Financing the pursuit of a Master of Business Administration in the United States can be an intimidating process for international students. International students do not have access to the same federal loans as American citizens, so where can they turn for support? There are some resources available to international students, beginning with the school financial aid office.
Private Student Loans for International Students
Before contacting a bank about your options for student loans, you should contact your business school’s Financial Aid Department. Many business schools, such as UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School
, have specific loan programs available to international students in which the institution guarantees the loan in the same way a co-signer would. To obtain a private loan from a U.S. bank, international students will generally need a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to co-sign the loan with them. The co-signer is most often a family member, although any willing citizen or permanent resident with good credit can legally take on this responsibility. International students working in America may also be able to arrange for their employer to co-sign their loans.
Financial Aid from Your Home Country
Earning your MBA in the United States does not necessarily disqualify you from receiving loans or other forms of financial aid from your home country, and this can be an attractive option for many students. A good place to begin researching these options is your embassy or ministry of education, asking for information about financial aid available to citizens studying abroad. Obtaining a loan from a bank in your home country may also be a viable option.
Scholarships and Fellowships for International Students
Many business schools make scholarships or fellowships available to international students. These include awards for which international students compete with domestic students, such as Kenan-Flagler’s Merit Fellowships
, and awards specifically for international students, such as Wharton’s Emerging Economy Fellowships
. Several international non-governmental organizations, such as the United Nations, the Soros Foundation and the Fulbright Association, also award MBA scholarships
to international students. These tend to be very competitive, and some of them require you to apply while still living in your home country. You will have the best chance of success with these applications if you prepare them carefully, which means beginning well before you leave for the United States.
Federal Aid for International Students
Unfortunately, international students are not eligible for Stafford Loans, Graduate PLUS Loans or any of the other Federal loans available to U.S. citizens. However, the federal government does provide limited financial aid to eligible students from certain countries. In order to find out more about these options, contact your embassy, the U.S. Department of State
, the Agency for International Development