While the idea of studying abroad may seem appealing, it can also involve costs much higher than those incurred while studying in your home country. If you are interested in attending school in another country, an international student loan may be your best bet. These loans can be obtained from a variety of reputable private lenders that cater specifically to students wishing to pursue their continuing education abroad. In order to obtain an international student loan, you must select a lender, possibly obtain a co-signer, and submit the necessary application for consideration.
One of the key things to remember is that an international student loan is a private loan, often subject to much higher interest rates than government subsidized educational loans. Government loans, however, typically will not cover the added expenses incurred while studying abroad, leaving a gap between total funds needed and those available from government loans. Scholarships and grants are also an option, but they are often hard to come by, particularly for international students. In these cases, pursuing an international student loan is typically the best course of action.
Once you have determined that an international student loan is right for you, you need to determine exactly how large of a loan you will need. This process should factor in all scholarships, grants and government loans available, as well as tuition costs, travel expenses, and room and board in the foreign country. It may be wise to overestimate costs to ensure you will have enough funds.
The next step is to choose a reputable lender. Your best option is to use the resources offered by the school you will be attending. Their financial aid office should be able to provide you with a list of lenders that offer international student loans at reasonable rates. You should not limit yourself to one particular lender—instead, comparison shop to see the various rates offered, repayment schedules, and income requirements.
If you are planning to apply for an international student loan, keep in mind that many lenders will require a co-signer. This person will typically be required to reside in your home country; however, some lenders will require a co-signer that lives in the country in which you will be attending school. There are lenders that offer loans without need of a co-signer, but they often have higher interest rates and more stringent qualifications attached to them. If you do need a co-signer in the host country, the school's financial aid office may be able to assist you with acquiring this as well.
Once you have determined the amount of the loan you need, selected a lender, and obtained a co-signer, it is simply a matter of submitting your application to the lender offering the international student loan. The application process is fairly straightforward and will typically involve the submission of personal information, including your current income, intended course of study, and school you would like to attend. If approved, documents detailing repayment details will need to be signed, and the money will then be distributed directly to the school or to you, depending on the lending institution and personal preference.