You’ve decided to take the plunge and study college abroad. But now you need a loan and don’t know where to begin! This simple guide will show you how to approach taking out a student loan.
What to check before committing to a loan
- Repayment conditions. You need to ensure that you can meet the repayment expectations when you take out a loan. Loans have a clear timeframe for repayment, which can sometimes be difficult to alter once the contract is signed. Check the terms and make sure you are prepared to meet the repayment requirements.
- Interest. The most important condition to check in your loan is the interest rate. We cannot stress this enough. While some loans might look favorable in terms of upfront money received and repayment options, they could be charging you a lot of interest. Compare the interest rates of each of the loan options to ensure you get the best rate.
- Reviews. If your taking out a loan for college then thousands of students before you have done the same. Check review sites such as Top Ten Reviews and Credit Karma to see other student experiences with the loan company you’re interested in. This can give you an insight into the perks and downfalls that the loan provider website doesn’t tell you.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If the loan company offers you more money than you need don’t accept. It might be tempting to take that extra slice of cake but is it worth it? Think about long-term repayment and the stress of being in debt. Only take out what you need for college and living expenses to ensure you are gaining the most from your loan.
- Ask questions. Loan providers are there to help you as they’ve helped many before you. They’ve answered thousands of questions about student loans and can provide you with the best information about their service. If you want a lower interest rate then ask if it’s available. If you want them to talk you through the small print before you sign the contract, ask! Any loan provider that is worth your time will be helpful and supportive, won’t judge and will make the process of getting a loan straightforward.
Where to begin?
Now you know what to look for in a loan where should you start?
The best way to start comparing loans is to check your eligibility. To find a student loan as an international student you can use the International Student Loan search tool to see which loans you qualify for. To do this, simple select the country you’re from and the institution you want to go to. Once you’ve got the list of loan options you can compare terms and conditions to see which is right for you.
We hope this brief explanation has given you a basis for finding a student loan. For more information about student loans, check out the information section on International Student Loan.
Is a student loan worth all of the financial repercussions that follow? I know, I won’t sugarcoat it, the costs of college and studying abroad are extortionate. So, you may be asking yourself if it’s really worth taking out a student loan to cover the costs? Or, should you avoid college altogether and start working? Here’s why we believe college really is worth the cost.
One of the obvious reasons to pay for a college education is to be rewarded at the end. College graduates earn on average double the median income of high school graduates. While the initial investment may seem substantial, you long-term earnings will be far higher than those of people without a college education.
Unemployment rates amongst college graduates are far lower. The unemployment rate for college educated people is around half that of those with only a high school education. Think that earning money instead of spending it on college seems like a better idea? In reality, it will be significantly harder to find employment, especially in your desired field of work.
Choice of Work
Out of high school you will most likely only be able to find a job in services or low-skilled work. But if you decide down the line that you want to work in a specific industry, it will be far more difficult to find a job. You will probably have to undergo training and education just to enter into your chosen industry in a low-level position. Then, you will have to work your way up from the bottom. This could take just as long as a college degree or more. Additionally, your earnings will be low throughout this time.
However, if you specialize in a subject at college, you will have the advantage of being knowledgeable about the industry already. You will have developed the necessary skills to find a job in your desired area. College is an expensive way into your chosen industry but you will have a better opportunity at entering at a higher level. You will start in a role that will build upon your education and offer you the opportunity to develop professionally.
The College Life
Let’s forget work, salaries and long-term preparedness for a minute and think about what college actually gives you. Living away from home, living with people of your age from all different backgrounds, learning not only academic teachings but also what your interests are (what sports you like, what charity work you’re interested in, what societies capture your attention). This is the part of college that can’t be bought.
Learning about yourself and becoming a more confident, independent person, will help you in your personal life as well as supporting your performance in an interview and professionally. Although education is important, you can gain so much more than this from college. You will establish life-long connections with the people around you. You will have the opportunity to take part in hundreds of activities, learn about different cultures and adapt to a new city or country. Honestly, college is a great, albeit expensive, excuse to have the best time of your life while also preparing for professional growth.
So, if you’re on the fence about going to college, explore the institutions you’re interested in. Think about what they have to offer consider the long-term benefits of attending your chosen college. Remember, you’re not just gaining an education but life experience. If you decide that college is right for you then check out at the different student loan options available to help you get there.
