Citizens Bank Student Loans Review

Citizens Bank offers a variety of in-school loans and refinancing options to undergraduates, graduates, and parents

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Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank

Investopedia’s Rating
4.5

Our Take

Citizens Bank offers a variety of in-school student loans with multi-year approval, streamlining the process for undergraduate and graduate students. It also provides student loan refinancing to qualifying borrowers, even if you didn’t graduate with your degree.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Multi-year approval on student loans

  • Interest rate discounts

  • Co-signer release

  • Available to international students

  • Refinancing doesn’t require a degree

Cons
  • No option to pre-qualify for in-school loans

  • Lifetime borrowing limits

Key Takeaways
  • Founded in the late 1800s, Rhode Island-based Citizens Bank provides in-school student loans and student loan refinancing to qualifying borrowers. 
  • Citizens student loans don’t come with origination or application fees, but they do have lifetime borrowing limits that vary based on your degree type. 
  • Citizens Bank’s multi-year approval option means you can apply once for your entire program—you won’t have to submit a full application every year. 
  • While Citizens lets you check your refinancing rates through pre-qualification, you’ll have to submit a full application to see your in-school student loan offers.
Company Overview

With roots tracing back to 1828, Citizens Bank, now known simply as Citizens, offers a variety of financial services and products. Its more than 1,200 branches are concentrated in New England and the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions, but Citizens funds student loans and student loan refinances in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. 

Citizens Bank’s rare multi-year approval option lets you apply for multiple years of funding all at once. You must attend an eligible school to qualify, and international students can borrow if they apply with a U.S.-based co-signer. 

Citizens doesn’t exclude non-graduates from refinancing their student debt, allowing you to refinance without a degree as long as you meet other loan requirements.

  • Year Founded 1828
  • Official Website www.citizensbank.com
  • Loans Offered Undergraduate, Graduate, Parent, Refinance
  • Customer Service Phone: (888) 411-0266. Live chat

Citizens Bank Student Loans: Quick Look

Loan Type Variable APR  Fixed APR 
Undergraduate loan 4.89%–13.71% 4.99%–13.46%
Graduate loan  5.54%–14.52%  5.99%–14.24% 
Parent loan  6.63%–13.32%  7.13%–13.02% 
Law school loan  5.54%–11.80%  5.99%–11.51% 
MBA school loan  5.54%–11.80%  5.99%–11.51% 
Medical school loan  5.79%–9.89%  5.99%–9.63% 
Medical residency loan  7.64%–10.83% 6.97%–10.07% 
Dental school loan  5.79%–9.89%  5.99%-9.63% 
Bar exam loan  8.65%–13.65%  7.38%–12.81% 

Before borrowing a private student loan, it’s a good idea to shop around with multiple lenders. Our list of the best private student loans can help you find a competitive rate. 

Pros Explained

  • Multi-year approval on student loans: Citizens may allow you to apply for all the funding you need upfront. When the next year rolls around, you can easily confirm your details without having to go through the full application process again. 
  • Interest rate discounts: Citizens offers a 0.25% rate cut for autopay and an additional 0.25% loyalty discount for customers with an existing Citizens checking, savings, or loan account. 
  • Co-signer release: You can apply to release a co-signer from your loan after 36 months of on-time consecutive payments. 
  • Available to international students: Citizens provides student loans to international students as long as they apply with a co-signer who’s a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. 
  • Refinancing doesn’t require a four-year degree: While some lenders require that you have completed your degree to refinance student loans, Citizens lets you refinance even if you didn’t graduate or if you hold an associate’s degree. 

Cons Explained

  • No option to pre-qualify for in-school loans: Some lenders let you check your rates with no impact on your credit score, but Citizens doesn’t offer online pre-qualification for its in-school loans. You’ll need to submit a full application to see your rates. 
  • Lifetime borrowing limits: The aggregate limits are $150,000 for undergraduate and graduate students, $225,000 for law and MBA students, and $180,000 or $350,000 for healthcare degrees, depending on the degree. This limit includes federal loans and private student loans from other lenders. 

Student Loans Offered by Citizens Bank

Undergraduate Student Loans 

If you’re an undergraduate, it’s usually a good idea to max out your eligibility for federal student loans before turning to a private lender. But if you need additional funding, a Citizens student loan could fill the gap. 

You can borrow up to your school’s cost of attendance as long as your aggregate loan balance doesn’t exceed $150,000. Citizens loans don’t have origination, disbursement, or prepayment fees. 

Plus, you may qualify for multi-year approval, making the process of applying simple and easy in future years. On a Citizens student loan, you can choose between a fixed and variable interest rate.

