International Student Loans Without Cosigners

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • Federal student loans for international students do not require cosigners but depend on being a qualified noncitizen.
  • U.S. citizens can sponsor relatives, and the FAFSA process determines eligibility for federal financial aid.
  • Private student loans without cosigners are available from lenders like Stilt, MPOWER, and Prodigy Finance.
  • Additional financial aid options include scholarships, personal savings, and finding a cosigner through friends, family, alumni associations, or online platforms.

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:

  1. U.S. nationals (includes natives of American Samoa or Swains Island).
  2. U.S. permanent residents with a green card.
  3. 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.
  4. Those who hold a T nonimmigrant status or whose parent holds a T-1 nonimmigrant status.
  5. 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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6 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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

4.07% - 15.48%

Variable APR

5.59% - 16.69%

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 600 or better.
  • Fixed APR: 4.07% – 15.48%.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 – $150,000.
  • 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, 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.

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.

Upgrade (Ideal for Good to Excellent Credit)

Upgrade is an excellent choice for international students seeking loans with a cosigner. While we don’t specialize in student loans, our personal loans can be utilized to cover various educational expenses, including tuition. With our efficient digital platform and emphasis on transparency and speed, Upgrade ensures quick loan decisions, providing peace of mind to students and their cosigners alike.

Upgrade Personal Loan

5.0
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

560

Fixed APR

8.49% - 35.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 560
  • Fixed APR: 8.49% – 35.99%
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Repayment: 3 to 5 years (7 years on some larger loans)

Qualifications

  • Possess an active bank account.
  • Able to provide a legitimate email address.
  • Minimum age requirement: 18 years (19 for Alabama residents).
  • Credit score of 600 or higher.
  • Annual income of $25,000 or more.

Pros

  • Willing to accommodate borrowers with a credit score as low as 560.
  • Offers flexibility with a range of loan amounts from $1,000 to $50,000. This can be suitable for both small and large financial needs.
  • Provides options for repayment, allowing borrowers to choose a timeline that best suits their financial situation.
  • Once approved, borrowers can access funds in just one day, which is useful for urgent financial needs.

Cons

  • Origination fees can go as high as 9.99%, which might add a significant cost to the loan.
  • Apart from the origination fee, there are fees for late payments and failed payments, which can add up if one is not careful.
  • While there is an option to extend repayment for larger loans up to 7 years, it’s not standard for all loan amounts.

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.!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can International Students Get Loans Without Cosigners in the U.S.?

Yes, international students can obtain loans without cosigners in the U.S., although these loans may have different terms and interest rates compared to loans with a cosigner.

What are the Requirements for International Student Loans Without a Cosigner?

Requirements often include being enrolled in an eligible U.S. educational institution, having a valid student visa, showing proof of academic performance, and demonstrating financial need.

Are Interest Rates Higher for Loans Without Cosigners?

Interest rates for international student loans without cosigners can be higher due to the increased risk perceived by lenders. The rates vary by lender and the student’s financial situation.

What Types of Student Loans are Available Without a Cosigner?

There are private student loans specifically designed for international students without cosigners. Some U.S. institutions also offer their own loan programs to international students.

How Can International Students Improve Their Chances of Getting a Loan Without a Cosigner?

International students can improve their loan approval chances by maintaining good academic standing, having a solid plan for repayment, and choosing a reputable educational program.

Can International Students Work in the U.S. to Repay Their Loan?

Most international student visas allow limited work opportunities in the U.S. Students can work on-campus and, in some cases, off-campus with authorization, to help repay their loans.

How Do Repayment Terms Work for These Types of Loans?

Repayment terms for international student loans without cosigners vary by lender. Some offer deferred payment plans until after graduation, while others may require payments while still in school.

What Happens If an International Student Returns Home Before Repaying the Loan?

If an international student returns home before repaying the loan, they are still responsible for the repayment. Many lenders offer online repayment options to facilitate this.

Are There Any Special Loan Programs for Students from Specific Countries?

Some lenders and institutions have special loan programs for students from specific countries, offering tailored terms and interest rates based on bilateral agreements or financial conditions.

What Should International Students Consider Before Taking a Loan Without a Cosigner?

International students should consider the interest rate, repayment terms, potential for work while studying, their future income prospects, and the reputation of the lender before taking a loan without a cosigner.

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