A loan program offered through the University’s Ross School of Business will be scrapped for the 2009-2010 academic year, which means graduate international students could have a tough time finding new funding for their tuition.
The Ross CitiAssist Loan Program, offered by banking giant Citigroup and used by more than 100 graduate international students in the Business School, announced it would terminate all future loans as of Nov. 2 in light of the tightened credit market worldwide. CitiAssist has said it will honor all loans for the current academic year. The second CitiAssist program, the University’s CitiAssist Graduate Loan Program, will still be available.
Program officials declined to comment on the matter.
The loans, previously available to students seeking Master’s of Business Administration and Master’s of Accounting degrees, are especially important for students from abroad because unlike students from the United States, they are ineligible for federal loans. Though international students can still borrow through the University’s CitiAssist Loan Program, they need a U.S. co-signer, which is often difficult for such students to find.
About 114 international students in the Business School had taken out loans this academic year through the discontinued plan, said University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham. Diane Hunt, the Business School’s assistant director of financial aid, said the majority of affected students are in their first year of the school’s graduate program.
Engineering senior Wisit Jirattigalachote, an international student from Thailand, said he is having trouble finding options for financial aid for graduate school. Jirattigalachote said it’s difficult because “most of the financial aid (is) only available to U.S. students.”
As for the upcoming academic year, Hunt said financial aid administrators are working toward developing viable financial solutions for international students.
“We’re looking at several options, but not really sharing the information yet,” said Hunt, adding that more information would become available in about a week.
“Ross Financial Aid is searching for other lending options,” Hunt said in an e-mail message sent to Business School students. “However, given the current economic situation, it may be extremely difficult to secure a guaranteed loan program (no credit check, no cosigner) for graduate students.”
According to John Greisberger, director of the University’s International Center, the Business School has held several financial aid workshops and will hold special advising hours in an effort to ensure that international students are secure in their financial situations for the 2009-2010 academic year.
“Whether it’s one or 114, it’s still very important for us to address this problem and help the individual in some way, point them in the direction of other lenders, see what resources there are internal to the University,” he said.