Your Ultimate Guide to Federal Financial Aid, the FAFSA, and More

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Federal financial aid: For many students, it’s the lifeline that funds their college degree.

In 2014-15 alone, federal student aid made higher education accessible for more than 2 million college students. That’s 86 percent of enrolled full-time students, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Here’s everything you need to know about applying for federal student financial aid and when you can expect to receive funding.

FAFSA: Your key to federal financial aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form that unlocks access to federal financial aid.

Completing and submitting a FAFSA is often the first step in applying and qualifying for federal student aid. Students should submit this form well ahead of the FAFSA deadlines for the school year. Doing so will help them establish or renew their eligibility for federal financial aid for that enrollment period.

Submitting a FAFSA is required for federal financial aid

Strictly speaking, filling out a FAFSA is not a requirement for attending college.

“A family is free to opt not to apply for financial aid and to not complete a FAFSA,” said Lynne Baker, the managing director of communications for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

However, as Baker pointed out, the “FAFSA is a requirement for almost all need-based financial aid and many scholarship programs.”

So, if you hope to secure any kind of federal financial aid to pay for college, from grants to federal student loans, you’ll need to submit a FAFSA each year.

Filing the FAFSA can be time-consuming and complicated. But if you don’t file the FAFSA, you won’t be eligible for any federal student financial aid. Even if you don’t plan to use this aid, skipping the FAFSA could mean losing out on aid from a variety of sources.

When should I file the FAFSA?

The FAFSA opens every year on Oct. 1 for the following school year. Students and parents usually have until that academic year ends on June 30 to file a FAFSA. So, for example, submissions opened on Oct. 1, 2017, for the 2018-19 FAFSA and will remain open until June 30, 2019.

That doesn’t mean you should put off filing your FAFSA, though. According to Baker, the earlier you file the FAFSA, the better.

“Students should file their FAFSAs as soon as possible after Oct. 1 of the calendar year prior to the year they plan to attend school,” Baker advised. “Filing as early as possible puts you in line for some aid, such as some state grants, that has limited funding and may be offered to eligible students on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Some states, colleges, and universities have their own deadlines to receive FAFSA information for additional, nonfederal aid. Check your college’s website or talk to the financial aid office to see when you must complete the FAFSA to meet these deadlines.

How long does the FAFSA take to complete?

“Many families decide not to complete the FAFSA simply because it is too complicated or they believe they make too much money to be eligible for anything,” Baker said. “Take the time to understand the FAFSA, the eligibility requirements, and how the information is used.”

The FAFSA also offers tools to simplify the filing process and prevent errors, Baker added.

If you’ve filed a FAFSA in the past, for instance, you can automatically input the information you provided in your previous FAFSA to your current application. Plus, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool can be used to automatically fill your FAFSA with relevant tax information.

Altogether, completing a FAFSA takes about an hour from start to finish, according to the official FAFSA site. Below is a timeline for submitting a FAFSA and getting your financial aid award:

FAFSA timeline

Evaluating your financial aid award letter

Once you submit a FAFSA, the next step is for your college to evaluate your need and put together a financial aid package.

This package is outlined in a financial aid award letter and will include a complete list of student aid offers. The federal student financial aid you can get will be listed in addition to state aid, institutional aid, and private student loans.

From there, it’s your job to evaluate the student aid you’re offered and decide which types you should use first and how much. Here are the basics of what you need to know about how federal financial aid is determined and awarded.

Types of federal financial aid

There are two main kinds of federal financial aid: need-based aid and non-need-based aid. The FAFSA information is run through a formula that determines a student’s ability to cover college costs and need for financial aid, as illustrated below:

FAFSA formula

The higher a student’s need for federal student financial aid, the more need-based aid they will be granted. The lower it is, the more likely it is that the student will qualify for little to no need-based aid.

Need-based aid: Grants, work-study, and subsidized loans

Need-based federal financial aid is designed to help students from low-income backgrounds enroll and stay in school. Some need-based aid is essentially free money you don’t have to repay. Here are the main types of need-based federal student aid.

