Alternative Loan Options for International Students

For students who need additional financial assistance to pay for their education, private alternative loans are available. International students who have a qualified US cosigner (US citizen or permanent resident) may borrow up to the cost of their education, less any other financial aid. A list of such loan programs can be found here.

The Harvard University Credit Union now offers an education loan that can be used by international students without a loan cosigner. This loan can be used to assist students with academic related costs while they are enrolled at the GSD at least at half-time status.

Because the requirement for a cosigner is being waived, there is a maximum yearly borrowing amount of $12,000 per student. Students who need more than the $12,000 per year can choose one of the options listed above. Students with a cosigner may also qualify for a lower interest rate, depending on their cosigner.

Alternative Loan Restrictions for International Students

  1. Loan Amount Limitations: Students attending the GSD are limited to a maximum of $12,000 per year.
  2. Adverse credit histories: International students with adverse credit history may be turned down from this loan. Students will have the option to apply with a credit-worthy US cosigner. An eligible cosigner can be anyone who is a US citizen or permanent resident with a satisfactory credit rating.
  3. Country Restrictions: The federal government has issued a list of countries whose residents would not be able to borrow. The information can be found at
  4. Economic Variables: The recent economic climate has greatly reduced the number of alternative borrowing options for many, especially for international students. While we hope to offer this programs (or similar programs) every year, we can only commit to one year at a time. In addition, Harvard is limited by the number of loan dollars we can lend. So depending on demand, there may be a point during the year when students want to borrow one of these loans may not have a choice of which loan they can choose.
Application Instructions

Once you have reviewed the information and decided on which loan you want to borrow, please do the following things:

  1. Download, review, and complete this loan request form and submit it to the Office of Financial Assistance.
  2. Download and complete this alternative loan borrowers Entrance Interview Form and return it to the Office of Financial Assistance.
  3. Complete the lenders application process and follow their instructions:

Apply for the Harvard Credit Union Loan online

Once you have completed the loan application process, we will notify the lender of our approval of your loan and the amount. At that time, we will add the loan to your anticipated aid so it is reflected in the balance on your Harvard term bill. If your term bill balance is or will be paid by a means other than one of these loans, and the loan causes a credit on your bill, we will refund the excess to you for living expenses at the start of the semester.

To submit documents or questions to the GSD Office of Financial Assistance, you may mail the forms to us at 48 Quincy Street, Room 422, Cambridge MA 02138. You may also fax (617-495-8949) or email the information to us at

Additional Information

Please visit the following websites for information on Libor and Prime.

The Harvard University Student Loan Code of Conduct

Additional information on these loan programs is provided on the Harvard University Webpage.

Resources: Financial Aid: Types of Aid: Alternative Loan Options for International Students

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