The number of international students coming to the United States has increased from 48,486 in 1959-1960 to 623,805 in the 2007-2008 academic years (Open Doors, 2008). These students contributed $15.5 billion to the United States economy, making education the nation's fifth largest service export (Open Doors, 2008). The literature has focused on Asian international students, who make up 61% of the international student body. African international students however make up only about 6% of the international student body; with Kenya and Nigeria regularly making the top 20 list of sending countries (Open Doors, 2008). There is a gap in the literature on the phenomenological essence of the challenges faced by these students and the factors they attribute to their success. Six students from Western Sub-Saharan Africa were interviewed in-depth. The findings indicate that financial challenges were the greatest for these students, followed closely by cultural challenges. The financial challenges were responsible for their feelings of homesickness, psychological stress, alienation and isolation, reduced time for study and social activities given the need to work. Cultural differences were responsible for their perceptions of a lack of social support. Surprisingly racial discrimination and stereotypes were not considered a challenge. Africa is currently the most under-developed continent and African universities have received renewed attention by philanthropic organizations and universities in the United States seeking to support them by developing long-term partnerships in critical fields (Coombe, 1991; Damtew & Altbach, 2004; "Africa," 2009). Inadequate equipment, facilities, finances and the resultant loss of its best and brightest students has had a negative effect on Africa's economic development (Bloom, Canning, & Chan, 2006; Doss, Evenson & Ruther, 2003; Erinosho, 2008, Fischer & Lindow, 2008; Ndulu, 2003; Ramphele, 2003; Sall, 2003; Sawyerr, 2003; Samoff & Carrol, 2002). The findings have implications for the university, faculty, incoming students, current students, international agencies and non-profit donor agencies seeking to improve economic development in Africa by adapting support systems to meet the needs of these self-financed students who wish to return home and make a difference in their communities.