Citizens Bank student loans review August 2018 | finder.com

Citizens Bank private student loans review

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Get a new student loan or refinance your current one with rates that start at 4.07%.

Citizens Bank picks up where federal loans fall short. Undergrads who’ve met their federal loan limit, graduate students with expenses not covered by federal loans and international students that can’t qualify all stand to benefit from Citizens Bank student loans.

It’s simple and fast to apply. Interest rates are competitive. But consider reviews from former customers, who say you should stay away from this regional bank.

Product NameCitizens Bank Private Student Loans
Min Loan Amount$1,000
Max. Loan Amount$295,000
APR4.07%-11.81%
Interest Rate TypeVariable
Maximum Loan Term15 years
Application FeeNone
  • Be the age of majority in your state
  • Be enrolled as at least half-time at an eligible school
  • Be a US citizen or resident
  • Have good credit or a cosigner with good credit

What makes Citizens Bank student loans unique?

Citizens Bank is among the few lenders that offer multiyear approval — meaning that you apply only once for approval on funds to cover your entire degree. This perk not only saves you time, but it also minimizes the impact that taking out a student loan has on your credit score.

Citizens Bank is a regional bank with locations in 11 states across the Northeast and Midwest. If you live outside these 11 states or in Puerto Rico, you can still get a student loan through Citizens Bank’s national lending division, Citizens One. The process is the same, but because you’re not eligible for a Citizens Bank account, you won’t be able to take advantage of the bank’s loyalty perks.

States where Citizens Bank operates

Delaware, Connecticut, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

What student loans does Citizens Bank offer?

Citizens Bank offers four types of student loans:

  • Student loans for undergraduates. Borrow up to $90,000 to supplement your federal loans with a fixed- or variable-rate term loan. Students without a credit history need a cosigner.
  • Student loans for parents. Pitched as an alternative to the Federal Direct PLUS loan, this loan allows parents to pay for their children’s higher education.
  • Student loans for graduate students. Term loans of up to $295,000 to cover educational costs that federal loans can’t — like medical residency expenses or bar exam prep courses.

Citizens Bank student loan refinancing

If you’ve improved your credit since you took out your current student loan, you could save by replacing it with a new loan that has a lower interest rate, better repayment terms — or both.

Read our review of Citizens Bank student loan refinancing

What are the benefits of a student loan from Citizens Bank?

  • Approval for your entire degree. You won’t have to waste time completing a new student loan application each year.
  • Flexible repayment terms. Starting payments immediately, make payments on interest only while you’re still in school or defer payments altogether until after you leave school.
    Loyalty and autopay discount. Save 0.25% on your interest rate if you have an account with Citizens Bank and another 0.25% if you set up autopay.
  • Competitive rates. While your interest rate might not be as low as federal loans, Citizens Bank’s rates are lower than many other private student loan competitors.

Unsure of the benefits of private loans? Here’s a breakdown of federal vs. private student loans

What to watch out for

  • Your school might not qualify. Citizens Bank doesn’t advertise a master list of eligible schools. But you can check without applying by starting an application and clicking Select School to search for yours.Citizens Bank student loan application screenshot with eligible schools field
  • Deferral can be expensive. Unlike with some federal loans, interest starts adding up as soon as you take out your loan. Depending on your interest rate, deferring your loan could be a costly option.
  • Lowest rates require a short term. You’ll benefit from the lowest terms if your loan is term is five years or less.
  • Lifetime limits. Like federal loans, there’s a ceiling on how much you can borrow, depending on your degree type.

Compare Citizens Bank to top student loan providers

Rates last updated August 16th, 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
2.480%–7.524% (variable)
A leader in student loan refinancing, SoFi can help you refinance your loans and pay them off sooner.
LendKey Student Loan Refinancing (with AutoPay)
660
$300,000
2.47% (As low as) (variable)
Find competitive rates and unmatched loan benefits from LendKey’s network of not-for-profit lenders.
Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinancing
Good to excellent credit
None
3.09%–6.69% (fixed)
Lower your student debt costs with manageable payments, affordable rates and flexible terms.
EDvestinU Consolidation & Refinancing Program
700
$200,000
3.85%–7.45% (variable)
Earnest Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (w/ autopay)
650
no maximum
2.57%–5.87% (variable)
Get a tailored interest rate and repayment plan with no hidden fees.
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.
Purefy Student Loan Refinancing
620
$90,000
2.00%–7.98% (variable)
Refinance all types of student loans — including federal and parent PLUS loans.

