International Student Loans in Canada
Canada is one of the top 5 destination countries for studying abroad due to the high quality education available, the open and tolerant culture and the opportunities available.
The majority of financial aid options, grants and scholarships at Canadian universities are aimed at Canadian students, meaning international students at a Canadian university may have limited resources available to them. As an international student, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will expect you to be able to finance your studies in Canada on your own.
Between your own savings and help from your family, plus some financial help that is available in the form of grants or scholarships (which do not have to be paid back), you might only cover part of the total cost to study in Canada. This is why many students from a foreign country rely on a loan to cover the remaining costs.
Loans for International Students in Canada
International students can now apply for a student loan without a cosigner if they are enrolled at select Canadian schools. International, American and Canadian students, may be eligible for a loan to cover the cost of their education including tuition, housing, food, insurance and educational supplies such as books.
With these loans the lender will look at your academic success and career path, and not purely base their decision on your credit history or that of a cosigner. A few other factors they will consider include your home country, expected graduation date and the school you attend.
International student loans are offered through private lenders, and each lender will have their own requirements and rules on eligibility.
It’s important to research your options and find a lender that will offer you a loan that meets your needs.
Finding and Comparing Canada Student Loans
If you’re an international student and would like to explore the option of a loan to study in Canada, use our student loan comparison tool to see if your chosen school has one available – in just a few clicks. If so, you can then research the terms and conditions of the loan and apply directly through the lender. The application process is quite simple and can be completed online.
When doing your research a few items you will want to take note of include:
- The amount you can borrow
- The interest rate (including if it’s fixed or variable)
- The repayment period
- When and how your funds will be disbursed
Once your application has been reviewed you will receive details on your offer including your interest rate and how much you can borrow, these items will vary by lender and your situation. If youapplication is approved, the funds are disbursed directly to your college or university. This process usually takes about 6 weeks, so plan accordingly.
To see if there are loans available at your school, including loans that don’t require a cosigner, use the student loan comparison tool to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can international students apply for student loans in Canada?
Yes – although options for funding are more limited then for domestic students, private student loans are available. Eligible students must be attending a university with a student loan program supported by a private lender.
Are these available to Canadian citizens?
Yes, Canadian citizens can use the comparison tool above to check if they are attending an eligible school and apply online.
Will there be a credit check?
Although most traditional lenders require applicants to have a good credit score, there are lenders that operate in other ways and take into account the borrower’s future potential to repay the balance.
Do I need a co-signer?
No. A co-signer is not required in Canada, although having a creditworthy co-signer may improve the interest rate you are offered.
How much money do I need to study in Canada as an international student?
This is going to vary greatly depending on your degree program, level and location. To give a rough estimate, though, $20,000 to $30,000 CAD per year for tuition fees plus an estimated $15,000 CAD for living expenses and other costs. While this number may not seem to be very affordable for most, it is significantly cheaper than some ofhter popular study destinations! You can check the total cost of attendance with your university’s financial aid office.
What can I use the funds for?
The majority of the funds will go towards your tuition fees, but you can also use them to cover accommodation and other educational expenses such as books and equipment.
Will I need a Canadian Study Permit?
A valid study permit will be required by Canadian Immigration in order for you to complete your studies. You should check specific visa details with the relevant authorities prior to plannig any travel.
How much student loan can international students get?
You can borrow up to the total cost of your education, minus any other financial aid, scholarships and awards you’re receiving. Your lender may also have a maximum amount limit in place.
How can international students pay for university in Canada?
The vast majority of students rely on their own personal savings, along with the help of their family. There are a range of scholarships either through your university or from independent sponsors. You can search scholarship listings to see if there are any suitable for you. Beyond that, if you have remaining expenses and need further funds, a loan may be the best option.
What are the repayment terms?
Repayment options will depend on the terms of your agreement with the lender, but in most cases there will be either zero or reduced payments while you are in school and 6-months post graduation. A repayment schedule will be provided to you by the lender.
Are Student Loans Worth It?
The biggest difference between a loan and other forms of financial aid like grants and scholarships is that grants and scholarships do not need to be paid back, but loans do. This means that borrowing money to pay for university does place a burden on you to make repayments – often as soon as you graduate or even while you are still studying. This is why a loan should be the last resort to fund your education, rather than your first port of call. Try to fund your studies in other ways with personal savings, grants, scholarships and family funds before taking out a loan. With that being said, a loan can make all the difference between being able to afford the dream of studying in Canada or not, and in that case repaying the loan after graduation may be totally worth it.
