Citizens Bank Student Loans: 2020 Review

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Citizens Bank offers private student loans and refinancing options to undergraduate and graduate students and their parents. Competitive interest rates, flexible repayment terms and rate-reduction opportunities make it a big contender in the student loan space. It’s a great option for students who would like to take some of the legwork out of applying for funds for multiple years of college.

Citizens Bank features

Citizens Bank maintains roughly 2,800 ATMs and 1,000 branches throughout 11 states in the New England, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. Student loans from the bank are available to borrowers throughout the United States. International students can apply via the bank’s online platform, though they must have a creditworthy co-signer who’s a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Citizens Bank’s Multi-Year Approval program is what sets it apart from other lenders. Borrowers can apply once, with a single application, and be approved for additional student loans for all academic years without the need to formally reapply. If you need more funds, you’ll simply request the loan funds and go through a soft credit check.

Citizens’ student loan offerings include undergraduate, graduate, law school, health professions, MBA, bar study, medical residency, parent and refinancing loans. 

Citizens Bank student loan snapshot

Loan types
Undergraduate, graduate, law, health professions, MBA, bar study, medical residency, parent, refinancing
Loan amounts
Private loans: $1,000 to $350,000
Refinancing loans: $10,000 to $500,000
Interest rates
Private loans: 1.24% to 11% variable APR, 4.25% to 12.81% fixed APR (with autopay)
Refinancing loans: 1.99% to 8.24% variable APR, 2.99% to 8.49% fixed APR (with autopay)
Repayment terms
Private loans: 5 to 15 years
Refinancing loans: 5 to 20 years
Grace period
6 months
Co-signer required?
Yes for non-U.S. citizens and for applicants who have not reached the age of majority in their home state

Get pre-qualified

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

Pros and cons of Citizens Bank student loans

Citizens Bank has a number of loan options that can give you the financial tools to help you earn your degree. However, it’s important to be aware of the pros and cons before applying.

Pros

  • Multiyear approval: If you know you’ll need funds for multiple years of college, Citizens Bank could be a good choice; if you receive multiyear approval on your initial loan, you don’t have to go through a full application for future funds.
  • Loyalty discounts: If you or your co-signer has a Citizens Bank checking, savings, money market or CD account, or any outstanding Citizens Bank loan, you may be eligible for a 0.25 percent discount on your student loan.
  • Eligibility for international students: Most student loan lenders require borrowers to be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Citizens Bank allows international students to apply as long as they have a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Cons

  • Loan amount caps: Students attending costly private schools or extending their education beyond four years may need to look elsewhere. While loan caps are higher for graduate programs, Citizens Bank imposes a lifetime aggregate limit (including federal loan debt) of $150,000 for undergraduate students.
  • Limited eligibility information: Citizens Bank doesn’t list required minimum credit score and income on its website, making it harder to know if you will qualify for a loan on your own.

Citizens Bank student loan requirements

In order to qualify for a Citizens Bank student loan, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be enrolled in a degree-granting program at an approved school or institution for at least half time.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident (international students can apply with the assistance of a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident co-signer).
  • Have an established credit history, a good credit score or a creditworthy co-signer.
  • Have no prior student loan defaults.
  • Be the age of majority in your state.

If you’re looking to refinance your student loans, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security number.
  • Have made 12 qualifying payments after leaving school if you have an associate degree or no degree.

Who is this loan good for?

Citizens Bank is a good lender for borrowers who are looking for funding for multiple years of school, since its multiyear approval allows borrowers to get money each year without the need to reapply annually.

Interest rates and terms

Citizens Bank offers two discounts: a 0.25 percent discount for signing up for automatic payments and a 0.25 percent discount for having a qualifying Citizens Bank account.

Here are the rate ranges for each loan product at Citizens Bank with the autopay discount included:

Loan product Variable rate Fixed rate
Undergraduate student loans 1.24% to 10.56% APR 4.52% to 11.04% APR
Graduate student loans 1.42% to 11.00% APR 4.29% to 11.53% APR
Parent student loans 2.16% to 7.47% APR 4.69% to 7.83% APR
Law school loans 1.42% to 9.01% APR 4.39% to 9.27% APR
Health professions loans 1.42% to 8.23% APR 4.29% to 8.49% APR
MBA loans 1.42% to 9.01% APR 4.39% to 9.27% APR
Bar exam loans 4.52% to 9.59% APR 7.38% to 12.81% APR
Medical residency loans 3.61% to 6.83% APR 6.97% to 10.08% APR
Student loan refinancing 1.99% to 8.24% APR 2.99% to 8.49% APR
Parent loan refinancing 1.99% to 5.94% APR 2.99% to 6.19% APR

Fees and penalties

Citizens Bank doesn’t charge any origination, application or disbursement fees for its student loans or parent loans. There’s also no penalty for paying off your loan early. However, your loan may be subject to late fees if you miss a payment.

What are repayment terms and grace period for Citizens Bank?

Citizens Bank’s repayment terms vary by loan type. All student loans, however, come with a grace period of six months.

Undergraduate, graduate, law, MBA and health profession loans offer repayment terms of five, 10 or 15 years. Parent loans, medical residency loans and bar study loans come with terms of five and 10 years.

Borrowers refinancing their loans get repayment options of five, seven, 10, 15 and 20 years.

Repayment options for student loans include:

  • Deferred: Make no principal or interest payments for up to eight years while in school and during the six-month grace period.
  • Interest-only: Make only interest payments while you’re in school.
  • Immediate: Start making principal and interest payments as soon as you start school.

Customer service

Citizens Bank gets a “B” rating from the Better Business Bureau. The score considers complaint history and the institution’s response to those complaints.

The student loan customer service center is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. You can reach the customer service department by calling 800-600-0008.

Current customers can log into their account and send a secure message through the Citizens Bank website. And those near a branch may visit during regular business hours.

How to apply for a loan with Citizens Bank

Applying for a student loan, parent loan or refinance loan through Citizens Bank can be completed entirely online. You can apply from a computer or mobile device in 15 minutes.

In order to apply, you’ll need your Social Security number, a recent pay stub, employer information, the school you plan to attend, the cost of attendance and any financial aid received, your anticipated graduation date and co-signer information (if applicable).

Here’s what the process looks like when applying for a loan through Citizens Bank:

  1. Complete the online loan application process via your computer or mobile device. Add co-signer information and wait to see if you’re approved.
  2. If approved, select a fixed or variable rate, the term of your loan and your repayment preference.
  3. Sign and accept documents electronically through the Citizens Bank platform. If you have a co-signer, they can sign electronically as well.

Get pre-qualified

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

What to do if your application gets turned down

If you’re turned down for a Citizens Bank student loan, you can contact a representative to get some clarification on why.

Students who apply for a student loan on their own without a co-signer may not have enough credit history in order to qualify. If you’re denied due to insufficient credit or poor credit, Citizens Bank allows you to add a qualified co-signer and apply again. You can also increase your chances of approval by improving your personal credit and increasing your income.

Keep in mind that it pays to shop around for the best loan option for your situation. Lenders like SoFi, Sallie Mae and Discover all offer competitive loan products with low rates, many repayment options and few fees. Getting a favorable rate and keeping fees to a minimum can save you thousands over the life of a loan.

How Bankrate rates Citizens Bank

Overall Score 4.5
Repayment Options 4.4
Affordability 4.3
Customer Experience 4.8

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.