Federal Pell Grants

Awarded to first-time undergraduate students, Pell Grants don’t need to be repaid. The maximum Pell Grant award was $5,920 for the 2017-18 school year.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

This award is administered by a college’s financial aid office but uses federal funds.

Not all colleges participate, but if yours does, it will use FAFSA information to determine if you qualify. FSEOG awards can range from $100 to $4,000 and don’t need to be repaid.

Federal work-study

Students work part time, and their pay is subsidized by the federal government up to a certain number of hours each semester. This form of aid acts as typical wages and doesn’t need to be repaid.

Direct Subsidized Loans

Direct Subsidized Loans have to be repaid by the student. They also carry an interest subsidy, which applies when a student is enrolled full time or otherwise defers their student loan payments.

During this deferment, interest charges are paid by the federal government rather than accruing and being added to the balance.

Non-need-based aid: Unsubsidized student loans

If you don’t qualify for need-based student aid or can’t cover all your costs with need-based aid alone, don’t worry. A few types of student loans don’t require a student to demonstrate financial need.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Undergraduate students might take out Direct Unsubsidized Loans, which operate under the same program as Direct Subsidized Loans.

Unlike Direct Subsidized Loans, however, Direct Unsubsidized Loans don’t have an interest subsidy. They do have higher federal student loan limits, though, as well as the lowest interest rates and fees of any federal student loans.

PLUS Loans

There are two types of PLUS Loans: Parent PLUS Loans, which are available to parents of undergrads, and Grad PLUS loans, which are available to graduate students.

Parents and graduate students can borrow PLUS Loans up to the college’s cost of attendance not covered by other forms of student aid. But be warned: PLUS loans have higher interest rates and loan fees.

What if you don’t qualify for need-based aid?

Maybe you haven’t qualified for much financial aid in the past or don’t think you’ll receive federal aid for the coming school year.

Even so, it’s worth the time to file. In fact, the complexity of the FAFSA is actually a reason you should file, Baker said.

“The formula used to determine financial aid eligibility is very complex,” Baker pointed out. “The way to determine how assets may impact eligibility is to complete the FAFSA.”

It’s possible you’ll qualify for aid you might not have expected. The only way to know for sure is to file and see what you’re approved for. That’s especially true for first-time filers or filers whose income, dependent status, or other relevant factors have changed recently.

Your FAFSA information “may also be used by schools to determine eligibility for institutional financial aid,” Baker said. “So if you don’t file a FAFSA, you might not get the opportunity to be considered for [need-based institutional aid] or partially need-based institutional aid.”

That means not filing your FAFSA could keep you from being considered for scholarships and similar programs.

What if you don’t plan to use federal aid or student loans?

Let’s say you don’t think you’ll need federal aid or loans because you or your family can afford to pay for college out of pocket.

Well, filling out a FAFSA every year is still a good idea.

It gives you access to federal student loans and other resources to help cover costs. Even if you don’t plan to use them, you might encounter unforeseen financial hardships or unexpected problems that could leave you reliant on federal student aid.

Maybe a parent becomes unemployed and is no longer able to cover college costs. Or perhaps a medical emergency means your family’s financial resources are needed elsewhere. By filing your FAFSA, you can ensure your access to federal student loans if you need them.

If you don’t file a FAFSA, by the time you realize you need to take out federal student loans, it might be too late. It’s better to file your FAFSA and have the option to take out federal student loans than to need the opportunity and not have it.

As you get ready to pay for college, remember there are plenty of federal student aid options for you to explore. Make sure you take the time to review all of them and fill out the FAFSA to see what you qualify for.

Need a student loan?

Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
LenderVariable APREligibility 
1 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or Nationwide Bank, 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 11/1/2018. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.


2 Important Disclosures for Discover.

Discover Disclosures

  1. At least a 3.0 GPA or equivalent qualifies for a one-time cash-reward of 1% of the loan amount of each new Discover student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
  2. View Terms and Conditions at DiscoverStudentLoans.com/AutoDebitReward.

3 Important Disclosures for Ascent.

Ascent Disclosures

Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.

