If the best things in life are free then higher education in the US is the exception that proves the rule. Though there are bargains to be found, America’s world-class colleges and universities often have price tags that match their reputations. As costly as a college education in the US can be, however, tuition inflation – which has exceeded by far the nation’s overall rate of inflation for the last twenty years – means that already-high costs are sure to continue their upward trajectory. Fortunately, international students have a variety of means by which they can meet these financial obligations. Indeed, through a combination of personal bank holdings, scholarships, fellowships and private loans, students have ample means by which to meet these obligations.

Of these, private student loans in particular are an important, but often overlooked, resource. Such loans offer international students two key benefits over other forms of financial aid. While the money dispersed through other forms of financial aid may be subject to certain spending restrictions, one of the key advantages of private student loans for international students is that, unlike scholarships and fellowships, they can be used to cover virtually any school related expense. This means that international students can use their loans to pay for expenses as varied as textbooks, lab fees, and transportation costs in addition to the normal concerns of tuition and housing as they occur.

Such flexibility lies at the heart of the other key advantage of private student loans for international students. Unlike scholarships, which are subject to strict application deadlines, and fellowships, which may not be dispersed until well into the academic year, international students can apply for private student loans when it is convenient for them and may be able to receive their aid in a days, not weeks.

Best of all, because private student loans are not a form of need-based aid, any creditworthy borrower can make use of them and, in so doing, make a lasting investment in their future!

* Student loan application photo courtesy of Shutterstock