There are several resources that prospective international students may want to explore. However, because every student has unique financial needs, not one is ideal for everyone. This article shares some of the things you’ll need to find out before choosing which international student loan to avail of.
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What are the options for international student loans?
There are two main options for borrowing money for college, graduate school, or career training – federal student loans and private student loans. Private student loans provide you more leeway on your monthly repayments but federal student loans are more affordable overall.
Federal student loans are usually the cheapest option and they include a few bonuses like low-interest rates and grace periods. However, federal college loans have a lot of strict deadlines and tough credit-worthy requirements. You’ll need to have a steady income or be a citizen with ample qualifications to obtain the necessary financial aid.
As international students are typically non-U.S. citizens, it can be very difficult for them to access federal student loans – most of which are designed only for U.S. citizens or permanent residents. You may, however, be eligible if you meet their criteria. In this case, international students who need funding often turn to private loans.
The majority of lenders will require you to have a U.S. citizen co-signer to get a private loan, though beware that if your co-signer has bad credit their name will become associated with the loan too.
Who can qualify for an international student loan?
To qualify as a borrower, most international students need to meet eligibility requirements, such as being a creditworthy cosigner and being enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school. In some cases, students with a Social Security Number have more options than students without. That is why it is best to get an SSN as an international student.
Here are some companies that provide loans to international students.
Borrowing money in the U.S. can be difficult for international students and if they don’t have a cosigner, they may need collateral to be issued a loan. One of the major financing companies that fill this gap by offering private student loans that don’t require a co-signer is MPOWER Financing.
MPOWER Private Student Loans are for international undergraduate and graduate students in the U.S. or Canada who are within two years of finishing their degree about to start a one- or two-year program at one of 350 approved schools.
Students make interest-only payments for the first six months while they’re in school and for six months after graduation. After that period, borrowers make full repayments until the loan is fully repaid. And while there’s no application fee or prepayment fee, there’s a 5% origination fee on every loan.
With MPOWER, undergraduate students have the option of taking out loans without a cosigner plus the benefits of visa support letters, immigration resources & scholarship opportunities for graduate-level students.
International students without a US co-signer can turn to Prodigy Finance for a private student loan as well, but only those looking to get their graduate degree in any business-related field, science & technology, or math.
You can choose between three repayment term options, with any required payments deferred while the student is in school. Outside of that, you’re free to make payments anytime without penalties or fees. Prodigy provides a wide range of loans without any fees for applications or prepayments, just a 4% administration fee on each loan made.
Prodigy has a clean & simple interest rate, meaning it won’t compound throughout the life of the loan and save you a lot of money. It also reports payments to the credit bureau where they can help build your score.
Citizens, One offers student loans to international students with creditworthy co-signers. You can opt for interest-only or fixed monthly repayments and there are no application, origination, or prepayment fees.
This company offers some of the lowest interest rates available for its loans. They’re especially great if you’re a graduate student – they offer medical residency and bar study loans, which are better if you want lower monthly payments.
You can improve your qualifying rate for a loan with a 0.25% interest rate discount by enrolling in autopay and another 0.25% reduction if you have a Citizens Bank account or loan.
Ascent offers two types of student loans, co-signed and non-co-signed. The latter is great for people who don’t have anyone to sign with them.
Access offers a range of payment reduction and postponement options that are rare among other private lenders. Borrowers can choose a repayment schedule that starts with a lower monthly payment. This payment then gradually goes up as time goes on.
This can be valuable in managing student loan debt and for those who are just starting or who are in low-paying fields and who will likely make more money as they move up in their careers.
If you can’t make your payments for a brief period, one to three months at the maximum, you are eligible for forbearance. What this means is that you will be charged interest over a longer amount of time, but it will save you from breaking the loan agreement early. Interest continues to accrue during forbearance, including for the majority of private student loans.
In addition to a unique reward program, students may take advantage of Ascent’s exclusive opportunities. Parents and friends can get a referral bonus when referring their friends, there’s a small rebate available 1% after graduation, and active individuals can use scholarships to help pay off tuition.
Discover Student Loans, run by Discover Bank, can help international students in the United States to borrow money for their education. This service accepts applicants who attend an eligible school and provides a co-signer. There are no additional fees and there is no need for any monthly payments while studying. Discover’s loans can cover 100% of education costs, so some lucky borrowers will be able to cover the total cost and won’t have to research additional sources of financial aid.
Discover is one of the only lending companies that offer multi-year approval to students with or without a Social Security Number. This saves students from having to have multiple credit inquiries by allowing them to skip this step in the process.
Students who receive an international education and study in America can apply for a loan from Sallie Mae as long as they have a cosigner. Though Sallie Mae doesn’t provide personalized interest rates until an application is completed, they offer discounts on their loans when borrowers choose in-school repayment and auto-debit payments. There are no origination or prepayment fees and you may just need to begin paying interest for up to one year after graduation.
This is a type of student loan at competitive rates, where you can choose between interest-only, fixed, or deferred. As a former government entity-turned-private lender, they can also facilitate various forms of student aid.
Many credit unions & community banks offer private student loans. It can be difficult to compare these companies on your own because of the large number of options out there – but it doesn’t have to be!
LendKey’s platform is a convenient way to find loans since it sorts through all the offers in its database to ultimately match borrowers with one that provides terms that suit them best. You provide some information in a form and LendKey tells you the interest rates from its partnering lenders.
Automation makes it easier to process a new loan application and close that loan more quickly. They handle your entire loan from getting you approved to post-loan servicing.