  1. Ascent rates are effective as of 12/01/2018 and include a 0.25% discount applied when a borrower in repayment elects automatic debit payments via their personal checking account. Competitive rates calculated monthly at the time of loan approval.
    Ascent Tuition Cosigned Loan: Variable rate loans are based on a margin between 2.00% and 11.00% plus the 1-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), rounded to the nearest 1/100th of a percent. The current LIBOR is 2.310%, which may adjust monthly. Your interest rate may increase or decrease, based on LIBOR monthly changes, resulting in an APR range between 4.06% – 13.06%. Fixed rate loans have an APR range between 5.66% – 14.73%. For Ascent Tuition loan current rates and repayment examples visit www.AscentTuition.com/APR.
    Ascent Independent Non-Cosigned Loan: Variable rate loans are based on a margin between 4.00% and 12.50% plus the 1-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), rounded to the nearest 1/100th of a percent. The current LIBOR is 2.310%, which may adjust monthly. Your interest rate may increase or decrease, based on LIBOR monthly changes, resulting in an APR range between 5.72% – 13.01%. Fixed rate loans have an APR range between 7.20% – 13.90%. For Ascent Independent non-cosigned loan current rates and repayment examples visit www.AscentIndependent.com/APR.
  2. Payments may be deferred. Subject to lender discretion, forbearance and/or deferment options may be available for borrowers who are encountering financial distress.
  3. Making interest only or partial interest payments while in school will not reduce the principal balance of the loan. There are three (3) flexible in-school repayment options that include fully deferred, interest only and $25 minimum repayment.
  4. Flexible repayment plans may be offered up to a fifteen (15) year repayment term for a variable rate loan and ten (10) year repayment term for a fixed rate loan. Students must be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school. Minimum loan amount is $2,000.
  5. Interest rate reduction of 0.25% for enrollment in automatic debit applies only when the borrower and/or cosigner signs up for automatic payments and the regularly scheduled, current amount due (including full, flat, or interest only payments, as applicable) is successfully deducted from the designated bank account each month. Interest rate reduction(s) will not apply during periods when no payment is due, including periods of In-School, Deferment, Grace or Forbearance. If you have two (2) returned payments for Nonsufficient Funds, we may cancel your automatic debit enrollment and you will lose the 0.25% interest rate reduction. You will then need to re-qualify and re-enroll in automatic debit payments to receive the 0.25% interest rate reduction.
  6. All applicants (individual and cosigner) are required to complete a brief online financial literacy course as part of the application process to be eligible for funding.
  7. Eligibility, loan amount and other loan terms are dependent on several factors, which may include: loan product, other financial aid, creditworthiness, school, program, graduation date, major, cost of attendance and other factors. Aggregate loan limits may apply. The cost of attendance is determined and certified by the educational institution.
  8. The legal age for entering into contracts is eighteen (18) years of age in every state except Alabama where it is nineteen (19) years old, Nebraska where it is nineteen (19) years old (only for wards of the state), and Mississippi and Puerto Rico where it is twenty-one (21) years old.
  9. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details. In order to be eligible for the 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward, borrower must meet the following criteria after graduation:
    · The student borrower has graduated from the degree program that the loan was used to fund.
    · The student borrower may change majors and/or transfer to a different school, but must obtain the same level of degree (e.g. – undergraduate or graduate)
    · The graduation date is more than 90 days and less than five (5) years after the date of the loan’s first disbursement.
    · Any loan that the student has borrowed under the Ascent loan is not more than 30-days delinquent or in a default status as of the graduation date and until any Graduation Reward is paid.
  10. Students can apply to release their cosigner and continue with the loan in only their name after making the first 24 consecutive regularly scheduled full principal and interest payments on-time and meeting the other eligibility criteria to qualify for the loan without a cosigner.

* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.


