international students

Earnest and Nova Credit Launch International Student Loans

Student loans have become a fundamental part of accessing higher education. 

Data shows that while average college tuition fees have remained stable for the past decade, they have almost tripled in the last 30 years. The average cost is over $36,000 per year for a full time student. Currently, over half of students at college lean on student loans to access higher education. 

While a long-standing burden on the average student, student loans provide a bridge to college programmes that otherwise would be out of reach. Higher education continues to be “optional” yet can open out the job market significantly to students, determining their future quality of life and job security. 

Within the landscape of higher education in the US are the international students. During the 2021-2022 school year, nearly 950,000 foreign-born students were enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. This represents 4.7 percent of the total U.S. student population. 

International students are considered an essential ingredient in the fabric of US economy, allowing an influx of the best global talent.  

Misha Esipov, CEO of Nova Credit
Misha Esipov, CEO of Nova Credit

“The U.S. is home to nearly one million international students who not only fill our universities with the brightest minds from around the globe but also bring those lessons to accelerate our economy for generations,” said Misha Esipov, CEO of Nova Credit.

Competition is tough for spots in US College programs but aside from being accepted, financing study overseas is the most challenging step for students pursuing education abroad. 

Challenging access to financing education

Around half of international students fund their education through personal funds or alternative methods, such as work-study programs. However, there is increasing demand for private loans to offset education costs. Issues with cross-border credit reporting across international markets makes access to loans limited. 

Esipov explained that in addition, the US system can also lock out highly trained immigrants, already with foreign degrees. These professionals, in order to access the job market in their field, at times have to retrain to gain additional qualifications at US universities – while being unable to access critical funding for student loans.  

“The truth is, our systems for financing higher education present unreasonable, sometimes insurmountable hurdles to immigrants and international students alike. Too often, quality, door-opening education is out of reach,” wrote Esipov on LinkedIn.

Nova Credit launched their Credit Passport some time ago, aiming to open out global credit opportunities across borders. The company has now partnered with Earnest, to allow international students options for financing their US education.

Crossing borders for education financing

Earnest is a private loan provider specializing in student loans and student loan refinancing. Aiming to make educational loans more accessible and affordable, the company identified significant issues facing international students’ access to credit. 

The Credit Passport integrates into Earnest’s loan application so international borrowers can share their credit information when applying for a private loan. The lenders will then be able to access the student’s credit history and are provided with a score to support application evaluation.

Eligible students can then access Earnest’s loans without involving a US-based cosigner, reducing friction for financing their education. Students can borrow up to $100,000 with terms of up to ten years, with a nine-month grace period. 

Currently the international student loans are only available for students pursuing an MBA, LLM/JD, or MS in engineering, at a selection of schools. However Earnest has stated they will be expanding access in the future.


  • Isabelle Castro Margaroli

    Isabelle is a journalist for Fintech Nexus News and leads the Fintech Coffee Break podcast.

    Isabelle's interest in fintech comes from a yearning to understand society's rapid digitalization and its potential, a topic she has often addressed during her academic pursuits and journalistic career.