The "Trump effect" is having a devastating impact on foreign applications to US colleges

President Donald Trump's travel ban and xenophobic rhetoric is drastically impacting the number of foreign applications at colleges and universities across the country, according to a study published this week by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

The AACRAO surveyed 250 higher education institutions across the country, and found that 39% are reporting a decline in applications from international students — partly thanks to Trump's legally dubious travel ban.

Any decline in foreign students should be reason for concern to both institutions of higher education and the U.S. economy.

International students injected nearly $36 billion into the U.S. economy in 2015, according to a report from the Institute of International Education.

The biggest decline in foreign applications is from the Middle East, the heart of the Muslim world and an area Trump has attacked at length.

According to the survey, 39% of surveyed institutions saw a decline in undergraduate applications for the Fall 2017 semester from Middle Eastern countries, while 31% saw declines in graduate applications from Middle Eastern countries for the same time period.

Applications from India and China — countries that make up roughly 47% of the international students in the U.S. — also saw a decline, according to the report. 

Trump has lobbed attacks at China for years, while two men from India were shot in February, one fatally, by a xenophobic man in Kansas who thought they were Middle Eastern.

Roughly a quarter of surveyed institutions reported a drop in undergraduate applications from both India and China. Graduate applications from China saw an even steeper 32% decline, according to the report.

The biggest concerns from international students, according to the study, included a perception that "the climate in the U.S. is now less welcoming to individuals from other countries."

The study also reported that the travel ban is having a direct impact on international students, who are reporting concerns that, "benefits and restrictions around visas could change, especially around the ability to travel, re-entry after travel, and employment opportunities."