International Student Loans Without a Co-signer: What You Need to Know
International student loans are one way to cover educational expenses in the U.S. — and you may be able to get international student loans without a co-signer.
Attending school in the United States is a goal for many students. However, it is common to need loans to help cover the costs associated with colleges and universities in the United States.
Many international students will need a co-signer to get a student loan in the U.S. That can be challenging if you aren’t sure where to start. The good news is, even though many lenders require co-signers, there are some international student loans without a co-signer requirement.
Let’s take a look at how you can get international student loans without a co-signer.
What is a co-signer?
First of all, in the United States, there’s a credit system that requires you to have a history of managing the repayment of debt. Most international students in the U.S. won’t have the credit history required to get a private student loan on their own.
That is where a co-signer comes in. A co-signer is someone who agrees to share responsibility for the loan with you. Their credit history is considered for the loan, so your lack of a U.S. credit history won’t stop you from getting the loan you need for school. Finding a co-signer can be difficult in some cases, however, because the co-signer assumes responsibility for the loan if you don’t pay.
While many international student loans require co-signers, not all of them do. There are some private loans for international students without a co-signer.
International student loans without a co-signer requirement
If you’re struggling to find a co-signer, there are a few private lenders that will allow you to get international student loans without a co-signer.
Instead of relying on a credit score, these lenders look at other factors. They might take into consideration your past academic performance, your country of origin, the date you’re expected to graduate and your future career path. Those items can provide an overview of how likely you are to find a good job and repay the loan.
Realize, though, that each private lender in the United States has its own requirements. When you apply for private loans for international students without a co-signer, make sure you understand the criteria for each lender you apply to.
Comparing international student loans without a co-signer requirement
As you research your student loan options, make sure you compare different lenders and terms. As you compare different loan offers, consider the following items:
- Borrowing limit: Each lender has its own borrowing limit. Find out whether the amount offered is enough to cover your school's costs. Consider other sources you have to help you pay for school to determine whether you will be able to borrow the difference.
- Interest rate: The interest rate on a loan can make a big difference in how much you need to repay. In general, if you can find a co-signer, you’re likely to have a lower interest rate. Even without a co-signer, though, you can compare different loan rates to find the best deal. Find out whether the loan rate is fixed (doesn’t change, keeping your payments the same) or variable (changes periodically, impacting your payment).
- How you receive your funds: You also need to find out how you will get your money. Some lenders send the funds directly to your school. Once the bills are paid at the school, you receive the remainder in your bank account. Other lenders will send the money to you, which means you’re responsible for paying the school for tuition and covering other costs.
- When you receive your funds: Pay attention to when the lender disburses your student loan funds. In some cases, you might receive your money at the beginning of each semester. Other lenders send the money for all your schooling at once, which means you need to make sure it lasts. Also find out whether you have to reapply if you need more money in future years. Some lenders provide loans for only a year at a time.
- Repayment period: Finally, find out the repayment period. You might have anywhere from five to 20 years to make payments. Also make sure you understand when you have to start making payments. Some lenders require you to begin making payments while you’re in school, while others will let you wait until after you graduate to begin making payments.
Another way to look for international student loans without a co-signer requirement is to use a comparison website or go through an organization that specializes in finding deals. For example, Juno offers international student loans and even has a deal for borrowers who don’t have a co-signer. You could get a fixed-rate loan without a co-signer as well as an interest rate discount if you sign up for autopay.
How to reduce your need for international student loans
In general, the less you need to borrow for school, the better off you’ll be financially. If you want to reduce your need for international student loans, whether or not you can get a co-signer, there are a few things you can do:
- Look for scholarships and grants: There are grants and scholarships available for international students, depending on the school and other factors. Check with your home country to find out if there’s a scholarship or grant that can help you pay some of your educational costs in the United States. The U.S. also offers Fulbright scholarships and grants that can help you with some of the expenses associated with attending school in the United States. You can check with your intended school as well, as some schools have scholarships available to international students.
- Use your savings: If you have enough money saved, you might be able to pay some of your educational costs and then use private student loans for the remaining expenses.
- Help from friends and family: Find out if your friends and family can help you pay for school in the United States. While it might not cover all your costs, it can reduce the amount you need to borrow.
Realize that you might not be able to work to earn money while attending school in the United States on a student visa. There are restrictions regarding how long you can stay in the country as well as when you can leave and return.
In the end, an international student loan might be one way for you to get the money you need to cover your educational expenses in the United States. Finding private loans for international students without a co-signer requirement can be one way to help you manage your expenses.
Miranda has 10+ years of experience covering financial markets for various online and offline publications, including contributions to Marketwatch, NPR, Forbes, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, and The Hill. She is the co-host of the Money Tree Investing podcast and she has a Master of Arts in Journalism from Syracuse University
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