CollegeFinance Score: ★★★★☆
Citizens provides private student loans to those who need help covering the gap between what they have and what they need for school. They offer single- or multi-year loans for undergraduate or graduate degrees. The online application process is simple and quick. In-person help is also available in almost a dozen states. If you’re thinking about applying for a private student loan, consider the following about what Citizens has to offer.
- Well-established financial institution
- In-person financial services
- Quick online application process
- Multi-year loan approvals
- Loyalty and autopay discounts
- Banking locations only in certain states
- Limits on student loan amounts
- Some negative customer reviews
- No flat in-school repayment option
Citizens: What You Need to Know
Founded in 1828, Citizens Bank was built on the principle that it succeeds only when its customers succeed. They are part of Citizens Financial Group, one of the oldest and largest financial services firms in the U.S.
Giving back to the community is also a large part of the company’s values. They invest their time, resources, and energy on their Citizens Helping Citizens initiative that supports communities in which they live and work.
To help fund a college education, students can apply for a Citizens Bank Student Loan. The company also offers a Citizens Bank Student Loan for Parents. Guardians of students enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible institution can apply. Private student loans can be used for tuition, books, and more.
Citizens also offers more than just student loans. They provide mortgages, underwrite vehicles, issue credit cards, and administer checking accounts. Refinancing federal and private student loans is another option available at Citizens.
Citizens BBB Rating: B
With a B rating, Citizens has earned fairly good marks from the Better Business Bureau (BBB); however, there’s room for improvement. This score is based on several factors, which includes a company’s:
- Complaint history with BBB.
- Type of business.
- Time in business.
- Transparency in business practices.
- Failures to honor commitments to BBB.
The rating also takes into account if there are any known advertising, licensing, or government issues that need to be addressed. Overall, Citizens is a reputable and well-established business. Keep in mind that although their BBB rating isn’t an A+, many of the complaints aren’t about their student loans.
Citizens: Potential Benefits for Borrowers
With various repayment options, Citizens offers the kind of flexibility that many borrowers value. For example, you can defer paying on your loan for up to eight years while enrolled in school. Citizens also provides competitive fixed and variable rates and offers refinancing options to fit your monthly budget. The following benefits may also apply to you:
- Citizens is a well-established financial institution. Citizens has been around for over 150 years. It’s reassuring to know the company has weathered many economic storms throughout the centuries and still runs a successful business.
- Citizens provides in-person financial services. If having a face-to-face conversation about student loans will help you, Citizens is a great choice for you. With over 1,000 branches in the northeast U.S., there may be a location near you.
- Citizens has a quick online application process. An easy and fast three-step online application is all it takes to apply for a private student loan from Citizens. You’ll complete the form online, select your rate and terms, and accept and sign all loan documents electronically.
- Citizens offers multi-year loan approvals. This benefit allows you to secure money for all years of school with one application. After the first year, simply request funds each year without a hard credit inquiry or further documentation. This saves time and keeps your credit score from being hit. Multi-year approvals are available for undergraduate, graduate, and parent student loans. It’s quite a unique feature.
- Citizens extends loyalty and autopay discounts. Qualify for a 0.25% interest rate reduction if you or your co-signer has a qualifying account, such as a checking account, with Citizens at the time of the loan application submission. Any borrower can also set up automatic monthly payments to receive a 0.25% interest rate discount. You simply authorize the loan servicer to automatically deduct payments each month from your bank account.
Citizens: Potential Drawbacks for Borrowers
When a company has been around as long as Citizens, it’s bound to have some potential drawbacks come to light. For example, borrowers may feel a lack of personalized service since it’s such a large organization. The business also doesn’t focus solely on students’ needs, as it offers many different financial services.
Here are some things to think about when thinking about applying for a loan from Citizens:
- Citizens doesn’t have banking locations nationwide. If you want in-person financial assistance, you need to live or go to school near a Citizens Bank branch. They are located in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
- Citizens imposes limits on student loan amounts. Each type of student or parent student loan has a maximum amount limit to the loan amount. This negative is only a cause for concern if you believe the money you need for your education will exceed the set limits.
- Citizens has some negative customer reviews. Online reviews of Citizens complain about money transfer, deposit delays, unexpected fees, and poor service. However, it’s important to note that not all negative comments relate to Citizens’ private student loans.
- Citizens doesn’t offer a flat in-school repayment option. Lenders often allow students who can’t afford interest-only payments while in school to make a small, flat monthly payment toward a loan. No matter how small a payment, it helps to offset future costs. It’s a typical standard repayment option not offered by Citizens.
