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Financing Your MBA, Part IV

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In our previous post on financing your MBA, we covered loan programs for MBA students from the United States. Today, we’ll take a look at loans through the lens of international students, who face some different restrictions but who are also eligible for special programs tailored to their unique requirements.

By law, federal loans can only be distributed to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. This means that international students must put extra work into finding financial aid and loan programs to support their education if they choose to pursue a U.S. MBA program.

International students should research their own countries’ options for financing studies abroad, and schools’ financial aid offices are also useful resources in this regard. For instance, Harvard lists 10 scholarship or fellowship opportunities for students of particular nationalities; this list includes financing opportunities for Harvard students alone as well as universal fellowship options.  MIT Sloan lists 15 scholarships or fellowships geared towards international students, and Columbia Business School provides an even more in-depth explanation of resources, discussing both scholarship search engines for international students and country-specific opportunities.

Private Lenders for International Students
International students can also consider U.S.-based private loans, but they should recognize that many of these loan programs require a U.S. co-signer. Understanding that this can prove a hardship for those without a U.S. connection, some schools offer internal options for international students. For instance, Harvard Business School has partnered with the Harvard University Employees Credit Union to offer private educational loans that do not require a U.S. co-signer. NYU Stern also features a list on its website of loan providers that don’t require international students to have a U.S. co-signer. Consulting with your target schools’ financial aid offices is a great way to learn about available loan options.

International students should keep in mind that U.S. lenders are typically not allowed to issue loans to students from countries on the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Sanctions list.  The Treasury Department encourages prospective students to check this list with some regularity, as it is frequently updated.

Also addressing the need for non-co-signer loans, companies like Prodigy Finance have entered the market in recent years. Founded by INSEAD alumni who faced funding challenges themselves as international MBA students, Prodigy offers loans using an innovative community-financed model in which alumni, institutional investors and qualified private investors fund the next generation of MBA students.

Next up in our series, we’ll begin to explore the range of scholarship, fellowship and other programs providing additional means of financing your MBA.

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