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MPOWER Review: Private Student Loans for International Students

MPOWER offers hard-to-find student loans for international and DACA students.
Sept. 10, 2018
Loans, Student Loans
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5.0 NerdWallet rating

MPOWER Financing offers student loans for undergraduate juniors and seniors, as well as graduate students. MPOWER may not be the best fit for most borrowers since its interest rates are higher than other private loans. But it is a good option for international students and students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status.

MPOWER is one of the few lenders to offer loans to international and DACA students, who make up 90% of its borrowers. The company lends to students from 180 countries who attend college in the U.S.

Since most international borrowers do not have a U.S. credit history, MPOWER considers borrowers’ earning potential as it makes underwriting decisions.

MPOWER at a glance

• Ideal for international and DACA students without a co-signer or U.S. credit history.

• Higher fixed interest rates and fees than other student loans.

• Interest-only payments required while in school and during the six-month grace period.

mpower_financing_logo_3
Reviewed loanPrivate undergraduate student loan for juniors and seniors
Loan terms10 years
Loan amountsMinimum $2,001. Maximum loan is $50,000, limited to $25,000 per academic period.
Grace period6 months, but interest-only payments are still required

How MPOWER private student loans score

NerdWallet student loan experts evaluate more than 50 data points across five categories. Here’s how MPOWER compares with other private student loan lenders.

Enables faster repayment:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they offer a variety of term lengths and make extra payments easy.

Discloses requirements, limits costs:
Average
Lenders score highly if they limit fees and interest rates, are transparent about their underwriting criteria and allow borrowers to get personalized rate estimates before applying for the loan.

Serves range of borrowers:
Average
Lenders score highly if they cater to customers in varying locations, in different financial situations, and with varying citizenship statuses.

Offers payment flexibility:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they offer longer than 12-month forbearance periods, in-school and military deferment, and any other flexible repayment policies that help borrowers during tough times.

Supports customers:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they assign borrowers an advisor, offer multiple ways to get in touch, and have in-house customer service. Websites should display full APR ranges, fees and forbearance policies.

How MPOWER could improve

MPOWER, like other five-star lenders, isn’t perfect. MPOWER could improve by offering additional programs such as:

• The option to fully pause payments while in school, rather than making interest payments each month.

• Biweekly student loan payments via autopay.

MPOWER private student loan details

  • Get a personalized rate before applying: No.
  • Application or origination fee: Yes; 5% origination fee added to the loan balance.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: Yes.

Compare MPOWER’s range of interest rates with private student loan lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate MPOWER will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

MPOWER considers dozens of data points, such as future income potential, to determine creditworthiness and make a lending decision. The company reviews credit history, but credit scores are not a factor in its decision since most international students do not have U.S. credit scores.

  • Minimum credit score: Credit score not considered.
  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Credit not required.
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Bankruptcy history not considered.

Other

  • Citizenship: International students must be from one of the 180 countries MPOWER works with. DACA students do not need a Social Security number to qualify.
  • Location: Available to international borrowers attending eligible colleges in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes.
  • Must attend a Title IV-accredited school: Borrowers must attend a four-year Title IV school that MPOWER works with.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: No co-signer required.

In-school

  • All MPOWER borrowers are required to make interest-only payments starting 45 days after loan funds have been disbursed.
  • Post-school

    All loans have a 10-year repayment term.

    • In-school deferment: Students enrolled at least half-time are eligible for up to 24 months of deferment while continuing to make interest-only payments.
    • Military deferment: Active-duty service members can defer payments for 24 months, in 12-month increments. Interest still accrues, but during the period of active service, interest on loans will be reduced to 6%.
    • Hardship forbearance: Available if you have a late payment or are about to miss a payment. Borrowers have a 24-month limit on forbearance, available in six-month increments. During forbearance, interest will continue to accrue on the loan.
    • Natural disaster forbearance: Available in three-month increments for borrowers affected by natural disasters, as confirmed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Interest still accrues.
    • Are loans discharged in the event of death/disability of borrower? Yes.

    Repayment preferences

    • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
    • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

    • Loan servicer: Nelnet.
    • In-house customer service team: Yes.
    • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.
    • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: Yes.
    • Average time from application to approval: 7 days.

    • Career coaching staff available.
    • Visa process assistance for preapproved borrowers.
    • Online tutoring: Borrowers can access Study Starter, which offers up to 120 minutes of live, online tutoring or step-by-step textbook problem solutions from Chegg.
    • Credit score tracking. Free quarterly FICO credit scores.
    • Autopay interest discount: 0.50%.
    • On-time payment discount: 0.50% discount for six consecutive on-time payments.
    • Proof of graduation and employment discount: 0.50%.

    How to apply for an MPOWER student loan

    Before taking out an MPOWER student loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal student loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

    » MORE: NerdWallet’s FAFSA Guide

    Compare your international student loan options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.

    If you’re ready to borrow with MPOWER, you can apply on its website.

    Student loan ratings methodology

    NerdWallet believes the best student loan is one you can repay at the lowest interest rate you can get. That’s why NerdWallet’s student loan ratings reward lenders that offer a variety of loan terms, limit their fees and penalties, and extend borrowers multiple options to avoid default. Points are also awarded for soft credit checks, underwriting transparency and other consumer-friendly features. Use these ratings as a guide, but we encourage you to shop around for the lowest interest rate you can qualify for. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for its reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

    5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best for consumer-friendly features

    4.5 stars out of 5 — Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features

    4 stars out of 5 — Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features

    3.5 stars out of 5 — Good; may not offer something important to you

    3 stars out of 5 — Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features

    2.5 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution

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