Applying for student loans is stressful enough for US citizens who have several options and federal subsidized loans to help out. International students have extra steps that they need to follow in order to find a loan to fund their education. It can be overwhelming, but the process can be broken down into manageable tasks.

Make a Plan- Start the process of finding a student loan as soon as possible. Deadlines for loan applications vary and scholarships are usually on a “first come first serve” basis. It may take an institution longer to get back to an international student than a student living in the United States. Having a plan reduces major problems occurring when it is too late to fix them.

Apply for Grants and Scholarships to get the Loan Amount Down- Although they can be highly competitive, there are many scholarships for international students offered by both the United States and some foreign countries looking to give their citizens a good education. Like with grants for US citizens, there are thousands of grants to choose from. It is important to apply to all of them you qualify for, even if you aren’t going to need that much to fund your education. The ISO insurance company website has a long list to get you started, but check several sites to maximize the amount of grants and scholarships you find and apply for.

Be Sure Your School Qualifies for the Loan- Some schools may be fully accredited, but a lender will not deem them a school good enough in which to risk an educational investment. For-profit universities such as the University of Phoenix or DeVry University sometimes fall into this category. There also may not be a loan program for international schools at a smaller university. If money is the major issue hindering your studies, choose a different school when possible.

Find a Cosigner- Student loans from any lender are going to require a US citizen or permanent resident who has been in the country for two years to cosign the loan agreement. If you are part of a foreign exchange program, your cosigner could be one of the members of the family you are staying with. If you are staying on campus it may be a bit harder to find a reputable cosigner with good credit who will trust you to pay back the student loan if you do not know anyone else in the country.

Find the Lender- is a great place to start looking for an international student lender. Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo are both reputable companies that offer loans for international students. Make sure you understand the repayment terms and the interest rate before signing your name to any document. If you made a plan before beginning this process, you might have time to shop around and see which institution gives you the best rate. Most students can borrow as much as their university of choice declares that they need