Borrowing Part 3 – International Students

The following post is part of a three part series written by a member of the admissions and financial aid staff, Colin Sullivan.


If students from overseas (or across great lands) require additional funding to supplement any fellowships, sponsorships, or grants they may receive, they can apply for the very same private loans as their American compatriots, but they must have a US citizen or permanent resident willing to cosign.

We also advise that our international students contact banks in their home countries to research the possibility of education or personal loan opportunities to help cover the full cost of attendance.  Something as simple as a Google search with various applicable keywords (i.e., “student”, “loan”, “international”, etc) can often yield a deep well from which you can siphon exactly the type of financing you may require.

International Applicant Frequently Asked Questions:

Question: I’m an international applicant. Can SIPA or any SIPA employees cosign on my private education loan for me, or can Columbia University provide me with a cosigner?

Answer: SIPA cannot serve as a cosigner on any loans, nor can we refer a cosigner. A cosigner should primarily be an individual with whom you share a personal relationship, and someone who would be willing to assume responsibility for the loan should you become unable to pay.

Question:  I’m an international applicant, and my uncle is a wealthy banker in my home country. Would he be able to cosign on my loan?

Answer: Unfortunately at this time, US private education lending institutions require that either a US citizen or permanent resident cosign on your loan, with no exceptions.

Question: Would I be able to use my personal assets as collateral in the absence of a US cosigner?

Answer: At one time, private education loan lenders were willing to accept collateral, but due to the recent “credit crunch” in the US, they have since discontinued this practice. However, a bank in your home country may be able to provide funding for you in a similar manner.

Question: I have been unable to find a cosigner. Is there any additional financial aid available to me, and does SIPA offer any school-originated loans or financing that I can utilize?

Answer: At this time, Columbia University offers no such programs for either domestic or international students, as we do not operate as a lender.