Private Student Loan Application Process

If you do not qualify for federal loans or if they are not enough to help you cover all your expenses, you might choose to apply for private student loans through banks or other financial institutions. Because students typically can’t defer them the way they can federal loans, private loans should only be used as a last resort. However, in some cases it is necessary, and your personal credit will be checked to determine the interest rates of your loans.

Before Applying

Before applying for a private student loan, you should know exactly how much you need to borrow. To do this, review the financial aid award letter sent to you by your school. Next, find a loan that meets your needs. You can use our Loan Comparison Tool to help you find a loan that suits you.

Next, you will need to collect all the information you will need for the application. This includes:

  • School information, including school name, major, grade, and school term for which you need the loan
  • Social Security number (as an international student, this may not be applicable)
  • Telephone numbers
  • Current addresses, both for your home and your school
  • Personal reference information and phone number
  • Gross income information
  • Residence information, including whether you own or rent, and the monthly housing payment
  • Requested loan amount

Application and Credit Check

First, you will need to submit an application and undergo a credit check. International students coming to the United States to study generally do not have a credit score, and so are required to have a US co-signer. A co-signer is a person who undertakes your loan with you, and is jointly responsible for repaying your loan should you fail to do so. Having a co-signer will increase your chances for loan approval, as well as lower interest rates.

First, complete the application online. After you have completed your part of the student loan application, your co-signer will need to apply, so make sure that you share your application number with your co-signer.

As part of your online application, you will receive a disclosure showing a range of interest rates that are available for the loan you applied for. Later, you will receive another disclosure that shows the specific interest rate you qualified for.

Next you will get an email that tells you what your next steps are. Follow these steps and provide your lender with the requested information.

Sign the Documents

First, sign the consumer credit agreement, then the self-certification form to show that you’re verified the amount you need to borrow. Additionally, your school will verify that you have enrolled and that your requested loan amount does not exceed the cost of attendance. The school certification may impact the amount you requested.

Next, you will need to sign your Promissory Note, which states that you will repay the loan in full, and complete the Self-Certification Form.

Loan Disbursement

Finally, you must accept the loan terms, and you will receive your loan proceeds from your school once they have been applied to your student account.

Repaying Your Loan

With some loans, you won’t have to start paying them back for a certain period of time. For example, the government will take care of the interest on Federal Stafford Subsidized loans while you are in school. After school, students will generally have several months before they must begin repaying federal loans. With private loans, however, the period of repayment generally begins right away, even while the student is in school.

While applying for student loans may seem like a complicated process, it’s really not—and very often it is necessary for students who want to attend school.

Watch videos and learn more with our International Financial Aid Resources center

Find My Student Loan

Use this comparison tool to find the right international student loan, study abroad loan, or foreign-enrolled loan for you.