Citizens Bank Student Loan Review

Learn about Citizens Bank student loan rates, terms, and more

Citizens Bank
•••

Courtesy of Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank traces its history to 1828 and High Street Bank in Rhode Island. Today, the regional bank is one of the largest commercial banks by assets, with $155 billion in assets and more than 1,000 branches. One of the defining features of Citizens Bank is the fact that it offers multi-year approval on private student loans.

Who Is a Citizens Bank Student Loan Best For?

A student loan from Citizens Bank is usually best for those with good credit who qualify for relatively low rates and want the option to apply for multiple years at once. It may be a good fit if you:

  • Have good credit or can get a qualified co-signer
  • Still have a funding gap after receiving federal aid
  • Need to borrow at least $1,000
  • Want a multi-year loan

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Offers multi-year loans

  • Co-signer release available

  • Defer payments for up to eight years

  • Options for international students

Cons

  • Must have good credit or a co-signer

  • Co-signer release takes 36 months

  • Doesn’t disclose minimum credit or income requirements

  • Doesn’t offer hardship information on the website

Pros Explained

  • Offers multi-year loans: Multi-year approval allows you the chance to get approved for loans for more than one year so you don’t have to go through the entire application process for subsequent years. Most lenders don’t offer multi-year approval.
  • Co-signer release available: After 36 consecutive payments, your co-signer can be released from your loan. Some private lenders, like Earnest, don’t offer a co-signer release.
  • Defer payments for up to eight years: It’s possible to defer payments for up to eight years while you’re in school. This includes graduate school attendance as well as undergrad attendance. 
  • Options for international students: It’s possible for undergraduate students to borrow from Citizens Bank for school. They will need an eligible co-signer, however.

Cons Explained 

  • Must have good credit or a co-signer: Citizens Bank student loans require good credit in order to qualify. Without good credit, you must find a co-signer.
  • Co-signer release takes 36 months: Even though there is a co-signer release, you must make 36 consecutive payments to qualify. Some private student lenders, like Commonbond, allow for co-signer release after 24 consecutive payments.
  • Doesn’t disclose minimum credit or income requirements: Citizens Bank doesn’t disclose its minimum income or credit requirements on the website. The site says you must have good credit, but doesn’t specify what that entails, making it difficult to determine if you can get a loan without a co-signer.
  • Doesn’t offer hardship information on the website: While Citizens Bank claims to offer a hardship program, the information isn’t provided ahead of time. You can only see the hardship information if you get a loan contract.

What Does Citizens Bank Offer?

Citizens Bank offers private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as refinancing for student loans. It’s also possible for parents to get loans to fund a child’s education. In general, the standout feature of Citizens Bank student loans is the fact that you can get multi-year approval.

For some well-qualified parent borrowers, a private student loan can be less expensive than a federal parent PLUS loan.

Citizens Bank is a full-service commercial bank, so it’s possible to access other financial products and services, such as checking and savings accounts, mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, and more, in addition to student loans.

Citizens Bank Undergraduate Student Loan Rates & Terms

  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $150,000
  • Fixed APR: 4.72% to 12.04% (with autopay and loyalty discounts)
  • Variable APR: 1.54% to 9.65% (with autopay and loyalty discounts)
  • Terms available: 5, 10, and 15 years
  • Recommended credit score: Not disclosed
  • Grace period: 6 months 
  • Fees: No application, origination, or prepayment fees, though there may be a late payment fee

Citizens Bank undergraduate student loans offer competitive rates, though the lowest rates require borrowers to have a co-signer, and sign up for autopay and additional accounts with Citizens Bank in order to qualify for an interest rate discount of up to 0.50%.

Citizens Bank Graduate Student Loan Rates & Terms

  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $350,000 (depending on degree)
  • Fixed APR: 4.40% to 11.35% (with autopay and loyalty discounts)
  • Variable APR: 1.47% to 8.81% (with autopay and loyalty discounts)
  • Terms available: 5, 10, and 15 years
  • Recommended credit score: Not disclosed
  • Grace period: 6 months 
  • Fees: No application, origination, or prepayment fees, though there may be a late payment fee

Graduate student loans apply to graduate degrees, MBA and law degree programs, and health care degree programs. The maximum amount you can borrow depends on the degree. For graduate degrees, you can borrow up to $150,000. For MBA and law degrees, you can borrow up to $225,000. For health care degree programs, you can borrow up to $180,000 or $350,000, depending on the degree.

