H1B Student Loan: How to Fund Your Education While on an H1B Visa

Posted by in Loans | Updated on May 26, 2023
At a Glance: Getting a graduate degree offers several benefits, including higher salaries and more job opportunities, especially in STEM fields. Financing your education as an H1B visa holder can be done through scholarships, grants, or student loans. Some top lenders for H1B student loans include Stilt, Prodigy Finance, and MPOWER. The application process typically involves submitting an online application, receiving an offer, and setting up repayment methods. Interest rates and loan terms vary based on individual circumstances. Consider factors like budget, interest rates, and repayment options when borrowing.

You have been living and working in the U.S. for a while now and you’re interested in furthering your studies. This big step can maybe lead to a new job opportunity or earn you a higher salary. But, since you are an H1B visa holder, you are wondering how you’ll be able to finance studies without access to federal financial aid.

What’s more, you’re curious about whether it is even a good idea to invest money into going to grad school

Below we take a look at what it can mean for your career to get a graduate degree and also how an H1B student loan can help open up the right doors.

Benefits of a Graduate Degree

Before you dive into getting a graduate degree, you need to know whether the time, effort and money will be worth it. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits of a graduate degree.

1. Higher Salaries

It’s as simple as that. As a rule of thumb, people with better qualifications earn higher salaries. This is especially true for those working in STEM jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

2. More Job Opportunities

You’ve already distinguished yourself from the average person by attaining a bachelor’s degree. You’ll make your CV even more attractive by acquiring a qualification from grad school. Your chances of landing more job opportunities will grow with a master’s or Ph.D. and you will enter an elite group of people who are eligible for more specific types of jobs.

3. Growing Career Field

The STEM area of the job market is growing. These fields of study are expanding at a rapid rate. The need for labor is so high that the American government is looking for talent abroad. That is most probably how you started working in America in the first place. Once you’ve passed grad school, you’ll form part of this growing career field.

So clearly there are great benefits in going to grad school. Let’s take a look at how you can make it possible financially.

How to Finance Your Education as an H1B Visa Holder

1. Scholarships

Scholarships are great solutions because your studies will be funded without any obligation to repay the funds. And, there are many types of scholarships available too. The difficulty, however, lies in the eligibility criteria that usually go with getting a scholarship. You might be able to qualify for one, so it will definitely be worth it to set out the time and research what your scholarship options are. Keep in mind that you don’t want to wait till you get one before you start studying, so have a plan B ready.

2. Grants

Grants are often mistaken as scholarships as you don’t have to repay either of them. The difference, however, is that scholarships are merit-based while grants are need-based. Grants are handed out primarily by federal governments and universities, although some private organizations also supply grants. Just as with scholarships, it is certainly worth pursuing this option as you might just qualify. But, once again, make sure you have a plan B ready.

3. Student Loans

If you can’t finance your studies yourself and you need a plan B if a grant or scholarship doesn’t work out, H1B education loans are a great option. There are countless stories of successful professionals who studied on a loan. An H1B student loan works like a normal personal loan. The loan is unsecured, so you don’t need to secure the loan with something of high value like an asset or a deposit of some sorts. The terms of your loan will differ from lender to lender. Let’s take a look at some more detail.

Top 6 Lenders for H1B Student Loans

There are tens – even hundreds – of lenders to choose from for loans for H1B Visa Holders. All of them have different offers and it is important to get the right fit for your unique situation. So, here are a couple of good options for loans for H1B visa holders.

Lenders with No Cosigner Requirement

These lenders offer personal loans without the need of a cosigner. This means you don’t have to get someone to sign with for your H1B student loan. Signing with a lender that does not require a cosigner makes getting a loan so much easier and faster.

1. Stilt

Stilt offers international student loans that don’t require cosigners. The eligibility criteria are fairly simple and their offering is tailored for immigrants and visa holders. This means your chances to get an H1B student loan is pretty high with Stilt when compared to other traditional lenders.

With Stilt, you can expect interest rates to start at 7.99% and the application and fund disbursement to happen quite quickly. So, no need to worry about late payment of your tuition.

2. Prodigy Finance

Even though Prodigy Finance has some great offers, they unfortunately only supply loans for an elect number of schools and fields of studies. This may be problematic should your field of study fall outside their scope.


MPOWER also aims at helping international students get H1B education loans. They don’t even require a full U.S. credit history. But they do place a lot of emphasis on your future potential earnings. They might reject your application if they deem your current potential for income to be too low.

Lenders with a Cosigner Requirement

These lenders will offer good solutions, but they require cosigners. You’ll need to find someone (probably someone local who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident) who is willing to sign surety with you on your loan.

4. College Ave

They offer loans to both students and parents of students. College Ave will require a cosigner for lenders with a limited U.S. credit history. As you are a visa holder, chances are you’ll fall in this category. They have some pretty handy repayment options, but you need to fulfill their requirements to qualify first.

5. Discover Student Loans

Discover asks no fees and will even reward good grades. They also offer to cover all school-certified college costs. This helps students who are self-sufficient to finance their studies. That is if you can find a cosigner of course.