We all know being a college student means studying, trying out new activities, exploring local culture, partying, basically saying yes to everything offered, right? But how is it that everyone seems to have to money to say yes to everything? These simple 5 steps will help you to stretch your student loan further without having to turn down all the amazing opportunities surrounding you.
- Join Facebook groups – what you have to understand is that you’re not the only one. If you’re feeling the pressure to get involved but don’t have the money to spend then thousands of other students are feeling the same way!
A great way to meet like-minded people, learn about local and free events, and explore some alternative options to those being offered on campus, is to join a Facebook group. There is a wide array of groups from the Harry Potter appreciation society or the birdwatching club, to class and college based groups. Each of these groups will have students sharing ideas, events, and generally seeking to socialize in a student-based environment. The great thing about Facebook is that you can see public groups and events, you can follow stories, share ideas, put ‘interested’ in an event without having to pay or attend, just to scope out your options. Additionally, you can join private groups that are full of other students in the area, many with similar student budgets.
- Shop smart – if your main restriction to getting involved in student activities is your budget, then be smart in other areas of your student life, like shopping.
Grocery shopping is a great place to stretch your money without missing out. A few simple rules could save you a fortune over your time in college:
- Never go shopping when you’re hungry! This is a sure way to give into your cravings and head straight to the Oreo section. (This will also help if you’re trying to balance being a student with maintaining a healthy lifestyle!)
- Make a list and try to shop once a week – to avoid impulse buys and make sure you have a plan for food throughout the week. It will help you to avoid ordering last minute take-out.
- Don’t eat out! Ok, maybe now and again after a long day in classes when you just don’t want to cook, but try to avoid it by buying food that you can prepare quickly and easily for those times.
- Go generic – do you really need those Lays chips and Coca Cola? Maybe you do need the occasional treat, but for the most part why not try the generic alternatives and test the water?
- Finally, check out the reduced sections, learn the times that stock is reduced each day and make use of your freezer! You can get some incredible deals on meat, fish and other expensive items if you watch these zones.
- Avoid buying all the memberships before you decide what you really want.
In a world of sports and societies it might be tempting to join them all, with the best intention of attending every soccer practice, film society showing, hiking trip etc. However, once the semester kicks into gear and you’re attending classes, studying, socializing, working out or whatever your routine happens to be, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep up with all those societies. Sample as many options as possible for free over the first couple of weeks of semester to see what fits best. And remember, spending time outdoors is a great way to get some free exercise!
- Student discounts – one of the best perks of being a student, and something I promise you’ll sorely miss once it’s gone, is student discount.
Just by having your student ID card you’re ahead of the game and can access a wide number of student discounts from shopping to activities. Big companies are all jumping on the promotional bandwagon including, Amazon, Sam’s Club, Greyhound, STA Travel and Verizon. Student discounts are also a fantastic way to support your education with companies such as Apple and Microsoft offering discounts on laptops and other technology. For events and shopping simply search online for student discounts in your local area or check out UNiDAYS for national offers.
- Don’t overspend on educational items. Ultimately you’re at college to learn, however, having a brand-new version of every book on the syllabus for each class simply isn’t necessary.
Firstly, many students before you have made this mistake. That means there is a whole bunch of second-hand (barely touched) books waiting for you to snap them up for half the price. Also try Amazon if you can’t find what you’re looking for on campus. For some books, you might only need to read one chapter and will then cast it aside. Approach your professors, ask what books are vital to buy and what you can find online or photocopy in the library. Finally, think about alternative options such as Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program if you’re likely to need quick access to a number of resources.
If you think that college life might be for you, just take a look at the wide variety of student loans being offered to support your experience. And remember, college is not only about getting an education but about gaining life experience, so use these tips to go out and get involved!
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?¨.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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!
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.
Once your university application process is over, a huge weight is lifted because you finally know what school you are going to attend. However, you then remember that there is another waiting game, which is waiting to find out how much money you will receive in financial aid, scholarships, etc. Many people do not even consider taking out a loan, because they feel that the combination of their savings and possible financial aid should be enough. For some this may be true, but for many financial aid never seems to be quite as much as they were expecting. Keep in mind that if you don’t use up everything you take out with an international student loan you can start paying it back right away; this way, you will feel debt free a lot sooner. If you are not sure whether or not to apply for an international student loan, below are 5 reasons why you should reconsider!