Terms for Undergraduate Loans
Variable APR 4.89%–13.71% APR
Fixed APR  4.99%–13.46% 
Loan amounts  $1,000–cost of attendance 
Loan terms  5–15 years 

Graduate Student Loans 

Citizens also funds graduate school loans, with certain limits, for students enrolled in qualifying schools. 

Terms for Graduate Loans
Variable APR 5.54%–14.52%
Fixed APR  5.99%–14.24% 
Loan amounts  $1,000–$150,000 
Loan terms  5–15 years 

Parent Loans

If you’re the parent of a student, you can borrow a loan from Citizens to help pay for their education. You can’t postpone payments completely, but you can make interest-only payments while your child is in school.

Terms for Parent Loans
Variable APR 6.63%–13.32%
Fixed APR  7.13%–13.02% 
Loan amounts  $1,000–$150,000
Loan terms  5–10 years 

Law School Loans 

If you’re studying to become a lawyer, Citizens will fund your degree up to $225,000.

Terms for Law School Loans
Variable APR 5.54%–11.80%
Fixed APR  5.99%–11.51%
Loan amounts  $1,000–$225,000 
Loan terms  5–15 years 

MBA Loans 

Like law students, MBA students can borrow up to $225,000 from Citizens.

Terms for MBA Loans
Variable APR 5.54%–11.80%
Fixed APR  5.99%–11.51% 
Loan amounts  $1,000–$225,000 
Loan terms  5–15 years 

Medical School Loans 

Medical school students can borrow an even greater amount from Citizens, though the limits depend on the degree. The aggregate limit is $350,000 for the following degrees: 

  • MD
  • DMD/DDS
  • OD
  • DO
  • DPM
  • PharmD
  • DVM

For these degrees, the limits max out at $180,000:

  • Cardiac perfusion
  • Chiropractic
  • Cytotechnology
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Occupational therapist
  • Physical therapist
  • Physician assistant
Terms for Medical School Loans
Variable APR 5.79%–9.89%
Fixed APR  5.99%-9.63% 
Loan amounts  $1,000–$180,000 or $350,000 
Loan terms  5–15 years 

Medical Residency Loans

Medical students can borrow up to $20,000 from Citizens to cover their costs while in residency.

Terms for Medical Residency Loans
Variable APR 7.64%–10.83%
Fixed APR  6.97%–10.08% 
Loan amounts  $1,000–$20,000 
Loan terms  5–10 years 

Dental School Loans 

If you’re pursuing a dental degree, Citizens offers large loan amounts at competitive rates. 

Terms for Dental School Loans
Variable APR 5.79%–9.89%
Fixed APR  5.99%–9.63% 
Loan amounts  $1,000–$350,000 
Loan terms  5–15 years 

Bar Study Loans

If you’re studying for the bar exam, you could cover costs with a Citizens bar exam loan up to $16,000.

Terms for Bar Exam Loans
Variable APR 8.65%–13.65%
Fixed APR  7.38%–12.81% 
Loan amounts  $1,000–$16,000 
Loan terms  5–10 years 

Loan Eligibility and Approval

To borrow a student loan from Citizens, you must meet the following eligibility requirements: 

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (or apply with a co-signer who is) 
  • Be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible institution 
  • Have good credit (or apply with a creditworthy co-signer) 
  • Be the age of majority in your state 
  • Not have a history of student loan default 

Citizens doesn’t disclose its minimum credit and income requirements. If you can’t qualify on your own, adding a co-signer to your application could help. 

Are Co-Signers Required?

Co-signers are not required for domestic students, but, as mentioned, they could help you qualify with a better rate. Co-signers are required for international students, however. If you’re an international student, you must apply with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who can meet Citizens Bank’s underwriting requirements. 

Is Loan Pre-Qualification Available?

Loan pre-qualification is not available for in-school loans. You’ll need to submit a full application and consent to a hard credit check to see your offers. However, loan pre-qualification is available for student loan refinancing. You can check your rates online in a couple of minutes with a few basic personal details and a soft credit inquiry. 

Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement

On average, Citizens takes between two and four weeks to process your application and disburse your loan. In some circumstances, it can make an immediate decision on your application. If the decision is not immediate, you’ll usually get an answer within three to five business days. 

Loan Fees and Repayment Options

Loan Fees

Citizens does not charge an origination, administrative, application, or disbursement fee. You also won’t be subject to any penalties for paying off your student loans early. 

If you fall behind on payments or a check bounces, however, you could face the following fees: 

  • Late fee: 5% of the payment amount 
  • Returned payment fee: $15

Loan Discounts

Citizens will provide a 0.25% interest rate discount if you set up automatic payments on your student loans. It also offers an additional 0.25% loyalty discount to customers with an existing Citizens checking, savings, or loan account. 

