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Woman thinking about international student loans

Can International Students Apply for Student Loans in the USA?

Let's talk about the exciting opportunities and some of the challenges international students might face when pursuing their dreams in the United States. It's fantastic that more and more international students are choosing to study in the U.S. The education here is highly respected, and it can open doors to amazing career prospects.

Now, we know that the cost of education in the U.S. can be quite high. While American students have access to various financial aid programs, loans, and scholarships, it's not always as straightforward for international students. But here's the good news: you can still apply for student loans in the United States!

We understand that navigating the loan process can feel overwhelming, especially if you're a young adult figuring things out on your own for the first time. That's why we're here to help. Let's explore your options for international student loans, so you can focus on your education and future success without unnecessary stress.

Key Takeaways

  • International students planning to study in the United States can access student loans. 
  • International, eligible noncitizens can apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) through their chosen school.
  • International students may be eligible for scholarships, grants, or student loans. Scholarships and grants are gifts, while federal loans offer borrowing options for U.S. citizens.
  • International student loans are specialized private loans that cater to non-U.S. citizens seeking education in the United States. They can cover various educational expenses.

Can International Students Get Student Loans in the USA?

Yes, international students can get loans.

There are loan options for international students planning to attend college in the United States. If you are an eligible noncitizen, you can apply for Free Application for Federal Student Aid through your school of choice. 

If you don't qualify under these guidelines, you can apply for a student loan from a private company under what is usually called an international student loan. Of course, when you are dealing with international schooling and visas, you want to be clear on what lies ahead, so we recommend reading all of the information below about the process and eligibility. 

How Can International Students Get Loans?

Getting a loan as an international student involves navigating specific challenges, but several options are available to help fund your education, like exploring international student loans and searching for lenders who tailor products for your unique situation.

Identifying lenders that specialize in these programs can provide financial assistance with terms suitable for international students. Additionally, checking with local and international banks may reveal student loan programs designed for individuals studying abroad, each with its own set of terms and eligibility criteria. Investigating government-sponsored programs in your home country is another avenue, as some nations offer financial aid to citizens pursuing education internationally. 

Moreover, seeking information from your home country's educational and financial institutions can uncover additional resources, such as loans or scholarships. Your educational institution may also play a crucial role, offering institutional aid and financial support specifically designed for international students. Exploring scholarship opportunities, participating in work-study programs, considering exchange programs, and maintaining a strong financial profile are additional strategies. Checking visa regulations and consulting with financial aid offices can provide further insights and assistance in navigating the financial landscape as an international student. 

How To Get Student Loans for International Students in the US with a Cosigner

Securing student loans for international students in the US often requires a cosigner, typically a US citizen or permanent resident who agrees to take responsibility for the loan if the borrower is unable to repay.

Here's a quick step-by-step guide on how to get a student loan with a cosigner:

  • Identify potential cosigners. Begin by approaching individuals who are willing to serve as cosigners. This is often a family member, close friend, or relative residing in the US with a stable financial history.
  • Check eligibility criteria. Research and choose lenders that offer student loans to international students with a cosigner. Ensure that both you (the borrower) and the cosigner meet the eligibility criteria set by the lender.
  • Gather necessary documents. Prepare the required documentation, including identification, proof of enrollment in an eligible educational institution, and financial information for both the borrower and the cosigner.

Remember, having a cosigner can significantly improve your chances of loan approval and may lead to more favorable interest rates.

How To Get Student Loans for International Students in the US without a Cosigner

Securing student loans for international students in the US without a cosigner can be challenging because you won't have a financial profile in the U.S. and lenders may deem you a high risk. Here's a guide on how to navigate this process:

Explore International Student Loans. Some lenders specialize in providing loans to international students without requiring a cosigner. Research and identify these lenders, considering factors such as interest rates, terms, and eligibility criteria.

  • Consider government loans. Investigate if your home country or the US government offers any loan programs for international students. These loans may have more lenient requirements.
  • Apply for scholarships and grants. Explore scholarship and grant opportunities to reduce your overall need for loans. Many institutions and organizations offer financial aid that doesn't require repayment.
  • Look for institutional aid. Inquire with your educational institution about any financial aid programs they offer specifically for international students. Some colleges and universities have funds set aside for this purpose.
  • Consider part-time work. Supplement your financial resources by exploring part-time work opportunities. Be mindful of visa regulations that may restrict the number of hours you can work during your studies.

While obtaining a student loan without a cosigner may require additional effort, exploring all available options and demonstrating financial responsibility can increase your chances of success.

Who Qualifies as an Eligible Noncitizen?

  • Permanent residents of the United States or those who have a "green card.”
  • Those who have an Arrival/Departure Record from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services showing the following statuses:
    • Refugee
    • Asylum granted
    • Cuban-Haitian Entrant
    • Conditional Entrant issued before April 1, 1980
    • Parolee.
  • Those who hold T nonimmigrant status, or whose parents do.
  • Those who are “battered immigrant-qualified aliens,” or children of someone designated as such.

What Federal Aid Will an International Student Receive?

