The ABC’s of Applying for a Student Loan
September 5th, 2016 by Lette Berhe

Wooden alphabet blocks isolated on white background

Now that you have chosen what university will be your home for the next 4 years, you can start the student loan application process. It may seem intimidating, but here’s a guide to help you get an idea of what you have to do and how to do it.

  1. Financial Aid & Cost of Attendance
    This is the first step once you have decided what university you will be attending. If you have received any scholarships or financial aid, make sure to get in contact with the financial aid office to get an updated version of your personal cost of attendance. When applying for a student loan, the maximum amount you are eligible for is equal to your cost of attendance. This will help you calculate the amount you are going to be asking for in loans. In addition, make sure that if you are going to need a co-signer you have that person informed about when you will be submitting the application, being that they will be filling out the application form as well.
  2. Choosing a Loan
    Finding a loan can seem like the hardest part, but that’s where we come in. With our International Student Loan Comparison Tool, you can save time trying to find the right loan. There are some important factors to consider when choosing a loan such as the repayment period or interest rate. It may sound complicated, but we have some tips to help you navigate this process.
  3. Filling out the Application
    Nowadays, loan applications can be submitted via the internet making the process a lot easier. You will need to complete the online application with your co-signer or they may be required to submit a separate online application. If this is the case, be sure to provide them with a correct reference number or application number to avoid any mistakes with the paperwork. In order to make the application process as easy as possible, collect all the following documents and information beforehand:

    • School information, including school name, major, grade, and school term for which you need the loan
    • Social Security number (as an international student, this may not be applicable)
    • Telephone numbers
    • Current addresses (home and school)
    • Personal reference information and phone number
    • Gross income information
    • Residence information, including whether you own or rent, and the monthly housing payment
    • Requested loan amount
  4. Contact from Lender
    During the application process, you will receive paperwork that may be completely foreign to you. The most important piece of paper is the Promissory Note, which is just a special name for the contract. The Promissory Note is the contract you sign stating to the lender that you will pay back the loan in full and under what specific conditions, in other words the fine print. Want to be up to speed on loan jargon? Check out this great video explaining the loan terms you’ll be coming across!
  5. Disbursement
    After all the research, paperwork, and possible headaches this is the moment you have been waiting for. Disbursement is what lenders call the process of giving you the loan money. Student loans are typically sent directly to your school which then uses the money to pay for what is charged to your student account for that semester. Although the process should be automatic, you should keep on top of the dates because your school will have a final payment date and if your loan is not received by that date, it could cause you problems.

Just like with the college application process, dates are important! Check out our financial aid timeline for some helpful tips.


Study Abroad Loans Can Help You See The World
July 6th, 2016 by Lette Berhe

see the worldFor most American students taking out a loan to pay for college is a given, but many students do not consider the possibility of using the money to help them study abroad to enrich their college experience. If a study abroad program has not been on your radar, it may be time to reconsider. In today’s globalized world, studying abroad is becoming an important investment.

What many students are unaware of is that many study abroad programs are sponsored by their university. What this means is that if you choose to study abroad for a semester or for the entire year, that time abroad is considered part of your ¨normal¨ college tuition. This is great because you will be able to use all of your financial aid during your time abroad. What normally happens, however, is that study abroad expenses add up quickly with the cost of tuition, books, transportation, travel fees, and living expenses. Due to this, all of your financial aid may not be enough, especially taking into consideration that you probably will not be working or have a stable income while you are abroad. If your financial aid is not enough then a study abroad loan can help. Below are 3 reasons why you should take out a study abroad loan and travel overseas! Read the rest of this entry »


What You´ll Need to Make Your Loan Application a Breeze
June 21st, 2016 by Lette Berhe

education moneySummer is now in full swing and most of you probably have already made your final decision on what university you will be attending for the 2016-2017 academic year. For those of you who haven’t officially accepted enrollment, be sure to do that as soon as possible! Although you have now finished with all your college applications, the next step is starting your loan application. Do not fret! It may sound daunting, but here´s a break down of what information you’ll need to make your loan application a breeze.