Repayment Options

When you borrow a Citizens Bank student loan, you have three options for paying it back: 

  • Deferred payments: You can postpone payments while you’re in school and for six months after you graduate or leave school. Interest will accrue on your loans during this time, so your balance will grow if you choose this option. 
  • Interest-only payments: If you opt for this approach, you’ll pay off the interest that accrues on your balance while you’re in school. You won’t make a dent in your principal balance, but it won’t grow larger by the time you graduate and start making full payments. 
  • Immediate repayment: With this option, you’d start making full payments toward the principal balance and interest charges right away. 

Loan terms range from 5 to 15 years for in-school loans and from 5 to 20 years for student loan refinance. 

Loan Forbearance and Discharge Options

Citizens offers hardship forbearance if you’re having trouble paying your loans. If you lose your job or run into financial issues, the bank may agree to temporarily pause payments. 

Is Student Loan Refinancing Available?

Citizens offers student loan refinancing to both students and parents with variable APRs from 5.39% to 11.98% and fixed rates from 5.39% to 11.87%. You can refinance $10,000 to $300,000, or up to $500,000 if you hold a graduate degree. 

Repayment terms range from 5 to 20 years, and there are no application, origination, or disbursement fees. Unlike its in-school loans, Citizens gives you the option to pre-qualify for student loan refinancing online, meaning you can check your rates with no impact on your credit score. 

The bank also allows you to refinance student loans without a bachelor’s degree. If you earned an associate’s or left school before getting your degree, you can still qualify for refinancing, as long as you meet criteria for credit and income and have made at least 12 qualifying payments on your loans after leaving school. Not all lenders allow this, so this could make Citizens a great choice for some borrowers.

As with its in-school loans, Citizens offers interest rate discounts on refinanced loans—0.25% for signing up for autopay and 0.25% if you’re an existing customer. 

Customer Service

If you have questions about Citizens student loans, you can connect with a customer service representative via live web chat on the Citizens website. You can also call the bank’s student borrowing team at (888) 411-0266. 

If you borrow from Citizens, you’ll pay your loan back through its loan servicing partner, Firstmark Services. You can call Firstmark at (888) 538-7378 Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time, or send a message online. 

Applying for a Citizens Bank Student Loan 

You can apply for a Citizens student loan online. You’ll fill in personal information about yourself and your school, as well as upload verifying documentation, such as proof of income. 

Here’s some of the information you’ll need to provide: 

  • Name, address, phone number, email 
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Recent pay stub or other proof of income
  • Monthly housing payment
  • Employer information
  • Name of your school and cost of attendance 
  • Co-signer name and information, if applicable 

After you apply, Citizens will review your information and check your credit. If your application is approved, the bank will show you loan offers. You can select a loan term and interest rate type and sign your loan agreement. Citizens will send the funds to your school, which will apply them to your tuition bill. If there’s any amount left over, it will be sent to you to use on living expenses. 

Before applying for a private loan with Citizens or any other lender, make sure to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA opens the door to federal financial aid, which includes grants, work study, and fixed-rate student loans. 

Alternative Choices

  Citizens Bank Discover  MEFA 
Loan types offered Undergraduate; graduate; parent; professional; medical; bar study Undergraduate; graduate; parent; professional  Undergraduate; graduate; medical; bootcamp
Undergraduate fixed APR  4.99%–13.46%  5.49%–14.99%  4.89%–6.99% 
Undergraduate variable APR  4.89%–13.71%  5.87%–15.12%  N/A 
Origination/administrative fee  None  None None 
Repayment options  Deferment; interest-only; full payment  Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment  Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment 
Refinancing available  Yes  Yes  Yes 

Final Verdict

Citizens offers a variety of student loans at competitive rates to undergraduates, graduates, professionals, and parents. Whether you’re pursuing your bachelor’s, master’s, MBA, or another degree, you can find a funding option through Citizens. 

Its multi-year approval option streamlines the application process, allowing you to get the funds you need quickly throughout your time in school. The bank might also be a good choice for international students who are able to apply with a U.S.-based co-signer. 

At the same time, Citizens doesn’t let you pre-qualify for a student loan, meaning you’ll have to submit a full application to see your rates. Some other lenders let you pre-qualify on their websites, making it easier to check your rates without dinging your credit score.

Trying to shop around? Check out our picks for the best student loan lenders, many of which do allow you to pre-qualify.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected thousands of data points across 30 lenders—including loan types, interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that we help readers 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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