March 12, 2018

Citizens Bank Student Loans Review

This article contains references to products from our partners. We may receive compensation if you apply or shop through links in our content. You help support CreditDonkey by reading our website and using our links. (read more)

If you've exhausted your federal loan options and still need money for school, private loans may help. Citizens Bank claims to offer the lowest rates and best fees in the industry.

© CreditDonkey

As one of the oldest banks in the industry, Citizens Bank has a lot to offer college students and parents. They are known for simple solutions at affordable prices. They also have a reputation for promoting stability and hassle-free financing options.

Citizens Bank offers private student loans for undergraduates, graduates, and parents. They also offer student loan debt consolidation programs to help you make your loans more affordable.

Citizens Bank claims to have the student and their parents' best interests in mind, as they provide a multitude of resources on their website to help families get ahead of their debt.

Keep reading to see our review on this popular student loan provider.

The Citizens Bank Programs

Citizens Bank offers a variety of programs for students and not just undergrads, although that tends to be one of their more popular products. Following are the products they offer:

Undergrad Student Loan

The Citizens Bank Student Loan provides private student loans up to $100,000. This does not include any federal loans you may be eligible to receive. Including the federal loans, you could borrow up to $150,000 over your entire undergrad career.

In order to be eligible, you must be enrolled in school at least half-time. If you want to apply on your own, you must have reached the age of majority in your state. If not, you will need a co-signer. However, even if you are of majority age and you don't have any credit or good credit, you'll need a co-signer on the loan.

Citizens Bank does allow borrowers to make interest-only payments right away and while still in school. However, you do have the option to defer the payments, letting interest accrue, until you graduate.

Graduate Student Loan

If you decide to continue in school after your first four years, Citizens Bank offers private loans for graduate students. They are not intended for a specific degree or program - you can use the funds for any post-graduate school.

The largest difference with the Graduate Student Loan is the ability to defer the loan for up to 8 years if you are still in school. Just like the undergrad loan, interest will accrue, but you do not have to make any payments if you are unable to while you remain enrolled.

Graduate students can borrow up to a total of $110,000 for graduate school from Citizens Bank over their lifetime. They can also borrow an additional $40,000 with federal loans, which gives them a total of $150,000 for graduate school.

Students attending MBA or law school can obtain $180,000 from Citizens Bank and an additional $45,000 from the federal loans.

Students in medical school can borrow as much as $150,000 - $295,000 from Citizens Bank and as much as $180,000 - $350,000 from the federal government.

Parent Loan

Citizens Bank also offers a parent loan option for parents who want to help their children pay for college. This loan has the same favorable terms and promotions.

Citizens Bank claims to offer a lower rate for parents than they would receive from the Federal Direct Plus Loan. However, keep in mind that this takes into account the discounts Citizens Bank offers for automatic payments and for having another account (checking or savings) with Citizens Bank.

The funds from the Parent loan are disbursed directly to you, the parents, rather than the school. Just like the student loans, parents can opt to make interest-only payments at first, waiting to make full payments until their child is out of school.


Citizens Bank is unique in the fact that they offer both student loans to get through school as well as student refinance loans.

They advertise low interest rates, flexible terms, and the ability to consolidate both private and federal student loans.

In order to qualify, you'll need to be out of college, be able to prove your income, and have a solid payment history on your student loans.

The minimum amount of student debt you may refinance is $5,000, and you can refinance up to $90,000 if you are an undergrad and $225,000 if you have a graduate degree.

Before you consolidate any federal student loans, make sure you understand the benefits you'll eliminate. If you are eligible for any repayment plans or loan forgiveness options, you forgo them if you refinance the loan into a private loan.

Who Benefits from Citizens Bank's Loans?

© COD Newsroom (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Borrowers with good or even great credit do best with Citizens Bank. If you are looking for loans to pay for college, they offer low cost options that often rival the federal government's rates, but without any of the upfront fees. This may save you a few thousand dollars.

However, borrowers with average credit may not qualify, leaving them with the federal government loans or other private lenders as their only option. The good news is that there is no application, credit report, or processing fee. You can apply for the loan and if you get turned down, you can just move on without paying the price.

Reasons Why We Like Citizens Bank Student Loans

  • Minimal fees: With no application or processing fees, Citizens Bank makes it easy for any student to apply. If you do take their loan, you won't pay any origination fees, which can help lower the total cost of the loan.

