Educating a student is no doubt the best asset you can ever give to a child; it is like giving a child wings to fly. However, the cost of doing so immense and many international are families struggling to raise college fees.
In 2008, private universities and colleges in the US were charging about 50,000 dollars as tuition fees annually. That was ten years ago and the figure is probably at least 25% higher today.
Tuition fee charged by international public institutions is lower than for the private ones but the overall cost of educating a child is very high as there are other expenses that are not covered by tuition fees.
F-1 Student Visa
If you are planning to study a course in the United States, then you are required to apply for F-1 Student’s visa.
There are three types of Visas available to international students:
- F-1: This kind of visa is meant for full-time students only.
- F-2: This is applied by spouses and kids of the holder of the F-1 visa.
- F-3: this is meant for those who are from the border countries and specifically, Canada and Mexico. This visa enables them to attend schools in the US and go back to their countries.
Therefore, as an international student planning to go to the US to study, you have to apply for the F-1 visa. To facilitate visa processing, the admitting institution issues an applicant with Form F1-20 to capture applicant’s details: name, birth date, and citizenship. Above this, the program’s details must be indicated. That is;
- The name of the course, commencing date and the expected end date.
- The applicant must explain how they will be paying their tuition fees and meeting their living expenses at least for the 1st year after admission or till the end of the program, whichever comes first.
Once the admitting institution is satisfied with the information given, it issues the applicant with SEVIS number, and if there are existing records, the same is linked. Here applicants must pay a one-time processing fee using Form 1-901. Once a visa is issued and the applicant reports to the US, they should notify the international office of their arrival so that their SEVIS records can be updated accordingly.
Different types of student loans available to International students
Unlike to permanent US residents who have access to educational loans such as the direct federal loan and the Perkins –operated by schools and is given only to the neediest graduates and undergraduates, very few options are available for the international students. All the same, international applicants can apply for the international students’ loan or study abroad loans.
Basics of student loans
The terms of the loan are flexible and vary depending on one’s needs, as student loan guide indicates. You can even get the total fees required to finance your entire education. Furthermore, the repayment terms are flexible and friendly; you can pay in bits over an extended period even after graduating.
Since international applicants cannot access this fund on their own, they must produce a co-signer or guarantor who is a permanent US resident and someone who has lived there for over two years. The co-signer is responsible for repaying the dues if the applicant fails to pay.
The funds loaned out to attract an interest that is based on a set index plus a risk percentage based on the guarantor’s creditworthiness. Once you qualify for it, the lender will inform you the lending indexes that applied.
Repayment of the money is flexible. Before applying for it, an applicant should consider when they will be able to repay and how much they can pay on a monthly basis. Normally, the repayment period ranges between 10 and 25 years depending on one’s capability and the total amount awarded, but the following are the standard repayment modes:
- Full deferral: means deferring repaying by certain duration. It can be 6 months but with a maximum of 4 years.
- Interest only: means you will only be servicing the interest during the studying period. You can also seek a grace period of 45 days upon graduating to clear the outstanding amount.
- Immediate repayment: meaning you start servicing the loan immediately after approval.
Apart from getting international financial aid from the government, you can opt for a private loan from banks and other lenders offering on a willing buyer – willing seller basis. Sometimes colleges partner with banks to lend money to students directly from their colleges.
Before applying for education aid, know that every penny borrowed will be returned. Therefore, go for this assistance only if you need it. Getting a student loan is not that hard, but the problem is repaying it. As a graduate, upon graduating one should start refunding the money so that others too can benefit. Below are some useful practical tips that can help you to effectively service your loan:
- You can pay the amount owed in lump sum thereby avoiding the huge interest that may accrue by repaying in bits.
- Instead of repaying fixed monthly amounts, you can request to pay more than the fixed amount.
- You can opt for public service jobs like teaching as they can write it off if you meet all set conditions.
- You can also trim your budget to free more money for repayment, or you open an account specifically for that purpose to avoid using the money by doing other things.
- You can start paying back your loan while still in school by doing part-time jobs.
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