Private Student Loans for Non-U.S. Citizens

Updated on February 20, 2024

At a Glance

  • Tuition fees in the U.S. have significantly increased, necessitating careful planning for education costs.
  • Non-U.S. citizens are ineligible for federal financial aid but can consider private student loans with different eligibility criteria.
  • Finding private student loans involves determining the needed funding, shopping around for lenders, and selecting the best option.
  • Applying for private student loans includes filling out an online application, accepting the loan offer, and setting up a repayment method.

Do you have aspirations to study in the U.S.? Some of the most prestigious schools in the world are in America. Perhaps you’ve already been accepted into a course, but you’re still worried about the cost of tuition fees.

How will you as an immigrant finance your education when American tuition fees are so expensive (compared to other countries). Here you can find some more information about private student loans for non-U.S. citizens. It could possibly be your best option.

Cost of Education in the U.S.

Tuition fees in the U.S. have become quite expensive. The average tuition fees have risen by over 200% in public institutions and by 130% at private schools over the past 30 years. During the academic year of 2017-2018, a moderate college budget amounted to $25’290 for an in-state public college. Private colleges cost about $50’900 during that same year. The most expensive colleges in the U.S. cost more than $70’000 per year.

The costs above is also only for tuition fees. It doesn’t even include your housing, living, or transportation costs. Planning to cover your tuition fees is very important, but also make sure you can cover your living expenses as well. If you don’t have the money yourself you don’t have to worry. Use private student loans for non-U.S. citizens to cover tuition and some of your living expenses if needed.

Why Non-U.S. Citizens Do Not Qualify for Federal Financial Aid

Non-U.S. citizens hold citizenship abroad. They were most probably born in a different country and therefore don’t enjoy any of the privileges and rights granted to U.S. citizens. It’s possible to get an F1 student visa and study here. But if you’re not a citizen you won’t be able to get access to federal student aid. The reason is simply that you aren’t a citizen and only citizens get access to federal financial aid.

If your an immigrant you might also have some difficulty getting access to student loans. Why is that so? Traditional lenders like banks are hesitant to supply credit to immigrants since they might easily move back to their home country. Then many more types of eligibility criteria like proper documentation and the correct visa types could disqualify you. That is why, if you are a foreign student, you need to consider private student loans for non-U.S. citizens.

What are “Private” Student Loans?

What are private student loans? Unlike federal student loans supplied by the government, private loans are predominantly supplied by private lenders. Companies and institutions that offer loans that hold no relation with the government are considered private lenders.

Private student loans have different eligibility criteria when compared to federal student loans. It’s often easier to be approved for a private student loan, especially if you’re a non-U.S. citizen. There are many kinds of private lenders who offer student loans. Credit unions and online lenders are just a few of them. Look for private lenders willing to offer student loans to people in your situation.

How to Find Private Student Loans for Non-U.S. Citizens

So where do you even start your search for private student loans for non-U.S. citizens? What are the more important things you need to look out for? Here are some tips to help you find the private student loans you need.

Know What You Need

Wise planning helps any endeavor to succeed. Count the cost of your studies and determine how much funding you’ll need to get your qualification. You don’t want to reach your second semester and run out of money. Remember to add any possible living expenses required in the process like expensive apartment deposits.

Perhaps you even need some extra money to cover your health insurance. Make sure you take everything into account when you decide what loan amount you need to apply for. Some lenders may even require proof from your school of the total cost of tuition fees for your course. Do some research, budget well, and keep to your budget to make sure you apply for the correct loan amount.

Shop Around

Don’t just accept the first private lender you find. Do more research and look for alternatives. You might even be eligible for an international scholarship.

Get pre-approved at different lenders and compare the interest rates they offer you. Lower interest rates lead to cheaper monthly payments. Loans with lower interest rates are much easier to repay as well and you’ll end up repaying less in the long run.

Pick the Best Lender for Your Situation

All lenders aren’t the same. Some have intricate loan agreements that charge you penalty fees when you make early payments. Other lenders might have positive initiatives like a grace period for the first few months after you’ve graduated. These lenders don’t require any repayment during those months which helps you manage your money easier while you hunt for a job after graduation day.

Find the lender that understands your lifestyle and needs. Remember once you sign a loan agreement you are bound by a contract. You can always refinance your student debt to a different lender after a few months of repayment. But you are undoubtedly stuck with the lender you choose (at least for a while). So make sure you find the lender that meets your needs the best.

