Citizens Bank student loan refinancing review
Save on your student debt or manage your parent loans with rates starting at 1.99%.
finder.com’s rating: 3.9 / 5.0
- Best for post-grads who want their advanced degrees to pay off with better rates.
- Pick something else if you want top-tier customer service.
1.99% to 8.24%
Max. Loan Amount
Min. Credit Score
|Product Name||Citizens Bank Student Loan Refinancing (Variable Rate)|
|Minimum Loan Amount||$10,000|
|Max. Loan Amount||$350,000|
|APR||1.99% to 8.24%|
|Interest Rate Type||Variable|
|Fixed rate||2.99% to 8.49%|
|Minimum Loan Term||5 years|
|Maximum Loan Term||20 years|
|Requirements||US citizen, permanent resident or resident alien; make at least $24,000; at least $10,000 in student debt; made at least 12 full, on-time repayments if you don't have a bachelor's degree or 3 full payments if you do.|
Anna Serio is a trusted lending expert and certified Commercial Loan Officer who's published more than 1,000 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Business Insider, CNBC and the Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
Got a graduate degree? Citizens Bank student loan refinancing could help you save money — it offers better rates for higher degrees. It’s also one of the few lenders that offers refinancing specifically for parent loans with terms from five to 20 years. On top of this, international students can refinance with a cosigner. Even if you didn’t finish school, its rates are competitive compared to other lenders — especially its maximum rates.
However, this bank’s history of government actions against it might make you want to think twice. And former borrowers have complained about not receiving their full loan amount and getting false information about repayments.
Want to explore your other options? Check out our list of other student loan refinancing providers to see if any are a better fit for you.
First, am I eligible?
To qualify for Citizens Bank student loan refinancing, you must:
- Make at least $24,000 a year
- Have strong credit
- No longer be in school
- Have at least $10,000 in student debt
- Be a US citizen, permanent resident or resident alien
- If you have a bachelor’s degree, you must have made at least three full, on-time repayments on your loans
- If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you must have made at least 12 full, on-time repayments
You can bring on a cosigner to help meet income and credit requirements. If you’re a resident alien, you must apply with a cosigner that’s a US citizen or permanent resident.
You can take your cosigner off your loan after making 36 on-time repayments in a row, as long as you meet Citizens Bank credit and income requirements on your own.
How does refinancing with Citizens Bank work?
Citizens Bank is a direct lender that lets you refinance and consolidate both federal and private student loans. That is, federal loans that aren’t on an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan — those are ineligible. You can complete the application online in as little as half an hour. From start to finish, it can take two to three weeks, which is fast for a refinancing loan.
How much you can borrow depends on your level of education. If you didn’t finish school or have a bachelor’s degree, you can refinance up to $90,000 of student debt. If you have an MBA, graduate or doctoral degree, you can refinance up to $225,000 of student debt. Have a law degree? You can refinance a maximum of $300,000. Doctors, dentists and other professional degree holders have access to the highest amount: $350,000.
Parent loan refinancing
Citizens Bank also offers refinancing for student loans in a parent’s name. Parents can refinance federal parent PLUS Loans, private parent loans and even loans that they cosigned. You don’t have to be a parent to qualify for this loan — you just need to have taken out a student loan on behalf of someone else or participated as a cosigner.
Like with Citizens Bank’s other student loan refinancing option, parents can refinance between $10,000 and $350,000. The difference is that the student’s level of education doesn’t affect how much a parent can borrow — students can still be in school.
Parents must also meet the same income and credit requirements as Citizens Bank’s other loans, and they can add a cosigner to help them qualify for a better rate. There is no cosigner release option on parent loan refinancing, however.
What happens if I refinance my federal loans with Citizens Bank?
You might end up with a lower rate, but you’ll be giving up several benefits that only federal loans offer. These include IDR plans, extensive deferment and forbearance options. It also includes several forgiveness programs, including public service forgiveness and teacher forgiveness.
Think carefully about whether you’ll miss these benefits before deciding to refinance your federal loans. And remember: Any loan you’re paying off with an IDR plan is ineligible for refinancing with Citizens Bank.
How much will I pay to refinance with Citizens Bank?
Like with loan amounts, how much you pay depends on your level of education and loan term. Citizens Bank doesn’t charge any fees associated with applying, so the interest rate is the main cost to pay attention to.
It offers two different types of interest rates: Fixed and variable. Fixed rates stay the same over the life of your loan, meaning you’ll have the same repayment each month. Variable rates are a bit riskier because they can go up and down — though they have the potential to be lower than fixed rates. With a variable rate, you won’t be able to predict your monthly repayments.
Here are the rates you can expect based on your level of education.
|Degree type||Variable APR range||Fixed APR range|
Parent loan refinancing rates
Parent loan rates only depend on your term length — the level of the degree has no effect on your rates. Here’s what rates look like based on loan term.
|Loan term||Variable rate||Fixed rate|
Does Citizens Bank offer discounts?
It does. You can get a 0.25% discount on your rate by signing up for automatic payments. If you sign up for automatic payments with a Citizens Bank account, you’ll get a 0.5% rate discount.
