Best of

7 International Student Loans for 2020

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Private student loans will be the best option for international students since most cannot qualify for federal student loans.

International students have fewer U.S. student loan options than most borrowers. Unless you’re an eligible noncitizen who can qualify for federal student loans, you may need to borrow from a private lender.

Some banks, credit unions and online lenders offer student loans for international students, but they often require you to have a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Your co-signer will need good credit for approval and to get the most favorable rates.

You may be able to find a private lender that doesn't require a co-signer, but you'll pay higher interest rates as a result.

You'll find both types of lenders below, as well as guidance as to who qualifies as an eligible noncitizen.

Summary of International Student Loans for 2020

Our pick for

International student loans without co-signer

MPOWER is not currently processing new loan applications. Check other lenders if you need a new loan for the fall.

MPOWER Private Student Loan

MPOWER Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

7.52 - 13.63%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

N/A


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Best for international students and students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status.

Pros

  • Offers a hard-to-find option: non-co-signed student loans for international and DACA students.

  • Borrowers are assigned a dedicated student loan advisor.

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer, and borrowers can access national disaster forbearance as well.

Cons

  • Payment required while in school and during the grace period.

  • Offers only one repayment term: 10 years.

Qualifications

  • MPOWER considers future income potential but does not factor in credit scores.

  • Loan amounts: Minimum $2,001. Maximum loan is $50,000, limited to $25,000 per academic period.

Available Term Lengths

10 years

Disclaimer

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Our picks for

International student loans with co-signer

The lenders below accept applications for eligible noncitizens who have a U.S. co-signer.

Ascent Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Ascent Private Student Loan

Ascent Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

3.53 - 14.50%

Variable APR

2.71 - 12.99%

Min. Credit Score

Mid-500s

Check Rate

on Ascent's website


Variable APR

2.71 - 12.99%

Key facts

Requirements: All borrowers, including international students, must have a qualified co-signer.

Pros

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders.

  • You can make biweekly payments via autopay.

  • For co-signed option, multiple in-school repayment options are available, including interest-only, flat-fee and deferred.

  • For non-co-signed future-income based option, no co-signer or credit history is required.

Cons

  • Fewer repayment term lengths than other lenders for fixed-rate loans.

  • Non-co-signed future income-based option is available only to college juniors and seniors.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose for co-signed option. For non-co-signed future income-based option, Ascent emphasizes future earnings over income or credit score.

  • Minimum income: $24,000 for the co-signed and non-co-signed credit-based option. Income is not considered for the non-co-signed future income-based option.

  • Loan amounts: For co-signed option, $1,000 minimum to $200,000 over the lifetime of a borrower. The amount for each loan period cannot exceed the total cost of attendance. For non-co-signed option, $1,000 to $20,000.

  • Non-co-signed future income-based borrowers must also meet satisfactory academic performance requirements with a 2.9 GPA or higher.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years for cosigned option or 10 or 15 for non-co-signed option

Disclaimer

Ascent Student Loans are funded by Richland State Bank (RSB), Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 09/01/2020 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 2.00% (for undergraduate future income-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates . 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must have a minimum credit score. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner.
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Discover Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Discover's website

Discover Private Student Loan

Discover Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.59 - 12.39%

Variable APR

1.59 - 10.99%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Discover's website


Variable APR

1.59 - 10.99%

Key facts

Requirements: International students are eligible if they apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Pros

  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.

  • No late fees.

Cons

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

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 750+.

  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to your total cost of attendance, minus other financial aid.

Available Term Lengths

15 years undergraduate, 20 years graduate

Disclaimer

Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans and include a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable margin percentage. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 0.375% as of July 1, 2020. Discover Student Loans may adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Our lowest APR is only available to customers with the best credit and other factors. Your APR will be determined after you apply. It will be based on your credit history, which repayment option you choose and other factors, including your cosigner’s credit history (if applicable). Learn more about Discover Student Loans interest rates at DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Rates.
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LendKey Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on LendKey's website

LendKey Private Student Loan

LendKey Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.25 - 12.35%

Variable APR

1.25 - 11.15%

Min. Credit Score

660

Check Rate

on LendKey's website


Variable APR

1.25 - 11.15%

Key facts

Requirements: Borrowers must have a qualifying co-signer.

Pros

  • Forbearance of 18 months is longer than many lenders offer.

Cons

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

  • No in-school deferment.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 748.

  • Minimum income: $24,000 per year.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to cost of attendance, minus other aid received.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years.

Disclaimer

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Sallie Mae Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.25 - 12.35%

Variable APR

1.25 - 11.15%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website


Variable APR

1.25 - 11.15%

Key facts

Requirements: Non-U.S. citizens must have a creditworthy co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Pros

  • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.

  • Borrowers can access online tutoring and free credit score tracking.

  • 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.

  • Information not available on minimum qualifying credit scores or income.

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.

Available Term Lengths

5 to 15 years

Disclaimer

Lowest rates shown include the auto debit discount: Fixed 4.25% - 12.35% APR and Variable 1.25% - 11.15% APR. Interest rates for Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options are higher than interest rates for the Interest Repayment Option. You're charged interest starting at disbursement, while in school, during your separation/grace period, and until the loan is paid in full. The repayment option that is selected will apply during the in-school and separation/grace periods. When you enter principal and interest repayment, Unpaid Interest will be added to your loan's Current Principal. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs are valid as of 06/25/2020. and assume a $10,000 loan to a freshman with no other Sallie Mae loans. Additional information regarding the auto debit discount: Borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month and may be suspended during periods of forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan. Loan amounts: $1000 up to 100% of the school certified expenses: Loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received as certified by the school. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount. Repayment term of 5 to 15 years: This repayment example is based on a typical Smart Option Student Loan made to a freshman borrower who chooses a fixed rate and the Fixed Repayment Option for a $10,000 loan, with two disbursements, and a 8.51% fixed APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $124.69 and one payment of $66.91, for a Total Loan Cost of $23,661.42.
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Want to compare more options? Here are our other top picks:

Who is an eligible noncitizen?

  • U.S. nationals, including natives of American Samoa or Swains Island.

  • U.S. permanent residents; that is, you have a "green card.”

  • Those who have an Arrival-Departure Record from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services showing 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 those whose parents do.

  • Those who are “battered immigrant-qualified aliens,” or children of someone designated as such.

Last updated on August 19, 2020

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's International Student Loans for 2020