Financial Aid for International Students

On This Page:

How To Apply  |  Borrowing Limits  |  Interest Rates  |  Fees

Getting Your Funds  |  Suggested Lenders

Photo courtesy of Eileen Barroso

We understand that as international students, you may face unique financial difficulties in meeting the costs of studying abroad. As such, it is really important to plan ahead both as it relates to the cost of attendance and to securing the necessary financial resources.

Unfortunately, international students are not eligible for federal or state student aid programs. Depending on your school, institutional aid may be available. For more information on institutional aid, please contact the financial aid office for your school. We also encourage international students to explore outside awards. International students that are being sponsored can find additional information in the Sponsored Students page.

Private student loans, also known as alternative education loans, may be available for international students. You should explore all borrowing options, including your home country and/or country-of-residence loan options. Private student loans are offered by private lenders and not the federal government. Before you and your family begin to explore your loan options, we ask that you read the University’s Disclosure Concerning Lenders.




Before you and your family begin to explore your loan options, we ask that you read the University's Disclosure Concerning Lenders.

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How To Apply

You must contact your lender of choice for the application process. Check with your School Financial Aid Office for information about specific deadlines and to see if they require you to submit a copy of the application to their office.

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Borrowing Limits

The student budget or Cost of Attendance represents the maximum aid you can be awarded through any combination of institutional aid, outside awards and private loans certified for the academic year.

To determine the maximum amount you can borrow in private student loans, take the cost of attendance and subtract any other financial aid awards you have or will receive. The difference represents your “remaining need” and the amount that you can borrow in a private student loan. The minimum loan amount is generally $1,000.


PLEASE NOTE: Before applying for private or alternative loans, you should first consider borrowing the full amount for which you are eligible under institutional loans, if applicable.




Each lender has its own policy for aggregate loan limits. Please contact them for more information.

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Interest Rates

The interest rate on a private loan will always be fixed or variable. This means that your rate will change every month or quarter depending on your lender. Each lender uses their own pricing models based on either the 3-month LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) or the Prime Rate (as published in the Wall Street Journal) and is based on the strength of your (or your co-signer’s) credit score and history.

Interest accrues from the date of disbursement. Interest can be paid while enrolled or deferred and capitalized at the time of repayment.

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There are no origination or guarantee fees, even for co-signed loans. For more information on fees, contact the lender or your School Financial Aid Office.

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Getting Your Funds

Private educational loans are disbursed in a variety of ways. Some lenders send checks that are payable directly to the student borrower, others send checks that are co-payable to the student borrower and Columbia University or transmit funds electronically directly into the student’s University account. If the check is made payable directly to you, the student borrower, please contact your School Financial Aid Office.

If the check is co-payable to you, the student borrower and Columbia University, the check must be endorsed for deposit into your University account.

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Suggested Lenders

Generally, there are two types of private student loans. Some lenders offer loan options with a US Cosigner. A few lenders may offer loans without a US cosigner. Please find below the 2022-2023 Suggested Lenders for private student loans. Borrowers should review and verify the exact terms, conditions, qualifications, and disclosures associated with any loan product with the lender. The lenders listed here are merely suggested lenders for loan offerings. This is not an exhaustive list of available lenders. Students have the right and ability to select the education loan provider of their choice, are not required to use any of these suggested lenders and will suffer no penalty for choosing a lender that is not included here as a suggested lender.


2022-2023 Academic Year (current academic year):


For International Students, please visit ELM Select for International Students.





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