Citizens Bank Parent Student Loan Rates & Terms

  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $350,000
  • Fixed APR: 3.59% to 6.41% (with autopay and loyalty discounts)
  • Variable APR: 2.72% to 6.16% (with autopay and loyalty discounts)
  • Terms available: 5 and 10 years
  • Recommended credit score: Not disclosed
  • Grace period: Not applicable
  • Fees: No application, origination, or prepayment fees, though there may be a late payment fee

Citizens Bank Student Loan Refinancing Rates & Terms

  • Loan amount: $10,000 to $500,000 (depending on degree)
  • Fixed APR: 3.49% to 8.63% APR (with autopay and loyalty discounts)
  • Variable APR: 2.72% to 8.38% APR (with autopay and loyalty discounts) 
  • Terms available: 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Recommended credit score: Not disclosed
  • Grace period: Not applicable
  • Fees: No application, origination, or prepayment fees, though there may be a late payment fee

Borrowers can refinance up to $300,000 in undergraduate student loans and up to $500,000 in graduate student loans with Citizens Bank. Even better, borrowers are not required to have completed a degree program to refinance their loans, as with some lenders. Citizens Bank allows you to refinance your loans with no degree as long as you made at least 12 qualifying payments after leaving school. If you don’t meet that requirement, you must have at least an associate’s degree.

How to Get a Citizens Bank Student Loan 

As with most other private student loan lenders, you need to meet certain eligibility criteria. Citizens Bank does allow international students to apply, but you need to have an eligible U.S. citizen or permanent resident as a co-signer. Additionally, funds can be used for a student to study abroad with a U.S. school’s program. Citizens Bank doesn’t provide student loans for international schools. It’s possible to complete your application online and sign documents electronically.

Repaying Your Citizens Bank Student Loan

Citizens Bank student loans are serviced by Firstmark Services, a division of Nelnet. You can set up automatic payments and manage your account online, as well as receive interest rate discounts for automatic payments and loyalty if you have another financial account with Citizens Bank.

Connect with your student loan servicer as soon as possible to avoid missing student loan payments and negatively impacting your credit.

The Bottom Line

Citizens Bank offers a straightforward student loan product for borrowers, as well as options for parents to borrow to help fund a child’s education. One of the best features of a Citizens Bank loan is the option for multi-year approval, which provides you with the ability to fund multiple years of schooling without the need to re-apply in subsequent years.

Citizens Bank does require good credit to qualify, so some borrowers might need a co-signer. While there is a co-signer release program, it requires 36 consecutive payments, which is a little longer than other lenders may require. Additionally, the hardship program isn’t clearly explained on the site and some of the criteria aren’t disclosed until partway through the process.

Overall, for those who have good credit and can qualify for the lowest rates, Citizens Bank may be a good choice for student loans, especially for parents who want to save money on interest over a federal parent PLUS loan.

Article Sources

  1. Citizens Bank. "CFG Fact Sheet." Accessed May 5, 2020.

  2. Citizens Bank. "Student Loans." Accessed May 5, 2020.

  3. Citizens Bank. "Frequently Asked Questions: Are International Students Eligible to Borrow?" Accessed May 5, 2020.

  4. Commonbond. "Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed May 5, 2020.

  5. Citizens Bank. "Contact Us." Accessed May 5, 2020.

  6. Citizens Bank. "Repayments." Accessed May 5, 2020.

  7. Citizens Bank. "Student Loans." Disclosure 3. Accessed May 5, 2020.

  8. Citizens Bank. "Graduate Loans." Accessed May 5, 2020.

  9. Citizens Bank. "Parent Loans." Accessed May 5, 2020.

  10. Citizens Bank. "Education Refinance Loan." Accessed May 5, 2020.

  11. Citizens Bank. "Frequently Asked Questions: Are International Students Eligible to Borrow?" Accessed May 5, 2020.

  12. Firstmark Services. "Welcome Page." Accessed May 5, 2020.