Have you already checked out our International Student Loan Comparison Tool, but realized that you weren’t exactly sure how to compare the results given? Deciding which loan is the right one for you can feel a little overwhelming, but here is a cheat sheet on how to compare your different loan options and choose the best one!
Now, before jumping into the loan jargon here are some basic questions you should ask yourself in order to compare loans efficiently:
⦁ Do I plan to work and study at the same time?
⦁ Do I want to get a Master’s?
⦁ Do I want to make loan payments while I am studying or begin repayment once I have graduated?
You may not have a clear answer for these question at the moment, but if you do these questions will you give you some extra insight on which loan conditions are right for you.
- Interest Rates: Variable or Fixed?
Interest rates are the part of taking out a loan that everyone hates, so if you can get the best deal you’ll feel very satisfied. When you apply for a loan, you are asked if you want a variable or fixed interest rate and the distinction is very important.
- Variable: A variable rate means exactly that, the interest rate on your loan varies and changes over time. This is considered somewhat of a gamble because if the economy changes, your interest rate can either decrease or increase.⦁
- Fixed: Most people automatically go with a fixed interest rate because its stable and, therefore, stays the same as long as your loan exists. A fixed rate makes it easier for you to calculate your monthly payments, which in turn allows you to organize your finances. In essence, it gives you more control from day 1.
When choosing the details of your repayment, is when the previous questions could come in handy. It is important to know if you have the option to defer (postpone) payments until after you have finished your studies or if you have to begin repayment as soon as you sign your name. Here are 3 of the most common repayment schedules and what they mean:
Special Conditions and Additional Fees
- Standard Repayment: Standard repayment usually gives you a 10-year limit to pay off your loan. During those 10 years you have a fixed monthly amount, and the lender usually requires a minimum monthly payment.
- Extended Repayment: Extended repayment is similar to standard repayment, in that you have fixed monthly payments. However, you have the option to pay back your loan between 12-30 years. This of course lowers your monthly payments, but it is important to remember that the lender will be charging you interest during this time. Although you may have lower monthly payments, more payments means more interest which means more money paid over time.
- Graduated Repayment: With a graduated repayment schedule, the idea is that you start off paying a specific monthly payment and that this amount is readjusted (increases) every 2 years. The repayment timeline given is usually 12-30 years.
You may have heard the term deferment thrown around when talking about loans and you may know that it means postponing your loan payments. When taking out a private student loan you must be careful with the fine print. Although deferment exists, with private student loans it might be a little bit trickier. Many times, in the fine print is where you will find a multitude of hidden fees that can come back to haunt you later. Here are a few fees to keep an eye out for:
- Paying off your loan early
- Penalties for late payments
For more information on what to take into consideration when choosing a loan check out our post ¨What International Student Loan is Right for Me?¨.
In 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 »
One of the benefits of working an on-campus job when you’re an international student is that you get a great feel for the culture. You’ll make new friends, learn how things are done in the U.S. and earn some spending money.
Still, the most authentic experience you’ll have after working on campus is filing taxes with the rest of America. The tax forms, which need to be filed to the Internal Revenue Service by April 18, 2016, can be a little confusing even to people who have filed in the past. Here’s how to do it. Read the rest of this entry »
Tax 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:
- Wages from a job in the United States (on-campus, off-campus, OPT job)
- A scholarship from an American organization
- 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.
Now that many of you have experienced your first semester, or first few quarters, as an international student you probably have already established your routine. Although we all try our hardest to manage our finances, it is an ongoing process and there is always room for improvement. Now that you have figured out what works for you, it might be a good idea to create a new budget going into 2016, to save some dollars and cents where possible. Here are some tips on where to begin making some financial changes. Read the rest of this entry »
There may be those of you out there who have stayed on top of the application process and scholarship deadlines, but have also taken the time to determine what extra funds may be necessary apart from tuition. These extra funds can sometimes be crucial, due to the fact that most people underestimate what their daily living costs may actually be. It is always better to be prepared for unexpected expenses. The idea of spending an extended period of time in a foreign country and not having an influx of cash may be daunting, but you do have options. Although there are many international students who do not work during their time in the US, it is not impossible and could be a great option for those of of you who would like to make some extra cash.
What Qualifies as an On-Campus Job?
As an international student, when you are accepted into a university you are given a student visa (F1, J1, or M1). Attending a university with any of these three visas requires you to be a full-time student. As part of this requirement, you do not qualify for employment in the any US establishment. However, most campuses offer employment opportunities targeted at the student body, which also includes international students. Read the rest of this entry »
Finding the perfect place to work this season begins with you, but to help you with your quest, we’ve put together 4 Tips to Land a Summer Job.
While most students are more concerned with getting a tan than boosting their resumes, you’re setting yourself apart already, by considering the idea of a summer job. Even working part-time through the summer will guarantee a paycheck, and the extra experience may be just the boost you need to earn your dream job down the road. Read the rest of this entry »