Citizens: The Details
Loan Amounts and Term Lengths
Minimum loan amount: $1,000
Loan term options: 5- to 15-year terms
Multi-year approval available: Yes
Interest Rate Ranges
Fixed and variable rates available: Yes
Fixed low APR: 4.25%
Fixed high APR: 11.04%
Variable low APR: 1.24%
Variable high APR: 10.54%
In-school payment options: Full payment, interest-only payment, or no payment
Grace period: 6 months
Co-signer release available: Yes, borrowers can apply for co-signer release after 36 months
of consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest.
Loan servicer: Firstmark Services
Other Perks and Options
Interest rate discounts: 0.25% autopay discount and 0.25% loyalty discount
Other rewards or services: In-person financial services available at Citizen Bank branches around the U.S. Also, a separate parent loan is available to borrow in addition to a private student loan.
Citizens: Eligibility and Application Requirements
Income requirements: Federal laws and regulations require Citizens to request documentation and information about your and/or your co-signer’s income.
Credit score requirements: The applicant must have a reasonably good credit score or a creditworthy co-signer.
Eligibility for international borrowers: To qualify for a loan from Citizens, you must offer proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency. If you’re an international student, you can apply as long as you have a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-sign the loan with you.
Application or origination fees: No. And another perk — no loan disbursement fees, either.
Soft pull rate check availability: Yes, for loan applicants doing a preliminary “Get My Rate” interest rate estimate online and multi-year loan applicants after the first year.
Private Student Loans: Understanding Your Options
The first thing you should understand about applying for private student loans is that they are your last financial aid option, not your first. Private student loans are only meant to cover any educational costs that remain after applying for federal student aid.
The U.S. Department of Education can extend federal loans to students across the country, which have more benefits than private student loans. Some federal loans are based on financial need, while others are not. The government may also offer you subsidized student loans, which means they’ll pay your interest while you’re in school.
After you’re no longer a student, federal loans can be consolidated into one loan from a single servicer. The government also extends public service loan forgiveness to some borrowers. To determine what type of federal aid you qualify for, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
After it’s been reviewed, you or your student may be awarded financial aid. If these loans don’t cover all educational costs, and all other avenues, such as scholarships, have been exhausted, it’s time to consider applying for a private student loan. This is when Citizens can step in to help students achieve their goals.
Is Citizens Right for You?
If you’ve exhausted all federal aid options, it’s time to consider if Citizens is right for you. Are you a student who still needs more money to cover college expenses? Or a parent who wants to help their child further their education without an undue burden? A Citizens Bank Private Student Loan may be the answer.
While there may not be a Citizens Bank branch near you, agents are always available to help online via live chat, by email, or over the phone. The simple application process can help you get the funding you need quickly. Citizens also simplifies things further if you apply for multi-year loan approval. And you don’t have to worry about being locked into anything; there’s no pressure to borrow everything you qualify for. It’s OK if your plans change.
Citizens Could Be a Good Option for You If:
- You want to defer loan payments while in school, for up to eight years.
- You want to conduct loan services in person with a real, live agent.
- You want flexible repayment options that take your financial situation into account.
- You want to help your student finance their education with a parent loan.
- You want competitive rates, interest rate discounts, and no disbursement fees.
Citizens could also be a good option if you or your co-signer already has a qualifying account with this financial institution. Citizens rewards loyalty, so you can receive a 0.25% discount off your loan’s interest rate right from the start with one of these qualifying accounts:
- Checking account
- Savings account
- Money market account
- Certificate of deposit
- Automobile loan
- Home equity loan
- Home equity line of credit
- Credit card account
- Other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A.
At some point, you’ll need to start paying off your student loans, so it’s important to know what Citizens has to offer when it comes to repayment and refinancing. Payments can be made while a student is enrolled in school or deferred until six months post-graduation.
Borrowers choose the length of their repayment period, depending on their budget. The term can be for five, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years. Citizens doesn’t assess any penalties for prepayment, paying more than the monthly payment, or paying off the entire loan amount early.
To simplify the payment process, you’ll most likely want to refinance your student loans. Citizens offers refinancing for both students and parents with no extra fees to do so. When you refinance, you combine loans into a new loan, which helps you to:
- Reduce your monthly payment
- Lower your interest rate
- Remove a co-signer
- Make one monthly payment
You can save time and money when you refinance your private and federal student loans with Citizens. Their borrowers save an average of $3,168 per year after refinancing. To be eligible for refinancing, you must have at least $10,000 in student loans.
If a student has left school without a degree or an associate degree, the loans can’t be refinanced until at least 12 payments have been made. The maximum amount to refinance for a bachelor’s degree or below is $300,000. The limit for graduate degrees is $500,000. The application for a Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan is fast and easy. It can be completed online in just 15 minutes.
Taking all the different factors into account, Citizens may or may not be the right fit for you. At CollegeFinance.com, we help students assess all of their loan options. With our reviews, you can make a more informed decision about financial aid. Need further advice about student loans, scholarships, or refinancing? Explore more of our articles and guides today.