It’s no secret that students all over the world seek international opportunities for study in order to receive the best education and experience possible in their particular field.
A record high of more than one million foreign students opted to study higher education in the United States during the 2015-2016 school year, according to the Los Angeles Times, with an impressive four of the top 20 schools located in the sunny state of California.
The majority of students enrolled in a college program outside his or her home country seek out international student loans to help fund their experience. These loans are created to support the cost of their education, as well as the extra costs of travelling to and studying in a foreign country. They are also designed to provide a simple process for loan application. While loan requirements vary, most students studying in a foreign country should be able to find a loan that will work for them.
To be eligible for an international study loan, the first requirement is acceptance into a foreign program or university. Students from the U.S. who are studying abroad and students from foreign countries who are studying in the U.S. may be eligible for loan approval from a variety of different lenders. Requirements vary from lender to lender, but most international student lenders will require the following application materials.
International Students Studying In the U.S.:
- A student VISA
- Transcripts or other proof of enrollment from their home university
- Proof of acceptance to a U.S. college, university, or non-degree vocational program
U.S. Students Studying Abroad:
- Enrollment in or transcripts from home university
- Proof of acceptance to a foreign university
- Possible credit check and all other necessary loan application materials
Repaying an International Student Loan
The expectation for repayment of an international loan will depend entirely on the lender. Requirements should be clearly laid out in the loan agreement, and students will be expected to repay their loan accordingly. Loans provided by federal lenders and other organizations specializing in student loans will often have a forgiveness period, in which students will not be required to pay back the loans while in school of for up to six months after culmination of the program. Other private lenders may require students to begin repayment during school or directly after graduation. Loan deferrals are often an option for students having trouble making their payments after graduation, but this also depends on the lender.
International Student Loan Resources
- Global Student Loan Corporation (GSLC)
Global Student Loan Corporation is the only education lender offering international and online funding for student loans without a cosigner. International student loans with cosigner are also common, but students with no contacts in their country of study should opt for international student loans with no cosigner programs. In addition to covering tuition, the Global Student Loan provides funding for additional education-related expenses (e.g. fees, computers, travel, and housing.) Their web site also includes an International Student Planner.
- HDFC Credila
HDFC Credila is an example of a loan organization offering country-specific funding to native students. This loan company provides aid to Indian students with an I-20 or Visa interested in student loans for study-abroad programs.
- Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan
The Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan can be generally applied to students studying abroad. The loan offers low interest rates and can cover some or all of the total amount of education costs for international study. There is also an option providing funding to international students studying in the U.S.
- International Education Financial Aid
For those searching for USA student loans, IEFA.org provides access to a lengthy list of private loans for students hoping to study in America. A U.S. citizen will be required to co-sign these loans, and funds will be directly paid to your school so that they can ‘certify’ the loan. While the repayment period varies, the typical period ranges from 10-25 years, and you can apply easily online.
- International Student Loan
International Student Loan has been helping international students and study abroad students finance their international studies since 1998. The site provides information for several different loan types: International Student Loans, Study Abroad Loans, Federal Student Stafford Loans (which are recommended for students to review prior to examining international student loans), Canadian Student Loans, and more on the site. The site also offers a student loan comparison tool as well as an eligible school list to determine if your school is eligible. While a cosigner is generally recommended, student loans that do not require a cosigner also exist.
- Study Abroad Loans
Close to 400,000 students from the United States study abroad each year. For those looking to study abroad for a semester or two, Study Abroad Loans offers financial loan solutions. These loans are available to U.S. Citizens and permanent residents who are planning to study abroad through an approved school, at either the graduate or undergraduate level. The loans require a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with good credit and income history, who has lived in the U.S. for at least the past two years.
- The Education Resources Institute (TERI)
The TERI Professional Education Plan (PEP) loan is available for graduate and professional study. International students can borrow the cost of education up to $20,000 per year (for a total limit of $80,000) with a creditworthy U.S. citizen as cosigner.
- Northwest Bank
The Northwest Bank MBA loans are for graduate business and medical students who are studying internationally. Call 1-703-749-0131 or the financial aid department at 1-800-366-6227.
- Federal Stafford and PLUS loan
PLUS loans are federal loans that graduate or professional students, and parents of dependent undergraduate students, can use to help pay for college or career school.
Note: In many cases, you must investigate and secure all available funding through Federal Stafford and PLUS loans before you will be eligible for additional funding for international studies.
There’s no doubt that international students can benefit exponentially from cultural experience in their future careers and even immediately upon graduation. In fact 97% of study abroad students found employment within 12 months of graduation, when only 49% of college graduates found employment in the same period.
With all of the funding options available, don’t let finances hold you back from studying internationally and experiencing all the wonder that global travel has to offer.