BEST OF

7 International Student Loans for 2021

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

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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 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 2021

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
Check rate

on MPOWER's website

MPOWER Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
MPOWER Private Student Loan

Min. Credit Score

N/A

Fixed APR

7.52 - 14.98%

Variable APR

N/A
Check rate

on MPOWER's website


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

Read Full Review

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 Co-signed Student Loan
Check rate

on Ascent's website

Ascent Co-signed Student Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Ascent Co-signed Student Loan

Min. Credit Score

540

Fixed APR

3.27 - 12.16%

Variable APR

1.82 - 10.32%
Check rate

on Ascent's website


Variable APR

1.82 - 10.32%

Key facts

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

Pros

  • Among the best for payment flexibility.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Stands out for features that enable faster loan repayment.

Cons

  • Students enrolled less than half-time are not eligible.

  • Co-signer release not available to international students.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Minimum income: $0 for primary borrower. $24,000 for current and previous year for co-signer.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $200,000 per year with an aggregate loan limit of $200,000.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years

Disclaimer

Ascent loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions July apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 07/01/2021 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-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: AscentFunding.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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Sallie Mae Private Student Loan
Check rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Min. Credit Score

Mid-600's

Fixed APR

3.50 - 12.60%

Variable APR

1.13 - 11.23%
Check rate

on Sallie Mae's website


Variable APR

1.13 - 11.23%

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.

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

10 to 15 years

Disclaimer

Lowest rates shown include the auto debit. Additional information regarding the auto debit discount: The 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. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan. Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. Payments may be required during the grace/separation period depending on the repayment option selected. 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 variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRS assume a $10,000 loan to a freshman with no other Sallie Mae loans. Advertised APRs are valid as of 07/22/2021. Loan amounts: 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.

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Discover Private Student Loan
Check rate

on Discover's website

Discover Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Discover Private Student Loan

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Fixed APR

4.24 - 12.59%

Variable APR

1.12 - 11.87%
Check rate

on Discover's website


Variable APR

1.12 - 11.87%

Key facts

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

Pros

  • Among the best for payment flexibility.

  • 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 minimum. Borrow up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance — including tuition, housing, book and more — minus financial aid. Aggregate loan limits apply.

Available Term Lengths

15 years undergraduate, 20 years graduate

Disclaimer

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 0.125% as of July 1, 2021. 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 APRs are only available to applicants with the best credit. The APR will be determined after an application is submitted. It will be based on credit history, the selected repayment option and other factors, including a cosigner’s credit history (if applicable). If a student does not have an established credit history, the student may find it difficult to qualify for a private student loan on their own or receive the lowest advertised rate. Learn more about Discover Student Loans interest rates.

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LendKey Private Student Loan
Check rate

on LendKey's website

LendKey Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
LendKey Private Student Loan

Min. Credit Score

660

Fixed APR

4.25 - 12.59%

Variable APR

1.13 - 11.23%
Check rate

on LendKey's website


Variable APR

1.13 - 11.23%

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.

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

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.

Read Full Review

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 July 15, 2021

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's International Student Loans for 2021