International Student Loan FAQ
What is an International Student Loan?
Federal student loans are popular with US students in the USA, but they are not available to international students. International Student Loans are specialized private education loans that are available for international students who are studying in the USA or Canada. International students will have to apply with a qualified cosigner most of the time and should only apply for international student loans after exhausting all scholarships, personal funds and other options. If you're not able to find a cosigner keep in mind that loans without a cosigner are available to students at select colleges and universities.
Lenders that require you to have a cosigner will typically give better terms for better credit history, so when you apply, find a cosigner with the best credit history to improve your rates and fees.
How do International Student Loans work?
If you need to borrow money to help pay for university abroad, it is important to understand how these loans work.
Student loans fall into two main categories: private student loans and federal student loans. Federal student loans are generally only available to US students. Student loans generally offer lower monthly payments and have lower interest rates than other types of private loans.
Repayment terms are also usually more generous / relaxed, and many don't require full payments while you are still attending school and offer a period of time after graduation before repayment starts.
Student loans are usually disbursed (paid) directly to your school at set times a year to pay for direct university-related expenses. It is less common for the funds to be transferred directly to the student. Student loans are meant to help you cover the difference in costs between your financial aid, scholarships or grants and what college actually costs.
How do I apply for a student loan?
You can find out if you are eligible and compare lenders using our loan comparison tool on this page - it takes less than 10 seconds to find out if a lender is available for you. You can then apply right online. Approval of your loan can be as quick as a few weeks.
Who is eligible to apply for international student loans?
Students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents and who are attending an eligible U.S. or Canadian college or university.
Borrowers are almost always required to have a creditworthy cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or a non-citizen permanent resident. We encourage you to use our loan comparison tool to see which loans you are eligible for. Loans that do not require a cosigner are increasingly available.
What loans are available?
We have designed the first ever international student loan comparison tool that will match you with lenders based on your needs. Simply complete a quick application and we will match you with all of the available lenders. To see which loans work for you, check out our international student loan comparison tool.
With these loan options, students can borrow up to the full cost of their education, minus other aid received. Our loans help students save money, build good credit, and pay off their student loan faster.
What can international student loans be used for?
International student loans, like all private education loans, can be used for education-related expenses including such things as tuition, books, fees, insurance, transportation, room and board and other school-related expenses. Read more...
What is the maximum loan amount that I can apply for?
You can apply for up to the total cost of education, minus other aid, as determined by your school. To determine your maximum loan amount, or what can be included in your loan, you will need to contact your school's financial aid office. After you apply and receive credit approval, your school must certify the amount of the loan.
I'm a non-US citizen nor a US-permanent resident studying in a destination outside the US, am I eligible for a loan?
Unfortunately, our loan programs are for international students from anywhere in the world studying in the United States, or for US students studying abroad. We do not currently have a program for international students studying elsewhere in the world, even with a US cosigner.
What if no lenders appear on my comparison tool?
Unfortunately if there are no lenders that appear after you do the comparison tool, then we do not have a loan program for the school. Our best advice is to contact your school, as they should know if there are any loan programs available to their international students.
When I take out a student loan, how much do I pay back and when?
The interest rate and repayment will depend on the loan option and lender you select. After you select the loan that works best for you, you will need to review the terms or contact the lender directly with your questions. If your loan requires a cosigner the interest rate is calculated based on an index plus a margin that will add an additional percentage interest rate depending on your cosigner's creditworthiness. Based on their creditworthiness, an additional interest rate will be added to the index which will be the total interest rate you owe and at that point you can determine whether you'd like to proceed. Every lender's range varies so it is important to do the loan comparison and review the interest rate and repayment terms.
Interest begins to accrue when the funds are disbursed to your school. Interest will accrue on your loan while you are in school, even if you defer repayments until after you graduate.
What if I do not have a cosigner? What if my cosigner is a non-US citizen? Or, how can I find a cosigner?
A cosigner is required for many international student loan programs. When required, the cosigner must be a US citizen or US permanent resident, with good credit, who has lived in the US for the past two years. Non-US citizens or non-US permanent residents cannot act as a cosigner. Although we are not able to assist with finding a cosigner, it is common to ask close friends or family members. Students attending select colleges and universities in the US or Canada and who meet specific criteria are able to apply for a loan without a cosigner. If you do not have a cosigner you will want to see if you're eligible for a no-cosigner loan by using our international student loan comparison tool.
Can I apply for an international student loan before being accepted to my school?
While you can begin the loan application prior to being accepted to your school, you will need to be accepted with your student visa to finalize the loan.
What if I need to show proof of funds before I obtain a visa? Can I show this loan as satisfying this requirement?
Some students are able to use loan approval as proof of funds, but it's not easy and it's up to the school and consular officer if they'll accept a loan approval as proper funds. You would need to apply for the loan now, list the school you plan to attend, get initially approved, then use that initial approval to complete your acceptance to the school.
I need proof of funds before I can enroll, can I use loans?
Typically you need to be admitted and enrolled, and have your visa, in order to apply. Some students are able to use loan approval as proof of funds, but it's not easy and it's up to the school and consular officer if they'll accept a loan approval as proper funds. You would need to apply for the loan now, list the school you plan to attend, get initially approved, then use that initial approval to complete your acceptance to the school.
You will also have to provide a valid student visa in order to finalize the loan. After you apply and receive credit approval, your school must certify the amount of the loan. The proceeds are then disbursed directly to the school.
My school is not on the list, can I still get a loan?
If your school does not appear on our eligible school list, then we unfortunately do not have a loan program for you. We recommend contacting your school directly as they may know if there are any loan programs available to their international students.
Are there application deadlines?
No. You may apply for an International Student Loan at any time.
If I obtained a loan last year, can I get another loan again this year?
Yes. You can reapply each academic term for a loan.
What if I have questions about my loan account?
If you have any questions about your account you should contact your lender directly for support.
Is there a credit check for private student loans?
Yes. Private loans are issued to borrowers by formal lending institutions. Just like a mortgage or a car loan, your credit history will determine if you are approved and what rate you may qualify for. These loans are treated like any other consumer loan in that respect. Most lenders will require a credit-worthy cosigner whose credit will also be checked.
What information do I need to apply for an international student loan?
In order to complete an application with most lenders, you will need to provide the following information as a minimum:
Your full name, social security number, date of birth, your permanent address and the number of years you have lived there.
We have information here about Social Security Numbers and International Student Loans
What happens if I cannot repay my loan?
Lenders will not forgive loans that are not repaid due to the borrower not finding employment or not budgeting well enough to include their repayments. A borrower would have to prove that there are mitigating circumstances in order to have their loan repayments delayed or forgiven. These instances are, understandably, very rare.
In the event that there is a cosigner present on the loan application, the cosigner will be liable for the repayments if the primary borrower fails to pay.
Can I repay my loan early? Are there fees if I do?
With most of the lenders that we work with, no, you will not incur any additional fees or pay a penalty if you repay your loan before the term ends.