What To Know About International Student Loans

If you are eligible to apply for FAFSA, here are the aid types that you may qualify for:


Many schools in the U.S. offer scholarships specifically for international students. Once you've been accepted into your dream school, take a peek at their scholarship offerings. These are like tuition discounts you don't have to repay! Scholarships can be awarded for various reasons – excellent grades, sports, or even your involvement in extracurricular activities.

Student Grants

These are similar to scholarships in that they don't come with repayment worries. The key difference is that grants are gifts given to students who meet specific criteria, often based on financial need. They can cover various educational expenses, from tuition to books and even room and board. There are different levels of grants available, like federal, state, and university-level grants.

Federal Loans

Now, we get it – studying in the U.S. can be pricey, even with scholarships and grants. Federal loans are an option for many U.S. citizens, but if you're an international student, these might not be open to you. That's okay; there are other paths!

What Is an International Student Loan?

Different from federal aid, an international student loan is a specialized type of private education loan designed specifically for students from abroad who want to study in the United States. These loans are your lifeline to cover various educational expenses, including tuition, books, fees, insurance, and even room and board. They can help bridge the financial gap and make your dream U.S. education more accessible.

Steps To Get an International Student Loan

If you're not a U.S. citizen and have your sights set on a U.S. college or university, know that international student loans are custom-made private education loans designed exclusively for students like you, but there are still some hoops to jump through. Let's talk this out.

  1. Get accepted. Before you dive into loan applications, you'll need to secure that all-important acceptance letter from your chosen college or university. Most lenders will ask for proof of this acceptance and your student visa.
  2. Subtract free money. To figure out how much you can borrow, subtract any scholarships, grants, or school aid from the total cost of your education. The magic number you get after this calculation is what you can potentially borrow. To get the loan, your school will need to certify this amount.
  3. Find a lender. Now that you know where you are going and how much you borrow, it is time to research lenders and rates.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for International Student Loans?

OK, so we know that getting a student loan is possible, but what is required? If you want to make your study abroad dreams a reality, you'll need to have your paperwork in order.

  • Demonstrated Ability to Repay. Lenders will also consider your ability to repay the loan. While you may not have an extensive credit history in the U.S., demonstrating a source of income or a financial sponsor can strengthen your loan application. Having a well-thought-out plan for repayment can make a positive impression on lenders.

    Need some inspiration? Pay off loans faster with proven strategies
  • Loan Amount and School Selection. Your eligibility may also depend on the specific loan program and school you choose. Different lenders may offer varying loan limits and conditions. Therefore, it's essential to research and select a loan program that aligns with your educational goals and financial needs.
  • Find a U.S. Co-Signer. While private lenders extend international student loans, they may require a U.S. co-signer, depending on your circumstances. A co-signer is someone who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and agrees to share the responsibility of the loan with you. Their role is essential, as they provide an additional layer of assurance for the lender, making it more likely for you to secure the loan. Therefore, connecting with a trustworthy U.S. co-signer is a significant step in the process.
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. Some lenders may require that you maintain satisfactory academic progress throughout your studies to remain eligible for the loan. Be sure to understand any academic requirements tied to your loan agreement.
  • Application Process and Documentation. When applying for an international student loan, prepare essential documentation, such as your passport, visa, proof of enrollment, and financial information. Completing the application accurately and providing the required documents in a timely manner is crucial to the approval process.

In the ever-expanding landscape of global education, pursuing your education in the United States is an exciting journey. However, we understand that the cost of this dream can be a concern for many aspiring international students.

But here's the inspiring truth: international student loans can be the bridge that transforms your aspirations into reality. As the statistics reveal, a growing number of international students are choosing the United States for their higher education. In fact, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE), the U.S. welcomed over 1 million international students in recent years.

So, if you are ready to start studying abroad in the U.S., now is a great time to nail down a financial strategy!

Related Frequently Asked Questions

For readers who were interested in international student loans, many also looked up these topics.

Can I Refinance an International Student Loan?

Refinancing an international student loan can be a bit tricky, and it largely depends on the specific terms and conditions set by your lender. In most cases, international student loans come with fixed interest rates, and unlike U.S. federal student loans, they may not offer the option for refinancing.

However, some private lenders in the United States may offer refinancing options for international student loans, especially if you've built a strong credit history in the country or have a U.S. co-signer with a good credit score. Refinancing can potentially help you secure a lower interest rate or more favorable loan terms, reducing your overall repayment burden.

Does the International Student Loan Co-Signer Have to Live in the United States?

The requirement for where the international student loan co-signer lives can vary from one lender to another. While some lenders may insist that the co-signer resides in the United States, others might not have such a stringent requirement.

Typically, lenders prefer a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and has a strong credit history within the United States. This co-signer serves as a financial guarantee for the loan, providing an additional layer of assurance for the lender.

However, some lenders may consider co-signers who live outside the United States, as long as they meet other eligibility criteria, such as having a U.S. bank account or demonstrating a reliable source of income. Additionally, you may come across lenders who specialize in international student loans and have more flexible co-signer requirements.

Related: Learn the relationship between co-signing and your credit score

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