Citizens Bank student loan refinancing review September 2018 | finder.com

Citizens Bank student loan refinancing review

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Save on your student debt or manage your parent loans with rates as low as 2.90%–8.00% .

Got a graduate degree? Citizens Bank student loan refinancing could help you save money, as this lender factors in your level of education when deciding your rates. It also is one of the few lenders out there that offer refinancing specifically for parent loans. On top of this, international students can refinance with a cosigner.

With a wide range of loan terms, competitive rates and high loan amounts, this lender could help you cut down on your student debt costs or pay off your debt quicker. Read on to find out if Citizens Bank can help you save.

Product NameCitizens Bank Student Loan Refinancing (Variable Rate)
Min Loan Amount$10,000
Max. Loan Amount$350,000
APR2.90%–8.00%
Interest Rate TypeVariable
Minimum Loan Term5 years
Maximum Loan Term20 years
RequirementsMake at least $24,000, be a US citizen, permanent resident or resident alien; have at least $10,000 in student debt and have made at least 12 full, on-time repayments on student loans if you don't have a bachelor's degree, 3 full payments if you do.
  • Minimum income of $24,000
  • Strong credit
  • No longer in school
  • Minimum $10,000 in student debt
  • US citizen, permanent resident or resident alien
  • Those with bachelor's degrees must have 3 full on-time repayments on your loans, those without must have at least 12.

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
Professional degree
  • 5-year term: 2.90%–6.55%
  • 10-year term: 4.65%–6.60%
  • 15-year term: 4.95%–6.75%
  • 20-year term: 5.15%–7.05%
  • 5-year term: 3.50%–6.92%
  • 10-year term: 5.19%–6.91%
  • 15-year term: 5.49%–7.10%
  • 20-year term: 5.64%–7.34%
Graduate degree
  • 5-year term: 2.90%–6.55%
  • 10-year term: 4.65%–6.60%
  • 15-year term: 4.95%–6.75%
  • 20-year term: 5.15%–7.05%
  • 5-year term: 3.60%–5.91%
  • 10-year term: 5.19%–6.91%
  • 15-year term: 5.49%–7.10%
  • 20-year term: 5.64%–7.34%
Bachelor’s degree
  • 5-year term: 4.15%–7.40%
  • 10-year term: 5.20%–7.50%
  • 15-year term: 5.45%–7.55%
  • 20-year term: 5.70%–7.70%
  • 5-year term: 5.74%–7.82%
  • 10-year term: 6.14%–7.82%
  • 15-year term: 6.19%–7.95%
  • 20-year term: 6.39%–8.14%
No degree
  • 5-year term: 4.85%–7.80%
  • 10-year term: 5.30%–7.85%
  • 15-year term: 5.55%–7.85%
  • 20-year term: 5.75%–8.00%
  • 5-year term: 6.24%–8.16%
  • 10-year term: 6.24%–8.16%
  • 15-year term: 6.34%–8.20%
  • 20-year term: 6.49%–8.34%

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
5 years 4.10%–7.00% 4.25%–7.37%
10 years 5.10%–7.05% 5.39%–7.44%
15 years 5.35%–7.35% 5.74%–7.60%
20 years 5.60%–7.60% 5.99%–7.89%

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.

Compare student loan refinancing offers

Rates last updated September 24th, 2018
Name Product Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR Product Description
Credible Student Loan Refinancing
Good to excellent credit
None
2.57%(As low as ) (variable)
Get prequalified offers from top student loan refinancing providers in one place.
SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (with Autopay)
650
full balance of your qualified education loans
2.570%–6.605% (variable)
A leader in student loan refinancing, SoFi can help you refinance your loans and pay them off sooner.
Purefy Student Loan Refinancing
620
$300,000
2.57%–8.69% (variable)
Refinance all types of student loans — including federal and parent PLUS loans.
Earnest Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (w/ autopay)
650
no maximum
2.47%–5.87% (variable)
Get a tailored interest rate and repayment plan with no hidden fees.
PenFed Student Loan Refinancing
700
$300,000
3.25%–7.03% (fixed)
Straightforward refinancing with competitive rates.
CommonBond Student Loan Refinancing
660
$500,000
2.72%–7.25% (with autopay) (variable)
Trade in your existing school loans for competitive APRs that come with a discount for autopay.
LendKey Student Loan Refinancing (with AutoPay)
660
$300,000
2.51% (As low as) (variable)
Find competitive rates and unmatched loan benefits from LendKey’s network of not-for-profit lenders.
LendingTree Student Loans
Good to excellent credit
Varies by lender
3% (As low as) (fixed)
Compare multiple student loans and student loan refinancing options in one place.

Compare up to 4 providers

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.

In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 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 noted 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.
Read more about Citizens Bank

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.

  1. Go to the Citizens Bank website and click Student Lending in the main navigation bar.
  2. Click either Student Loan Refinance or Student Loan Refinancing for Parents, depending on what type of loan you want to apply for.
  3. Hit Get My Rate to get a risk-free estimate of the rates you might qualify for.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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

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.

Bottom line

Citizens Bank student loan refinancing is generally a better deal for borrowers with at least graduate degrees. But even if you didn’t finish school, its rates are competitive compared to other lenders — especially its maximum rates. Its history of government actions against it might make you want to think twice about going with this lender, however.

Want to compare other lenders? Learn more about how student loans work? You might want to check out our student loans page or our guide to student loan refinancing.

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