Student loans 15 February 2023

International Student Loans In The U.S.

International students studying in the U.S. can qualify for loans that cover tuition and more. Read here to find out what your best options are

International student loans in the Usa

The majority of international students experience funding gaps in their quest for higher education. International students not only require tuition expenses covered, but also other expenditures such as travel, accommodation, and relocation costs which can be challenging to meet. The good news is that international student loans in the U.S.A are available and offer a better option for those intending to study. International student loans offer financial assistance and consequently enable students to pursue their education and manage expenses.

Who Qualifies as an International Student in the U.S.?

An international student is a person who is not a citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S. and only enters the country specifically for the purpose of studying. Students undertake their tertiary education either in its entirety or partially in the U.S. and are moving into the country for that purpose only. International students need to be enrolled in an accredited institution of learning and obtain the entry qualification of the current level of study in the U.S.

How Can You Get International Student Loans In The U.S.?

International students need to ensure that they qualify to study in the U.S. and consequently be eligible for an international student loan.

Meet the basic requirements

Most lenders have a bare minimum requirement that is set for their borrowers. This is not any different for international students. All applicants must come from an eligible country and be enrolled in an accredited university or college. They must be planning to stay in the U.S. while attending school and must qualify for a student visa (enabling them to study and stay in the U.S.)

Estimate Your Cost

The cost of higher education varies based on the courses chosen and the preferred institution of study. A student should have a total amount of how much they need to cater for their tuition and cost of attendance expenses before seeking a loan. You should factor in tuition fees, accommodation, medical insurance, travel expenses, and school supplies as well as food. Schools provide a certified cost of attendance expenses and as an international student, you need to liaise with your school to know the expected future expenses.

Identify Potential Lenders

There are many lenders in the U.S. who offer financial aid to international students. Most lenders that serve international students are private loan lenders since federal loans are only limited to U.S. citizens. All private student loans have different terms, eligibility requirements, and repayment options. They also offer a capped amount of money to each individual borrower. With the amount you need at hand and what the lender is willing to give an international student, you can be able to choose what amount is likely to cover 100% of the cost of attendance.

Have a Co-signer

To apply for an international student loan in the United States of America, you must have a U.S. co-signer. They must be a citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S. The co-signer takes the obligation to repay the loan if the international student fails to repay. Additionally, the co-signer must have a good credit score and must have lived in the U.S. for the past two years. They can be a relative or a close friend who can help you in getting credit because nearly all international students cannot get credit on their own.

Apply for a Loan

Most lenders accept online applications and have straightforward requirements. Most lenders take up to six weeks to approve and disburse a loan. To ensure a smooth process, an international student should have all the documentation in place. For a seamless application process, you should have identification, proof of residence, a valid passport and visa, academic record, and proof of admission to your university, among other documents that your lender might ask for. 

Best International Student Loans In The U.S.

LenderScholarooratingOur viewFixed ratesstarting (APR)Variable ratesstarting (APR)Learn more

M Power

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4.1/5Best for no cosigner7.52%N/AVisit website

Prodigy Finance

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4.6/5Best for no application feeN/A9.54%Visit website

Sallie Mae

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4.6/5Best for a cosigner4.50%4.62%Visit website


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4.8/5Best for student support4.62%4.72%Visit website


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4.5/5Best for low interest rates3.99%3.99%Visit website


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4.1/5Best for rewards5.49%4.74%Visit website

College Ave

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4.9/5Our top pick for private student loans3.99%3.99%Visit website

Detailed Review of Lenders

We have compared the best lenders that provide International Student Loans in the U.S


MPower is the most commonly relied-upon provider of student loans for international students. Their private student loans are available to both undergraduate and graduate international students. Students must be commencing a one- or two-year study program in the U.S. at one of their approved schools. Students are required to make interest-only payments for six months while they are in school and another six months after they graduate.

Pros of MPower Loans:

  • No application or repayment fee
  • Free visa support letters
  • No co-signer
  • Offer scholarship opportunities

Cons of MPower Loans:

  • 5% origination fee is charged on every loan

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be a student only
  • Must be within the age of the majority in your state of residence
  • Attend an eligible school and maintain at least half-time enrollment

Repayment Terms:

  • 10 years repayment terms
  • Loan discounts apply
  • Late fee of up 4% of the unpaid amount

Prodigy Finance

Founded in 2007, Prodigy Finance specializes in international student loans and serves students who may not have the financial muscle to foot the expenses involved in international study. International loans are available to students studying abroad in over 17 countries and most U.S. states. The available funds are limited and are only available to graduates and undergraduates in specific programs that guarantee a high expected economic return after completion of studies.