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Best Private Student Loans for Non-U.S. Citizens

Embarking on an educational journey in the U.S. can be an exhilarating experience for non-U.S. citizens. However, navigating the financial aspect, especially when you’re unfamiliar with the system, can pose challenges. But fear not! There are lenders who have tailored their offerings to suit the unique needs and circumstances of students from diverse international backgrounds. Let’s explore some top student loan providers who cater specifically to non-U.S. citizens:

AmOne (Best for Okay to Good Credit)

AmOne is a versatile platform catering to a broad range of borrowers, including non-U.S. citizens with okay to good credit. By tapping into their extensive network of lenders, international students have the opportunity to find loan options that might fit their unique needs. While the specific requirements can vary based on the lender, AmOne’s platform may make it easier for non-U.S. citizens to find suitable loan offerings, provided they have a creditworthy U.S. co-signer in many cases.

AmOne Personal Loans

4.5
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

600

Fixed APR

3.99%-35.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 600.
  • Fixed APR: 3.99%-35.99%.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000.
  • Repayment: 1 to 7 years.

Qualifications

  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • While there’s no specific income requirement, a consistent source of income is essential for the applicant.

Pros

  • Suitable for individuals with lower credit scores.
  • No cost for the matching service.
  • Attractive loan rates.

Cons

  • Acts as an intermediary, not a direct lender.
  • Risk of multiple contacts from prospective lenders.
  • Lack of clarity on lender details.

Spotlight Loans (Best for Bad Credit)

Spotlight Loans positions itself as a reliable source for personal financing, offering borrowers the opportunity to secure funds swiftly for purposes such as home improvements or medical bills, emphasizing ease of access and customer-centric loan terms.

Spotlight Loans

4.8
Stilt rating
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

6.63% and up

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: n/a
  • Variable APR: 4.99% and up
  • Loan amounts: $100 – $5,000
  • Repayment: Depends on choice of lender

Qualifications

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have a checking or savings account
  • Have regular income
  • Have a fair credit rating

Pros

  • Spotlight Loans is willing to work with individuals who have less-than-perfect credit, making it a viable option for those who may struggle to secure loans from traditional lenders​​​​.
  • Spotlight Loans offers same-day approval and funding, which is beneficial for those in urgent need of funds. This makes it a good option for emergency financial situations​​.
  • Unlike traditional payday loans, Spotlight Loans provides the option to repay the loan over a period of months, offering more flexibility in repayment planning​​​​.

Cons

  • One of the most significant drawbacks of taking a personal loan with Spotlight Loans is the potentially high interest rates. With APRs that can be much higher than traditional personal loan lenders, this can lead to substantial interest payments over time​​.
  • Spotlight Loans offers loan amounts that are relatively low, which may not be sufficient for all borrowers’ needs​​​​.
  • Spotlight Loans services are not available in all states, so it’s important to check if you reside in an eligible location before applying​​.

Spring Loans (Best for Bad and No Credit)

Non-U.S. citizens, especially those with limited or bad credit history, might feel at a disadvantage when seeking student loans. However, Spring Loans steps in with a more inclusive approach. By looking beyond traditional credit scores, they offer loan options that consider the broader financial picture. For international students with no U.S. credit history or those who’ve had financial missteps, Spring Loans can be a potential avenue, although a U.S.-based co-signer might be necessary.

Spring Loans Personal Loans

4.2
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

27.00%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: None.
  • Fixed APR: 27.00%
  • Loan amounts: $3,000.
  • Repayment: 48 months.

Qualifications

  • Demonstrate a recurrent income.
  • Minimum age prerequisite: 18 years.
  • Validate U.S. citizenship status with an SSN.
  • Provide a legitimate U.S. driver’s license or a state identity card.
  • Establish a functional bank account for incoming deposits.
  • Adhere to any specific demands by the loan provider.

Pros

  • Open to applicants with any credit background.
  • Four-year loan period aids in structured financial management.
  • The $3,000 offer addresses several short-term financial challenges.
  • Wide-reaching eligibility criteria invite a broad spectrum of applicants.
  • The focus on dependable income over job title benefits varied income sources.

Cons

  • The set 27% APR is higher than many alternatives.
  • Restriction to a $3,000 loan might not cover all financial outlays.
  • Possessing specific IDs is mandatory, sidelining some applicants.
  • A prerequisite for an ongoing bank account may limit certain users.

