Students can receive federal loans only if they are eligible non-citizens. But there are multiple private loans available for them.
The first thing you need to know is that it is possible for International students to get loans to pay for college in the U.S. However, it will depend on your noncitizen status and if you have a cosigner.
Here’s how to tell if you qualify for a federal student loan, or which private loans you may be eligible for and how to make the right choice.
If you are an eligible non-citizen
Apply for federal student loans by submitting your info via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also referred to as the FAFSA. This will help you to also qualify for free aid such as grants, work-study and scholarships. If you decide to borrow, federal loans offer the lowest interest rates than any private loans out there, and they have income-driven repayment plan options and even forgiveness programs.
If you are not eligible for federal student loans
If you have a student visa, find yourself a co-signer who is a permanent US resident or citizen and has good credit standing. To have the best shot at a private loan at competitive interest rates, find a co-signer whose credit score is 690 or higher.
If you are neither eligible for federal aid nor have a co-signer
Try to secure a private student loan for international students. If you cannot find a co-signer living the U.S. citizen or permanent resident, find a private lender with products designed for international students.
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How to shop for the best international loan
Compare loan features. Compare private international loan offers from different companies to get the lowest interest rate you qualify for. Ensure that the lender will be willing to postpone payments if you have trouble paying them — and for how long. It’s really important. Make sure if there are origination, prepayment or late fees, and how easily you can reach the lender by email, phone, or live chat if you ever encounter a billing or customer related issues.
Choose a fixed interest rate. Given the choice, a fixed interest rate that won’t increase over time is a much safer option than a variable interest rate.
Consider refinancing in the future
It is particularly challenging for visa holders to refinance student loans. But there are a number of ways to go about it:
- Build your personal credit before you refinance. If you continue living in the U.S. and build a credit profile over time, you will be able to refinance private student loans to a relatively lower interest rate. You will need a solid income, a credit score of 690 or above and a record of on-time debt payments.
- Refinance with the help of a co-signer. You may be able to refinance with much difficulty if you have a co-signer who fits those qualifications.
Use private refinancing for international students. Prodigy Finance is currently the only private lender that helps to refinance student loans for international working graduates in the United States.