loan and finance companies
Consider these international student loans. Source: Adem Altan/AFP

Received an offer to study abroad? Congratulations! Your next concern would likely be covering the cost of tuition. If you do not have sufficient funds to pay your fees, you might want to consider these loan and finance companies. In the US, international students cannot apply for federal loans, so private finance credits can be a good option.

What are loan and finance companies? In the simplest sense, they are organisations that provide loans to individuals and businesses; be warned though – the interest rates charged on the borrowed sum are much higher than what banks would impose.

The majority of their clients include people with substandard credit history; they turn to loan and finance companies instead and offer collateral (personal possessions or assets valued as equal to the loan amount) as a form of guarantee. If the borrower defaults on this loan, the loan and finance companies can own the collateral.

If you are comfortable with the idea of approaching these companies to fund your studies especially in the US, here is a list of five popular agencies in no particular order:

loan and finance companies

If you are an international student, these loan and finance companies may be a good alternative to fund your overseas studies. Source: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

Loan and Finance Companies #1: Juno

Formerly known as LeverEdge, Juno is a student-first initiative for lower rates on student loans.

Instead of getting loans for their Harvard tuition fees, Juno’s founders — Nikhil Agarwal and Chris Abkarians — gathered 700 students from 10 schools, and successfully negotiated a cheaper rate for the whole group, saving about US$15,000 per person.

Currently, 85,000 members have joined the Juno community. With free membership, they can expect to receive up-to-date information on negotiations with the lenders for the best possible rate, and loan alternative options.

Based on the concept of group bargaining power (done by Juno), their deals span from undergraduate loans to MBA loans that do not require a credit check, and even international health insurance (which appears to be cheaper than the university’s own insurance). Members can opt for an international student refinancing on their existing loan as well. 

Loan and Finance Companies #2: MPower

MPower is a public benefit corporation with the aim of making a positive impact on the world. Founded by international students, their goal is to empower global citizens overall through academic, financial and professional successes.

That is why using the student’s potential as the main factor for credit decisions instead of their family income or assets allows MPower to offer no-cosigner loans for those studying in US colleges and universities. More importantly, for international students, MPower provides scholarships, free immigration resources and career preparation resources.

MPower now has a network of over 350 US and Canadian institutions, and recognises student borrowers from over 190 countries.

Loan and Finance Companies #3: Prodigy Finance

Three INSEAD MBA students founded this company to make global education accessible through fintech. Today, over 20,000 masters students have used Prodigy Finance for their overseas studies; 80% come from emerging markets.

Borrowers can choose from 850 schools in 18 different countries. They only need to pay the loan six months after classes finish, and can enjoy flexible repayment terms between seven and 20 years.

Interestingly, you can track your payment from your mobile app, and pay early to save on interest without incurring any penalty. There is no required co-signer or collateral as well.

Loan and Finance Companies #4: Ascent

Ascent, the 2021 winner of the best international student loan with the lowest interest rates by Forbes Advisor, offers a wide variety of lending choices – with or without a co-signer (the latter is only for American citizens, Permanent Residents and those with a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status). Particularly for international students, these cosigned loans are available: undergraduate, and for graduates – MBA, Med, Dental, Law and General.

Depending on their credit history, applicants can borrow up to 100% for attendance costs and school-related expenses (up to US$200,000). You can decide to repay the loan up to nine months after graduating. Ascent – with a network of 2,200 US colleges – gives a 1% cashback reward upon graduation as well.

You may opt for the Progressive Repayment if you prefer to start with lower payments. At the same time, if you make 24 on-time consecutive payments and meet certain conditions, you can release your co-signer. 

Loan and Finance Companies #5: Discover

International graduate students can apply for a Discover loan with a creditworthy American cosigner for up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition fees, housing and books. The minimum loan amount is US$1,000.

Hardworking students who score 3.0 and above for the GPA are eligible for a one-time cash reward worth 1% of their loan. Every new successful loan qualifies you for this reward.

Discover also offers numerous other loans: undergraduate, health professions, residency, law school, bar exam, MBA, parent and private consolidation.

Loan and Finance Companies #6: Earnest

Earnest has a mission to make higher education accessible and affordable for everyone. The company offers a wide variety of student loans, including some specialized graduate loans and refinance loans.

International students can apply if they have an Social Security Number (SSN) or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), a physical address in the US, and a cosigner who’s an American citizen or permanent resident.

When it comes to repayment, there’s a lot of flexibility. Earnest allows you to adjust your term down to the month. You’ll also get a nine-month grace period after you graduate rather than the standard six-month period.

Earnest doesn’t charge any fees, aside from interest, and it offers a 0.25 percent discount on your interest rate if you set up automatic payments.

Loan and Finance Companies #7: PenFed

PenFed Credit Union doesn’t offer in-school student loans, but the institution has partnered with Ascent, which offers co-signed undergraduate and graduate loans for international students. All the terms would be the same as if you were to apply directly with Ascent.

Ascent offers various repayment terms, which vary based on loan type. Depending on which loan you choose, you can postpone payments for up to nine or 36 months after graduation.

Similar to Earnest, Ascent offers a 0.25 percent autopay discount on your interest rate and a 1% cash-back reward based on their loan balance with the lender. You can also earn up to $525 when you refer a friend, and they can get a bonus, too.

PenFed loans are best for graduates with multiple student loans who wish to consolidate and borrowers who make at least US$50,000 annually.

Loan and Finance Companies #8: Credible

Founded by an Australian, Steven Dash started Credible to help American students unburden themselves of student loan debt.

For students who are unsure about their eligibility, Credible makes it easy to get pre-qualified with multiple lenders at once. Then, you can compare rate quotes and terms to determine the right fit for you.

Generally, it is possible to find a loan that covers the total cost of attendance at your school. Since interest rates, terms, and other features varies by lender, students have to do some extra legwork to research your options before deciding which loan is the best.

Credible doesn’t charge a fee for its service, and its partner lenders don’t charge origination fees or prepayment penalties. However, they may charge late fees. They may also offer various interest rate discounts, which can be worth exploring.

As always, be sure to check loan and finance companies’ websites for the latest details. We hope these loan and finance companies are able to give you a viable funding option for your future studies – all the best!