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International Student Loans Without Cosigners
In the United States, a cosigner is someone who will become responsible for loan payments if the borrower is unable to repay them. It is added security for lenders and makes them more likely to approve you for a student loan.
But what if you are looking for an international student loan but don’t have a cosigner? Fortunately, there are both federal and private international student loans available without a cosigner.
Read on to see those options, other ways to pay for college without a cosigner, how to find a cosigner, and more.
Federal Student Loans for International Students Without Cosigners
All federal student loans do not require (or accept) cosigners.
The bigger problem that international students face is meeting the eligibility requirements for federal loans.
Only qualified noncitizens are eligible for federal student loans, including:
- U.S. nationals (includes natives of American Samoa or Swains Island).
- U.S. permanent residents with a green card.
- Those who have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing one of the following statuses: Refugee, Asylum Granted, Cuban-Haitian Entrant, Conditional Entrant (issued before April 1, 1980), or Parolee.
- Those who hold a T nonimmigrant status or whose parent holds a T-1 nonimmigrant status.
- Those who are a “battered immigrant-qualified alien” or the child of one.
You can apply for federal student loans by filling out the FAFSA. This will also determine your eligibility for other forms of federal financial aid such as scholarships, grants, and work-study programs.
Below are the types of federal student loans you may be eligible for. Note that all federal student loans have origination fees. You can see current rates and fees here.
1) Direct Subsidized Loans
These loans provide students with flexible repayment terms along with low, fixed interest rates. These loans are provided to students based on their financial need, and the government pays the accrued interest while students are in school and during the grace period (6 month period after leaving school when payments aren’t yet due).
2) Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Contrary to the subsidized loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available for all students regardless of financial need. The government does not, however, pay accrued interest while students are in school or during any other time. These loans do have the same low interest and many repayment options, though.
3) Direct PLUS Loans
These loans are available to graduate students (Grad PLUS Loans) and parents of students (Parent PLUS Loans). Interest rates are higher than the other two types of loans but there are multiple repayment plans available.
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5 Best Private Student Loans for International Students Without Cosigners
One of the more challenging aspects of securing a student loan for many international students is the often-required U.S.-based cosigner. Recognizing this hurdle, several lenders have crafted solutions that don’t mandate a cosigner, thus widening the accessibility of education for global talents. Here are top lenders who offer student loans without the need for a cosigner:
AmOne (Best for Okay to Good Credit)
AmOne stands out as a platform adept at connecting borrowers to a diverse network of lenders. For international students with okay to good credit who might not have a cosigner, this can be immensely valuable. By providing a broader lens into the student loan landscape, AmOne offers students the opportunity to access lenders who may be more open to granting loans without the necessity of a U.S. cosigner. While having an established U.S. credit history can increase the chances of securing a favorable loan, AmOne’s expansive lender network can help match students with fitting solutions.
Spring Loans (Best for Bad and No Credit)
Navigating the U.S. loan market without a cosigner can be challenging, especially for international students with no U.S. credit history or a not-so-impressive one. Spring Loans comes to the rescue for such students by adopting a more comprehensive financial assessment model, bypassing the traditional credit score constraints. Recognizing the potential in students who might not have had the opportunity to build or maintain credit, Spring Loans offers a more inclusive and adaptive approach to lending, making it a prime choice for those without a cosigner.
First Premier Lending (Best for Bad Credit)
First Premier Lending takes a more compassionate approach to international students who’ve faced credit challenges. Understanding that many students might not have the benefit of a cosigner, First Premier Lending caters specifically to those with bad credit, providing a pathway to secure loans despite past credit hiccups. Their flexible and understanding model allows students to overcome the dual challenges of poor credit and the absence of a cosigner.
College Ave (Best for Good Credit)
For international students who’ve managed to build a commendable credit profile in the U.S., College Ave offers an appealing suite of loan products. Their competitive rates and varied loan terms reward those who’ve demonstrated good financial responsibility, even in the absence of a cosigner. While securing a loan without a cosigner might pose additional challenges, College Ave’s offerings are tailored to support and acknowledge the achievements of students with good credit.
Sallie Mae (Best for Very Good Credit)
Sallie Mae, with its rich history in student loans, extends its premium loan offerings to international students who’ve outperformed in their financial endeavors. Students boasting a very good credit profile can tap into Sallie Mae’s advantageous loan terms and rates. While most lenders prefer the security of a cosigner, those with exceptional credit standing can still explore opportunities with Sallie Mae, ensuring their academic journey is well-supported.
