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International students who want to study in the United States will find the process of securing financial aid is much more difficult than it is for U.S. residents. However, there are several international student loans available.
The guide below aims to help international students get started with the process of funding their U.S. education.
On this page:
- Why It’s Hard for International Students to Get Loans
- Compare Student Loans for International Students
- International Student Loans With a Cosigner
- International Student Loans Without a Cosigner
- Additional Financial Aid Options
Why It’s Hard for International Students to Get Loans
U.S. citizens have the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (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
|Company||Rates (APR)||Max. Loan||Cosigner|
|Citizens Bank||1.54% – 12.04%||$100,000||Needed|
|Ascent Cosigned||3.18% – 14.92%||$200,000||Needed|
|MPOWER||7.52% – 14.98%||$50,000||Not needed|
|Prodigy Finance||5.00% – 8.50%||Not disclosed||Not needed|
International Student Loans With a Cosigner
Adding a cosigner to a private student loan can improve your application and lead to lower rates. For this reason, it is recommended that international students try to add a cosigner to their loan to ensure they receive the best terms.
Here are two highly rated private student loans for international students.
1.54% – 12.04%
$1,000 – $150,000
5, 10, or 15 years
The Citizens Bank Student Loan is available 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.
Borrowers can release their cosigner from the loan after making 36 on-time payments. Once the cosigner is released, the loan will be the primary borrower’s sole responsibility.
- Variable rates: 1.54% – 9.65%
- Fixed rates: 4.72% – 12.04%
- Rate reduction: 0.25% automatic payment discount and 0.25% discount if you have an account with the bank
- Fees: None
3.18% – 14.92%
$1,000 – $200,000
5, 10, or 15 years
Ascent offers student loans for international students through their Cosigned Credit-Based Loan. Cosigners can be released from the loan after 24 on-time payments only if the primary borrower is a U.S. citizen or has U.S. permanent resident status.
- Variable rates: 3.18% – 13.92%
- Fixed rates: 4.00% – 14.92%
- Rate reduction: 0.25% automatic payment discount
- Fees: None
International Student Loans Without a Cosigner
If an international student isn’t able to find a creditworthy cosigner who’s a U.S. citizen, or simply does not want to use a cosigner, there are private student loans without a cosigner. Here are two companies that offer these loans.
7.52% – 14.98%
$2,001 – $50,000
Up to 10 years
MPOWER Financing is a new kind of private lender that offers student loans for international students who are attending college in the U.S. The company doesn’t require cosigners, credit history, or collateral on their loans.
Factors MPOWER considers to determine eligibility include what school the students will be attending, what their expected graduation date is, their grades, and an 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.
- Fixed rates: 7.52% – 14.98%
- Rate reduction: Up to 1.50%
- Fees: 5% origination fee and a small fee for late or invalid payments
5.00% – 8.50%
7, 10, 15, or 20 years
Prodigy Finance offers private student loans to international students with no cosigner needed.
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.
- Fixed rates: 5.00% – 8.50%
- Rate reduction: Not disclosed
- Fees: An undisclosed administrative fee
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. Here is our scholarships guide:
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. Check out our study of which colleges give international students the most financial aid to see some of the best options.
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 year 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.
Note: If you are a U.S. student looking to study abroad, check out our Study Abroad Loans Guide.
Author: Shannon Serpette