* 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.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

5 Important Disclosures for PNC.

PNC Disclosures

  1. Interest will continue to accrue during periods of deferment. You will receive quarterly interest statements during this deferment period. Paying the interest as it accrues each quarter will save you money over the repayment term of the loan because any accrued interest that you do not pay will be added to the principal balance at the end of the deferment period.
  2. If automatic payment is discontinued, you will no longer receive an automatic payment discount. A federal regulation limits the number of transfers that may be made from a savings or money market account. Please contact your financial institution for more information on transfer limitations on savings accounts.
  3. A request to release a co-signer requires that you have made forty-eight (48) consecutive timely payments with no periods of forbearance or deferment within the forty-eight (48) month timeframe. “Timely payment” means each payment is made no later than the 15th day after the scheduled due date of the payment. “Consecutive payment” means the minimum monthly payment must be made for forty-eight (48) months straight without any interruption. To qualify for a co-signer release, the borrower must submit a request, meet the consecutive, timely payment requirements, provide proof of income and pass a credit check.

PNC Bank is one of the nation’s largest education loan providers. For over 40 years, PNC has been committed to helping students and their families make possible the adventure of college.


6 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.

SunTrust Disclosures

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.

SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.

  1. Interest rates and APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) depend upon (a) the student’s and cosigner’s (if applicable) credit histories, (b) the repayment option and repayment term selected, (c) the requested loan amount and (4) other information provided on the online loan application. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate applicable to your loan. Rates and terms effective for applications received on or after 11/01/2018. The current variable APRs for the program range from 4.123% APR to 13.126% APR and the current fixed APRs for the program range from 5.351% APR to 14.051% APR (the low APRs within these ranges assume a 7-year $10,000 loan, with two disbursements and no deferment; the high APRs within these ranges assume a 15-year $10,000 loan with two disbursements). The variable interest rate for each calendar month is calculated by adding the current One-month LIBOR index to your margin. LIBOR stands for London Interbank Offered Rate. The One-month LIBOR is published in the Money Rates section of The Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition). The One-month LIBOR index is captured on the 25th day of the immediately preceding calendar month (or if the 25th is not a business day, the next business day thereafter), and is rounded up to the nearest 1/8th of one percent. The current One-month LIBOR index is 2.375% on 11/01/2018. The variable interest rate will increase or decrease if the One-month LIBOR index changes. The fixed rate assigned to a loan will never change except as required by law or if you request and qualify for the auto pay discount.
  2. Any applicant who applies for a loan the month of, the month prior to, or the month after the student’s graduation date, as stated on the application or certified by the school, will only be offered the Immediate Repayment option. The student must be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for the partial interest, fully deferred and interest only repayment options unless the loan is being used for a past due balance and the student is out of school. With the Full Deferment option, payments may be deferred while the student is enrolled at least half-time at an approved school and during the six month grace period after graduation or dropping below half-time status, but the total initial deferment period, including the grace period, may not exceed 66 months from the first disbursement date. The Partial Interest Repayment option (paying $25 per month during in-school deferment) is only available on loans of $5,000 or more. For payment examples, see footnote 7. With the Immediate Repayment option, the first payment of principal and interest will be due approximately 30-60 calendar days after the final disbursement date and the minimum monthly payment is $50.00. There are no prepayment penalties.
  3. The 15-year term and Partial Interest Repayment option (paying $25 per month during in-school deferment) are only available for loan amounts of $5,000 or more. Making interest only or partial interest payments while in school deferment (including the grace period) will not reduce the principal balance of the loan. Payment examples within this footnote assume a 45-month deferment period, a six-month grace period before entering repayment and the Partial Interest Repayment option. 7 year term: $10,000 loan disbursed over two transactions with a 7 year repayment term (84 months) and a 8.468% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $199.90. 10 year term: $10,000 loan disbursed over two transactions with a 10-year repayment term (120 months) and an 8.938% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $162.92. 15 year term: $10,000 loan disbursed over two transactions with a 15-year repayment term (180 months) and a 9.423% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $136.90.
  4. The 2% principal reduction is based on the total dollar amount of all disbursements made, excluding any amounts that are reduced, cancelled, or returned. To receive this principal reduction, it must be requested from the servicer, the student borrower must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher and proof of such graduation (e.g. copy of diploma, final transcript or letter on school letterhead) must be provided to the servicer. This reward is available once during the life of the loan, regardless of whether the student receives more than one degree.
  5. Earn an interest rate reduction for making automatic payments of principal and interest from a bank account (“auto pay discount”). Earn a 0.25% interest rate reduction when you auto pay from any bank account and an extra 0.25% interest rate reduction when you auto pay from a SunTrust Bank checking, savings, or money market account. The auto pay discount will continue until (1) automatic deduction of payments is stopped (including during any deferment or forbearance) or (2) three automatic deductions are returned for insufficient funds during the life of the loan. The extra 0.25% interest rate reduction when you auto pay from a SunTrust Bank account will be applied after the first automatic payment is successfully deducted and will be removed for the reasons stated above. In the event the auto pay discount is removed, the loan will accrue interest at the rate stated in your Credit Agreement. The auto pay discount is not available when payments are deferred or when the loan is in forbearance, even if payments are being made.
  6. A cosigner may be released from the loan upon request to the servicer provided that the student borrower is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, has met credit criteria and met either one of the following payment conditions: (a) the first 36 consecutive monthly principal and interest payments have been made on-time (received by the servicer within 10 calendar days after their due date) or (b) the loan has not had any late payments and has been prepaid prior to the end of the first 36 months of scheduled principal and interest payments in an amount equal to the first 36 months of scheduled principal and interest payments (based on the monthly payment amount in effect when you make the most recent payment). As an example, if you have made 30 months of consecutive on-time payments, and then, based on the monthly payment amount in effect on the due date of your 31st consecutive monthly payment, you pay a lump sum equal to 6 months of payments, you will have satisfied the payment condition. Cosigner release may not be available if a loan is in forbearance.
  7. If the student dies after any part of the loan has been disbursed, and the loan has not been charged off due to non-payment or bankruptcy, then the outstanding balance will be forgiven if the servicer is informed of the student’s death and receives acceptable proof of death. If the student becomes totally and permanently disabled after any part of the loan has been disbursed and the loan has not been charged off due to non-payment or bankruptcy, the loan will be forgiven upon the servicer’s receipt and approval of a completed discharge application. If the student borrower dies or becomes totally and permanently disabled prior to the full disbursement of the loan, and the loan is forgiven, all future disbursements will be cancelled. Loan forgiveness for student death or disability is available at any point throughout the life of the loan.

