If you’re an international student studying in the United States, you know that you face barriers to funding your education.
First, the Department of Education does not offer loans for international students. And, second, it can be more difficult to find work when you're studying abroad.
If you’re looking to study in the US, you may need to take out private student loans to finish your studies. These are also the types of loans that DACA recipients may need to use to fund their education.
Below, we compare the best lenders that offer international student loans.
Student Loans For International Students And Visa Holders
US Cosigner Required
In-School Deferment Options
$25 fixed payments
Undergrads: 15 years
$25 fixed payments
Prodigy Finance international student loans are designed for foreign masters students coming from emerging markets (which includes the Indian sub-continent, China, much of South America, much of Central America, all of Africa, and parts of Eastern Europe).
Students do not pay on the loans during school, and the repayment periods after graduation range from 7 to 20 years. Prodigy Finance does charge a maximum administration fee of 5% which is added to your loan total and paid back through your monthly payments.
Read our full review of Prodigy Finance.
Ascent offers loans for international students with with a creditworthy cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status students may apply as a solo borrower or as a borrower with a qualified cosigner.
Borrowers have a variety of repayment options including deferring all payments until up to 6 months after graduation. Repayment terms are typically 5 to 15 years. However, medical and dental students who choose a variable-rate loan can extend their term as long as 20 years.
It’s important to note that Ascent’s loans can be either fixed or variable interest rate. Students can enjoy a 0.25% discount for enrolling in automatic payments and can earn 1.00% cash back at graduation.
MPower Financing is a company dedicated to helping international students, asylum seekers, and DACA recipients fund their educational aspiration. The company offers fixed-rate, 10-year international student loans with available interest rate discounts of up to 1.50%.
MPower loans don’t require a cosigner, credit history, or collateral and all majors and degrees are supported. During school, you will make interest-only payments. Your required repayment period starts 6 months after you graduate and there are no penalties if you pay off your loan early.
Read our full MPower Financing review here.
Stilt is a lender that offers loans to immigrants and the underserved. While their loans aren’t technically student loans (they’re personal loans that can be used towards any expenses), international students with visas are eligible to apply.
You don’t need a US cosigner to apply for a loan with Stilt. However, you'll be required to begin making payments immediately, so they’re probably going to want to see that you’re employed.
At 8% to 25%, Stilt's are higher than you'll typically find with a traditional private student loan. Also, the maximum amount per loan is fairly low at $35,000.
Discover has one of the largest varieties of undergraduate and graduate student loans. And if you have a US cosigner with strong credit, you may be able to take out international student loans with them at very inexpensive rates.
These loans have flexible repayment options including deferring payments in school. Discover also offers a 1% cash reward for getting good grades during school and up to a 2% interest rate discount for graduating.
Get more details about Discover student loans in our full review.
If you have a US based co-signer, Citizens One bank offers very low-cost loans for international students. Students can also receive multi-year approval which means avoiding new hard credit inquiries each academic year.
Citizens One student loan borrowers can defer payment for up to 8 years during school. That could make this lender an excellent choice for people pursuing medical or engineering PhD programs.
Read our full Citizens Bank student loans review.
How To Reduce Your Need For International Student Loans
Studying in the United States can be an expensive college option, especially if you qualify for free or low-cost schooling in your home country. However, many students find that the international exposure, and the high quality of education is worth living abroad for several years.
If you’re a foreign student, you may be able to reduce the number of international student loans you take out during college by applying for scholarships and grants. Or you could try taking on roles such as a teaching or research assistant. Depending on your program, research assistant roles may pay for all your educational costs and provide you with a living stipend too.
Whenever possible, try to avoid taking on debt to pay for educational costs. But if you do need to take out international student loans, be sure to compare rates from multiple lenders.
Finally, if you do take out international student loans, you may want to consider refinancing them within a few years of graduating. This could allow you to dramatically reduce the interest you pay over the life of your loans.
If you continue living in the United States after graduating, you could use a service like Credible to compare loans and get the best rates. Or check out our list of the top student loan refinancing companies..
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 on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
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.
Editor: Clint Proctor