  • No prepayment penalty: You are free to pay the loan however you want, as long as you meet the minimum required payments. If you want to make extra payments at any time, you are more than welcome to do so. This can minimize the total interest you pay for the loan.

  • Multi-year approval: You can obtain approval for your entire undergraduate or graduate career at once. This means less hassle very year as you apply for new loans and try to get the funds you need. This can provide peace of mind knowing you won't find yourself without funds halfway through your college career.

  • Flexible payment options: Citizens Bank provides the option of a 5-, 10-, or 15-year term. The 5-year term gives you access to the lowest interest rates. The 15-year term has the lowest payment, but the highest total cost over the life of the loan.

  • Direct disbursement to your school: Citizens Bank will send the money you qualify to receive directly to your school of choice. This can take some of the pressure off you to get your tuition, books, and room/board paid on time. It also eliminates the risk of borrowing more than you need.

  • Reduced interest rates: You can secure interest rate deductions if you have a qualifying Citizens Bank account already or if you set up automatic payments. Both situations provide you with a 0.25% discount.

  • Refinance eligibility even if you don't finish school: Many student loan refinance programs only apply to you if you obtained a degree. Citizens Bank does allow the refinance of student loans if you didn't finish school. However, you must prove that you made least 12 on-time monthly payments towards your debt before you apply.

Reasons You May Want to Look Elsewhere

  • You don't have great credit: Citizens Bank is known for their high credit score requirements. While they don't specify the minimum credit score, many people say they turn you away unless you have at least a 700 credit score. This could be why they highly encourage co-signers on their loans.

  • Pushing for a co-signer: As we stated above, Citizens Bank brings up the need for a co-signer a lot. This doesn't mean they won't approve loans that don't have a co-signer, but your chances are certainly better with one. If you don't have one, you may be better off at another lender.

  • Mandatory 36 months for co-signer release: You cannot apply for a co-signer release on your loan until you make 36 on-time payments. This means full payments; interest-only payments don't count. Citizens Bank still doesn't guarantee the co-signer release after this time, though. They require you to prove your income and credit score for approval.

  • No deferment or forbearance options: If you lose your job after entering the repayment period, Citizens Bank doesn't provide any type of assistance or relief. This could cause you to damage your credit and/or get in over your head.

The Application Process

Applying for a student loan or student loan refinance with Citizens Bank is easy. You can apply right on their website with just a little bit of information.

Aside from the standard personal identifying information, such as your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number, you'll need to provide:

  • Information about the school you plan to attend or did attend, including the cost
  • Your intended graduation date or date of graduation for refinance
  • Information about any financial aid you already have
  • Proof of your income over the last 60 days (if you have income)
  • Amount of money you need
  • Personal reference for student borrowers

Your entire application and subsequent loan, if you are approved, are handled online. You log into your portal and you'll see everything you need right there on your dashboard.

Working online is great, but there are just some times that you need someone on the phone. Citizens Bank offers 24/7 phone customer support.

Call 1-800-922-9999 any time of day or night

Once you are a client, they also offer email support directly through your portal.

How It Compares

  • Discover: Citizens Bank offers many more options than Discover Bank Student Loans. With only a 15-year term and no option to release a co-signer, Citizens Bank has more flexible options to offer.

  • Wells Fargo: Citizens Bank and Wells Fargo are similar in their offerings. Wells Fargo doesn't charge upfront fees and advertises low interest rates; however, these rates include discounts you may or may not be eligible to receive. Wells Fargo does release co-signers after 24-48 months based on approval.

  • SunTrust: With a choice of a 7-, 10-, or 15-year term, interest rate discounts, and the ability to release a co-signer after 36 months, SunTrust is another viable option. They do offer a few more repayment options, including partial interest payments, while you are in school to help you stay ahead of the interest before you even graduate.

Bottom Line

Before you take out any student loans, try exhausting your options for scholarships, grants, and federal student loans first.

Once you know how much money you still need, you can turn to private student loans from a bank like Citizens Bank or one of the other top private student lending institutions. Before you accept a loan, make sure to read the terms carefully. Understand your prepayment options and the requirements to release a co-signer. This will help you take the option that will do you well not only now, but down the road as well.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy financial decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

More from CreditDonkey:

Pay Off Student Loans Fast

Best Student Loan Refinance

How Do Student Loans Work

More Articles in Reviews


LendKey Review

Saving thousands of dollars on your student loans sounds perfect, and that's just what LendKey promises. Is it the real deal, though?
More Articles in Reviews

About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a student loan comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy financial decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.