International students may be able to find funding options from their home countries for studies undertaken in the United States. You’ll want to look into the viability of such an option soon after you begin the financial aid process with our office. All funding from all sources should be reported to our office each time new funding is secured in order to comply with ABA rules.
Funding Options and Documentation Requirements
Some international students may find that their home country has government loan and/or grant programs for students studying abroad. Other students have been able to borrow through education lines of credit through a bank in their home country.
Typically, international students need or want to borrow more than the amount they receive from the programs they might find in their home country. In these cases students have the option of using the programs listed on our Preferred Lender List for International Students. No one is required to borrow through the programs listed on our site and all students are encouraged to apply for an education loan of their choosing and for which they find themselves eligible.
For J.D. students who choose to borrow an education line of credit through a bank in their home country, we require a copy of the approved application with your name listed as the primary borrower. The approval notice should also include the total amount you can borrow. Once we review and approve these documents we will list the loan on your award screen. Additionally, we will require documentation of your transactions (withdrawals) three times a year; mid August, early January and the beginning of May. A PDF of your statement in non-jpeg format will suffice and can be uploaded via the SFS Self-Service Portal.
Consider Additional Factors
Here are a few specific factors to consider when deciding to borrow through other entities versus Harvard Law School or other private student loan programs.
- Consider the cost of transaction fees when borrowing a loan from your home country and withdrawing the funds at US currency conversion rates.
- Compare borrower benefits of HLS institutional loans and other private loan programs to an education loan from your home country such as loan deferment, forbearance, and death and permanent disability forgiveness.
- Make note that HLS institutional loans and other private loan programs have no in-school minimum payment requirement. Some non-U.S. student programs require in-school minimum payment requirements which may be difficult to pay on a student budget.
- Make note that HLS institutional loans and other private loan programs have a six or nine-month grace period after graduation during which no payment is required. You’ll want to understand when payment begins on any loan you borrow from your home country and weigh the importance of this in your decision to borrow or not.
Paying Your Student Account
International loans for J.D. students, will be added to a your SFS award screen once we have received documentation of the funding. It will be listed as an outside loan and the funds will not create an anticipated credit on your student account because only you have the ability to access the funding. You will need to make any needed payment directly to your student account by the required deadline.
Some governmental loans and grants do not disburse until well after the first day of class since an enrollment certification is required from the Registrar’s office to the lending agency. J.D. Students who fall into this category will need to take out a loan from some other resource in order to meet their billed expenses and register for classes. This additional loan may be returned to the lender once we have received your governmental award notice with all of the appropriate documentation and within a defined amount of time without incurring fees and interest.
Implications for LIPP
For eligible J.D. students, the Low Income Protection Plan program (LIPP) will cover government and provincial/territorial student loans as well as education lines of credit under the standard guidelines of the LIPP program. You are required to report these loans to us at the beginning of each academic year and send updates to us in early January and at the beginning of May. Loans that are not specifically student loans with a repayment term of at least 10 years will not be covered; nor will consumer loans.
Please note many international student loans require interest only payments the first year of repayment which may mean your repayment amount will be too low to qualify for LIPP assistance that year. Additionally, loans are not eligible for LIPP until six months after graduation.
If you have a specific loan in mind and it does not fall within the guidelines listed above, it is unlikely the loan will be approved by our office or eligible for LIPP assistance during repayment. Before you apply for such a loan, please send documentation to our office for review.