The purpose of this paper is to examine the return intention of mainland Chinese students studying at prestigious universities in the Unites States. The study employed both quantitative and qualitative methods. Participants were 90 students from three top-tiered universities on the East Coast of the United States. The results of this study highlighted several aspects relating to these elite students' choice regarding return to China and the factors that influence their choices. First, the findings confirm a long-held concern regarding the low returnability rate of Chinese students studying overseas. Second, academic and economic factors have a greater deterrent effect than political and social cultural factors. Third, the most influential predictors in a student's decision to return were job opportunities in China (r = +0.32), family ties (+0.23), and difficulty in obtaining a job in the United States (r = −0.24). Policy implications are discussed.