Loans Available for International Students in the U.S. and Canada

Loans Available for International Students in the U.S. and Canada [2024 Guide]

Pursuing higher education in the U.S. and Canada is a dream for many international students, but financing that dream can be challenging. With tuition fees and living expenses often being steep, finding the right loan options is crucial. Thankfully, international students have a variety of loan options available to them. These loans can help bridge the financial gap and make studying abroad more attainable. In this post, we’ll explore some of the best loan options for international students in both the U.S. and Canada, ensuring you have the information you need to fund your education.

Loans for International Students in the U.S.

Navigating the financial aspect of studying in the United States can be overwhelming for international students. Thankfully, several lenders offer loan options tailored specifically for students from abroad. Here are some of the best loan options available:

MPOWER Financing

MPOWER Financing is unique because it offers no-cosigner loans based on your future income potential. This means you don’t need someone in the U.S. to guarantee your loan. MPOWER looks at your future earnings to determine your eligibility, making it a flexible option for many international students.

Prodigy Finance

Prodigy Finance is tailored for international students pursuing postgraduate degrees. They offer loans without requiring a cosigner, collateral, or a credit history in the U.S. Prodigy focuses on your future earning potential and the quality of the institution you attend.

Ascent Funding

Ascent Funding provides credit-based student loans to international students. They offer both cosigned and non-cosigned options, allowing more flexibility depending on your circumstances. If you have a solid credit history or a cosigner with good credit, Ascent can be a great choice.

College Ave Student Loans

College Ave offers private student loan options for international students. They provide flexible repayment plans and allow you to choose the amount you need. Although a cosigner is typically required, their application process is straightforward and user-friendly, making it easier for students to understand their options.

SoFi Student Loans

SoFi is known for its comprehensive support and private student loan offerings for international students. They provide competitive interest rates and additional perks like career coaching and networking opportunities. SoFi focuses on helping students not just with their loans but also with their future careers.

Citizens Bank Student Loans

Citizens Bank offers private loan options for international students with competitive rates and flexible repayment plans. They do require a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner, but their loans come with various benefits, including interest rate reductions and flexible terms.

Photo by Karolina Kaboompics.

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These loan options are specifically designed to cater to the unique needs of international students in the U.S. and can help make your educational dreams a reality.

Loans for International Students in Canada

Studying in Canada offers a wealth of opportunities and experiences for international students. However, affording this education can be a significant hurdle. Thankfully, there are various loan options available to help you manage the costs. Here, we’ll explore the main types of loans accessible to international students in Canada.

MPOWER Financing in Canada

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MPOWER Financing provides a unique option for international students wanting to study in Canada. Unlike many traditional loan providers, MPOWER doesn’t require a cosigner, which is a huge benefit for students who might not have a financial backer in Canada.

MPOWER bases loan eligibility on your future earning potential, considering your academic record and career path. This approach ensures that students are evaluated more fairly and can access the funds they need without the added burden of finding a cosigner. This can be especially helpful for students from countries where it’s challenging to find someone who meets the cosigner requirements.

Canadian Government Loans

The Canada Student Loan Program is another viable option for international students, though the eligibility criteria are more stringent. Generally, international students must hold permanent residency or specific visas to qualify. Here are the basic requirements for eligibility:

  • Permanent Residence: Students need to have a permanent residency status.
  • Eligible visas: Some specific visa categories might qualify, so it’s crucial to check the latest requirements on the government’s official website.
  • Enrollment: Must be enrolled in a recognized Canadian institution.

While it’s not as accessible for everyone, qualifying students can benefit from low-interest rates and flexible repayment terms.

Private Student Loans

For those who can’t access MPOWER Financing or government loans, private student loans are an alternative. Several Canadian banks and non-bank lenders offer loans to international students. Some notable options include:

  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC): Offers student loans that don’t always require a cosigner but do require proof of financial need.
  • RBC Royal Bank: Provides lines of credit for students, which can be a flexible way to manage expenses.
  • BMO Bank of Montreal: Offers specialized student loans that can cover tuition, books, and living expenses.

Private loans come with different terms and conditions, so it’s vital to research and compare your options. Some lenders may still require a cosigner, but others offer no-cosigner loans based on your academic and potential earning prospects.

These financial aids are the lifeline for many international students, making it possible to achieve their academic dreams in Canada. While the process can be complex, understanding your options can help you navigate the financial challenges of studying abroad.

Eligibility and Application Process

Applying for student loans can be a crucial step for international students aiming to study in the U.S. and Canada. This section covers the essential eligibility criteria and application steps to help you navigate through the process smoothly.

Eligibility Criteria

Before applying for loans, international students need to meet specific requirements. These criteria ensure that you are a suitable candidate for the loan and can manage repayment after graduation.

United States

  1. Enrollment: You must be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school in the U.S.
  2. Visa Status: Must hold a valid student visa (F-1, J-1, or M-1).
  3. Cosigner Requirement: Most loans require a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner.
  4. Creditworthiness: Both you and your cosigner must have a good credit history.
  5. Academic Record: A strong academic record can increase your chances of loan approval.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio.


  1. Enrollment: Must be enrolled in a recognized Canadian institution.
  2. Visa and Residency: Permanent residents and those with specific eligible visas can apply for federal loans.
  3. No Cosigner: Some lenders offer loans without requiring a cosigner, especially if you’re enrolled at select schools.
  4. Creditworthiness: Similar to the U.S., having a good credit history is beneficial.
  5. Academic Standing: Maintaining good academic standing can positively impact your loan application.

Application Steps

Applying for a student loan involves several steps. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you through the process.

