Can international students get loans?
Before applying for a private student loan, non-US citizens should check to see if they are eligible for certain types of federal financial aid. Certain groups of people are considered “eligible non-citizens” and may be eligible for federal student loans:
- US nationals (including natives of American Samoa or Swains Island).
- Permanent residents of the United States with a permanent resident card, resident alien card, or alien registration receipt card, also known as a green card.
- Anyone with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing that you are a refugee, asylum seeker, Cuban-Haitian inbound, conditional entrant (prior to April 1, 1980) or a parolee.
- Anyone with nonimmigrant T status (T visa) or who has a relative with a T visa.
- Anyone considered a “qualified battered immigrant alien”.
If you do not fall into one of these categories, you can check with your country’s embassy or consulate in the United States, or the appropriate government office in your country, to see if they offer scholarship or aid opportunities.
You may also be eligible for financial aid from the state or the college you are studying at. Only when you have exhausted these options should you look into private student loans.
Where can you get an international student loan?
Private student loans for international students are available from two types of lenders: banks and non-bank loan companies.
Bank Student Loans offer international students the ability to do their banking and student loans in one place. Additionally, banks like Citizens give interest rate discounts of 0.25% to borrowers who do business with them. The downside is that you will need a co-signer to be eligible.
Non-bank lenders offer international students more flexibility. MPOWER and Prodigy Finance examine your career path and earning potential to qualify for a student loan with no cosigner or collateral. And because these businesses operate entirely online, they tend to have very user-friendly websites.
Who is eligible for an international student loan?
International students must meet the eligibility criteria required by the lender. In most cases, this means being enrolled at least half-time in an eligible school and having a solvent co-signer.
DACA recipients with a Social Security number have more options than students without. Student loan companies like College Ave and Earnest offer competitive rates and terms, but they require international borrowers to have a co-signer and SSN.
A rundown of our picks for the best international student loans
There is no best international student loan overall. The right loan for you will depend on your program of study, access to a creditworthy co-signer, and your residency or visa status.
- MPower financing: Good for students without access to an eligible co-signer but only available at 350 schools, and you’ll pay above-average interest rates.
- Finance prodigy: Good for students without access to an eligible co-signer enrolled in a graduate program in STEM, healthcare, or public policy at over 600 eligible U.S. schools. There is no fixed rate loan option, which means this loan could get expensive over time.
- Citizens One: Competitive fixed and variable interest rates plus a variety of professional degree loans make this a good option for graduate students with access to an eligible co-signer.
- Ascension student loans: Competitive interest rates for international students with an eligible co-signer, but there is a lack of options when it comes to choosing repayments and terms at school.
- Discover: One of the only student lenders to offer multi-year approval to international students who meet standard eligibility criteria. This is good for DACA recipients looking to avoid annual credit inquiries to establish their credit score.
How We Choose The Best International Student Loans
The research for this article encompassed over fifteen private undergraduate student loan lenders (as well as companies that refinance student loans) discounted from national banks, credit unions and lenders. The measurement criteria for each lender included all available APR ranges for these loans, fees charged, repayment plans and hardship options offered, as well as the inclusion of additional features such as co-signer release, availability of a parent loan and the ability to refinance.