Most international students, including F-1 visa students, are not eligible for U.S. government student loans. However, there are a number of other loan options available to prospective or prospective international students.
Some schools in the United States have large financial aid packages for international students. Of the 50 universities and colleges that have spent most of their financial support for international students in the 2015-2016 school year, the average grant is $ 51,164, according to U.S. data. News.
However, not all international students receive a large grant. In order to meet the financial needs of the rest, some schools, such as St. Louis University. Olaf, Minnesota, provides loans.
“We have a small, fixed amount of money for international students to borrow,” said Carly Eichhorst, director of financial aid at the school. We do not let them borrow more. ”
International students of St. John’s University Olaf can borrow up to $ 4,000 a year for four years. The current interest rate is fixed at 5% and maturity is 5 years. Eichhorst also said the school does not require a co-signer. Co-signer is the person who accepts the debt if the borrower does not repay.
In the 2016-2017 school year, Olaf has given 111 students a loan, or about half of their international students, according to Eichhorst. The average amount is $ 3,185.
If the school does not provide loans, which is usually so, there are still a few other options. Some companies, such as Citizens Bank, will lend to non-US students if they have a co-signer who is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States – a very difficult requirement for many foreign students.
Eichhort also said that international students may have siblings or cousins living in the US who are willing to do co-signer for student loans.
David Sheridan, director of financial aid at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs and Public Affairs, says some universities have compiled lists of international student loans.
The recommended lenders in the Columbia list of 2016-2017 for undergraduates require a co-signer.
A few companies offer international student loans and do not require a co-signer, such as MPOWER Financing. The Columbia-based company offers loans for both undergraduate and graduate students, although most borrowers are graduate students.
Many Smadja, the CEO and co-founder, said that unlike many other lenders, MPOWER also looked at the student’s income potential, as opposed to credit history, when determining whether to give students credit. whether to borrow money or not.
“We look at a lot of variables, from the student’s school, SAT, GRE, GMAT or LSAT scores, to deliver merit-based loans,” said Smadja. loan). ”
But there are also limitations. Only undergraduate students who have completed the degree program for two years or less can borrow money from MPOWER. In addition, students must study at one of the 223 schools the company has collaborated since June 2017.
MPOWER’s interest rates are fixed and range from 7.99 to 13.99%. This rate is higher than that of local students, currently at 4.45-7%.
The repayment period for MPOWER is 10 years, although it can also be paid for 3 years.
However, financial aid experts said that before looking for loans, international students should consider all possible scholarships and grants – both at home and in the US – because of the kind of study. This does not require repayment as a loan. You can start your search from the EducationUSA website, where data is available about opportunities for financial aid from schools and the private sector.
For international students looking at loans, here are some tips for you.
Get started early: Sheridan says students should start looking at loan options even before they are accepted into an American college or university, “just so they know the options. Select the reality for yourself. ”
- Ask a lot: Smadja recommends that students pay attention to things like whether the lender’s interest rate is fixed or changed
how long is the refund period; Will there be a fine for early payment or early repayment? And what happens if students have trouble paying for a month.
- Do not wait too long after getting approved before applying for a loan:
Sheridan says guaranteeing a loan early will help students complete the I-20 on time. Students receive the I-20 form, the form required to obtain a visa, from their school after proving they can afford to study in the United States.
When talking about loans for international students, Sheridan expressed: “There are many challenges, but there are many possibilities