  1. How Much Money You Want to Take Out
    Before you can even dive in to begin figuring out which loan is the right fit for you, you´ll need to know how much you are going to take out. Although it does require some planning and number crunching, having this amount ready to go before you start looking at different lenders will make your decision process a lot easier and could save you money. Now you may be asking yourself, ¨how much should I borrow?¨ The key is to try and borrow the amount that you will realistically need and not an excessive amount. When receiving your student loan it may seem like it´s free money, but you must remember that it is not! If you borrow more money than you need your monthly payments will be higher, any financial aid you were given may be reduced, and you may be in debt longer than you would like. When calculating how much to take out as a loan, take into consideration the following: your university´s cost of attendance, funds in the case of an emergency, unexpected expenses, possible income, and how much money you have saved up.
  2. Your Personal Information
    Now a days most lenders have made filling out your loan applications simpler, by allowing you to fill it out and submit it online. However, to speed up the process it is best to sit in front of your computer with all the information you’ll need right off the bat. This will prevent you from having to pause filling out the application to go in search of missing information. Below is a list of what personal information you should have prepared.

      • University name, address, and telephone number
      • Your major, year (freshman, sophomore, etc.), school term
      • Your current home address and telephone numbers
      • Housing information: rent or own, monthly payment amount
      • Gross income
      • Personal References: name, occupation, relationship, contact information
  3. A Cosigner
    Having a cosigner on a student loan application is usually reserved for and required for non-US citizens, however US citizens or permanent residents can also benefit from adding a cosigner to their application. A cosigner is a person who joins your loan application and legally agrees to take responsibility for your loan payments in the event that you are unable to pay them. For international students, who are non-US citizens planning to attend a US university, having a co-signer is required. However, US citizens or permanent residents can choose to add a cosigner in order to increase their chances of loan approval and to receive better interest rates.Because your cosigner must be a US citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) you will need to have their personal information on hand such as name, address, telephone number, and social security number. It is important to inform your cosigner that they may have to log in themselves to fill out and sign a part of the loan application.

Read the rest of this entry »


Low Oil Prices Reach Saudi Students
May 5th, 2016 by Lette Berhe

saudi arabia flagA few months ago, we published a blog discussing how Nigerian international students were being affected by low oil prices. The drop in world prices has caused the Nigerian government to cut back on international education sponsorships. Unfortunately, it seems that the Saudi Arabian government is going down the same path and being forced to cut spending for international education. Read the rest of this entry »


STEM Students and the OPT Program at Risk
April 19th, 2016 by Lette Berhe

stem and optIn August 2015, the US federal court ruled against the validity of  the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) 2008 regulation update for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. However, the court gave the DHS until February 10,  2016,  to begin the implementation of necessary changes. In January 2016, the court extended the date for implementation until May 10, 2016. What does this really mean for internationals students? Let’s break it down.

What is Optional Practical Training?
Optional Practical Training, or OPT as it is commonly referred to, is a program that was created to provide international students with the opportunity to extend their visas to gain 1 year of US work experience in a professional setting that is directly related to their field of study. This work experience can be achieved either while they are completing their studies or post graduation. Read the rest of this entry »


International Students Must File Taxes – Due April 18th!
March 11th, 2016 by Lette Berhe

taxTax season has already begun and many international students are not aware that they must file a US tax return as well – even if they’ve never earned any money in the US.  All students must file their US taxes on or before April 18, 2016. For most international students, this process will be easy and straightforward. Read on to see what you need to submit, as well as helpful resources in case you need assistance

Does Everyone Need to File?
As part of your visa requirements all international students are required to file taxes. The forms you will need to submit are dependent on whether you have made any income or not.

Regardless of whether you’ve earned income or not, all international students and their dependents must file Form 8843. If you are in the US with dependents, this form must be filed by your dependents independently (which includes a separate envelope!).

What is Eligible for Taxation?
If, as an international student, you have been receiving an income in the US, then you will need to pay taxes on it. Below are 3 common sources of income for international students:

  1. Wages from a job in the United States (on-campus, off-campus, OPT job)
  2. A scholarship from an American organization
  3. Interest made from an American bank account

For a complete list of what could be considered a potential income source be sure to check the IRS website. If you have received income in the last calendar year, you will also need to file Form 1040NR-EZ.

For more in-depth information regarding how to file your taxes and what forms you’ll need to submit, be sure to read the Student Tax Return page from InternationalStudent.com.


