Citizens Bank has introduced an Education Refinance Loan that allows borrowers to refinance or consolidate private student loans, according to information posted on the bank‘s website.

The consolidated or refinanced loan has no application or origination fees, relatively low fixed or variable rates and 15- or 20-year repayment terms. Maximum loan amounts are $90,000 for associate’s or bachelor’s degrees, $130,000 for graduate and doctoral degrees and $170,000 for professional degrees, such as dental, medical and law school, according to the website.

Only private student loans are eligible. Graduate and undergraduate private loans can be consolidated. Borrowers must be in the repayment period of their existing private student loans and cannot be currently enrolled in school. Other requirements also apply.

Headquartered in Providence, R.I., Citizens has bank branches in 12 states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, and nonbranch retail and commercial offices in more than 30 states.

In an August 2012 report to several congressional committees, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB, a federal government agency, said:

• U.S. consumers owed more than $150 billion in outstanding private student loans.

• Borrowers didn’t necessarily understand the differences between federal-government and private-market student loans.

• Private student loans were significantly more common to finance education at for-profit colleges.

• Many borrowers were struggling to repay their private student loans.

Last month, the CFPB issued a rule that allows it to supervise nonbank student loan servicers that have more than 1 million borrower accounts as well as student loan servicing at the largest U.S. banks. This development brings new oversight to the student loan market, the CFPB said.

The CFPB estimated that the seven largest student loan servicers with a combined 49 million borrower accounts likely would fall within the definition.

Do you know someone who has had trouble paying back their student loan?

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff.

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