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Best international student loans in May 2022

As of May 18, 2022
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INCOME BASED REPAYMENT

INCOME SHARE AGREEMENT

4.3

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.75%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 10-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.6

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.47- 11.16%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $500k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.4

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.49%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.6

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.24%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $350k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

650

Apply on partner site

4.5

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.48%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $350k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site
Fixed APR From

3.52%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $350k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.1

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.20%

Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.1

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.99%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.5

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

4.64- 14.52%

Loan Amount

$3k- $20k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Income Based Repayment - No Cosigner Required

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Income Share Agreement

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The Bankrate guide to choosing the best international student loans

Why trust Bankrate?

At Bankrate, our mission is to empower you to make smarter financial decisions. We’ve been comparing and surveying financial institutions for more than 40 years to help you find the right products for your situation. Our award-winning editorial team follows strict guidelines to ensure the content is not influenced by advertisers. Additionally, our content is thoroughly reported and vigorously edited to ensure accuracy.

When searching for a student loan, compare APRs across multiple lenders to make sure you’re getting a competitive interest rate. Also look for lenders that keep fees to a minimum and offer repayment terms that fit your needs. Loan details presented here are current as of Jan. 21, 2022. Check the lenders’ websites for more current information. The student loan lenders listed here are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees, credit requirements and more. To learn more about how we select lenders, see our methodology above.

Compare international student loan rates in May 2022

LENDER CURRENT APR RANGE LOAN TERM LOAN AMOUNT RANGE BEST FOR
Ascent Fixed: 4.78% – 12.76% (with autopay); Variable: 1.64% – 9.23% (with autopay) 5 to 20 years $2,001 – $200,000 (aggregate) Flexible payment options
Citizens Bank Fixed: 3.48% – 11.34% (with autopay) 5 to 15 years $1,000 – $150,000 for undergraduate and $350,000 for graduate Low APR
College Ave Fixed: 3.49% – 12.99% (with autopay); Variable: 1.19% – 11.98% (with autopay) 5 to 20 years $1,000 – 100% total cost of attendance for undergraduate and graduate and $150,000 for dental, law, medical and MBA Quick application process
MPower Financing Fixed: Up to 13.63% (with autopay) 10 years $2,001 – $100,000 Undergraduate students with no co-signer
Prodigy Finance Variable: Starting at 6.25% 7 to 20 years Not specified Graduate students with no co-signer
Sallie Mae Fixed: 3.50% – 12.60% (with autopay); Variable: 1.37% – 11.48% (with autopay) 10 to 20 years $1,000 – 100% total cost of attendance Building credit

Best for flexible payment options

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
4.64% –14.52%
Loan amount:
$3,000–$20,000
Term lengths:
5 to 20 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: Ascent is an online lender that offers student loans to international students who have a qualified co-signer. Ascent's flexible hardship options and rewards program set it apart from other lenders.
Why Ascent is best for flexible payment options: Ascent allows you to customize your repayment with a long grace period, three options for in-school payments and a choice between four-plus repayment terms.

Best for low APR

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.48%
Loan amount:
$1,000–$350,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$12,000
Overview: Citizens Bank is a traditional bank that has branches in 11 states. If you live elsewhere, you may be directed to its national lending division, Citizens One. The bank offers student loans to international students for both graduate and undergraduate degrees. Of all the lenders on this list, Citizens Bank advertises some of the lowest APRs.
Why Citizens Bank is best for low APR: While Citizens Bank offers only fixed APRs, its minimum and maximum APRs are relatively low. Borrowers can lower their APR even further by combining autopay and loyalty discounts.

Best for a quick application process

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.49%
Loan amount:
$1,000–$500,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$35,000
Overview: College Ave is an online lender that offers private student loans to international students with an eligible co-signer. The lender specializes in a quick application process.
Why College Ave is best for a quick application process: College Ave claims that its initial application takes only three minutes. The prequalification form is easy to navigate, requiring just basic personal information and your requested loan amount. The tool automatically pulls your estimated cost of attendance based on the school and loan period you input.