7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey


8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

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.
If you are unable to pay your government loan, the government can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount. In addition, the government has special powers to collect the loan, such as taking your tax refund and applying it to your loan balance.

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 you refinance your government loan, your new lender will use the proceeds of your new loan to pay off your government loan. Private student loan lenders do not have to honor any of the benefits that apply to government loans. Because your government loan will be gone after refinancing, you will lose any benefits that apply to that loan. If you are an active-duty service member, your new loan will not be eligible for service member benefits. Most importantly, once you refinance your government loan, you will not able to reinstate your government loan if you become dissatisfied with the terms of your private student loan.

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 are a borrower with a secure job, emergency savings, strong credit and are unlikely to need any of the options available to distressed borrowers of government loans, a refinance of your government loans into a private student loan may be attractive to you. You should consider the costs and benefits of refinancing carefully before 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.


9 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Student Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of November 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.29%. Variable interest rates range from 4.26% – 12.23% (4.26% – 12.13% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 5.25% – 12.19% (5.25% – 12.09% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown requires application with a cosigner, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.
  2. Multi-year approval funds available for future use are subject to a soft credit inquiry at time of your next request to verify continued eligibility. After we make the initial Loan to you, we may refuse to allow you to take out additional loans under the multi-year approval feature, terms and conditions will be outlined in your promissory note. Please Note: International students are not eligible to receive an offer for multi-year approval. Please Note: International Students are not eligible for the multi-year approval feature.
  3. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  5. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
3.94%
12.78%
1
Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

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4.06% – 13.06%3Undergraduate and Graduate

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4.34%
12.99%
2
Undergraduate and Graduate

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4.25% – 11.10%*,4Undergraduate and Graduate

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5.03% – 11.23%5Undergraduate and Graduate

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4.12% – 13.13%6Undergraduate and Graduate

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5.62% – 10.01%7Undergraduate and Graduate

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3.93%
9.81%
8
Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

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4.26%
12.13%
9
Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit Citizens

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.