Best International Student Loan Refinance Lenders – Forbes Advisor


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International students — those attending college in the United States but do not hold U.S. citizenship — may be able to refinance their student loans if they want a lower interest rate. The process can be restrictive, as many lenders require US citizenship, a strong US credit history, or a US citizen co-signer to qualify.

However, some lenders cater specifically to international students and others have eligibility criteria that may be easier for international applicants to meet. Here are our picks of lenders that not only allow international students to refinance, but also offer competitive benefits, rates, and terms.

Best Lenders That Refinance Student Loans For International Students

Citizens

This Providence, Rhode Island-based retail bank offers student loan refinancing to borrowers across the United States.

A standout feature of the Citizen product is the fact that you can refinance with an associate’s degree or without a degree, as long as you’ve already made 12 one-time loan payments. Other lenders often require proof of graduation to refinance.

  • Eligibility criteria: As an international student, you can refinance if you are a permanent resident or a resident alien with a social security number. Resident aliens and other non-citizen applicants must have the loan co-signed by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You must be able to present a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-551 or Resident Alien Card. Financial requirements for applicants include a “reasonably strong credit history” and a minimum income of $24,000 per year.
  • Available terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years old
  • Rates: 1.99% to 8.47% Variable APR; 3.94% to 8.72% Fixed APR
  • Loan amounts: minimum of $10,000; $300,000 maximum for those with a bachelor’s degree or less and $500,000 maximum for those with a graduate degree

SoFi

Like citizens, SoFi offers refinance to non-permanent resident aliens in addition to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. An early entrant into the refinance market, SoFi offers many unique benefits, such as access to free financial advice from a certified financial planner and free career coaching.

Its lowest interest rates are competitive, but keep in mind that only the most creditworthy applicants – those with the highest credit scores and highest incomes – will be eligible for the lowest rates. . You can use SoFi’s online prequalification tool to get a rate quote based on your basic personal and financial information.

  • Eligibility criteria: Permanent residents and resident aliens can refinance if they have valid current immigration status. SoFi also requires an associate’s degree or higher to refinance, along with proof of income or a job offer that begins within the next 90 days. Adding a US citizen co-signer might help strengthen your application.
  • Available terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years old
  • Rates: 1.74% to 7.99% variable APR; 3.49% to 7.99% Fixed APR
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 minimum, up to the total eligible balance of your student loan

MPOWER funding

MPOWER is a lender specifically focused on the international student market. This means that its refinance loans have eligibility requirements and benefits that can more realistically meet the needs of international students.

You can refinance loans from any US or foreign university with MPOWER. But you’ll pay a 2% origination fee, unlike the other lenders on our list, plus foreign exchange fees and conversion fees if you have a foreign loan that will be converted to US dollars when you refinance.

Still, MPOWER may be right for you, especially if you don’t have a US citizen co-signer or a US credit history. Its prices and conditions are transparent: all eligible borrowers benefit from the same APR and the same repayment term. But since the APR is at the higher end of its competitors, make sure you save enough money by refinancing with MPOWER to make it worthwhile.

  • Eligibility criteria: You must have worked full-time in the United States for at least three months; be a current resident of the United States with work authorization for two years from the day of your application; and a citizen of an eligible country or a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). You must also graduate from your degree program to refinance. MPOWER will perform a credit check in the United States or your home country, depending on citizenship status, but you will not be penalized if you have no credit history.
  • Available terms: 10 years
  • Rates: Fixed APR of 8.45%; However, you can lower your APR by applying interest rate deductions: 0.50% for signing up for Autopay, plus an additional 0.50% after making six consecutive payments via Autopay.
  • Loan amounts: minimum of $2,001; Total lifetime MPOWER borrowing limit of $100,000

International borrowers face difficulties when refinancing

Nearly one million international students attended US colleges in 2020-21, according to the 2021 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange sponsored by the US State Department. This marks a 15% drop in international student enrollment from the previous year, according to the same report, likely due to Covid-19 restrictions.

International students, however, have limited options for borrowing federal student loans. Most noncitizens are not eligible for federal financial aid unless you are a “eligible non-citizenas defined by the US Department of Education. This means that private student loans are a more common choice than federal loans for international students borrowing to attend school. Since private loans often have high interest rates and fewer consumer protections, refinancing is often beneficial.

International students may encounter difficulties when looking to refinance student loans. Many lenders limit their customers to those who are US citizens or permanent residents. Those that allow refinancing for noncitizens often require borrowers to have built up a credit history in the United States or apply with a U.S. citizen co-signer. A qualified co-signer will open up your options, as will having a full-time job and a valid visa.

How to qualify for student loan refinancing

Generally, to refinance a student loan, you must be able to demonstrate a history of paying debt on time, strong income, a low debt-to-income ratio, and generally good or excellent credit. In the absence of these, you can request a refinance with a co-signer who has a solid financial profile. This may help you qualify and/or get a lower rate.

In addition to financial prerequisites, lenders often require US citizenship or permanent residency, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, and a stable job or job offer. But as lenders vary in their eligibility rules and the target borrower they want to reach, there are exceptions to these, and it’s a good idea to compare multiple lenders to find the best match for you. your situation.

What to do if you are not eligible for refinancing

As an international student, you may find that you are unable to find a lender who will work with you. That doesn’t mean refinancing is out of the question, and there are other ways to save money. Here are your options:

  • Submit a new application when your situation has changed: In many cases, waiting a little longer to refinance will do the trick. If you haven’t graduated yet, don’t have a job offer, or don’t have a great credit history yet, consider applying again when you do. In the meantime, take steps to build your credit. Getting a visa with work authorization for at least two years is another way to help you qualify if you’ve been rejected.
  • Find a co-signer: If you can’t qualify on your own, adding a co-signer to your application can help. Make sure the person you’re asking has great credit and income and understands the risks of co-signing: i.e. they’ll be responsible for the debt if you can’t. pay.
  • Accelerate reimbursement: If you are able to pay off your loan quickly but cannot qualify for refinancing in the United States, you can save money on interest by paying off your debt quickly. By law, there is no penalty for prepaying federal or private student loans, and lenders often allow you to set autopay for more than the minimum payment so you automatically make an additional contribution each month. .
  • Talk to your lender about changing the payment: If you are having difficulty repaying your loans, especially if they are private, call your lender. Although loan forgiveness, income-contingent repayment, and other benefits specific to federal loans may not be available, private lenders generally offer forbearance and other ways to suspend or reduce payments. Ask your lender about your options before falling behind.

Methodology

We’ve reviewed the top student loan refinance lenders and rated each company based on interest rates, fees, loan terms, loan amounts, rate discounts, eligibility, and other benefits. additional. Specific features considered in each category included whether borrowers needed a U.S. citizen co-signer, required immigration documents, origination fees, and other factors.

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