Parent’s Guide to the FAFSA and Federal Student Aid

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We are now in the thick of “FAFSA season,” which kicks off each October. If you’re the parent of a college student younger than 24, you’ll likely need to complete at least part of their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

“Parents of dependent students play a vital role in our students’ eligibility for financial aid,” said Abril Hunt, an outreach manager for ECMC, a nonprofit focused on higher education finance.

If a parent fails or refuses to provide their information on the FAFSA, this could cut off the student from many forms of financial aid. To help you out, we spoke with college aid experts to get their best tips for parents filing the FAFSA. Here’s what you need to know.

Why parents should always complete a FAFSA

The FAFSA is used to collect information about a student and their family’s ability to pay for college. Under federal law, families are expected to take on the primary responsibility in paying for a student’s college education. For dependent students (those younger than 24), that means they must provide information on their FAFSA about their parents or legal guardians.

Completing the parent portion of the FAFSA accurately and correctly is crucial to helping your child get help paying for college. Specifically, you’ll share your parent demographic information and financial details.

“Dependent students are required to list their [parents’] info in order to determine the family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC),” said Holly Morrow, senior vice president of knowledge at college finance nonprofit uAspire. “This does not mean that the family must commit to paying for the student’s college expenses, but rather the family’s financial strength helps creates the EFC, which is an indicator of eligibility for federal and state grants.”

Still, the form can be confusing for parents to navigate, and many think their child won’t qualify for federal financial aid. Less than half (46%) of the parents with college-bound students said they completed the FAFSA, according to a survey from Discover Student Loans.

“Oftentimes, parents believe there is no point to completing the FAFSA,” said Lindsay Muzzy, a FAFSA and student aid expert with college consulting service My College Planning Team. “It is important to complete it regardless of if the family believes it will be eligible for governmental aid.”

That’s because the FAFSA can open doors to all forms of financial help for students. The application is crucial to access federal student aid such as Pell Grants or federal student loans. The information provided on the FAFSA is also often used by colleges, state governments and private organizations to evaluate a student for other forms of need- or merit-based student aid.

This makes the FAFSA especially useful, since each student aid program has its own formula to determine a student’s need for assistance, and aid offered can vary widely based on the cost of the college in which they choose to enroll.

Simply put, parents should always file a FAFSA because they never know what aid their child could qualify for — or wind up needing.

How to file a FAFSA as a parent

“As a parent, you can fill out and submit the full FAFSA on your child’s behalf. There shouldn’t be any steps that a parent couldn’t complete,” Muzzy said. Or you can just complete the sections for which you’re responsible as a parent: your parent demographic information and financial information.

“It is best practice to have the student work with the parents on completion, as it will be required each school year,” Muzzy said.

The process is fairly similar regardless of whether you’re filling out the entire form or just the parent part. Here are the steps you can follow to file a FAFSA as a parent, as outlined by the Department of Education:

  1. Create Federal Student Aid (FSA) accounts. Both you and your child will need to sign up for FSA IDs, so you’ll need your FAFSA parent login.
  2. Start a new FAFSA. Once you and your child have FSA accounts, you can start a new FAFSA and begin filling it out.
  3. Fill in your child’s personal and educational information. The FAFSA will prompt you to enter general information for your child, as well as their dependency status and which schools they are considering (to direct where their FAFSA information should be shared).
  4. Provide your parent demographics and financial details. The FAFSA will ask you for your own identifying details, as well as marital status. You’ll also need to provide financial information, such as your income as reported on your most recent tax return, and whether you receive federal benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Medicaid. You’ll also be asked to list assets you own that could be used or leveraged to help pay for college, such as college savings accounts.
  5. Sign and submit the FAFSA. Once you’ve completed the form, review it to ensure that the information is accurate. You and your child will each sign the FAFSA and submit it.

Tips for parents filing a FAFSA

Many parents run into obstacles and confusing questions while helping their child complete the FAFSA. Here’s what parents can do to make the process as clear and error-free as possible.

1. Discuss the FAFSA and college costs with your child

Hopefully you’ve already started discussing college with your child, including how your family plans to pay for college.

“Aligning on college costs and how much the family is willing to contribute should be a huge part of the college-list creation phase,” Morrow said.

