Citizens Bank Student Loans Review

This lender lacks some tech-friendly qualities, but offers some unique features.

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Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank

Our Take

Citizens Bank offers low interest rates and multi-year approvals, and has one of the lowest loan minimums so you can borrow only the amount you need for school. You can borrow up to $150,000 for your undergraduate education and have up to 15 years to repay your loan.

  • Key Takeaways
  • Pros and Cons
  • Company Overview
Key Takeaways
  • Citizens Bank offers undergraduate, graduate, and parent student loans
  • You can choose between immediate repayment, interest only repayment, and deferred repayment plans
  • Lifetime aggregate limits (including both federal and private student loan debt) apply
  • Citizens Bank offers multi-year approval for some borrowers
  • Cosigners can qualify for release after 36 months of consecutive, on-time payments
  • Citizens Bank also offers student loan refinancing
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Multi-year approval available

  • Offers loyalty discount

  • Co-signer release available

  • Bar study and residency loans available

Cons
  • No pre-qualification available

  • No flat in-school repayment option

  • Not as tech-forward as other lenders

Company Overview
  • Year Founded 1828
  • Official Website www.citizensbank.com
  • Loans Offered Undergraduate, Graduate, Parent, Refinance
  • Customer Service By phone: 1-800-600-0008, M-Fri 8:00 AM - 9:00 PM, Sat 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM, Sun 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Citizens One is the national lending division of Citizens Bank, one of the oldest and largest financial institutions in the U.S. Citizens One offers a variety of financing—home, auto, and personal loans—but one of its best-known areas is its student loans and refinancing.

Pros Explained

  • Multi-year approval available: Most student loan lenders require you to fill out a new application every year for financial aid. After freshman year, Citizens One allows you to apply for several subsequent years in advance, saving time and avoiding subsequent hard credit inquiries. Citizens will conduct a soft credit inquiry each year before releasing additional funds to ensure you continue to meet their criteria.
  • Offers loyalty discount: Citizens Bank customers are eligible for a 0.25% interest rate decrease on their loan.
  • Co-signer release is available: Borrowers may apply after 36 consecutive on-time payments to free co-signers of their obligations.
  • Bar study and residency loans available: If you've already graduated, but needs funds while studying for the bar exam or during your medical residency, Citizens One offers loans at rates lower than many personal loans.

Cons Explained

  • No pre-qualification available: To find out if you qualify and what your rates would be, you'll have to submit a full application. This mandates a hard credit check, which could ding your credit score.
  • No flat in-school repayment option: Many lenders let current students—who can't afford interest-only payments but don't want to defer repayment totally—still pay a small sum monthly toward their debt, sometimes as low as $25. Citizens One doesn't allow this fairly standard option.
  • Not as tech-forward as other lenders: The website's user experience has the staleness of old-fashioned brick and mortar banks (an online chat option exists, but it's difficult to access ). Unlike other lenders who use email, texts, and chatbots, Citizens One still conducts most of its customer service by phone or in-person at their bank branches.

Citizens One Student Loans Available

Undergraduate Student Loans

Students can borrow as little as $1,000, or as much as the entire amount of their undergraduate education, up to $150,000 aggregate, whichever is lower. You can also defer payments for up to eight years, as long as you're enrolled in an accredited school program.

Variable Rates 1.21% - 10.54%
Fixed Rates 4.25% - 11.04%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 5, 10, or 15 years

Graduate Student Loans

Students enrolled at least half-time in a graduate degree program at a qualifying school are eligible for the Citizens One graduate student loan.

Variable Rates 1.39% - 10.97%
Fixed Rates 4.29% - 11.53%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 5, 10, or 15 years

Parent Loans

Parents have the option to make full or interest-only payments while their child is in school.

Variable Rates 2.16% - 7.47%
Fixed Rates 4.69% - 7.83%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 5 or 10 years

MBA Loans

Students enrolled at least half-time in a qualifying MBA program can take out up to the cost of attendance or an aggregate of $225,000 in student loans, whichever is lower.

Variable Rates 1.42% - 9.01%
Fixed Rates 4.39% - 9.27%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 5, 10, or 15 years

Health Profession Loans

Students enrolled at least half-time in a qualifying MD, DMD/DDS, OD, DO, DPM, PharmD, or DVM degree are eligible for up to an aggregate limit of up to $350,000 in loans. Cardiac perfusion, chiropractic, cytotechnology, nurse practitioner, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and physician assistant degrees are eligible for up to $180,000. 

Variable Rates 1.42% - 8.23%
Fixed Rates 4.29% - 8.49%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 5, 10, or 15 years

Law School Loans

Students enrolled at least half-time in a qualifying law degree program can take out up to the cost of attendance or an aggregate of $225,000 in financing, whichever is lower.

Variable Rates 1.42% - 9.01%
Fixed Rates 4.39% - 9.27%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 5, 10, or 15 years

Medical Residency Loans

Medical students who've graduated in the last 12 months or are in at least their second year of medical studies are eligible. You can defer repayment for up to 48 months during residency or make full or interest-only payments.

Variable Rates 3.61% - 6.83%
Fixed Rates 6.97% - 10.08%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up $20,000
Loan Terms 5 or 10 years

Bar Study Loans

Law students who've graduated in the last six months or are enrolled at least half-time at an eligible law school and are within six months of graduation are eligible to apply. You can defer repayment of the loan while in school and for up to six months after graduation.