6. Suntrust

Suntrust mainly serves U.S. citizens, but their Union Federal Private Student Loan is for internationals as well. They have some attractive benefits like a Graduation Reward and On-Time Payment Rewards. These benefits can lower your interest rates. But, only if you have a cosigner.

H1B Student Loan Process

If you are planning to finance your studies with an H1B student loan, it’s important for you to understand the process of getting loans for H1B visa holders. You don’t want to miss the start of the semester because of simple administrative issues.

When to Apply for a Student Loan

You want to apply sooner than later. You don’t have to do it a year in advance, but being prepared is crucial to your success. You can apply early and get accepted. This allows you the capacity to, then, state to your lender when you want the loan to go into effect. Some lenders take longer than others to disburse the funds, so applying early will also help to make sure you pay your tuition on time.

Documentation Required

Most lenders who supply H1B loans will require the following documentation:

  • College Acceptance – Most lenders will only supply loans to students who are already accepted at a school
  • Visa – You will only gain access to credit in the U.S. if you are allowed to be in the country
  • United States Address – You need to supply proof of your place of residence in the U.S
  • Other Supporting Documents – Different lenders will require different documents. Without a social security card, you will probably need to supply any supporting documents like one of the following visas: F-1, H1-B, L-1; OR Forms DS-2019, I-20, I-766, or I-797.

How to Apply

Most lenders have similar application processes so let’s use Stilt as an example:

1. Submit an Application

Most lenders have online applications these days. All you need to do is go to the website to submit your loan application online. This makes applying super easy and super quick. With Stilt, you can expect feedback on your application within the first 24 hours. Other lenders might take a little longer. If more information is needed, Stilt will schedule a verification call with you to clear up the last few details.

The qualification criteria will differ from lender to lender. With Stilt, the following basic criteria are considered:

  • Current employment or employability
  • Education
  • Financial Behaviour
  • Defaults, Collections or Bankruptcies
  • Credit Check or Credit Score

Although not all lenders supply loans to visa holders, Stilt supplies loans to the following visa holders

  • F-1 – International Students
  • OPT – Optional Practical Training
  • O-1 – Extraordinary Ability
  • L-1 Intracompany Transfer
  • TN – NAFTA Professionals
  • J-1 Cultural Exchange
  • DACA – Childhood Arrivals

2. Receive an Offer

If you meet the lender’s qualification criteria, you will receive an offer and a promissory note to sign. This offer will contain all the details about your loan terms and interest rate. Make sure you read the details carefully so you know what you are signing for! If you are happy, sign and return the promissory note to your lender. With Stilt, the money should be in your account within 2-3 business days of receipt of the signed documentation. Other lenders might take a little longer, but most will only take up to a week.

3. Start Repaying Your Loan

You can now set up your preferred method of repayment. Like Stilt, most lenders have an autopay option you can enable online. With autopay, your monthly repayments are automatically deducted from your account to make sure you don’t miss a payment.

H1B Student Loan FAQ

Still have a few questions about your H1B student loan? Let us answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

How Much Should I Borrow?

This question trips many people up. You definitely don’t want to end up borrowing more than you need to. Interest on your loan will be expensive. So the best solution is to draw up a budget. Do proper research to know what your expenses will be. Then make sure you only borrow what you need.

Remember, this loan is to help you succeed. It should not lead to your financial demise.

How Will My Interest Rate Be Determined?

Every person’s situation is unique. Firstly, your interest rate will differ from lender to lender and what minimum they are willing to offer. Then secondly, your personal circumstances and risk profile will determine what rates lenders offer you. Lenders offer better interest rates to borrowers with lower risk profiles.

Your risk profile is determined by factors like your credit history, whether you sign with a cosigner, the status of your visa or residency, your ability to earn income, collateral supplied as security for the debt, and the level of your studies.

That being said, the typical student loan interest rate ranges between 2% and 14% per year.

What Are the Terms and Conditions of Student Loans?

A loan is a loan. It has a starting date and required monthly payments. But H1B education loans sometimes have some extra features that can help its borrowers.

Standard and Extended Repayment

Standard payment typically takes place over 10 years. Whereas an extended repayment takes place over a period stretching beyond 10 years. This means your monthly repayment amount is a little less to help out with the cash flow. Keep in mind, however, that this will mean you pay more interest over the lifetime of the loan.

Graduate Repayment

You’ll start out with a lower monthly payment, which is a great help if you are starting out a new job with a smaller salary. Your monthly payment will gradually increase over time as you progress in your career. Over time you’ll earn higher salaries which enables you to repay larger amounts.

Income-Based Repayment

This means your monthly repayment is dependent on what you earn each month and it will rise and fall in accordance with your income. This helps you tremendously at the start of your career when you are still earning a low income. It also serves as security to know you won’t need to pay huge repayments when times are tough.

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Final Thoughts

You can have the success you dream of by furthering your studies! Follow the ideas you found here to apply for your H1B student loan today. You don’t have to settle for a below-average salary. Go qualify yourself in grad school and build your career, you don’t need to halt further studies just because you don’t have the finances. An H1B student loan can be your solution.