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Student Loans

Student Loans for Temporary Residents

With an average annual cost of $9,400 for a four-year public university and $37,000 for four-year private universities, many students—U.S. citizens, international students, and temporary residents—will need financial aid for their education. 

The different categories of non-U.S. citizens determine eligibility for federal student aid. Permanent residents are not classified as temporary residents and qualify for the same aid as U.S. citizens.

Every other status on the list below is considered a temporary resident, but not all are eligible for federal financial aid. Most temporary residents can access private student loans with a Social Security number or a qualified cosigner.

Type of non-U.S. citizenDefinitionEligible for federal student aid?
Permanent residentPermanent residents have a “green card.” (The official names for the card are Permanent Resident Card, Resident Alien Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card.)Yes, eligible for the same aid as U.S. citizens
Conditional permanent resident Residents with a green card valid for 2 years. Must file a petition at least 90 days before the conditional green card expires.Yes
Person with nonimmigrant visaFor people who plan to visit for travel or obtain medical treatment in the United States. Must meet additional requirements to use this visa for school.No, international students are not eligible for federal aid
Temporary protected Temporary status is for people who live in a country where it is not safe to return home due to armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary circumstances. It does not make individuals eligible for green cards.No
RefugeeResidents who experienced persecution or fear persecution in their country due to race, religion, nationality, or political opinion. Refugees can apply for a green card after 1 year in the United States.Yes
Person granted asylumSimilar to refugee status, but individuals can seek asylum at United States borders or from within the country.Yes

In this guide:

Student loans for temporary U.S. residents

The U.S. government funds federal student loans. These loans may be eligible for federal repayment, deferment, and loan forgiveness programs. Their fixed interest rates are set by law. It’s wise to prioritize federal student loans when possible. 

Private student loans are from private lenders, including banks, credit unions, and universities. These loans tend to have higher interest rates and are not eligible for federal repayment programs or forgiveness options. 

Federal student loans for temporary U.S. residents

If you are a conditional permanent resident, a person granted asylum, or a refugee, you are eligible for federal student loans. 

Students with nonimmigrant visas do not qualify for federal financial aid. However, we’ve researched private student loan options for international students. Students with temporary protected status do not qualify for federal assistance. 

Permanent residents are eligible for the same federal loans as U.S. citizens, listed below.

Loan typeDirect Subsidized
Eligible noncitizensConditional permanent residents, refugees, and persons granted asylum
Ineligible noncitizensTemporary protected status and persons with nonimmigrant visas
StipulationsUndergraduate students only
Current rates (APR)4.99%
Loan limitsIncrease by $1,000 for the first 3 years of attendance
$5,500 for first-year dependent students
$9,500 for first-year independent students
Loan typeDirect Unsubsidized
Eligible noncitizensConditional permanent residents, refugees, and persons granted asylum
Ineligible noncitizensTemporary protected status and persons with nonimmigrant visas
StipulationsUndergraduate, graduate, and professional students
Current rates (APR)4.99% for undergraduates
6.54% for other degrees
Loan limits (independent students)$9,500 (first-year undergraduate)
$10,500 (second-year undergraduate)
$12,500 (third-year and beyond undergraduate)
$20,500 (graduate or professional)
Loan limits (dependent students)$5,500 (first-year undergraduate)
$6,500 (second-year undergraduate)
$7,500 (third-year and beyond undergraduate)
Loan typeGRAD Plus
Eligible noncitizensConditional permanent residents, refugees, and persons granted asylum
Ineligible noncitizensTemporary protected status and persons with nonimmigrant visas
StipulationsGraduate and professional students
Current rates (APR)7.54%
Loan limits$20,500
Loan typeParent PLUS
Eligible noncitizensConditional permanent residents, refugees, and persons granted asylum
Ineligible noncitizensTemporary protected status and persons with nonimmigrant visas
StipulationsParent and student must have eligible resident status
Current rates (APR)7.54%
Loan limitsCost of attendance minus other aid received

Private student loans for temporary U.S. residents

Eligibility for private loans often depends on whether the applicant has a Social Security number. If so, they can apply for most private loans. 

Most people with a green card also have a Social Security number, so they can apply for most private loans. This means many permanent residents, conditional permanent residents, refugees, people granted asylum, and people with temporary protected status can apply for private student loans. 

Student loan borrowers who don’t have a Social Security number but are studying in the U.S. on an eligible visa might be able to apply for private student loans with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident. 

Private lendersLoans for temporary residents?Application questions about citizenship?
College Ave and EarnestYes, but temporary residents must have a Social Security number and a qualified cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.Yes
Sallie MaeYes, but temporary residents must have either a Social Security number or an eligible cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.Yes
AscentYes, but temporary residents must have a qualified cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.Yes

We’ve compiled our research on these lenders in more detail.

College Ave 

Undergraduate Student Loans

  • Competitive interest rates
  • Choose your repayment term
  • 4 in-school repayment options

College Ave offers student loans for temporary residents, but the application requirements are stricter than some other lenders. Borrowers who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents must have both a social security number and an eligible cosigner. 

