Student Loans for International Students
Author: Shannon Serpette
Why It’s Hard for International Students to Get Loans
U.S. citizens have the FAFSA they can fill out to learn about their financial aid resources but international students don’t have that all-in-one approach, because they typically aren’t eligible for federal assistance, which includes federal student loans.
73% of international students in the U.S. rely on resources outside the U.S. to finance their education, such as from family members, their home country’s government or universities, or their own personal funds, according to the Institute of International Education.
Compare Student Loans for International Students
International Student Loans With a Cosigner
In the quest for financial aid, international students should pursue private student loans when there are no other options. Here are a few options for private student loans for international students:
The Citizens Bank Student Loan is open to international students if they have a cosigner on the loan application who has a good credit history and is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.
The maximum loan amount for a Citizens Bank Student Loan is up to $150,000 for undergraduates, and $350,000 for graduates. Borrowers can choose between a variable or fixed interest rate loan.
Discover offers private student loans if an international student is going to an eligible U.S. college. The loan does require a creditworthy cosigner who is a permanent resident of the U.S. or is a citizen here. Eligibility, limits, rates, and terms all depends on the loan type.
International Student Loans Without a Cosigner
If an international student isn’t able to find a creditworthy cosigner who’s a citizen in the USA, or simply does not want to use a cosigner, there are private student loans without a cosigner. The following options might be worthwhile for non-citizens to consider.
Prodigy Finance offers private student loans to international students with no cosigner needed. The company was founded in 2007 by three MBA students who saw a need for education loan options for overseas students studying in the U.S.
Instead of using a traditional model for determining risk with borrowers, Prodigy uses what it calls a “borderless model” to determine your potential and other factors beyond just using a credit approval approach. Students in 150 countries can get a student loan or refinance an existing loan with Prodigy – with loan approval in as little as 30 minutes.
Borrowers can get a postgrad student loan or refinance an existing loan. They can have a six-month grace period after they graduate before starting to repay.
To be eligible, students must meet requirements, including living in a country that Prodigy services. They must also have been accepted into an eligible school and program Prodigy supports, and the school they are attending must be outside their home country.
MPOWER Financing is a new kind of private lender that offers student loans for international students who are attending college in the U.S. MPOWER Financing was established in 2016 and is based in Washington, D.C.
This option is unique because the company doesn’t require cosigners, credit history, or collateral. Students of more than 190 nationalities can get loans through MPOWER.
It offers fixed interest rate loans from $2,001 to $50,000 on a repayment term of 10 years, with the option for interest-only payments for the first six months after graduation. Students can pay for tuition or education-related expenses.
To protect its investment, MPOWER considers factors such as what school the students will be attending, what their expected graduation date is, their grades and scores, and any internship or work experience they have in their field. MPOWER also looks at future earnings, so it monitors whether the student is taking on too much debt.
The process may sound lengthy, but all of this information is needed for a formula that can determine an initial approval response in just 15 minutes.
To help its borrowers manage their finances, this program offers courses in financial literacy. If students take advantage of those courses, they’ll have a solid financial base to help them handle their money after graduation. That is one of the perks of this program, in addition to landing financial help for school.
Additional Financial Aid Options
Scholarships for International Students
The internet is a great resource for finding databases that provide lists of scholarships through private, corporate, nonprofit, and government organizations for international students.
We have many resources dedicated to scholarship offerings. Some resources of ours worth considering are our:
Here are some additional online scholarship and grant resources for international students to consider:
- College Board: This site has scholarship information on more than 2,200 programs
- FastWeb: This is a great source for finding scholarships and internships
- Berkeley College International Student Scholarships: This college values its international students, with students from nearly 75 countries attending Berkeley
- Fulbright Foreign Student Program: This grant will typically fund tuition, airfare, an allowance for living expenses, and health insurance
Financial Aid From Educational Institutions
Not many educational institutions provide direct aid to international students, but some will. Typically that aid will be based on academic accomplishments, special skills, talents, or abilities.
Colleges that want to attract top talent across the globe will give direct assistance to international students. Some of those universities include Harvard, Princeton, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania. Private universities with wealthy benefactors may be more likely to help with financial assistance for international students. They often want to provide more cultural diversity at their university.
When an international student has a particular college in mind, they should contact the school’s admissions department to see what financial aid options are available.
If an international student is already enrolled in a U.S. university, but they need more financial assistance, they should contact the international student advisor or the financial aid office.
Of course, students will likely need to prove their academic merit by having stellar scores from standardized admissions tests. They’ll also likely need personal statements and letters of recommendation from teachers or other highly-respected citizens in their country.
To ensure they have the money to attend the college they’ve enrolled in, international students should begin the financial aid process well before the academic years begins, just as U.S. students do.
Make financial aid a priority as you start the process of applying for admission. Securing financial aid as an international student is challenging, but it’s entirely possible. It just requires careful planning in advance and careful research of all your options to help you cover as much of the total cost of your education as possible.