Other student grants
Grants, bursaries and scholarships help you pay for your post-secondary education by giving you money that does not need to be paid back. They can be offered through governments, schools or private organizations.
Apprenticeship grants for on-the-job training
If you have completed your first or second year of an apprenticeship program in a Red Seal trade and you qualify, you could get an Apprenticeship Incentive Grant (AIG). Although you don’t have to pay this grant back, you will have to pay tax on it. Check the AIG deadline to apply.
If you have completed your Red Seal certificate or your provincial or territorial Certificate of Qualification, you may still be able to get a $2,000 Apprenticeship Completion Grant (ACG). Check the ACG deadline to apply.
Additional government student grants
- Athlete Assistance Program
Canada’s sport funding program enabling athletes to combine their sport and academic or working careers while training for world-class performances
- Explore: Second Language Summer Program
A five-week intensive language-immersion program.
- University and College Entrance Preparation Program for Aboriginal People
Provides financial assistance to Status Indians or recognized Inuit for courses to achieve the academic requirements for admission into a post-secondary degree or diploma program.
- Post-Secondary Student Support Program
Provides financial assistance to Status Indians or recognized Inuit for a range of post-secondary programs.
- Legal Studies for Aboriginal People Program
A bursary for Métis or Non-Status Indians who wish to attend law school.
Money to study abroad
For more information on scholarships, grants and bursaries for students in Canada who want to study outside of Canada, visit:
- Government of Canada International Scholarships Program
- Canadian Bureau for International Education
- Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials
- Provincial and territorial information for Canada Student Loans and Grants
- Canada Student Grants
- Canada Student Loans
- Provincial and territorial student financial assistance offices
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International Student Loans in USA
You should always carefully evaluate how much money you will need to study in the USA. Then you will need to research and apply for scholarships, financial aid from your school, and find money from any other source, including family funds. After exhausting these avenues, most international students still have a funding gap, and that’s where international student loans come in.
What is an International Student Loan
Federal student loans are popular with US students studying in the US, but they are not available to international students. Instead, international students are eligible for international student loans, specialized private education loans available to international students studying in the US.
International Student Loans are now a very realistic way to finance your education in the US. Loans are very flexible, and can offer loan amounts high enough to pay for your entire education, but with extended repayment terms and reasonable interest rates, so you can afford the repayment after you graduate.
Most international students applying for loans must have a US cosigner in order to apply. A cosigner is legally obligated to repay the loan if the borrower fails to pay. The cosigner must be a permanent US resident with good credit who has lived in the US for the past two years. The cosigner is often a close friend or relative who can assist in getting credit, since most international students cannot receive credit on their own. If you’re not able to find a cosigner see if there are no cosigner loans available to you.
Interest is the amount charged by the lender in addition to the amount of money that you borrowed. The interest rate is calculated based on an index plus a margin that will add an additional percentage interest rate depending on your co-signer’s creditworthiness. The two most common indexes used for international students are the Prime Rate and LIBOR Rate.
- Prime Interest Rate – This index is determined by the federal funds rate which is set by the US Federal Reserve.
- LIBOR – The LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) is based on the British Bankers’ Association and is used on the London interbank market. The rate is an average of the world’s most creditworthy bank’s interbank deposit rates for overnight and one year terms.
When evaluating the loan, the lender will clarify which index the plan uses. Then, there will be an additional margin that will be added based on the borrower’s individual criteria, including the co-signer’s credit history. Based on their creditworthiness, an additional interest rate will be added to the index. This will be the total interest you owe. When your application is approved, your specific margin will be disclosed to you, at which point you can accept or refuse the loan.
Repayment will vary depending on the loan option you choose. Since most international students are not able to work while they study in the US, repayment must be considered as an extremely important feature in your loan. You will need to consider how much the monthly payments will be, when payments will begin, and how long you will be able to defer paying back the loan. The repayment period generally ranges from 10-25 years, but the larger the loan, the longer the repayment period. The standard repayment plan options are:
- Full Deferral – Students are able to defer payment until 6 months after graduation as long as full-time status is maintained. Students can defer payments for a maximum of four years, which is the typical length of a degree.
- Interest Only – International students only pay the interest while in school, up to four consecutive years, and can defer the principal until 45 days after graduation, or when the student drops their course load to part-time.
- Immediate Repayment – Payments on both interest and principal are due immediately once the loan has been dispersed.
Frequently Asking Questions
Who is eligible to apply for international student loans?
Students who are not US citizens or non-citizen permanent residents and who are attending an eligible US college or university may apply for international student loans.
