled at private, nonprofit colleges.
Given the wide variety of degree-granting institutions in the United States, international students should research their options before committing, IIE's Blumenthal says.
"There are very many kinds of institutions that are welcoming to foreign students, so they should be looking for the best fit for them," she advises, "not just the one school that they've heard of."
For more international student tips and news, explore the Studying in the United States center.