As more and more students make a beeline to the United States and Canada for secondary and post secondary education, the big question on everyone’s mind is if student loans are available for international students. While student loans are relatively much more easily accessible if you are an American citizen or a permanent resident, there are very few options for students looking for a student loan while studying abroad.
Typically students who come to study in the US or Canada or any country for that matter are looking to borrow money to fund their school’s total cost of attendance. This includes tuition fees, room and board, school supplies and other living expenses. Federal loans are out of the question since you have to be a U.S citizen or a qualified permanent resident to apply for a federal loan. This leaves you with private institutions such as banks and credit unions. Generally speaking all private financial institutions that offer student loans can be approached and the most likely loan category that an international student will qualify for will be for a student loan with a cosigner.
Most financial institutions are loathe to lend money to students without a cosigner simply because of the perceived high risk since a student can leave the country at any time without repaying the loan. With a cosigner, financial institutions can spread the risk of the loan between the international student and the cosigner. This is the primary reason that banks and other financial institutions insist on a U.S citizen as a cosigner for any potential loan that you might be interested in procuring.
Of course any student looking to study abroad must first exhaust all other potential funding options such as scholarships, grants, assistance from the college or university, part time employment, teaching and research assistant ship opportunities, college run programs that offer reduction in tuition fees, college provided rooming and boarding and so on. It is only after exploring all these options that a student must look to a student loan to bridge any gap in their funding requirements.
Another reason that many students consider an international student loan in the Unites States is the rate of interest that is prevalent here. When compared to other countries the Unites States has a relatively much lower rate of interest on a student loan. Rather than borrowing from their home country to fund their education, students look at borrowing the same amount here in the US. With a much reduced interest rate, often 4 – 5 % less, this translates into huge savings over the life of the loan.
All said and done, while student loans are available, you must have someone cosign the loan for you to be approved if you are an international student. If you do have family that are US citizens then this is something you can consider. Be aware of your admission deadlines and ensure you make all the necessary and required arrangements well in advance to be able to apply and procure the required funds for your education in time. Good luck
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