Once you receive your federal financial aid for college, you might realize you don’t have enough money to cover your educational costs. And after looking into grants and scholarships, you might be in need of another source of funding to ensure you can afford school.
This is where private student loans can come in handy. While there are many private student loan lenders out there, you want to make sure you choose the right student loan option for you.
One private student loan lender to keep in mind: Citizens Bank. Take a look at our Citizens Bank review to see if they’re the best lender to meet your financial needs.
Citizens Bank offers competitive rates and flexible terms
Founded over 150 years ago, Citizens Bank is one of the largest and oldest financial institutions around. It offers a variety of financial products to its customers, but we’ll focus on the bank’s private student loan options.
Borrowing from Citizens Bank has a number of advantages. For instance, it’s the only bank that offers multi-year approval. While other banks ask you to reapply for money every year, Citizens Bank lets you apply for four years of funding all at once.
Citizens Bank student loans also come with competitive interest rates and flexible repayment options. Plus, none of its student loans come with extra fees, and you won’t get charged anything for paying your loan off ahead of schedule.
Finally, Citizens Bank can release your co-signer after you make 36 months of on-time payments. If a parent signed onto your application, they’ll eventually be off the hook for your debt.
Although Citizens Bank student loans have a number of pros, they also have some disadvantages when compared to federal student loans.
For one, private loans like those offered by Citizens Bank don’t come with the same benefits as federal debt, such as income-driven repayment or forbearance in the case of economic hardship.
Private loans also typically don’t qualify for loan forgiveness, unless you find a loan repayment assistance program that helps with private loans. Before borrowing from a private lender like Citizens Bank, most borrowers should first max out their federal aid options.
However, if you’ve done your homework, Citizens Bank student loans could be a good option to fund your education.
Citizens Bank offers private student loans to different borrowers
Citizens Bank offers funding for three types of borrowers: undergraduates, graduate students, and parents. The minimum amount you can borrow is $1,000, but the maximum amount varies depending on your educational level and field of study:
- Undergraduates: up to $90,000
- Graduate students: up to $110,000
- Business and law students: up to $180,000
- Healthcare professionals: $150,000 or $295,000, depending on the degree
Parents can also borrow up to these limits to fund their children’s education.
Although parents can borrow federal Parent PLUS Loans from the Department of Education, Citizens Bank suggests its private loans could be less expensive, since they don’t come with an origination fee. According to the bank, borrowers stand to save $643 in fees, compared to PLUS loans1.
Whether you’re a student or parent borrower, Citizens Bank will send the funds directly to your school of choice. You can start paying the loan back right away or defer payments until after you graduate.
Note that interest will accrue from the date of disbursement. If you’d like to get a headstart on interest payments, you can also make interest-only payments while you’re still in school.
All Citizens Bank student loans come with a five-, 10-, or 15-year repayment term. The only exception is for parent borrowers, who can only choose between a five- and 10-year repayment term.
Citizens Bank online platform
To apply for Citizens Bank student loans, your first step is to create an account with a username and password.
Be prepared to provide your name, date of birth, Social Security number, and email. You’ll need to set up some security questions as well.
When applying for Citizens Bank student loans, you’ll need:
- A recent pay stub
- The amount you pay per month for housing
- Your school’s information
- Your employer’s information
- Cost of attendance and any financial aid you’ve already gotten
- Your prospective graduation date
- Desired loan amount
- A personal reference
- Your co-signer’s information, if applicable
If you’re approved for a student loan, you’ll need to accept the terms of the agreement, sign the promissory note, and fill out a self-certification form. You’ll be able to access all your loan information through your online account.
Your loan will be managed by Firstmark Services. Through Firstmark Services you can:
- Check your balance and account information
- Make a payment
- Access your loan details
In addition to paying your student loans online, you can also set up auto-pay. Alternatively, you can pay by mail or phone.
Citizens Bank student loans interest rates and fees
Before choosing a private loan, search around for the lowest interest rates and fees.
