BEST OF

7 International Student Loans for 2022

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

Apr 4, 2022

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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 private 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.

International Student Loans

Our picks for

International student loans without co-signer

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 $100,000, limited to $25,000 per academic period.

Available Term Lengths

10 years

Read Full Review

Prodigy Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Prodigy Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

N/A

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

7.52-12.00%

Variable APR

7.52-12.00%

Pros

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

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

Cons

  • No fixed interest rates.

Qualifications

  • Prodigy Finance considers future income, rather than current income or credit score.

  • Loan amounts: $15,000 to $220,000.

Available Term Lengths

7, 10, 15 or 20 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

4.78-12.76%

Variable APR

1.64-9.23%
Check rate

on Ascent's website


Variable APR

1.64-9.23%

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 Student 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 may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 05/01/2022 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 must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner.  Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants and may require a 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

3.75-12.85%

Variable APR

1.62-11.73%
Check rate

on Sallie Mae's website


Variable APR

1.62-11.73%

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. 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 borrower who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae loans. Advertised APRs are valid as of 05/13/2022. 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. Examples of typical costs for a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan with the most common fixed rate, fixed repayment option, 6-month separation period, and two disbursements: For a borrower with no prior loans and a 4-year in-school period, it works out to a 9.09% fixed APR, 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $165.12 and one payment of $120.52, for a Total Loan Cost of $21,044.80. For a borrower with $20,000 in prior loans and a 2-year in-school period, it works out to a 9.47% fixed APR, 27 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $119.57 and one payment of $55.39 for a total loan cost of $22,133.42. Loans that are subject to a $50 minimum principal and interest payment amount may receive a loan term that is less than 10 years.

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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.

STUDENT LOAN RATINGS METHODOLOGY

Our survey of more than 29 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 40 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

Last updated on April 4, 2022

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's International Student Loans for 2022