Citizens Bank Student Loans: 2019 Review

Citizens Bank offers private student loans and refinancing options to students and parents. Competitive interest rates, flexible repayment terms and rate reduction opportunities make it a big contender in the student loan space. Yet its 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 loans each year after without the need to reapply.

The Rhode Island bank’s roots date as far back as 1828. It’s now one of the largest banks in the United States.

In addition to student loans, it provides banking products, credit cards, home loans, personal loans, retirement services and wealth and investing services.

Citizens Bank maintains ATMs and 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 and internationally via its online platform.

Citizens Bank student loan snapshot

Loan types
Undergraduate, graduate, parent, refinance
Loan amounts
$1,000 – $150,000 for undergraduate and general graduate degrees
Up to $350,000 for some professional degrees
Interest rates
Variable: 2.46% to 11.63% APR
Fixed: 3.45% to 12.80% APR
Repayment terms
5-20 years
Immediate: Pay principal and interest while in school.
Deferred: Defer payments up to eight years while in school. Pay principal and interest six months after leaving school
Interest only: Pay interest only while in school.
Grace period
Six months
Co-signer required?
Yes for non-U.S. citizens and for underage applicants

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.

Who can take out a Citizens Bank student loan/who is it good for?

Citizens Bank is a good lender for borrowers who want a major institution with low APRs, several repayment options and the convenience of multi-year approval. Its multi-year loan approval allows borrowers to get money each year while in school without the need to reapply annually, saving time and eliminating multiple hard credit inquiries.

Citizens is also best for those who have tapped out grants, scholarships and loans from the federal government and need some extra cash. That’s because it puts a limit on its loans. It will lend up to $150,000 for undergraduate and graduate student loans. MBA and law degrees max out at $225,000. Healthcare degree maximums range from $180,000 to $350,000. And parent loans have a maximum of $350,000.

For refinancing, bachelor’s degrees and lower have a maximum of $300,000, while graduate degrees have a maximum of $500,000.

Eligibility requirements vary slightly by loan type.

In order to apply for an undergraduate or graduate loan, students must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (International students need a cosigner who is a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident)
  • Be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible institution
  • Be the age of majority in their state of residence
  • Have no student loan defaults
  • Have solid credit or a creditworthy cosigner

Parent or sponsors applying for a loan must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. And the student must be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible institution in a degree-granting program.

In order to refinance, students or parents must:

  • Be refinancing at least $10,000 in student loans
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security number
  • Have made at least 12 qualifying payments after leaving school for students with an associate degree or no degree
  • Be the primary borrower or cosigner on the loan to be refinanced for parent student loan refinancing

Interest rates and terms

Fixed-rate student loan products from Citizens Bank range from 3.45 percent to 12.80 percent APR. Variable rate products range from 2.46 percent to 11.63 percent APR.

Quoted rates include a 0.25 percent discount for signing up for automatic payments and a 0.25 percent discount for current Citizens Bank customers with a qualifying account.

Here are the rate ranges for each loan product at Citizens Bank:

Loan product Variable rate Fixed rate
Undergraduate student loans 3.82% – 11.47% APR 5.22% – 12.04% APR
Graduate student loans 3.77% – 10.63% APR 5.14% – 11.35% APR
Parent Plus loan refinancing 4.91% – 8.05% APR 5.48% – 8.52% APR
Law school loans 3.75% – 10.02% APR 4.95% – 10.59% APR
Student loan refinancing 2.46% – 9.24% APR 3.45% – 9.62% APR
Refinance loans for parents 2.46% – 6.94% APR 3.45% – 7.33% APR
Health professions loan 3.75% – 8.92% APR 4.90% – 9.49% APR
MBA loans 3.75% – 10.02% APR 4.95% – 10.59% APR
Bar exam loans 6.61% – 11.63% APR 7.39% – 12.80% APR
Medical residency loans 5.70% – 8.79% APR 6.95% – 10.08% 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.

It does charge a late payment fee of 5 percent of the payment amount if your payment is more than 15 days late.

Repayment terms and grace period

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

Undergraduate, graduate, law, MBA and medical doctorate loans offer repayment terms of five, 10 or 15 years. Parent 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 until six months after leaving school (Defer payments up to eight years while in school)
  • 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 an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau. The score considers complaint history and the institution’s response to those complaints.

The customer service department is available by phone 24/7. For general inquiries, call 800-922-9999.

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.

Application process

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 within 15 minutes.

In order to apply, you’ll need information including 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 cosigner information (if applicable).

Citizens Bank encourages students to apply with a qualified cosigner in order to improve the chances of approval and receive the lowest possible rate.

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 cosigner 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 cosigner, 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 applicaiton is turned down

Get some clarification on why you were rejected for a loan. Students who apply for a student loan on their own without a cosigner 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 cosigner 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, generous repayment options and low fees. Getting a favorable rate and keeping fees to a minimum can save you thousands over the life of a loan.