Pros of Prodigy Finance Loans:

  • Covers common degree programs
  • Simple interest rates
  • No co-signer
  • No application fees

Cons of Prodigy Finance Loans:

  • 5% admission fee on every loan

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be 18 years old and above
  • Must be accepted into an eligible program
  • Must be from an eligible country studying in different eligible country

Repayment Terms:

  • Seven to 20 years repayment terms
  • Two payment options (deferment of full repayment)
  • No rewards 

Sallie Mae

Being one of the best-known private student loan lenders in the U.S., Sallie Mae extends the same hand of financial assistance to international students. Sallie Mae offers private student loans to undergraduates and graduates along with financing options for career-oriented training. International students must have a co-signer to get their loan approved from Sallie Mae.

Pros of Sallie Mae Loans:

  • Can apply for a co-sign lease
  • Can cover up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • No origination fee
  • Fixed payment options have discounts

Cons of Sallie Mae Loans:

  • Late payment fee

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must have a co-signer 
  • Co-signer must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Enrolled at least on a part-time basis

Repayment terms:

  • Five to 15 years repayment terms
  • Three interest payment plans (interest only, fixed, or deferred)
  • 0.25%  discount for automatic payment


Ascent student loans offer financial aid to international students and gives them a variety of repayment terms. International students, however, must have a co-signer who must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident who has been living in the states for no less than two years. The repayment options available are deferred repayment, fixed repayment, and interest-only repayment.

Pros of Ascent Loans:

  • No application, origination, or repayment fee
  • Multiple options for in-school repayment plans
  • 1% cash back upon graduation
  • Offer financial literacy classes for borrowers

Cons of Ascent Loans:

  • Co-signer not released for international students

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Enrolled full time or part-time
  • Must be in the age of the majority in your state of residence
  • Attend an eligible school 
  • Two years credit history for your co-signer

Repayment Terms:

  • 15 years repayment terms for fixed-rate loans
  • 20 years repayment terms for variable-rate loans
  • Six repayment terms options


Founded in 2013, Earnest began offering private student loans in 2019. Earnest is an online lender that offers private student loans and refinancing options for both students in the U.S. and international students intending to study in the country. Earnest also offers refinancing options for student borrowers who wish to customize their repayment terms and clear their debt as soon as they can.

Pros of Earnest Loans:

  • Fee friendly
  • Low-interest rates
  • Have a skip payment feature
  • Longer grace period (nine months)

Cons of Earnest Loans:

  • Hard credit check

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must have a co-signer
  • Must have a U.S. address
  • Must have a Social Security Number (SSN)

Repayment Terms:

  • Five to 15 years repayment terms
  • 0.25 discount rate for automatic payments
  • Four repayment plans (full, interest-only, fixed, and deferred)


Discover offers loans to students with or without a social security number. As most international students do not have an SSN and they can get a loan from Discover. The loan offers financial aid to undergraduates, graduates, and MBA students. Although aggregate limits apply, eligible international students can borrow up to 100% of the total cost of attendance.

Pros of Discover Loans:

  • Loans are fee-free
  • Offers 1% cash reward for good grades
  • Different loan options offered
  • Can cover all the cost of attendance expenditure

Cons of Discover Loans:

  • One-term repayment option for in-school loans

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Have a qualifying cosigner
  • Must be enrolled at least part-time in an eligible school
  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • Pursue an MBA, Law, or health-related professional degrees

Repayment Terms:

  • Four in-school repayment options
  • 0.25 interest rate discount for autopay enrollment
  • 15 years loan term

College Ave

College Ave is a lender based in Wilmington, Delaware, and offers student loans to students based in the U.S. as well as international students. International students need to either have a U.S. social security number or a U.S. co-signer. The loan can be used to pay for undergraduate, or graduate studies, or a master’s degree program. Medical, dental, and law school students are also eligible for College Ave Loans.

Pros of College Ave Loans:

  • Can cover up to 100% of the school-approved cost of attendance
  • No origination or application fees
  • No prepayment fees
  • Credit is not impacted when checking your rate

Cons of College Ave Loans:

  • Late payment fee

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Needs a co-signer
  • The cosigner must be a citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S
  •  Attend an eligible school 

Repayment Terms:

  • Several payment options
  • Five to 15 years loan terms
  • 0.25 % discount rate for automatic payments


How to get international student loans in the U.S.? 

Getting international student loans in the U.S. comprises several steps that should mainly aim at maintaining eligibility, identifying your financial needs, knowing the loan terms, and applying for the loan that you see fits your plan best.

Can international students in the U.S. get loans without a co-signer? 

There are loans offered without a co-signer for international students but most lenders require international students to have a co-signer. They must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is creditworthy.

Do international students get financial aid in the U.S.?

Yes. International students can get financial aid in the U.S. through private loan lenders such as Sallie Mae, College Ave, Mpower and more who specialize in offering student loans to international students.