Refinancing International Student Loans

Are you a student looking for refinancing international student loans? Here's how you can become eligible for refinancing and understand why the process can be difficult.

Updated by Akshata Patil on 20th October 2020

Many students go abroad with aspirations of higher education, higher income, and a better lifestyle. But in this journey, they are intangible by what all the students struggle with and that is student loans. The education costs are so high that you cannot afford it without loans unless you are a big shot. Once you take out student loans, repaying them becomes a lifetime burden. 

Fortunately, there are certain alternatives to solve this student loan repayment trouble offered by private banks, such as deferment, refinance, and so on. Even though you are a non-resident you are still eligible for these benefits. So? Is refinancing international student loans possible? 

Though it is very difficult to get your student loans refinanced it is not impossible. You have to meet some qualifications to be accepted by private lenders. But to meet those qualifications is another big task. 

Let us read more about what an international student has to do to qualify for refinancing his student loans under private financial institutions.

Table of Contents

Private lenders who refinance international student loans

Following is the list of the banks that provide refinancing for international students

  1. Citizen one bank

  2. Discover 

  3. Prodigy Finance

  4. SoFi

  5. U-fi

  6. Common bond

  7. First Republic

The following table gives details of the interest rates, credit score, and the official link of various banks.

Bank Name Fixed-Rate Variable-Rate Credit Score
Citizen one 3.45-9.49% 2.34-9.33% Not disclosed
Discover 5.74-8.49% 4.62-7.62% Not disclosed
Prodigy Finance N/A 6.56-8.65% N/A
SoFi 3.46-7.94% 2.14-7.94% Not disclosed
U-fi 3.49-5.32% 2.43-6.10% 680
Common bond 3.46-8.24% 2.00-7.87% 660
First Republic 1.95-4.45% N/A Not disclosed

As shown in the table the banks are well differentiated by the amount of variable or fixed interest offered. It is crucial to have an in-depth knowledge of the various interest rates associated with student loans.

Eligibility criteria for refinancing international student loans without the U.S citizenship

The three basic requirements to be fulfilled to be eligible for refinancing without the U.S citizenship or U.S Nationality are-

  1. Visa approval

  2. Employment and job offer

  3. Build a good U.S credit history

  4. Must have an eligible cosigner who is a U.S resident/citizen 

  5. Apply for loans that are meant for international working graduates

1. Visa approval

For any non-resident individual, the most important document is a visa. The moment you approach a bank you will be asked about your visa. Therefore it is very important to have an approved visa as it gives the lender an idea of his residential status in the country and that he won’t be running with the money. 

The first step towards refinancing is having an approved visa.

Note-  If you OPT for 12 months with a non-STEM major, you have to promise your lender that you will be getting your H1-B visa.

2. Employment and job offers

Apart from a visa, another important factor that you need to show as proof to get approved is a job or a job offer. You having a job is an assurance for the lenders. Apart from assurance, being employed also affects your interest rate, the higher the income lower the interest rate. 

In case you aren't employed, you must at least have a job offer at your hand. It must include the joining date and your salary package. Apart from this having a stable income is also equally important.

3. Build a good U.S credit score

The U.S credit bureaus do not consider your credit history from other countries, consequently, you have to build a new credit history for the U.S to be eligible for refinancing. But it is also beneficial in the long term perspective. 

How do you create a U.S credit history?

As an international student, you will have to start from scratch. As a college student, you must be repaying the private student loans which have already started giving you some credit background, to begin with. You can compute your credit history for free by referring to one of the credit reporting bureaus - TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax.

The other option for building credit is by applying for a credit card. To be eligible for a credit card you will have to give information like permanent address, a taxpayer ID number, income, and a bank account. 

How can you improve your credit score?

After you have begun creating your credit history you must take care that you maintain it well. By maintaining it well means by making timely payments moreover by having a high income you will build a good credit background profiting you with a good credit score, which will enable you for a lower interest rate and also help you in the long term in many aspects of finance.

4. Must have an eligible cosigner

If you don't have a good credit history you can still avail of refinancing with a working visa. To be eligible for refinancing you must have a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. He must meet the required refinancing criteria such as good credit history, high income, and so on. If you have a cosigner with a good credit score chances are you will be eligible to refinance with lower interest rates and better loan terms. 

5. Apply for loans that are meant for international working graduates

When you unable to perform the above two requirements you're only last option is to pick a bank that does not require a credit history or a cosigner. One of the banks that accepts you for not having a credit history and cosigner is Prodigy Finance. However, you have to meet their criteria to be accepted for refinancing. They accept only those international students who have a graduate degree and income of $139,140.

Now that you know how you can be eligible for refinancing, next you need to know how can you apply and what are the documents that you need to produce to your lender.

                                           Worried about your college tuition? Learn more about best student loans

How to apply for refinancing for a non-citizen?

Generally, most of the banks have their own application process which differs from bank to bank. Here is a general guideline on how to apply.

1. Application

Here, are the general guidelines that you have to follow. Before you start, here is a tip.

A tip

Before you begin applying, research which are the banks available for you and whose eligibility criteria suits you. Apply to several lenders.

The eligibility determinants that will be generally required by the lenders before they accept you are-

  1. Valid visa

  2. Employment or job offers

  3. Credit score

  4. Co-signer requirements

  5. U.S bank account

  6. U.S. personal phone number

  7. Your residential address proof in the U.S

2. Documents

Before you start applying make sure you have the basic documents that are generally mandatory such as valid visas, employment permits, bank details, co-signer details, and other such documents.

It is always good to inquire about the lender what are the additional documents required. This will help you to prepare and makes the application process easy. 

3. Final call 

After you have applied for several lenders, the ones that have approved you will send you a final offer. Read the terms and conditions of every bank approved, compare them, evaluate them, and select the best suitable for you.

