Many or all companies we feature compensate us. Compensation and editorial
research influence how products appear on a page.
Student Loans

Student Loans for Temporary Residents

The different categories of non-U.S. citizens determine eligibility for federal student aid in the United States. Permanent residents qualify for the same aid as U.S. citizens. However, not all temporary residents qualify for federal aid. 

Here’s everything you need to know about financial aid as a noncitizen.  

What is a temporary resident?

Permanent residents qualify for federal financial aid. Every other status on the chart below is considered a temporary resident, but only some are eligible for federal financial aid. 

Type of noncitizenEligible for federal student aid?
Permanent resident
Conditional permanent resident
Person with nonimmigrant visa
Temporary protected 
Refugee
Person granted asylum

Here’s an in-depth breakdown about each status type, including permanent residents and temporary residents. 

  • Permanent residents: These students have a “green card.” (The official names for the card are Permanent Resident Card, Resident Alien Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card.)
  • Conditional permanent resident: These students are residents with a green card that is valid for two years. They must file a petition at least 90 days before the conditional green card expires.
  • Person with nonimmigrant visa: These students plan to visit for travel or obtain medical treatment in the United States. They must meet additional requirements to use this visa for school, and they are not eligible for federal loans.
  • Temporary protected: Temporary status is for people who live in a country where it is unsafe to return home due to armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other. extraordinary circumstances. It does not make individuals eligible for green cards, and they are not eligible for federal loans.
  • Refugee: Residents 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 one year in the United States.
  • Person granted asylum: This status is similar to refugee status, but individuals can seek asylum at United States borders or from within the country.

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 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 permanent resident, conditional permanent resident, a person granted asylum, or a refugee, you are eligible for the same federal student loans as citizens. Here are the federal loans you can get. 

Loan typeStipulations
Direct subsidizedUndergraduate students only
Direct unsubsidized Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students
Grad PLUSGraduate and professional students
Parent PLUSParent and student must have eligible resident status

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

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 that 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 
Sallie Mae
Earnest
Ascent

College Ave: Best overall

LendEDU rating: 5 out of 5

  • Must provide a Social Security number and secure an eligible cosigner who is either a U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident.
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Straightforward application with no additional fees

College Ave offers student loans for temporary residents, but the application requirements are stricter than those of other lenders. Borrowers who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents must have a Social Security number and an eligible cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.

Interest rates are competitive and start at 4.07%. You can borrow up to 100% of the cost of attendance, which is helpful for students without savings or scholarships. The application process is straightforward, and there aren’t any fees. 

Sallie Mae: Best for cosigners

LendEDU rating: 4.8 out of 5

  • Need U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner
  • Cosigner release after 12 consecutive on-time payments
  • Loans cover up to 100% of the cost of attendance

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. Sallie Mae also allows for cosigner release after 12 on-time monthly payments, making it a solid choice for cosigners who do not want long-term involvement. 

Loan amounts are up to 100% of the cost of attendance, and interest rates start at 4.50%. Sallie Mae also offers flexible repayment options—fixed payments, deferred payments or interest-only—which makes it easier for a recent graduate with limited income to repay loans successfully. 

Earnest: Best for no fees

LendEDU rating: 4.7 out of 5

  • Requires Social Security number and a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Students without a Social Security could still be eligible by working with the lender
  • 9-month grace period after graduation and an annual option to skip one payment

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 at 855-545-1958 or via chat. There is no guarantee these students are eligible, but Earnest tries to work with every borrower.

Like other top lenders, Earnest offers loans that cover up to 100% of the cost of attendance. Interest rates are competitive and start at 4.11%.

 Earnest also has some unique perks that set the company apart—borrowers have a 9-month grace period after graduation and can skip one payment each year. The additional flexibility is helpful for recent graduates.  

Ascent: Best for eligibility

LendEDU rating: 4.3 out of 5

  • Requires U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner
  • 1% cash-back reward on the principal at graduation
  • Total borrowable amount is $200,000

Ascent has specific student loans for temporary residents and other international students. Still, they require a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident. Student loan rates start at 4.09%.

Loan limits might be lower than other providers since students can only borrow up to $200,000. But if you need less than $200,000, it won’t impact you. Borrowers can also take advantage of the company’s 1% cash-back reward and 0.25% rate reduction for autopay, both of which reduce the loan cost. 

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

The application process depends on whether you apply for federal or private student 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 our data, about 90% of all private student loans have cosigners. Your cosigner must be a permanent U.S. resident or U.S. citizen to qualify. Income and credit score requirements apply as well and vary by lender. 

Federal student loans

You must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal student loans. 

Completing the application is straightforward, but submitting the forms by the deadline (June 30, 2025, for the 2024 – 2025 school year) is essential. 

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 and complete the application. 
  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

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

International students with nonimmigrant visas can check with their country’s embassy or government to see whether student loans and other financial aid are 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.

Recap of student loans for temporary residents

LenderBest forOur rating
U.S. Department of EducationFederal student loansNot rated
College AveOverall5/5
Sallie MaeCosigners4.8/5
EarnestNo fees4.7/5
AscentEligibility4.3/5