Key features:

  • Loan limits: Up to 100% of the cost of attendance
  • Undergraduate interest rates (APR): 3.99%% – 14.96%
  • Graduate interest rates (APR): 3.99%% – 12.99%
  • Repayment options: 4 options that range from 5 to 15 years 
  • Fees: None
  • Other requirements: Must have a Social Security number and apply with a cosigner who is a U.S. permanent resident or U.S. citizen

Sallie Mae

Undergraduate Student Loans

  • Easy application process
  • Flexible deferment options
  • Cosigner release after 12 on-time monthly payments

Temporary residents may be eligible for Sallie Mae’s loans if they have a Social Security number or add a U.S. citizen or permanent resident as a cosigner.

Key features:

  • Loan limits: Up to 100% of the cost of attendance
  • Undergraduate interest rates (APR): 4.5% – 15.33%
  • Graduate interest rates (APR): 5.25% – 15.10%
  • Repayment options: 3 options (fixed, deferred, or interest-only)
  • Fees: None 
  • Other requirements: Must have a Social Security number or apply with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident

Earnest

Undergraduate Student Loans

  • Choice of loan terms
  • Grace period of 9 months after graduation
  • Skip 1 payment annually once you begin repayment

Earnest requires non-U.S. citizen applications to have a Social Security number and a cosigner who is a citizen or permanent resident. 

International students who don’t have a Social Security number—including persons with nonimmigrant visas—are instructed to contact the Client Happiness Team. There is no guarantee that these students are eligible, but Earnest tries to work with each borrower.

Key features:

  • Loan limits: Up to 100% of the cost of attendance
  • Undergraduate and graduate interest rates (APR): Starting at 4.49%
  • Repayment options: 4 repayment options (standard, extended term, rate reduction, and interest-only)
  • Fees: None
  • Other requirements: Must have a Social Security number and apply with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident

Ascent

Undergraduate Student Loans

  • 0.25% rate reduction for autopay 
  • 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward
  • In-school deferment available

Ascent has specific student loan offerings for temporary residents and other international students, but they require a cosigner. 

Key features:

  • Loan limits: Up to $200,000
  • Undergraduate interest rates (APR): 4.62%15.18% (cosigned)
  • Graduate interest rates (APR): 5.62%16.43% (cosigned)
  • Repayment options: 5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years
  • Fees: None
  • Other requirements: Students who are not U.S. permanent residents or U.S. citizens can apply with a cosigner who is

How to apply for student loans if you’re a temporary resident

The application process depends on whether you are applying for federal student loans or private loans. If you are eligible to apply for federal student loans, complete the application, review your financial aid package, and determine whether you need additional loans from private lenders. 

Do I need a cosigner?

Cosigners are often family members or friends who agree to take on the responsibility of your loan. You and your cosigner are responsible for repaying the loan on time. 

Most undergraduate and graduate federal loans don’t require a cosigner. The exception is Parent PLUS loans, which parents take out on behalf of their children.

Most private student loans for temporary residents require a cosigner. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 90% of all private student loans have cosigners. To qualify, your cosigner must be a permanent U.S. resident or U.S. citizen. Income and credit score requirements apply as well and vary by lender. 

Federal student loans

To apply for federal student loans, you must first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

Completing the application is straightforward, but it’s essential to submit the forms by the deadline (June 30, 2024, for the 2023 – 2024 school year). 

We’ve outlined the steps below:

  1. Create an account, and get an FSA ID.
  2. Start the FAFSA form. If you are a refugee or person granted asylum and cannot access information about your family’s finances, you might need to submit proof of your situation
  3. Provide information about personal demographics, finances, and dependency. 
  4. Once the application is complete, sign digitally, and submit it.

If you are waiting for your official designation status from the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, you can still submit the FAFSA. However, you can’t receive aid disbursements until the designation status process is finalized. 

Private student loans

The application process for private student loans varies by lender. Still, you’ll follow these steps in many cases:

  1. Gather all your documents and other information, including your Social Security number, address, school information, requested loan amount, employment information, financial details, and two personal contacts.
  2. If applicable, identify your cosigner and ensure they are willing to accept the application and complete it. 
  3. Submit your application for review. 

Once you submit your application, the lender will complete credit checks for you and your cosigner. From there, it will discuss terms, rates, and approval. 

Alternatives to student loans for temporary residents

If you can’t get approved for federal or private loans, you might consider other options.

International students with nonimmigrant visas can check with their country’s embassy or government to see if student loans or other financial aid is available. 

Temporary residents might also take the following steps to qualify for additional funding

  1. Schedule a meeting with the financial aid office at your college. Some schools have resources, such as emergency aid or loans from the school. 
  2. Inquire whether payment plans through your school are an option if you can’t pay all your fees at once. 
  3. Scholarships are available through private companies, colleges, and even the state. Citizenship requirements vary depending on the scholarship, but online searches can help.