Best for building credit

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.75%
Loan amount:
$1,000–$500,000
Term lengths:
10 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: If you're an international student, building credit in the U.S. can help you qualify for other credit products and rent an apartment. Student loans generally help you build credit when the lender reports your payments to the credit bureaus. Sallie Mae takes it one step further by offering borrowers a free quarterly FICO credit score. This allows you to track your credit health and understand how managing your student loan influences your credit score.
Why Sallie Mae is best for building credit: Making timely payments on student loans helps you build your credit score. And because Sallie Mae offers a free quarterly FICO Score, it's a good option to help you track your progress toward building credit.

What are international student loans and how do they work?

International student loans are loans designed for non-U.S. citizens by private lenders such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. You can typically use the funds to pay for tuition, fees, books, school supplies, transportation, insurance and living costs at a school in the U.S. In most cases, you don't have to start making payments on the loan until after you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment.

How do international student loans differ from federal student loans?

International students do not qualify for U.S. federal financial aid. Because of this, all international student loans come from private lenders, not the federal government. While private student loans don't have federal benefits like defined forbearance and income-driven repayment plans, they typically have larger loan amounts and a wide variety of repayment terms.

What are current international student loan rates?

Interest rates for international student loans currently range from about 0.94 percent to 13.63 percent. The actual rate you receive depends on multiple factors, such as whether you have a co-signer, the type of APR (fixed versus variable), your country of origin and your credit profile, annual income and debt-to-income ratio. The amount you can borrow also varies depending on your degree program and cost of attendance.

Eligibility requirements for international student loans

Eligibility requirements for international student loans vary by lender, but you can expect a few common baselines:

  • A creditworthy co-signer: Because international students may not have a Social Security number or credit profile, most lenders will require a U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer with good credit on international student loans.
  • An eligible school: Lenders may limit which schools and/or programs the borrower may attend in order to qualify for a loan.
  • A U.S. address: Borrowers typically must have a U.S. address in order to receive loan funds.

How to apply for international student loans

Here's a quick overview of how to get an international student loan:

    1. Compare several loans. Then apply for a student loan that is affordable to you.
    2. Check your eligibility. This may depend on the school, cost of attendance and whether you have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. The lender may check your co-signer's credit history.
    3. Complete the application. Provide your personal information, including proof of your student visa, and choose your repayment terms. Make sure that you understand the APR (and when it can change), repayment options, monthly payment and available hardship options.
    4. Wait for verification. The lender will communicate with your school to confirm your enrollment and loan amount. This may take a few days or even a few weeks, depending on your school and the time of year.
    5. The lender disburses the funds. Once your school certifies the loan, the lender will notify you and will typically disburse the funds directly to your school.

How to find the best international student loan rates

When comparing international student loans, compare these loan features to make sure that you're getting the best deal:

  • APR: The annual percentage rate is the total cost of borrowing; it includes your interest rate but also factors in any financing charges, such as an origination fee, and the repayment term. Getting a low APR will help you save money on borrowing. It's also better to choose a fixed interest rate when possible. A fixed interest rate won’t increase over the life of the loan, while a variable interest rate can.
  • Repayment term: Student loans typically last between five and 20 years, depending on the loan and the lender. A longer loan term will have lower monthly payments, but you'll pay more interest overall.
  • Fees: Check for origination fees and late fees. These increase your cost of borrowing.
  • Hardship programs: These programs include deferment and forbearance, which let you postpone payments if you have trouble paying back the loan after graduation. Check whether the lender offers these options and for how long.
  • Co-signer release: Some lenders allow you to release the co-signer from the loan after making a certain number of on-time payments, although this is less common for international student loans.
  • Monthly payment: You'll usually have to make this payment over several years. Based on your degree program, will your expected postgraduation income cover your payments? If you think your potential monthly payment will be too high, then consider applying for a lower loan amount or extending your repayment term.

FAQs about loans for international students