Variable Rates 4.52% - 9.59%
Fixed Rates 7.39% - 12.81%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to $16,000
Loan Terms 5 or 10 years

Loan Eligibility

Citizens One lays out its eligibility criteria very clearly. Major qualifications include:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • International students without a U. S. Social Security number must have a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer
  • You must be enrolled at least half time in a degree program at an eligible school
  • You must have good credit or have a qualified co-signer
  • You must have attained the age of majority in the state you reside or have a co-signer
  • You must have no prior student loan defaults

What Citizens One deems "good credit" isn't specified, but the application does ask for income information to determine eligibility. Citizens One also states that its lowest advertised rates are available only to students with a co-signer.

Citizens One loans are available in all states.

Is Loan Prequalification Available?

Citizens One does not offer pre-qualification for student loans. That means to check your eligibility independently or with a co-signer you must fill out a full application, which places a hard inquiry on your credit.

Loan Fees

After a loan payment is 15 days past due, it's subject to a fee equal to 5% of the late payment. Otherwise, there are no application, origination, disbursement, or prepayment fees on any Citizens One student loan.

Loan Discounts

If the borrower or their co-signer has a qualifying account with Citizens Bank at the time their application is submitted they're eligible for a 0.25% interest rate reduction on their loan. Qualifying accounts include any checking, savings, money market accounts, credit card, certificates of deposit, or any loans owned by Citizens Bank.

There's also a 0.25% interest rate deduction for enrolling in auto-pay. Both discounts are included in Citizens One's advertised rates.

You can reduce your interest rate by up to 0.50% through autopay and loyalty discounts

Repayment Options

Citizens One offers three in-school payment options:

  • Full deferment
  • Interest-only payments
  • Full payments (both interest and principal)

Note: Parent loans are not eligible for deferment while the student is in school. There is a six-month grace period on all private student loans.

Borrowers can choose between loan terms of 5, 10, and 15 years for student loans, and 5 or 10 years for parent loans and residency or bar study loans.  

Are Co-Signers Required?

A co-signer isn't required for a Citizens One student loan, if the applicant has a strong credit history, though a co-signer can help the student qualify for a lower interest rate.

Borrowers with a co-signer can apply for the latter's release after making 36 consecutive, on-time, full minimum payments. However, students who applied for their loans before they reached their state's age of majority may not be able to drop their co-signer.

Forbearance and Loan Discharge Options

Citizens One student loans are serviced through Firstmark, whose forbearance policy grants a maximum of 12 months over the life of the loan.

If the borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled, Citizens One will discharge the remainder of the loan.

Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement

You can be approved for a Citizens One student loan in as little as a few minutes. The bank disburses loans on the date determined by your school's financial aid office.

Is Student Loan Refinancing Available?

Citizens One offers refinancing options for parent and student loans, both federal and private, even if you didn't finish your degree.

If you’re considering refinancing your student loans, Citizens Bank is one of the few lenders that allows you to refinance even if you didn’t graduate from college.

You can choose from loan terms of 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years at fixed rates of 2.99% to 8.49% and variable rates of 1.99% to 8.24%.

Customer Service

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received more than 2,200 complaints about private student loan lenders in 2019. Of those, 13 were about Citizens One.

If you have a question or concern about your loan, customer service for student lending is only available by phone at 1-888-333-0256.

Applying for a Citizens One Student Loan

You can complete a student loan application online or by phone. To complete it you'll need the following information:

  • Name, address, phone number, email address
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Recent pay stub (no more than 30 days old) or other proof of income
  • Monthly housing payment
  • Employer name, phone number, and length of employment (if applicable)
  • Name of the school you plan to attend
  • Cost of attendance and any financial aid received
  • Anticipated graduation date, loan period and loan amount needed
  • Co-signer name and valid email address (if applicable)

Paying for College

Before you apply for private student loans, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA, to see what scholarship, grant, and financial aid options are available.

Once you've exhausted those options, compare rates between private student loan lenders and choose the loans that are best for you. While student loans can cover expenses like housing, books, and more, taking out the least amount possible will save you the most money in the long run.

Final Verdict

Citizens Bank is an excellent choice if you need additional money for your education expenses. With multi-year approval, you can get the cash you need for school without having to submit another application. And, the lender offers valuable interest rate discounts and competitive interest rates. However, it does have a strict aggregate loan limit. Borrowers who are enrolled in expensive programs, such as pursuing an MBA or going to medical school, will likely hit the limit and need to find another lender to get funding to finish their degree.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected over 45 data points across more than 15 lenders—including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that our content helps users make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
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  13. Citizens One. "Medical Residency Loans." Accessed Sept. 5, 2020.

  14. Citizens One. "Bar Exam Loans." Accessed Sept. 5, 2020.

  15. Citizens One. "Student Loan Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed Sept. 5, 2020.

  16. Citizens One. "Repayments." Accessed Sept. 5, 2020.

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  20. Citizens Bank. "Citizens Bank Student Loan® for Bar Study." Accessed Sept. 5, 2020.

  21. Citizens Bank. "How Long to Get Approval for a Student Loan?" Accessed Sept. 5, 2020.

  22. Citizens Bank. "Student Loan Disbursement?" Accessed Sept. 5, 2020.

  23. Citizens One. "Refinance Student Loans." Accessed Sept. 5, 2020.

  24. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Consumer Complaint Database." Accessed Sept. 5, 2020.

  25. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Consumer Complaint Database." Accessed Sept. 5, 2020.