Federal student loans may not be an option for you if you’re looking for an international student education loan. However, if you’re coming to the US to study there are private student loan options available, including specialist student loans for international students without a cosigner.
This guide covers all you need to know if you’re wondering: can an international student apply for a student loan? We’ll also cover some of the best student loans for international students to help you choose the right one for you.
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Can an international student apply for a student loan?
International students in the US can apply for certain student loans — however, it’s important to know the difference between Federal student loans and private student loans.
Federal student loans are available to US citizens and eligible non-citizens — usually Green Card holders¹. However, if you’re an international student coming to the US to study, you’ll probably not be able to access any Federal aid.
Instead, you’ll want to look at private student loan options through regular banks or specialist providers — some ideas to kickstart your research are coming up a little later.
Who qualifies for an international student loan?
Different private student loan companies will set their own criteria to decide who is eligible to apply.
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Different providers have different eligibility requirements, so it’s worth shopping around to find the right one for you.
What types of student loans are there?
You’ll come across a few different types of student loans aimed at international students, which can include US citizens studying abroad, or international students headed to the US for study.
|Here are the most common international student loan types|
Can you get an international student loan without a cosigner?
Some specialist companies offer international student loans without a US cosigner. That’s helpful if you’re coming to study and don’t have a local relative or trusted friend who may be able to support your loan application.
International loans offered with no cosigner may have different eligibility requirements and APR options compared to other international student loans. We’ll cover a few options to check out in just a moment.
How do you pay for your student loan from abroad?
If you’re an international student making loan repayments from another country or currency, you could save with Wise’s low cost international payments.
Create a Wise account for free online, to arrange safe and speedy one off or recurring payments in over 50 currencies. You’ll get the real mid-market exchange rate every time, with low, transparent fees which can mean you save up to 6x against sending money with your regular bank.
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What are the best student loans for international students?
Looking for the best student loans for international students in the US? Here are some top providers to check out to help you get a great deal.
Ascent offers private student loans for undergraduates, graduates and PHD students, with specialist products aimed at medical, dental and law students at eligible institutions.
There are also bootcamp loans for people looking to take short study courses to improve their career prospects. Here’s an introduction to the key facts, based on an undergraduate applying for an Ascent loan product²:
|Minimum credit score|
Ascent’s mission is to allow underserved students to access the funds they need to improve their own lives and those of their families. Flexible loan products are available for both local and international students in the US, including those with DACA status.
However, if you’re a non-US citizen in the US the chances are that you’ll only be able to access a loan if you have a cosigner with an acceptable credit score. Not sure if Ascent is right for you? Here are another few advantages and disadvantages to consider.
Citizens bank is the 13th largest retail bank in the US, serving over 5 million customers with a broad range of products including private student loans.
International students in the US can apply for multi-year approval of a Citizens Bank student loan with a fixed APR based on their situation and the loan details. Here are some of the headlines about Citizens Bank international student loans³:
|Minimum credit score|
If you’ve got a US based cosigner with a strong credit score you may be able to access a Citizens Bank international student loan with a relatively strong APR.
As APRs are fixed you’ll also know that the amount you pay won’t go up over the course of the loan, and you can even get multi-year approvals for peace of mind that your loans will be available for the duration of your course.
Discover private student loans are available for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students. Specific loans are also available for healthcare professionals, MBA students and people taking law and law related courses at eligible institutions.
International students in the US can apply if they have a credit-worthy cosigner who can support their application. Here’s what you’ll need to know about Discover international student loans⁵:
|Minimum credit score|
Discover is a household name, serving many US citizens. If you have a family member or trusted friend who can cosign on your international student loan you may find you can get a good APR and a flexible loan package through Discover, to cover the full costs of your studies.
Before you decide whether or not to use Discover for your international student loan, have a look at these pros and cons.
MPower Financing was set up by a group of global citizens — often former international students themselves — to serve promising international and DACA students who may not be able to get loans from traditional lenders. Flexible loan options are available, covering students attending some 350 institutions across the US and Canada. Here are the key stats⁷:
|Minimum credit score|
MPower Financing interest rates will vary based on the loan type and your eligibility, but you may be able to get up to a 1.5% discount on the rate if you fulfil certain criteria. These do vary according to the details of the loan but can include meeting requirements like⁹:
- Automating your repayments
- Making consecutive on-time repayments
- Providing proof of graduation and employment
Not sure if MPower Finance is for you? Here are a few more pros and cons to consider.
Sallie Mae private student loans cover undergraduates and graduates, with specific products for students in healthcare and law. International students can apply if they have the support of a cosigner who must be a US citizen or permanent resident.
Repayment terms are flexible, which means you can choose to either defer repayments until after graduation, or pay throughout your course to reduce the overall cost.
If you pay a minimum repayment on a regular basis you may even qualify for a lower APR which brings down the price you’ll pay further. Here are some key points about Sallie Mae private student loans for undergraduates — the product terms and conditions may vary if you’re applying for a specialist loan¹¹:
|Minimum credit score|
While having a US based cosigner isn’t possible for every international student in the US, it can mean you’re more likely to get a competitive APR.
With Sallie Mae it may also mean you’re more likely to get approval — in fact, you’re 4x more likely to get a Sallie Mae private student loan with a cosigner.
Here are a few pros and cons to think about when you’re choosing between Sallie Mae and any of our other top providers for your international student loan.
Hopefully that covers all you need to know about how to get a student loan for international students including some options for students with a US based cosigner, and our top pick for a student loan for international students without a cosigner.
Getting an international education can be a fantastic opportunity to build your skills, explore a new culture and improve your long term career prospects. And where better than the US to spread your wings and study abroad. Use our guide to the best student loan for international students to help you pick the right match for your needs — and good luck!
Sources checked on 01.10.2022
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