Veera Nadimpalli, an international student from Singapore, was one of the few among her friends who chose to attend college in the United States.
"A lot of my friends actually chose Canada over the U.S. because of [Trump], and I'm like one of the only people who came to the U.S. despite that," the freshman said.
Nadimpalli's experience reflects the results of a study released Monday by the Institute of International Education. The 2017 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange found that overall international student enrollment is growing in the U.S., but that the number of new international students has declined compared to past years.
The decrease is not consistent across the country. States including California, New York and Texas experienced growth in their international student populations.
"I think it has a lot to do with the climate for international students nationally," said Mitchell Chang, professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"[International students who decide to proceed] are probably looking for states that are more welcoming and hospitable," he said. "And California has been very vocal about the fact that we don't necessarily support some federal immigration policies."
If the Trump administration continues its tight immigration policies and restrictions on travel, Chang expects the decrease to continue.
The number of new international students — those enrolling for the first time — at American universities decreased by 3 percent between fall 2015 and fall 2016, a period spanning much of Donald Trump's campaign for president. The report also notes other possible reasons for the decline, including decreasing populations and reductions in government scholarships from countries like Saudi Arabia and Brazil.
The decline only affected 45 percent of U.S. universities; 24 percent of schools found no change from the previous year. Thirty-one percent of campuses also experienced increases in new international student enrollments. And the overall number of international students in the U.S. increased in 2016, reaching a new high of 1.08 million, according to the report.
"Our enrollment hasn't gone down," said Esther Lee, associate director of USC's Office of International Services. "[It] is still very high."
The majority of USC's international students are from China. "I think [USC] being very close to Asia is a benefit," said Lee. "Who doesn't love living in Southern California? So that's another attraction."
Nadimpalli said that she wanted to come to the U.S. because of its flexible education system.
"I did think about the consequences if [Trump] was or was not elected. I think either way I did want to come here," she said.
Nadimpalli said Trump's policies have made studying in the U.S. more difficult. "There's more restrictions and there's so much more documentation and processes you have to go through to get a visa," she said. "And I think that is a bit stressing."
Even though many people she knows decided to avoid the U.S., Nadimpalli said she would not change her decision.
"My parents were definitely more reluctant to send me to the U.S. because of [Trump]," Nadimpalli said. "But after talking to a lot of people my dad was like, 'You know, it's your life. And I was like, yeah, I'm going to go to the U.S."