Harvard Inks Loan Deal for International Students

Banking giant JPMorgan to underwrite student loans

Harvard has inked a custom loan arrangement with financial services giant JPMorgan Chase designed to make it easier for international graduate students to fund their education, University officials announced Friday.

The recently signed deal with JPMorgan, which had been in the works for over six months to replace a previous arrangement with Citibank, will provide eligible international students with loans up to the total cost of attendance at Harvard’s graduate schools.

The announcement did not contain further details for the program, and both JPMorgan and a number of Harvard financial aid officers declined to comment Friday afternoon.

International students have historically had difficulty finding suitable loan options, as they are ineligible for federal aid.

A previous arrangement with Citibank, the consumer and corporate banking arm of Citigroup, allowed international students to take out loans without a cosigner, a requirement for most student loans.

The announcement did not specify whether the newly negotiated partnership with JPMorgan will contain the same provision.

Citibank terminated its arrangement with Harvard in early October, citing the effects of the frozen credit markets. International students typically have a higher probability of defaulting on their loans than American students, a Citibank spokesman said at the time.

The bank had also canceled similar agreements with other schools including MIT and the University of Michigan.

The abrupt termination of the program left Harvard administrators scrambling to find ways to maintain their commitment to financial aid across the University.

University President Drew G. Faust has repeatedly said that Harvard will sustain current levels of graduate student financial aid for the next year—which she has deemed one of the University’s top priorities—even at the expense of other programs in school operating budgets.

In the past year, the University had rolled out a series of financial aid expansions, including programs at the College, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Medical School that University officials hailed as a renewed commitment to meeting student need.

University officials said they will continue to explore additional programs for all students in order to increase the flexibility of loan options.

—Staff writer Athena Y. Jiang can be reached at ajiang@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer June Q. Wu can be reached at junewu@fas.harvard.edu.