What are my repayment options?
Citizens Bank only offers one repayment plan that comes with the same fixed principle repayment plus interest. To lower your monthly repayments, try going for a longer loan term. If you want to get out of debt quicker, try going for the shortest term you can afford.
Citizens Bank allows borrowers to apply for two weeks of forbearance due to financial hardship. It doesn’t have any deferment options, so you won’t be able to put your payments on hold when you go back to school.
Top reasons to consider refinancing with Citizens Bank
- Rewards high-level degrees. Trying to pay off a huge debt load from medical school? Your hard work can help you qualify for lower rates — and larger loan amounts.
- Fast turnaround. Compared to other refinancing options, Citizens Bank takes less time from start to finish than other lenders, which can take as long as one or two months.
- Parent loan refinancing. Citizens Bank not only is willing to work with parent PLUS Loans, it also will work with parents who’ve taken out private loans or even just cosigned a student loan.
- Autopay and loyalty discounts. While most lenders offer a 0.25% rate discount for signing up for autopay, Citizens Bank will double it if you make payments from one of its bank accounts.
- Cosigner release. This lender’s standard student loan refinancing comes with the option of taking your cosigner off your loan once you’re able to qualify on your own and have made 36 on-time repayments in a row.
Why you might want to look elsewhere
- Higher rates for no degree. Since Citizens Bank takes education into consideration, it might not be the best deal for refinancing student debt if you never finished a degree or didn’t go to graduate school. With that said, rates are still highly competitive.
- No in-school refinancing. You’ll have to graduate or drop below half time before you can apply for refinancing with this lender.
- No cosigner release on parent loans. Parents that want to refinance a student loan have to refinance again if they want to take a cosigner off their new loan.
- Not much forbearance. Borrowers can only qualify for two weeks of forbearance if they’re facing financial hardship.
- Can’t refinance federal loans on an IDR plan. If your federal loans are on a Revised Pay as You Earn, Pay as You Earn, Income-Based or Income-Contingent repayment plan, you’re ineligible to refinance with Citizens Bank.
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What do customers say about Citizens Bank?
Customers don’t seem to have strong impressions of Citizens Bank student loan refinancing, though comments tend to be good. A couple of customers said they qualified for a lower rate than they were currently paying, though it wasn’t as low as they would have liked. Another said the application process was quick, painless and helped improve their credit in the end. A third was happy with their rate, but said their application was delayed after Citizens Bank made a mistake while paying off their current lender.
Citizens Bank, however, doesn’t have a great online reputation. It gets a C- rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which bases its letter grades on business practices like advertising and how it handles customer complaints. All but three of the nearly 110 reviews on its BBB page are negative.
CFPB action against Citizens Bank
In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took action against Citizens Bank over its process of depositing funds — some customers hadn’t received the full amount they deposited into their accounts. The BBB also notes that there’s a pattern of complaints over its customer service, especially when it comes to applying for a loan. Among other things, customers claimed that Citizens Bank gave them inaccurate information about payments and took longer than necessary to process documents.
What to expect when signing up
First, double check that you meet Citizens Bank’s eligibility requirements for your degree type before you start the application. Once you’re sure you meet its basic qualifications, you’re ready to apply.
- Go to the Citizens Bank website and click Student Lending in the main navigation bar.
- Click either Student Loan Refinance or Student Loan Refinancing for Parents, depending on what type of loan you want to apply for.
- Hit Get My Rate to get a risk-free estimate of the rates you might qualify for.
- Fill out the required fields and read the Consent to Electronic Documents before hitting Get My Rate. This step involves a soft credit check that will not affect your credit score.
- Review your potential rates. If you want to continue with the application, follow the directions to fill out the rest of your required information. This should take less than 30 minutes.
- Applying with a cosigner? Toward the end of your application, enter their email address so Citizens Bank can send them a link and directions to fill out their portion.
- Read the terms and conditions before submitting it online. At this point, Citizens Bank runs a hard credit pull, which temporarily lowers your credit rating.
- If you’re approved, submit any additional documentation before signing your loan documents.
The whole process can take between two and three weeks, though it usually takes less time. Citizens Bank sends the funds directly to your current loan servicer, so you don’t need to worry about paying off your old loans yourself.
Step-by-step application with screenshots
Who is Citizens Bank’s servicer?
Citizens Bank uses FirstMark Services to handle all aspects of repayment. If you have any questions about late fees, deferment or forbearance options, FirstMark can probably give you a more accurate answer than Citizens Bank. You can learn more about what to expect from this servicer by reading our FirstMark review.
More about Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank is one of the largest regional banks in the US, with about 1,150 branches across 11 states in the Northeast and Midwest. It’s also one of the country’s oldest banks, first opening its doors in 1871. Its headquarters are located in Providence, Rhode Island.
Its had its share of scandals in the past. In 2008, Citizens Bank was investigated for its involvement in the subprime mortgage crisis — which it failed to announce publicly. It’s also faced lawsuits from borrowers who accused Citizens Bank of fraud.
Want to compare other lenders? Check out our guide to student loan refinancing.
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