Many universities require first-year international students to live in on-campus housing. Although on-campus housing may prove to be convenient, it can sometimes be a bit more expensive than renting a room or apartment from a private landlord. If you are struggling to receive any financial aid, taking out an international student loan can help you make sure that you have your most basic needs covered and the money you have saved up can be used for leisure activities, which you will want to take advantage of especially if you’re in a new city.
- Books/Lab Costs
Similarly, the cost of books and tuition may actually surprise you once the semester starts. Each university normally gives an estimated amount of how much a student will be spending on books and materials; however, the real amount varies greatly on your major. Depending on what classes are required for your major, you may have extra materials and fees if you are required to register for courses with a lab section.
- Unexpected Costs
Moving away from home for college is a big step for everyone, but when this move also includes moving to a different country it can be a lot more intimidating. When moving away, the best way to manage your money is by creating a budget system; however, there will always be some surprises along the way. It is always a good idea to have some money set aside for unexpected costs, which can include problems with housing, a cell phone bill, or other housing bills you may not have considered. Although you may have enough money saved, it is nice to have some extra so that if something unexpected occurs you will be stress free.
- Flights Home
One expense that is easy to forget about is the cost of flying back home. If you don’t include possible flights home into your budget, when the holidays come around you may find yourself scraping together pennies to be able to buy a flight home. In addition, being able to buy flights in advance is always better, because prices will always go up during the holiday seasons.
- Emergency Money
Although we have already mentioned putting money aside for unexpected costs, there are certain types of situations that really cannot be predicted. It is highly probable that you will be required to pay for and receive health coverage by your university, and although an initial consultation will be covered anything beyond that you may have to pay out of pocket. Rather than be surprised by the possible cost of medical services it is a good idea to have money set aside specifically for that.
Ready to start looking for a student loan? Check out our international student loan comparison tool which will make the search much easier!
If this is the first time you are applying for a loan, the process may be intimidating. However, beginning the process with some background knowledge will not only help you feel more comfortable, but potentially speed up the process. Whether you are applying for a study abroad loan or international student loan, here are 3 important tips to make applying for a loan a piece of cake.
- Calculate Your School’s Cost of Attendance – If you are taking out a private student loan, you will be asked to provide information about the school you will be attending. Make sure you have all the contact information for your chosen university such as: the name, address, school term, major, etc. For a private student loan, the lender will cross check to make sure that your requested amount does not exceed your school’s cost of attendance (COA). Although your school’s COA is the maximum amount you will be eligible for, remember that you will be paying it all back so if you can take out less, it’s better to take out only what you need.
- Have Your Co-Signer Ready – A co-signer is essential for all international students applying for an international student loan. However, a co-signer can be useful for US citizens applying for a study abroad loan as well. When you decide to study abroad you may not have enough of a credit history established, which shows lenders that they can’t trust you to pay them back. This is why a co-signer is so important. This person, in essence, fills out the application with you and gives the lender a guarantee that if you are unable to make your loan payments he/she will take the responsibility. Choosing a co-signer with good credit can also work in your favor, allowing you to receive better interest rates from the lender.
- Collect All of Your Financial Documents – When applying for a loan you are asking for money and before a lender decides to approve your application they need to have a good idea of your financial standings. As mentioned above, you will probably need a co-signer so it is important to have all of you financial documents and that of your co-signer available. If you or your co-signer have filed taxes, having that information on hand will make the application process easier. The breakdown of financial information that you normally will be asked to provide includes: gross income, do you rent or own, monthly housing payments, etc.
Ready to start your loan search? Let us make it easier for you with our International Student Loan Comparison Tool.
As an international student applying for a study abroad loan, one of the key things you will need to have is a cosigner. Don’t really know what a cosigner is? Not to worry, here is a breakdown of what a cosigner is, their role, and the best way to get one.
What is a Cosigner?
When applying for an international student loan, lenders need to evaluate your financial background and stability before approving your application. This means that they need to make sure that you will pay them back. However, because you are an international student you do not have a financial record in the US for lenders to look up. This is where a cosigner becomes an important part of the international student loan process.
A cosigner is someone who signs your loan application with you and by doing so says, ¨If Maria cannot make her loan payments, for whatever reason, I will take over the responsibility and make the payments on her behalf.¨ A cosigner signs this legal document which states that they will take on the responsibility of your debt if you cannot. Read the rest of this entry »
For 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 »
Summer 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.
- 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.
- 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
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 »