First Premier Lending (Best for Bad Credit)

First Premier Lending is designed with a focus on those who have faced credit challenges. For non-U.S. citizens, this approach can be especially beneficial. Recognizing the potential in students and understanding that credit history might not fully represent one’s ability to repay, First Premier Lending offers tailored solutions. International students with bad credit can explore these options, but it’s essential to note that securing a loan might still require a creditworthy U.S. co-signer.

First Premier Lending Personal Loans

4.2
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

27.00%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: None.
  • Fixed APR: 27.00%.
  • Loan amounts: $3,000.
  • Repayment: 48 months.

Qualifications

  • Maintain a consistent source of income.
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Possess valid U.S. citizenship and a legitimate social security number.
  • Hold a current U.S. driver’s license or state-issued ID.
  • Keep an active bank account for direct deposit.
  • Satisfy any lender-specific criteria, such as credit rating, borrowing history, or place of residence.

Pros

  • No minimum credit score requirement allows accessibility for those with varied credit histories.
  • 48-month term provides clarity and allows for long-term financial planning.
  • Specific loan amount of $3,000 can meet many short-term financial needs.
  • Broad set of qualifications make the loan accessible to a wide range of people.
  • Emphasis on consistent income, not necessarily employment type, allows flexibility for borrowers.

Cons

  • A fixed APR of 27% is relatively high.
  • Loan amount is capped at $3,000, which might not cater to larger financial requirements.
  • Requirement of a U.S. driver’s license or state-issued ID could exclude some individuals.
  • Mandatory active bank account could be limiting for those who are unbanked.

College Ave (Best for Good Credit)

For non-U.S. citizens who’ve managed to establish a good credit standing, either in their home country or in the U.S., College Ave emerges as a lender worth considering. With their competitive interest rates and flexible terms, they cater to students who demonstrate financial responsibility. However, as with many student loan options for international students, having a U.S. co-signer might improve the chances of approval and secure better terms.

College Ave Undergraduate Private Student Loans

4.8
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

600 or better

Fixed APR

5.05% - 16.99%

Variable APR

5.59% - 16.99%

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 600 or better.
  • Fixed APR: 5.05% – 16.99%.
  • Loan amounts: 5.59% – 16.99%.
  • Repayment: 5, 8, 10, 15, and 20 years.

Qualifications

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • For undergraduate loans: Part-time enrollment at an accredited college/university.
  • International students: Need a Social Security number and a co-signer.
  • For refinance loans: Must be 18 years or older.
  • For refinance loans: Graduation from an eligible school is required.

Pros

  • Prequalify with a soft credit check
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Offers co-signer release for private loans

Cons

  • Charges late fees
  • Must have graduated to be eligible to refinance
  • Half of repayment term must have passed to release co-signer

Sallie Mae (Best for Very Good Credit)

Sallie Mae is known for its comprehensive student loan offerings, and for non-U.S. citizens with very good credit, this lender stands as a top-tier option. Offering some of the most competitive rates and terms in the market, Sallie Mae recognizes financial excellence regardless of nationality. While they do provide loans to eligible international students, the common requirement is the inclusion of a creditworthy U.S. co-signer to facilitate the loan process.

Sallie Mae Undergraduate Private Student Loans

4.5
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

Mid-600's

Fixed APR

4.50-15.49%

Variable APR

6.37-16.70%

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: Mid-600’s.
  • Fixed APR: 4.50-15.49%
  • Variable APR: 6.37-16.70%
  • Loan amounts: Minimum of $1,000 per year.
  • Repayment: 10 to 15 years.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Does not disclose.
  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified expenses.

Pros

  • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.
  • Non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students, can apply with a U.S. co-signer.

Cons

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Read More

Conclusion

Studying in the U.S. can be very costly. Some of the most prestigious schools in the world are in America and the demand for education is also very high. Tuition fees are soaring and that forces many people to borrow to cover the cost. Immigrants and non-U.S. citizens especially struggle to pay for college since many of them aren’t eligible for federal student aid. What can you do and how can you pay for college?

You can consider private student loans for non-U.S. citizens. The eligibility criteria are not that stringent. Even people without credit scores can qualify for private student loans. Whether you are from the U.S. or from abroad, you can get a private loan to finance your education.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.