If you’re searching for a private student loan, or you want to refinance your student debt, you might be considering Citizens Bank. Citizens Bank is one of the most traditional, brick-and-mortar lenders in the industry. Founded in 1828, the company ranks as one of the country’s largest lenders for student loans. But that doesn’t mean Citizens Bank private student loans are necessarily your best choice.
Before you sign a promissory note for a private student loan, make sure you understand the fine print. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Citizens Bank private student loans so you can make an informed decision. We’ll also provide some valuable alternatives to Citizens Bank private student loans.
What Are Citizens Bank Private Student Loans?
Citizens Bank issues new student loans for undergraduate students, graduate students, and parents. The bank also offers student loan refinancing.
Citizens Bank has unique options and limitations that make it different from other lenders. That means Citizens Bank student loans are good for some borrowers but bad for others.
The bank offers relatively low starting APRs, as well as several repayment options. Citizens Bank also provides a unique multi-year approval service that can save you the time and hassle of filling out an application each year.
However, Citizens Bank limits the amount you can borrow (usually to $150,000, although there are higher limits for some graduate students). Many other lenders allow students and parents to borrow up to 100% of their Cost of Attendance.
Citizens Bank private student loans also favor borrowers with very high credit, which excludes most college students without cosigners.
Additionally, Citizens Bank doesn’t offer the most competitive rates on their student loans or refinancing options.
Alternatives to Citizens Bank Private Student Loans
If you want more competitive rates or a more flexible lender, you might have to look towards lenders other than Citizens Bank. While the company does offer the reliability of a well-established company, it may not have all the options you need and want from a lender.
We’ll go more into detail about what you can expect with a Citizens Bank private student loan, and with Citizens Bank loan refinancing. However, keep in mind that banks like Citizens Bank aren’t your only option. Many lenders offer higher limits and more flexible rates.
Below are our trusted lenders, who are worth checking out if you don’t find the options you need with Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Private Student Loan Interest Rates
Citizens Bank has specific rates for private student loans and for refinancing loans.
Your Citizens Bank loan might have a fixed interest rate, which means it will remain the same over the life of your loan.
As of October 2019, fixed interest rates for Citizens Bank private student loans range from 4.72% to 12.04%.
For loan refinancing, Citizens Bank’s fixed rates range from 3.45% to 9.49%.
With a variable interest rate, your rate is subject to change over time. But you might be able to get a lower rate at the beginning of your term.
As of October 2019, Citizens Bank’s variable interest rates for private student loans range from 3.15% to 11.26%.
For loan refinancing, Citizens Bank’s variable rates range from 2.25% to 9.24%.
Citizens Bank private student loans and refinance loans favor borrowers with excellent credit. If your credit is only average (or less), you’ll pay significantly more in interest than you would with many other private lenders.
How Much Can You Borrow with Citizens Bank?
The amount you can borrow with Citizens Bank depends on the type of loan. New student loans have an upper limit of $150,000 to $350,000. If you’re refinancing your student debt, you can borrow up to $300,000 or $500,000.
Citizens Bank Private Student Loan Limits
Citizens Bank private student loans are available to undergraduate students, graduate students, and parents. Unlike many other student loan lenders, Citizens Bank limits the amount to a specific figure, rather than relying solely on your school’s Cost of Attendance.
- The minimum amount you can borrow, in all of these categories, is $1,000. The maximum amount you can borrow ranges from $150,000 to $350,000.
- Undergraduate students can borrow a maximum of $150,000 with Citizens Bank.
- Graduate students can borrow a maximum of $150,000 with Citizens Bank, as well.
- BA and Law students can borrow up to $225,000 with Citizens Bank.
- Healthcare students can borrow up to $180,000 or $350,000, depending on the specific degree.
- Parents can borrow up to $350,000.
Citizens Bank Refinancing Limits
The upper limits of a refinance loan from Citizens Bank is significantly higher: you can refinance a maximum of either $300,000 or $500,000, depending on your degree.
Citizens Bank also lets you refinance loans if you left school, but you have to make 12 qualifying payments on your original loans, first.
The minimum amount you can refinance with Citizens Bank is $10,000.
If you have a bachelor’s degree or less, you can refinance up to $300,000 with Citizens Bank.
If you have a graduate or professional degree, you can refinance up to $500,000 with Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Private Student Loans: Pros and Cons
One of the best ways to judge whether a lender is right for you is by looking at its pros and cons. Citizens Bank is similar to other banks and lenders in many ways, but it also has several unique benefits and drawbacks.
Citizens Bank offers a “multi-year approval” option for private student loans. With just one application, you can be approved for a bulk sum (up to the maximum) to put towards multiple years of college.
For example, if you’re entering an undergrad program, you can apply for a loan that will help pay for all four years of study.
This is one of the most unique benefits of Citizens Bank, since it’s not offered elsewhere. It can save you time by cutting down on applications, and help you know where your money is coming from. It can also help you avoid unnecessary hard credit checks.
You still have to contact Citizens Bank to request more funds each year.
High refinancing limit.
If you have six figures of student loan debt, it can be difficult to find loan refinancing for the full amount. Citizens Bank offers one of the highest refinancing limits available at $300,000 to $500,000.