3 Ways to Save Money on Books
February 11th, 2016 by Lette Berhe

school booksMost of you have started or will be starting a new semester. At the start of each new semester, is when students find themselves spending the most money. On what, you ask? A new course load means new classes and new classes mean lots of new books. It´s that time of the year where you need to go through your class syllabi and add up how much you´ll be spending on books. Every year it seems that textbook prices keep on rising, but at the same time the opportunities to save money on books are constantly growing as well. Below are 3 ways to save money on textbooks, which you can then use to enjoy  your weekends! Read the rest of this entry »


IIE´s Cuba Higher Education Initiative
November 30th, 2015 by Lette Berhe

cuba & usAs globalization continues, so does the opportunities for international and cultural exchange. In the past month of October, The Institute of International Education participated in a historical event which allowed representatives from 12 U.S. universities to travel to Cuba to learn more about its higher education system and to explore what opportunities may exist for future partnerships. The delegation, comprised of about 30 university representatives, was led by IIE´s President and CEO, Allan E. Goodman. Participating universities included Associated Colleges of the Midwest; Central Washington University; Indiana University; Lehman College, CUNY; Oberlin College; Rutgers University; SUNY New Paltz; University of Arizona; Montclair State University; University of Tampa; Virginia Commonwealth University; and West Texas A&M.

Although there have always been travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba, there have been opportunities for American students to participate in Cuban study abroad programs. According to the IIE´s Passport directory there are currently 25 Cuba programs available for students. IIE´s Open Doors Report demonstrated that during the 2014/2015 academic year about 1,845  students participated in for-credit study abroad programs in Cuba. Unfortunately, Cuban university students have not had the same opportunities. With political relations opening between the two countries, IIE now has a new initiative to foster partnerships between the U.S. higher education system and that of Cuba. This delegation´s trip is only one of many stepping stones that are being taken on behalf of IIE´s Cuba Higer Education Initiative .

The birth of this initiative comes after Secretary of State John Kerry attended the official reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana in August. During this visit Cuba´s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodrigues Parrilla addressed the mutual interest of both countries to open ¨new areas of dialogue¨ and Secretary Kerry stated that it was of great importance that as neighboring countries, the citizens of each have the opportunity to meet each other and learn more about each other
IIE´s Cuba Higher Education Initiative includes a six-month program with Cuba called the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP). This program focuses on assisting participating universities in the development and planning process of creating relationship and partnerships with universities in Cuba. To facilitate the process the initiative has an advisory board comprised of members from all different backgrounds. This advisory board and its members are work with these universities throughout the six-months.

Be sure to stay tuned, because with the growth of initiatives, comes the creation of scholarship programs!

Already decided where you want to go? For ideas on how to pay for your study abroad program, check out our section on Funding Your Education Overseas!


Generation Study Abroad: What it Means for You
October 15th, 2015 by Lette Berhe

travelingOn October 1st, the Institute of International Education (IIE) announced that more than 600 partners have committed to the Generation Study Abroad Initiative and have pledged a total of $185 million.

Established by the Institute of International Education in 2014, Generation Study Abroad is a five-year initiative whose goal is to double the number of U.S. students who study abroad by the end of the decade. This initiative has brought together partners from K-12 organizations, U.S. universities and colleges, social networks, and international universities and organizations to address the biggest obstacles students face when deciding to study abroad: cost, curriculum, and culture.

In just one year, these partners have begun to make practical changes to address these issues by focusing on: Read the rest of this entry »


A US Bank Account: Make Your Life Easier
August 24th, 2015 by Lette Berhe

financial safteyOnce you have arrived to the US and begin settling into your new college environment, you may start to notice that most people do not carry around much cash. Almost everywhere, including parking meters, allow for the option of paying with a debit or credit card. For those international students who plan on staying a year or more, opening up a US bank account will make almost every aspect of your financial life a little bit easier.

Why Open Up an Account?

In the US, the norm has shifted from carrying a wallet full of bills to a wallet full of cards. However, having a bank account won’t just be convenient when it comes to your personal spending, but can be useful in paying for bills and cashing checks.

  • Rent & Utilities: Although most students live on campus their first year, many tend to move  off campus for their second. Off-campus housing means that you´ll be renting an apartment from a private owner that may have no affiliation with your university. Many off-campus residencies provide online portals for their tenants to be able to pay rent via the internet. Many gas and electric companies also utilize an online payment system. By having a bank account you’ll be able to make all of these payments quickly and easily.
  • Cashing Loan Checks: Whether you will be receiving extra money from financial aid or you will have leftover money from your student loan, you will most likely receive it in the form of a check. With an account open, it will make the process of cashing these checks easier and give you a safe and secure location to keep it stored away.
  • Getting Paid: For those of you who are planning to make some extra cash by working on campus, you will learn to love direct deposit. In the US most people receive two paychecks a month. With a bank account open you will be eligible to receive direct deposit, which means that rather than receiving your check then having to go into a bank to cash it, your money will go straight to your account on payday.

Read the rest of this entry »