Emergency Student Loans for F1 Students in the U.S.
The staggering cost of education today makes student loans a necessity for many students, but most students cannot fund their entire education with a single loan. There are other costs besides tuition, like books and housing, and students often have gaps in their funding that can put their education in jeopardy.
Furthermore, students on F1 visas are not eligible for financial aid so they can have even greater difficulty finding funding. There are still options for F1 students who need emergency student loans to cover their educational costs, however. This article discusses those options and helps you determine which is the best for you.
Before Looking into Student Loans
Students often panic when they find that they have gaps in funding their education, but student loans should only be taken out as a last resort. There are other ways that you can close these funding gaps, some of which are preferable to loans because you don’t have to pay them back.
Emergency Aid, Grants, and Scholarships
Universities offer different types of emergency aid for students in financial need. Some schools offer vouchers for meals or books or offer communal food pantries for students struggling to make ends meet. Other common types of emergency aid are “completion” grants or scholarships, which forgive portions of a student’s tuition that would prevent them from graduating. Some schools also offer grants to students experiencing financial hardship, though applicants typically must provide proof of this hardship to be eligible.
Payment Plans or Bill Extensions
For students experiencing financial hardship, a little extra time to cover bills and make payments can be all that’s necessary. If you cannot keep up with your loan payments, or if you need time to apply for other forms of emergency financial aid, contact your financial aid office. Oftentimes, financial aid administrators can extend your bill due dates or waive late fees. You can also inquire about getting on an extended payment plan, which can give you time to get your finances together.
Look into Emergency Student Loan Programs
As the cost of education rises, emergency student loan programs are growing increasingly common. While these programs are not universal, a 2016 study by the National Association of Personnel Administrators found that 75% of schools have such a program.
These programs vary in their conditions for eligibility, the funds that they disburse, and how they must be repaid. There is often a strict borrowing limit, and the repayment period for these loans is typically very quick– for instance 90 days– since the loans are intended for students with immediate financial need.
Some schools offer these loans interest-free, while others come with interest rates in line with public student loans. Finally, some schools include a service charge that runs 1-2% of the total amount disbursed.
Contact your financial aid office and fill out an application to find out what the rules of your school’s emergency student loan program are, and whether you qualify.
Private Student Loans
Students also frequently turn to private student loans when they must cover gaps in funding. Private student loans lack the protections of federal student loans and can have higher interest rates and fees. However, private loans can also be accessed quickly and can cover as much of an applicant’s educational costs as they need. Students facing gaps in funding their education should weigh the risk of taking out a private loan against the urgency of their financial need.
Private student loans are more suitable for students with good credit or a cosigner, though, since lenders often have strict qualifying requirements.
3 Simple Steps to Get a Private Student Loan
Private student loans are suitable for students with urgent financial need because they can be obtained quickly by following a few simple steps. As long as you meet the minimum qualifying conditions, you can get the funds you need in a matter of days.
1. Fill Out an Application
The first step is completing an application from a financial institution. Each institution has its own criteria for eligibility; you will need to meet certain minimum credit or income requirements, or otherwise, you may need a cosigner. Also, investigate the terms and conditions that different lenders offer, and apply to the ones with the lowest interest rates and most flexible terms of repayment.
Once you have chosen one or more institutions, fill out an application. This typically involves providing documentation on your finances, proof of your enrollment, and identification.
2. Get an Offer
If you do meet the minimum qualifying conditions of the loans you apply for, you should get an offer from the institution. This offer will include a specific amount and term of repayment, along with other conditions of repaying the loan like penalties and fees. This is where applying to multiple lenders can be useful; you can get multiple offers and compare their terms and conditions to choose the most suitable one.
3. Begin Repayment
Once you agree to a loan and sign the promissory note, you must pay off the debt within the stipulated repayment period. The simplest way to stay on top of your debt and keep up with payments is with autopay. Autopay automatically pays off a certain portion of your debt each month, so that you won’t miss payments and you can be confident that your debt repayment is on schedule.
All the time, energy and money that you’ve poured into your education can go to waste if you are unable to graduate due to lack of funds. This is why even though taking out a private student loan can be risky, the benefit can outweigh the risk, especially if you’re close to graduating. If you think that you can repay the loan in the future, and if you can meet the minimum requirements, then private student loans can provide crucial help in graduating.