Before you make a final decision make sure you contact the selected bank and understand their rules, regulations, and other related information. 

4. Disbursement

After you have chosen a final lender and completed the required procedure, the funds will be disbursed. The funds may be disbursed to your account or paid directly to the existing debts as per your agreement. The timing of granting the finds depends on the lender and the agreement you have signed. Generally, it can happen from a few days to a month.

Looking to refinance your student loans? Find the student loan refinancing lenders

Benefits of refinancing your international student loans

Refinancing for Visa Holders comes with short-term as well as long-term benefits to the students. The following are the benefits

1. Lower interest rates

High-interest rate is one of the major obstacles for repayment difficulty. The higher the interest rate higher the amount. Refinancing your international loan offers you lower interest rates reducing your monthly payments. But this is possible only when you have a good credit history by repaying your current student debts timely. Also, if you have a higher and stable income this will contribute you to have a lower interest rate. 

Hence having a lower interest rate helps you in cutting down your loan payments and adding up to your savings. 

2. Simpler monthly payment

To cover the high expenses of the college, you may have taken out multiple private student loans from multiple lenders. These multiple student loans have to be repaid on different dates with different amounts. It is troublesome to keep track of all these loans at the same time. 

You can solve this problem by refinancing these loans under a single loan provider. Refinancing not only offers you a lower rate but also helps you keep track of your loan by clubbing all your private student loans into one private loan. This enables you to make simpler and single monthly payments at lower rates. You can also benefit from having better loan terms after refinancing.  

3. Affordable monthly payments

A lower interest rate offers you lower monthly payments. This low rate is provided by the loan providers for refinancing your student loans. Make sure that when you refinance you are offered lower rates. Allowing you to make affordable payments.

In case you make lower monthly payments at comparatively high rates then you are repaying for a longer-term. Making you pay more interest over the life of the loan. Hence you have to be careful before choosing a lender and compare the interest rates offered by the various lenders. 

4. Lender of your choice

For an international student, it is difficult to choose a lender for refinancing his/her choice due to limited access to loan providers. But if you meet some requirements such as good credit history, high income and so on you may get an option to choose a better lender of your choice. 

Hence you don't have to settle for the lender that you don’t want.

5. Better customer service

If you have a good credit background you have a wider choice of lenders. You must choose the one with better customer service. You no more are in a position that you have limited choice of lenders and hence your lenders must offer you better customer services and do their best to win you.

Why is it difficult to refinance international student loans?

The answer is in the question itself! Being an international student furthermore, a non-resident itself is the main reason for you to face the difficulty. 

1. The U.S Government grants most of the student loans

As the government has started granting student loans themselves, several financial institutions are not permitted to finance student loans. And to be eligible for federal student loans, the main criteria to be fulfilled is to be a U.S citizen. 

2. What if a student with debt runs away?

No student loan is discharged in the case of bankruptcy. Even though your student loan is certified by an accredited university it won’t be discharged. In simple words, you have to repay these loans throughout your life. 

If a student with debt to deal with leaves the country there is no other alternative left with the bank other than bearing the expenses. 

To eliminate this problem most of the financial institutions avoid as much as possible granting loans to H-1B and F-1/OPT visa holders.

3. Short visas and huge loans

Generally, the students have large loans and a shorter visa which makes it more risker to grant them refinancing. To repay the loan it will take many years which is not possible with a short visa duration. 

Why are international students given higher interest rates?

They are considered risky and maybe a burden if they run away without repaying the loan. Apart from that, the other reasons are

  • Having a short-duration visa

  • During the recession, international students may be forced to leave the U.S

  • International students can escape easily by leaving the country leaving the lenders vulnerable to bear the debt expense

It is difficult to get approved for refinancing but not impossible. To avoid facing rejections, prepare a strong eligibility base that will not only be advantageous for refinancing but also for the long term in case you decide to settle down in the U.S.

Make sure you choose the bank that best suits your preferences.

Other blogs you may be interested in

International School Loans [All You Need To Know]

Your Guide to International Student Loans

SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Review

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1.What requirements should international students meet to refinance their student loans without U.S Citizenship? 

    You have to fulfill certain basic requirements to be eligible for refinancing without U.S Citizenship. They are: 1.You should have an approved visa. 2.Employment or job offer should be there.  3.Should have a good U.S credit history.  4.Must have an eligible Co signer.

  • 2. Can federal student loans be given to International students?

    Federal student loans are meant only for U.S students studying in the U.S and cannot be given to international students. International students can apply for private educational loans available to international students in the U.S.

  • 3.Can International student loans are refinanced without a cosigner? 

    Yes, there is a bank called Stilt which lends to immigrants, international students, and DACA holders who cannot be able to get a cosigner. Stilt refinances student loans of international students without a cosigner. 

  • 4.Is it possible to refinance student loans for International Students?  

     Yes, it is possible. You may face a few additional obstacles compared to residential students but it's not impossible to refinance education loans of non-resident students. And some lenders specifically offers loans to visa holders.   

  • 5.Why International Students are given higher interest rates on student loan refinancing?   

    There are many reasons. Some of them are: .International Students possess a short term visa.              .International Students may be forced to leave the U.S for example in case of recession.             .International Students may leave the country without informing to lender.     

  • 6.What are the challenges that International Students face when trying to refinance their student loans?

    It's quite difficult for the International students to get their student loan refinancing approved because lenders consider you as a high-risk client for various reasons. Reasons are:  . International Students often do not get a cosigner. . Their non-temporary visa. 

  • 7.What can International Student loans be used for?   

    All private education loans that international students eligible to get should be used for educational expenses which include transportation and other school-related expenses.