However, you have to have at least $10,000 in student loan debt to refinance with Citizens Bank at all.
If you can’t qualify for a loan with your own credit, you might apply with the help of a cosigner. But the cosigner doesn’t have to stay on board for the full loan term. After you make 36 qualifying payments, Citizens Bank lets you apply for cosigner release.
Releasing your cosigner will improve their debt-to-income ratio, and it will help you take full responsibility for your student loan debt.
Citizens Bank is a well-established company that has been around for over a century. With a traditional bank, you can feel certain about where you money is coming from, and that the company knows what they’re doing.
However, that often means that you’ll pay extra for in-person, brick-and-mortar customer service systems that you won’t necessarily use.
Hard to qualify.
Citizens Bank is a traditional lender, and its eligibility requirements reflect that.
To qualify for a loan with Citizens Bank, you need good credit or a cosigner with good credit. And, if you want to qualify for a competitive interest rate on your loan, you need excellent credit.
You or your cosigner also need to show earnings of at least $24,000 per year. If you need a private student loan without a cosigner, we have options for you.
Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible. If you have a social security number and are over the age of majority (usually 18), you can apply on your own. But resident aliens need a cosigner to complete an application.
Additionally, federal loans that are on an income-driven repayment plan can’t be refinanced with Citizens Bank.
Possibly the biggest drawback of Citizens Bank private student loans—and refinance loans—is their price tag.
Citizens Bank doesn’t offer the most competitive interest rates, even if you have excellent credit. An excellent credit score can earn a much lower rate with many other lenders.
No unemployment protection.
Finding employment after you graduate is no easy feat. Many private student loan lenders understand that you may go through periods of unemployment after graduation. They build in deferment or forbearance options that let you put payments on pause for a few months to avoid going into default.
Citizens Bank does not offer any unemployment protections. If you find yourself unable to make your monthly student loan payments, you could face loan default. If you have a cosigner, they could become responsible for repaying your loan.
No death or disability protections.
Similarly, Citizens Bank offers no protections for disability or death. Many lenders offer loan discharge options in the event of total and permanent disability or death.
If you choose Citizens Bank or another lender who does not offer this type of protection, you need to take extra precautions. For example, you’ll want to make sure you have insurance in place to cover your debts in the event of permanent disability or death.
No partial interest repayment or fixed repayment.
Most private student loan lenders offer four repayment options:
- Immediate repayment (you start repaying your loan as soon as it’s disbursed, while you’re still in school);
- Interest-only repayment (you start repaying your loan while you’re still in school, but only pay the interest as it accrues);
- Partial interest repayment (you pay a set rate each month while you’re still in school, which is less than a full interest payment);
- Deferred repayment (you don’t pay anything while you’re in school, but interest accrues the whole time).
Citizens Bank offers options 1, 2, and 4, but not option 3. That means that if you want to make payments on your loan while you’re still in school, those payments may be significantly higher than with other lenders.
However, if you choose option 1 or 2, you’ll prevent interest from accruing while you’re in school and save money in the long-run.
Low borrowing limit.
The final drawback of Citizens Bank private student loans is the bank’s borrowing limits. Most private student loan lenders allow students to borrow up to their remaining Cost of Attendance. Anything that isn’t covered by scholarships and grants, federal work-study, and federal student loans, you can get covered by a single private loan.
But Citizens Bank limits the total amount you can borrow to $150,000 for undergrads and $180,000, $225,000, or $350,000 for graduate students, professional students, and parents. For many, this amount will be enough to cover education expenses. If it’s not, you’ll have to turn to another lender to make up the difference.
Bottom Line: Who Should Consider Citizens Bank Private Student Loans?
Citizens Bank private student loans and loan refinancing offer some unique benefits, like multi-year approval. But the well-established lender also favors highly creditworthy borrowers, which can rule out many college students and graduates.
If you have very high credit, or your cosigner is willing to stick with you throughout the term of the loan to maintain a relatively low interest rate, Citizens Bank may be a viable option. But if you have average credit, poor credit, or no credit at all, you’ll find better interest rates and protections elsewhere.
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Student Debt Relief Loan Refinancing Advertiser Disclosure
College Ave: College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. (1)The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as the borrower or cosigner, if applicable, enrolls in auto-pay and authorizes our loan servicer to automatically deduct your monthly payments from a valid bank account via Automated Clearing House (“ACH”). The rate reduction applies for as long as the monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during periods of forbearance and certain deferments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. (2)$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees. (3)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 1/27/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
ELFI: Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. To qualify for refinancing or student loans consolidation through ELFI, you must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt and must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved post-secondary institution.
LendKey: Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
CommonBond: Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate.
Splash Financial: Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval.com
Earnest: To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest’s fixed-rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with autopay) to 7.89% APR (with autopay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with autopay) to 7.27% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms of 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 0.26% and 5.03% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 23, 2019 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay Discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/23/19. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice.
Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 303 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
Ascent: Ascent’s undergraduate and graduate student are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 9/1/2023 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.
*The minimum amount is $2,001 except for the state of Massachusetts. Minimum loan amount for borrowers with a Massachusetts permanent address is $6,001.