Citizens Bank doesn’t charge an application, origination, or disbursement fee for its student loans. The bank offers both fixed interest rates, which stay the same over the life of the loan, and variable rates, which change with the market.
Choosing a variable interest rate in good market conditions could potentially save you money if you plan on paying back your student loans quickly. However, fixed interest rates will ensure your rate will stay the same, regardless of the current lending market.
Currently, variable interest rates can range from 3.99% – 11.64% APR for Citizens Bank student loans, while fixed interest rates range from 4.90% – 12.04% APR.
You could also potentially lower your interest rate on your student loans by up to 0.50 percent, thanks to available discounts.
You get a 0.25 percent interest rate reduction if you sign up for auto-pay, and an additional 0.25 percent interest rate reduction if you have a bank account with Citizens Bank. Note that checking and savings accounts are only available in select states.
Depending on your credit and the type of student loan you choose, your interest rate could actually be lower with Citizens Bank than with a federal student loan. In other words, you might be able to save money on interest with a private student loan from Citizens Bank.
As mentioned above, though, a private loan won’t come with the benefits of a federal student loan. Before choosing a loan, make sure to shop around for the best rates and consider repayment plans. That way, you can choose the best option for your finances.
Citizens Bank eligibility requirements
When it comes to student debt, there are few requirements for getting approved for a federal student loan. However, private student loans are a different story.
Private student loans come from a private lender, typically a financial institution. These institutions are different than government-backed ones and have their own requirements.
In order to qualify for Citizens Bank student loans, you must be:
- A U.S. citizen or a permanent resident
- Enrolled at a qualifying school at least half-time
- Able to meet certain credit requirements or apply with a qualified co-signer
- 18 years of age or older
To qualify for a student loan on your own, you must have a strong credit history as well as a minimum household income of $12,000.
If you have low credit and can’t qualify for a student loan on your own, you might consider applying with a co-signer. Co-signers are typically parents or grandparents with good credit who are legally responsible for your loan.
Having a co-signer can help you secure a better interest rate and get approved for a loan. As mentioned above, Citizens Bank offers co-signer release after you make consecutive payments for 36 months.
Citizens Bank customer service
Citizens Bank reviews for customer service are a mixed bag. Some users have said customer service is difficult to reach, while others state that any issues were promptly taken care of.
As a student loan borrower, you can reach the Citizens Bank customer service team 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You can also check the bank’s FAQ page to get the answers you need to any student loan questions. Additionally, if you want to talk to someone in real time, the company offers an online live chat feature.
Citizens Bank contact
If at any point during the application or repayment process you need to get in touch with Citizens Bank, you can send a secure message through your account or give them a call at 1-888-411-0266.
Rebecca Safier contributed to the reporting for this article.
1 Average savings of $643 are calculated using the 2016/2017 Award Year Federal Direct PLUS Loan program reporting (as of 5/03/2017 for quarter ending December 31, 2016 not including Grad PLUS) of originations of ~$11.1 billion to 740,097 borrowers through 769,597 loans with an average loan size of $15,035.30. Average fee savings is possible with either private student loan option we offer, including the Citizens Bank Student Loan® or the Citizens Bank Student Loan® for Parents.
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|2 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
(1)All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7% variable Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 96 monthly payments of $179.28 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $17,211.20. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.
Information advertised valid as of 5/29/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
3 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
4 Important Disclosures for Discover.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
* Offer valid for new Custom Choice Loans for which applications are submitted for a credit decision between 12:00:00am EST on June 1, 2019 and 11:59:59pm EST on August 31, 2019. A 0.50% interest rate reduction will be included in the loan options presented to an applicant during the online application process, upon passing the initial credit review. The interest rate reduction will be applied as of the first disbursement date and will be effective for the life of the loan.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|3.99% – 11.98%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.50% – 11.35%*,3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.84% – 11.99%4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.27% – 10.80%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.46% – 9.43%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.74% – 9.72%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|3.99% – 11.64%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|