The process of filing a FAFSA and applying for colleges provides the opportunity to continue talking to your child about paying for a degree, as well as helping them to find money for college and choose affordable schools to apply to.

2. Understand if your child is a dependent on the FAFSA

For the FAFSA, students are considered dependents if they:

  • Are younger than 24 years
  • Are unmarried
  • Are completing a degree other than a master’s or doctorate
  • Are not an active-duty military member or veteran
  • Do not have a child or dependent they support
  • Were not in foster care or a dependent of the state after age 13
  • Are not an emancipated minor or a homeless unaccompanied youth

A student who doesn’t meet all these conditions is considered an independent student and can file a FAFSA without including their parents’ information. But most young college students will fall under the criteria above and be considered dependent.

Parents should be aware, however, that dependency status on the FAFSA doesn’t mean the same thing as it might in other areas, such as on tax returns.

“Dependency status is confusing to most of the families I work with, and it has no bearing to whether or not you are declared a dependent on someone else’s taxes,” Hunt said. You’ll need to check IRS rules to determine whether you can list your child as a dependent on your taxes and claim valuable education tax credits.

3. For unmarried or separated parents, figure out who should file

Source: Federal Student Aid

 

“Divorce affects the FAFSA by only requiring one parent to supply their information,” Muzzy said. “The student should select the parent with whom they live 51% or more of their time with.” If custody was evenly split, the parent who provided more financial support to the child should be the one listed on the FAFSA.

“Another caveat that frustrates parents is if they have remarried,” Hunt said. “In those cases, the parent of record will need to report income information for the stepparent on the FAFSA,” as well as for themselves.

If you and your child’s other parent are on good terms, it could be worthwhile to discuss this. The FAFSA4caster is a helpful way to project the financial aid your child could qualify for on each parent’s income — be sure to include stepparents’ incomes, too. You can review everyone’s financial situation and see if your child is likely to qualify for more aid by living with one of you previous to filing a FAFSA.

4. File the FAFSA early

Students and their parents can file a FAFSA as early as Oct. 1 for the following school year, and you should work to submit it as soon as possible.

“It is imperative that families complete the FAFSA in a timely manner, as government and state aid can run out after a given amount of time,” Muzzy said. Filing early will also ensure you get back financial aid award offers from colleges early, giving you and your student plenty of time to weigh your options and choose the best school for your budget.

5. Get your own information together before you start the FAFSA

It can be helpful to preview a full copy of the FAFSA before you begin filling out your own. This way, you’ll get an idea for what kind of information and documents you will need to have on hand.

“Having all the required information gathered prior to sitting down to complete the FAFSA will be a big help,” Morrow said.

For example, you’ll want to have your most recent tax return ready, as well as access to bank accounts, savings accounts and other asset statements. The FAFSA provides an IRS Data Retrieval Tool that you can use to import the information from your most recently filed tax return.

6. Double-check your FAFSA for errors

Getting prepared to complete the FAFSA and taking your time when doing so are crucial to making sure you submit an error-free form.

Morrow noted some common FAFSA errors for which to watch out, such as “parents entering their info into the student’s section, parents reporting untaxed benefits that are not required, incorrectly reporting assets, incorrectly reporting the number of people in the household, not using the IRS (Data Retrieval Tool), etc.”

Read each section of the FAFSA to make sure that you understand it and that it’s as accurate as possible. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to minimize errors, and review the form before submitting.

If you make a mistake on the FAFSA, you’ll have to go back and correct it, further delaying when your information can be processed and finalized. If you do receive notice that information on your child’s FAFSA is incorrect, respond immediately and resubmit the form to minimize any setbacks.

7. Seek support for filing the FAFSA

There’s no doubt that filling out a FAFSA can be a bit time-consuming and complicated, especially for parents who have never attended college or filed a FAFSA before. If you find yourself confused or stuck, seek out resources and people who can help.

“Parents and students should know that they can always reach out for help, either to their high school counseling department, college financial aid offices or to local college access organizations for support,” Morrow said.

“It’s a complicated process, and it is OK to ask for support in completing the FAFSA and other required follow-up steps in order to ensure that the student receives the financial aid they may be eligible for,” she said.

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.
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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.