Establishing credit in the United States is incredibly difficult. Often, you need to have a credit score to take out your first line of credit, and, of course, having a credit score requires that you already have a line of credit. While many young people feel this frustration, the problem can be even more difficult for immigrants who cannot even apply for most types of credit without a Social Security number.
However, if you’re a legal immigrant in the United States, Stilt may be able to help you establish credit and take out a loan in the United States. While they have loan options for many borrowers, we’ll explain the student loans available for people with student visas.
- Student loans for international students and visa holders
- Low borrowing amount currently, with higher than average interest rates
- No Social Security number needed to apply
Who Can Borrow from Stilt?
Stilt is a lender that works specifically with immigrants, so you don’t need a Social Security number to apply for a loan from Stilt. However, Stilt has fairly stringent lending criteria.
Before applying for a loan you must meet the following:
- You must physically be in the U.S with an address in one of these states: AZ, IL, FL, TX, PA, CA, MI, NY, NJ, UT, WA, GA and WI.
- You must have a U.S.-based bank account in your name.
- You must have a U.S.-based personal phone number in your name.
- You must have a legal, valid, and eligible visa for at least six months. The types of visas that Stilt specifically advertises for include F-1, OPT, J-1, DACA, H-1B, O-1, L-1, and TN.
- You must attend a Title IV school.
- You must have an I-20 form.
These are great options for international students and students on visa who need a student loan.
Unlike most loans, you don’t need a credit score or even a job to borrow from Stilt. However, you will need to be able to make payments on the loan, so Stilt will probably require proof of income.
What Are the Rates and Terms on Student Loans from Stilt?
Despite being called a student loan, a loan from Stilt is actually a personal loan. It's a personal loan for students. Right now, the maximum loan amount per loan is $5,000 (it is possible to have more than one loan at a time). That's a really low loan amount for someone looking to pay for college, and one of the biggest drawbacks of Stilt currently.
You can have a maximum loan balance of $25,000 from Stilt. Like most personal loans, you won’t see a pre-payment penalty associated with the loan. However, Stilt charges an origination fee on their loans, but that fee varies by state.
Below are the details:
- Term: 6 months to 24 months
- Loan size: $1,000 to $5,000 (exceptions for higher amounts in some cases)
- Origination fee: 0% to 5%
- Interest rates: 7.99% to 29.99% (varies by state)
- Deferral option: Interest-only payments for up to six months (only with a verified job offer)
Is There Any Concerning Fine Print?
In general, Stilt doesn’t have concerning fine print. These are shorter-term, higher-interest loans. The main issues with the loans are twofold. First, the interest on loans from Stilt is not deductible as student loan interest. Second, student loan borrowers have to make payments right away on their loans. Since many international students cannot work full-time, the payment schedule could be difficult to meet.
Final Take of Student Loans from Stilt
Stilt is one of the few companies offering student loans to international students. Without much competition, Stilt is able to command high interest rates (in some cases higher than credit card interest rates).
Despite the high rates, the loans from Stilt could be a good option. For example, If you wish to establish credit in the United States while you are a student, it may make sense to borrow from Stilt. However, the high interest rates, low loan amounts, and short repayment schedules will be tough for most students to manage.
If you're an international student or visa holder who can't get a student loan elsewhere, consider Stilt as an option. Otherwise, most borrowers will benefit from using one of the places listed here: Where To Find The Best Student Loan Rates.
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Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.