Other Financial Aid Options for International Students
For many international students, getting private student loans (like the ones above) ends up being the only option that they have. In some cases, though, you may be eligible for other financial aid options.
Here are two additional ways for international students to get financial aid outside of student loans:
Private & Academic Scholarships
A great option for students of all backgrounds is scholarships. There are scholarships for almost every type of person and skill, and some are complete luck!
A simple Google search will pull up hundreds of scholarships, and the more you apply for, the better chance you have at getting money.
Even if you get a great loan, scholarships offer a huge advantage: you will never have to repay them. No matter the size, scholarships can help all students, regardless of the method they use to pay their tuition.
Family & Personal Savings
When it comes to college tuition, paying what you can upfront can save you a lot in the long run.
It may require some sacrifice, but any payments that you can make on your own throughout your time in college will reduce the amount of debt you have to take on.
Why Do International Students Often Need Cosigners?
After reading about the difficulty of finding a cosigner above, you may be wondering whether or not you need one? Can you get a loan without a cosigner?
There are many criteria for obtaining a student loan, whether it is a federal loan or a private loan, many of which are more difficult for international students to meet.
Low/no credit score & credit history
As with a cosigner, an international student loan will require you to show an excellent credit score and a long credit history in the US.
This is obviously very difficult for international students, as college is often their first time in the US for an extended period of time.
Even if you began building credit in college, it would likely not have enough time to grow during your time there that you would be eligible for an international private student loan without a cosigner.
Students have very little income
Most students don’t have substantial income during college because they aren’t yet eligible for high-paying jobs and because they don’t have time to work that much while taking classes. Because of this, most college students don’t meet the income requirements for private lenders.
Very high-interest rates
If you are barely able to meet the requirements above but have no cosigner, the lender will make up for this insecurity by charging you a much higher interest rate.
Although it’s great to be able to qualify on your own, a high interest rate means your loan can be very expensive. A qualified cosigner can help you get a lower rate.
How Can an International Student Find a Loan Cosigner?
After reading the beginning of this article, you may have come to the conclusion that it is both helpful and very difficult to find someone to obtain a cosigned loan.
Below you will find the most common ways to find an international student loan cosigner in the US:
Have friends or family cosign
If you are planning to attend a university in the United States, it might be because you have close family or friends living there.
If this is the case, and they are a US citizen or permanent resident with good credit, they may be willing to sign for your loan.
Family and friends are the most commonly used cosigners in the US, for both permanent residents and international students.
Check with university alumni associations
Some universities have programs in place to help international students with the dilemma of getting a loan with a cosigner.
Alumni who may have been in your shoes before and are now established in the US offer to cosign private loans for students who show commitment and academic promise.
It is worth it to check for this option when choosing your university.
Use an online loan cosigner matchup
In this day and age, whether it’s a home, book, or significant other, you can find almost anything online. This also holds true for loan cosigners.
You can certainly do your search on any social media platform, but there are also websites like Cosigner Finder that will help you find a willing and able international student loan cosigner.
The internet can be a great resource—but be careful! Do not give any personal information to an untrusted party. Also, note that websites like this may charge additional fees.
Requirements for Cosigners on International Student Loans
While the concept is simple, finding a loan cosigner can be very difficult, especially for an international student; not just anyone can cosign a loan.
A qualified cosigner can be difficult to find because private lenders will require that they meet certain criteria. The most common and important requirements are that your cosigner:
1) Have a Good Credit Score and Credit History
The point of having a cosigner is to provide additional security on the loan, so the cosigner must prove that they will make the payments if need be. The proof that lenders look to is credit history and credit score.
2) Be a US Citizen or Permanent Resident
The second thing you need in an international student loan cosigner is US citizenship, which is usually the most challenging criteria for international students.
3) Have a Stable Source of Income
Lastly, your cosigner must be able to show a stable source of good income. Lenders will usually ask for recent pay stubs to prove that the cosigner will be able to make payments.
4) Be Willing to Cosign a Loan on Your Behalf
The last element of an eligible cosigner is much simpler, yet can still add difficulty to your search. Even if you have found a perfect cosigner—who meets the criteria above—he or she may not be willing to sign on your behalf.
Cosigners are taking a risk because their credit can be hurt if the borrower fails to make the necessary payments on the loan. Many people are not willing to take this risk, even if they are a close friend.
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Bottom Line on International Student Loans Without Cosigners
As an international student, loan options will be hard to come by in the U.S., especially if you don’t have a cosigner. But that doesn’t mean that you have no options. Armed with the information above, you should be able to secure a loan and make the most of your education in the U.S.!