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Obtaining loans for international study (shouldn’t be difficult)

Katie Schenk - February 29, 2016


You’ve completed your undergrad degree, spent a few years working, and now you want to up your game. Suddenly, a master’s degree is on the cards. But, you don’t just want the piece of paper that says you’ve completed your coursework; you want to make a difference in your life – and the lives of others. You want the full master’s experience that truly enables you to learn and develop.

Great! Except… it’s a lot harder than you thought it would be to take that leap. Finding the right schools, preparing your applications, getting your finances in order – these things all take a lot of time and resources. And, when you want an international education, it’s even trickier.

Why Master's students study abroad

In some parts of the world, international education is almost expected at one level or another. In India, for example, many students choose to study abroad so that they can bring new ideas and teachings back to their ever-dynamic home country; it’s a norm.

Other countries just don’t have the demand for high-level courses in a particular discipline, such as public policy; even top national universities can’t afford the professors that understand the subject inside and out. Students interested in these subjects have no choice but to look elsewhere.

In Europe, on the other hand, international experience is almost a prerequisite for high-level employment given the current economic, political, and social climate of the continent.

And, yes, there are even American students that find plenty of benefit in leaving the United States for their masters although there is such an immense density of incredible programmes in the country.

Where are the loans for international study at Master's level?

The past several years have seen increases in international enrollments of masters-level students across the globe. Although there are certainly many people that don’t pursue international study at the masters level, there are certainly enough people doing it that international study loans should be easy to find… and obtain.

But, most students battle to find the financing they need; loans for international study are, by most accounts, elusive.

There are compelling reasons for the lack of loans for international students:

  • It’s difficult to price the risk (and, therefore, the loan package) for international study.
  • In developing countries, banks may have government instructions to drive investments towards domestic developments (and there is no guarantee that international students will return).
  • The amount required for international study often necessitate collateral assets to secure – and these are often more than a student has available.
  • Host countries don’t have a credit record for international students and can’t provide access to loans without a local cosigner.
Indeed, even when attending an institution such as Harvard or Yale, whose names are known throughout the world, many local banks simply can’t assist.

Still, there are options for financing your study abroad

Until recently, Prodigy was only able to offer loans to international students pursuing advanced business degrees. But, the loan field is opening and students interested in other international masters’ programmes can take advantage of Prodigy Finance loans. (You can see if your programme is included here.) And, even if your local bank isn’t used to dishing out loans for international study in public policy, we still think it’s a good idea to check with them too – after all, one day, loans for study abroad might be as popular as international study is today.

Learn more about Prodigy’s international loan programmes here, or read more about Prodigy's investment community.

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