What can international student loans be used for?
International student loans can be used for education-related expenses such as tuition, books, fees, insurance, and room and board.
What is the maximum loan amount I can apply for?
You can apply for up to the total cost of education, minus other aid, as determined by your school. In order to determine your maximum loan amount, you will need to contact your school’s financial aid office. After you apply and receive credit approval for you and your co-signer, your school must certify the amount of the loan.
When used responsibly as part of an overall education funding plan, international student loans can help to put a US education within reach, regardless of your financial circumstances. We offer two main loan resources dedicated to providing funding for international students: International Student Loan and Study Abroad Loans – please visit them for more information.
Summary of International Student Loans for 2021
|Lender||NerdWallet Rating||Fixed APR||Variable APR||Min. Credit Score||Learn More|
|MPOWER Private Student Loan||4.5/5Best for International student loans without co-signer||7.52 – 14.98%||N/A||N/A||CHECK RATEon MPOWER’s website|
|Co-signed Student Loan||5.0/5Best for International student loans with co-signer||3.58 – 11.95%||2.13 – 10.35%||540||CHECK RATEon Ascent’s website|
|Discover Private Student Loan||4.5/5Best for International student loans with co-signer||4.24 – 12.59%||1.24 – 11.99%||Does not disclose||CHECK RATEon Discover’s website|
|Sallie Mae Private Student Loan||4.0/5Best for International student loans with co-signer||4.25 – 12.59%||1.13 – 11.23%||Does not disclose||CHECK RATEon Sallie Mae’s website|
|Citizens Private Student Loan||4.0/5Best for International student loans with co-signer||4.16 – 10.95%||1.15 – 10.41%||Does not disclose||READ REVIEW|
|LendKey Private Student Loan||4.5/5Best for International student loans with co-signer||4.25 – 12.59%||1.13 – 11.23%||660||CHECK RATEon LendKey’s website|
|EDvestinU Private Student Loan||4.5/5Best for International student loans with co-signer||3.91 – 6.28%||1.86 – 4.23%||675||READ REVIEW|
International student loans without co-signer
MPOWER is not currently processing new loan applications. Check other lenders if you need a new loan for the fall.CHECK RATE
on MPOWER’s website
MPOWER Private Student Loan
Min. Credit ScoreN/A
Fixed APR7.52 – 14.98%
International student loans with co-signer
The lenders below accept applications for eligible noncitizens who have a U.S. co-signer.CHECK RATE
on Ascent’s website
Co-signed Student Loan
Min. Credit Score540
Fixed APR3.58 – 11.95%
Variable APR2.13 – 10.35%
on Discover’s website
Discover Private Student Loan
Min. Credit ScoreDoes not disclose
Fixed APR4.24 – 12.59%
Variable APR1.24 – 11.99%
on Sallie Mae’s website
Sallie Mae Private Student Loan
Min. Credit ScoreDoes not disclose
Fixed APR4.25 – 12.59%
Variable APR1.13 – 11.23%
on LendKey’s website
LendKey Private Student Loan
Min. Credit Score660
Fixed APR4.25 – 12.59%
Variable APR1.13 – 11.23%
Want to compare more options? Here are our other top picks:
Who is an eligible noncitizen?
- U.S. nationals, including natives of American Samoa or Swains Island.
- U.S. permanent residents; that is, you have a “green card.”
- Those who have an Arrival-Departure Record from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services showing the following statuses: refugee; asylum granted; Cuban-Haitian Entrant; Conditional Entrant issued before April 1, 1980; or parolee.
- Those who hold a T-nonimmigrant status, or those whose parents do.
- Those who are “battered immigrant-qualified aliens,” or children of someone designated as such.
- New full-time students
- Continuing full-time students
- Part-time students
- EU students
- Extra help
You may be able to borrow money to help pay for university or college tuition fees and to help with living costs.
You might get extra money on top of this, for example if you’re on a low income, are disabled or have children.
If you’re a continuing student or you’ve already created an account, log in to your account.
Before you apply
You start repaying once you earn over a certain amount. The size of your monthly repayments will depend on how much you earn, not what you owe.
You’ll be charged interest on the loan from the day you take it out. The terms and conditions can change.
The rules are different if your course started before September 2012.
Read the student finance privacy notice to find out how the information you provide will be used.
How to apply
Find out how to apply for student finance.
If you’re under 25 and have no contact with your parents, you might be able to apply as an ‘estranged student’.
You can give someone permission to act on your behalf (for example using Power of Attorney) if you want them to apply for you.