  1. Research Your Options: Start by researching different lenders and their loan products. Look for rates, terms, and the availability of cosigner-free loans. Example: MPOWER Financing and Prodigy Finance offer no-cosigner loans based on future earning potential.
  2. Prepare Necessary Documents: Gather all required documentation. This typically includes:
    • Passport and visa
    • Proof of enrollment
    • Academic records
    • Credit history
    • Cosigner information (if required)
    • Financial statements
  3. Complete the Application Form: Fill out the loan application form accurately. Double-check all information to avoid any delays.
  4. Submit Required Documents: Along with the application form, submit the necessary documents. Ensure all copies are clear and legible.
  5. Wait for Approval: After submitting everything, wait for the lender to review your application. This can take a few days to a few weeks.
  6. Review Loan Offer: Once approved, carefully review the loan offer. Pay attention to the interest rate, repayment terms, and any additional fees.
  7. Sign the Agreement: If you agree with the terms, sign the loan agreement and return it to the lender. Keep a copy for your records.
  8. Disbursement of Funds: After signing, the funds will be disbursed to your school to cover tuition and other educational expenses.

Applying for a student loan can seem daunting, but breaking it down into these steps makes the process more manageable. Remember, each lender may have slightly different requirements, so it’s crucial to stay organized and keep track of what each one needs.

By following these guidelines, you can increase your chances of securing the financial support you need to pursue your studies in the U.S. or Canada.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Loan

Selecting the right loan for your educational needs is crucial for financial stability both during and after college. Here are key factors to keep in mind when choosing a loan:

Interest Rates

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Photo by Karolina Kaboompics

Interest rates determine how much extra you’ll pay in the long run. Even a small difference can add up over time.

  • Fixed vs. Variable Rates: Fixed interest rates stay the same throughout the loan’s life, providing stability. Variable rates can change based on market conditions, which might be risky.
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR): The APR includes the interest rate plus any fees, giving you a better idea of the total cost of the loan.

Comparing interest rates from different lenders can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

Repayment Terms

Repayment terms are the conditions under which you’ll pay back the loan. These terms can significantly affect your financial situation after graduation.

  • Grace Periods: Some loans offer a grace period after graduation before you need to start repaying. This can help you stabilize your finances before taking on repayment.
  • Repayment Plans: Look for flexible repayment options like income-driven repayment plans that adjust your monthly payments based on your income.
  • Loan Term: The length of time you have to repay the loan can vary. Shorter terms mean higher monthly payments but less total interest paid. Longer terms have lower monthly payments but can cost more in interest over time.

Understanding these terms will help you choose a loan that fits your future financial plans.

Cosigner Requirements

Many student loans require a cosigner, especially for international students.

  • Benefits of a Cosigner: A cosigner with a strong credit history can help you secure a lower interest rate.
  • No Cosigner Options: Some lenders, like MPOWER Financing and Prodigy Finance, offer loans without needing a cosigner, which can be beneficial if you don’t have anyone who can cosign for you.

Understanding the cosigner requirements and options available can broaden your choices and possibly reduce your reliance on others for financial support.

Choosing the right loan involves considering these crucial factors to ensure financial security and manageable debt post-graduation.

Alternative Funding Options

Financing your education in the U.S. and Canada can be challenging as an international student. Beyond loans, there are several alternative funding options that can help you cover expenses. From scholarships and grants to work-study programs, these options can make a significant difference in your financial planning.

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are excellent alternatives to loans because they don’t require repayment. Numerous organizations offer these aids specifically for international students. Here are some of the popular scholarships and grants available:

  • Fulbright Foreign Student Program: This program offers scholarships for graduate students, young professionals, and artists from abroad to study and conduct research in the U.S.
  • Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program: Provides scholarships to students from developing countries to pursue their graduate studies in development-related fields.
  • Ontario Trillium Scholarship (OTS): For international PhD students in Ontario, Canada, this scholarship offers significant financial support.
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships: Available for doctoral students, this scholarship is awarded based on leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement.
  • International Student Scholarship Programs: Many universities in the U.S. and Canada offer their own scholarships, such as the International Leader of Tomorrow Award at the University of British Columbia.

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These and other scholarships and grants can greatly reduce the financial burden of studying abroad. They not only support education but also recognize your potential and achievements.

Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs are another way to fund your education. These programs allow you to work part-time while you study, helping you earn money to cover tuition and living expenses. Many institutions in the U.S. and Canada offer work-study opportunities to international students.

Benefits of Work-Study Programs:

  • Earning While Learning: These programs provide a steady income stream, reducing the need to rely solely on loans.
  • Hands-On Experience: Work-study jobs often relate to your field of study, offering practical experience and enhancing your resume.
  • Flexible Hours: Employers in work-study programs understand your primary commitment is to your education, so they offer flexible working hours to fit your schedule.

In the U.S., the Federal Work-Study Program is available at many colleges and universities, though international students may need to apply directly through their institution’s financial aid office.

In Canada, programs like the University of Toronto Work-Study Program allow students to gain valuable work experience and contribute to their financial needs simultaneously.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio.

These alternative funding options are essential for international students seeking to ease the financial strain of studying abroad. By exploring scholarships, grants, and work-study programs, you can find the support you need without accumulating significant debt.


International students in the U.S. and Canada have multiple loan options to help fund their education. From MPOWER Financing and Prodigy Finance, which don’t require a cosigner, to private loans from banks like RBC and College Ave, each option has its unique benefits. Eligibility criteria and application processes vary, so it’s crucial to research thoroughly and understand the terms of each loan.

Consider interest rates, repayment terms, and cosigner requirements when choosing a loan. Moreover, explore scholarships, grants, and work-study programs as alternatives. Financing your education is a significant decision. Make sure to weigh all your options to find the best fit for your financial needs.