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Updated: Aug 18, 2022, 3:49pm
If you need to take out private loans to pay for your education, Citizens Bank could be a good option. It offers multiyear approvals, so you only have to apply once to get funding for the entirety of your college career. If you’re an existing Citizens Bank customer, you could even qualify for added interest rate discounts.
However, Citizens Bank does have strict borrowing eligibility and limits. Plus, it doesn’t have a prequalification tool, so you can’t check your eligibility or rates without affecting your credit. Account details are accurate as of August 18, 2022.
Citizens Bank, which now simply goes by Citizens, is one of the largest retail banks in the country. Based in Providence, Rhode Island, the company operates more than 900 branches, but it also issues student loans to individuals throughout the country.
Citizens Bank originates private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students, and it also offers student loan refinancing. While most refinancing lenders require applicants to have graduated to qualify for a loan, Citizens doesn’t have that requirement; it’s one of the only lenders that allows borrowers to refinance if they left school before earning a degree.
Citizens loans have no application, origination or disbursement fees, and the lender doesn’t charge prepayment penalties.
Citizens Bank only offers fixed-rate undergraduate loans; variable interest rates aren’t available. Loans are available to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and international students that have eligible co-signers.
Citizens student loans have terms ranging from five to 15 years.
The minimum you can borrow is $1,000, and the maximum is $150,000. The upper maximum limit is an aggregate amount, and it is inclusive of all money borrowed from other lenders and federal student loans.
The fixed interest rates for Citizens Bank’s undergraduate loans range from 3.99% to 9.93%. Variable interest rates range from 2.29% to 9.05%.
The lender doesn’t charge origination or disbursement fees, but there are late fees. If you miss a payment, Citizens Bank will charge you 5% of the payment amount.
Citizens has three repayment options:
Citizens has several standout features:
Typically, student loan refinancing lenders only work with applicants that have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, Citizens Bank is an exception to the rule. You can qualify for a loan if you have an associate’s degree, or even if you left school before graduating.
With an associate’s degree—or no degree at all—you can apply for refinancing after you’ve made 12 qualifying payments after leaving school.
Citizens refinancing loans offer both variable or fixed interest rates, and the lender also offers refinancing for parent loans.
You must have at least $10,000 in student loans to qualify for refinancing. The maximum amount you can refinance is $300,000 for individuals with a bachelor’s degree or below, and $500,000 for graduate degrees.
You can qualify for fixed interest rates between 4.29% and 9.74%, or variable rates between 2.24% and 9.24%. There are no application, origination or disbursement fees, but a 5% late fee applies.
For students refinancing their own loans, repayment terms range from five to 20 years. Once you select a repayment term, your monthly payments will be spread evenly over that timeframe.
Citizens Bank’s refinancing loans have the following perks:
To get a loan from Citizens, you must be enrolled with an eligible institution as a full- or half-time student. Loans are available to U.S. residents, permanent citizens and international students that have a friend or family member that is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and is willing to co-sign the student loan application.
Citizens requires applicants to be the age of majority in their state. In most states, that means you must be at least 18 years old.
For student loans, Citizens requires applicants or their co-signers to have an income of $12,000 or more. For refinancing, the minimum is $24,000.
Citizens doesn’t disclose its minimum credit score requirement; instead, it says applicants should have “reasonably strong” credit. However, most approved applicants had very good to excellent credit. According to the company’s 2020 annual report, 88% of Citizens Bank’s education loans were issued to borrowers with a score of at least 740. You will likely need a co-signer to qualify for a loan if your score is below 740.
Citizens Bank allows co-signers on private student loan and refinancing applications. Borrowers can apply for a co-signer release after making 36 consecutive, on-time payments.
Unlike other lenders, Citizens Bank doesn’t have a prequalification tool for it’s private student loans. The only way to find out if you’re eligible for a loan and what rates you can get is to fill out an application and undergo a hard credit check.
You can apply online by inputting general personal information about yourself and your school. You’ll also need recent pay stubs or other proof of income, your monthly mortgage or rental payment and your anticipated graduation date. If you’re an international or DACA student, you may need to provide documentation about your immigration status.
Once you complete and submit your application, Citizens will review your information and complete a credit check. If you are approved, Citizens will notify you of your loan term options, and you can select the loan that works for you. Once you’ve selected a loan, you need to accept the loan’s terms and sign a promissory note.
After signing the agreement and promissory note, Citizens Bank will electronically send the money to your school.
You can contact Citizens Bank’s student loan division by calling 888-411-0266. An online chat feature is also coming soon to the website.
We reviewed Citizens based on its interest rates, fees, loan terms, hardship options, application process and eligibility. We rated Citizens based on the weighting assigned to each category:
Specific characteristics taken into consideration within each category included number of months of forbearance available, economic hardship repayment options available beyond traditional forbearance, perks like cash-back rewards upon graduation, discounts, time to default, disclosure of credit score and income requirements and other factors.
Citizens Bank is a private student loan lender, so any loans you take out from the lender will be private.
If you have federal student loans and decide to refinance them through Citizens Bank, they will become private loans and will no longer be eligible for federal loan program benefits. Before refinancing federal loans, carefully weigh the pros and cons.
While Citizens Bank doesn’t disclose a minimum credit score requirement, the majority of approved student loan applicants had scores of at least 740. If your score is below that, consider applying with a co-signer or working to increase your credit score before submitting an application.
Citizens Bank doesn’t disclose which credit bureau it utilizes in credit checks, but it does use a FICO credit model rather than VantageScore.
Depending on your situation, you could be approved for a loan immediately. However, under some circumstances, you may be asked for additional information. If that happens, it can take up to five business days to process your application. The total time between application and loan disbursement is typically two to four weeks.
Citizens Bank doesn’t charge prepayment penalties, so there’s no charge for making extra payments or paying off your loan ahead of schedule.
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