Compare up to 4 providers

What does the Internet say about Citizens Bank?

Citizens Bank has such a bad online reputation, it’s almost impressive. The bank isn’t accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which might mean that it simply hasn’t paid the BBB to evaluate its business practices. The BBB, however, gives the bank a failing grade based on nearly 100 reviews that are overwhelmingly negative.

The bank isn’t rated on Trustpilot, but online forums reveal a similar trend. The main problem: Citizens Bank appears to make a lot of mistakes but does little to rectify them.

Mistakes range from charging twice for the same payment to slapping users with fees for no apparent reason. And customer service tends to be either unhelpful or unwilling to fix these problems.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for a student loan from Citizens Bank, you must:

  • Be the age of majority in your state. In most states, this means you must at least 18 years old. You can get around this requirement with a cosigner.
  • Be enrolled as at least half-time at an eligible school. Once you drop below half-time, you must start making full repayments.
  • Be a US citizen or resident. Alternately, you can get a US citizen or resident to cosign your loan.
  • Have good credit or a cosigner with good credit. Citizens Bank doesn’t have a credit score cutoff, but you could have trouble qualifying if your credit history is short or your score is low.

For student loan refinancing, your student loan balance must also be at least $10,000.

What do I need to apply?

Have the following information and documents ready before you begin your application:

  • Your Social Security number
  • A recent pay stub or proof of other income (for you or your cosigner)
  • You employer’s contact information and how long you’ve worked there (for you or your cosigner)
  • Your school’s name
  • How much it costs to attend your school
  • How much financial aid you’ve received
  • Your anticipated graduation date
  • How much you need to borrow
  • A personal reference (for student borrowers only)
  • Your cosigner’s name and email
  • Contact information of someone (not your cosigner) who will have contact with you after graduation

How do I apply?

Make sure you have all of the required documents and information on hand before you sit down to apply.

  1. Go to the Citizens Bank website and select Student Lending.
    Citizens Bank homepagescreenshot
  2. Select either Education Refinance Loan or Student Loan, depending on the type of financing you need.
    Citizens Bank website menu screenshot
  3. Click Apply for a Student Loan.
    Citizens Bank student loan homepage screenshot
  4. Complete your personal, financial and academic information. Carefully read the terms and conditions, and submit your application online.

After you submit your application, Citizens Bank pulls a credit check on you or your cosigner that will temporarily lower your score.

Review your loan offers and submit additional documentation if requested. Carefully read your promissory note before signing.

Once Citizens Bank accepts your application, it sends a self-certification form for you to complete. It disburses your funds as soon as they receive all of your signed documents.

If you live outside the 11 states in which Citizens Bank has physical branches or Puerto Rico, the application process with Citizens One is nearly identical. The main difference is that you’ll apply through the Citizens One site.

I got a student loan from Citizens Bank. Now what?

Student borrowers have the option of choosing to start full repayments right away, make interest-only repayments or defer repayment until after leaving school. Deferral makes sense for students that are unable to work, though it could make your loan a lot more expensive. Try making interest-only payments at least, if you can afford it.

Set up autopay — called “auto debit” by Citizens Bank — to get 0.25% knocked off your interest rate. Just make sure that your account has enough funds to make each payment to avoid nonsufficient funds fees.

Keeping an eye on your account is vital when dealing with a company that has Citizens Bank’s track record. Document anything suspicious and report it immediately. And don’t forget to follow up on any claims you file.

Bottom line

Citizens Bank might be a way to cover your higher education expenses, but you’ll need to ignore customer reviews. And you might need to watch your account carefully until your loan is fully repaid.

Our experience with Citizens Bank customer service is positive, but we never had to challenge a fee or payment.

Be sure to compare your student financing options before deciding on any lender or loan.

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