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Citizens Bank 2022 Review: Are Its Student Loans Worth It?

Citizens Bank, known for its student loan refinancing, offers savings opportunities through loyalty and autopayment discounts. It charges no application, origination, disbursement, or prepayment fees.

8.5 / 10
Editorial Score
Ginny Dorn
Personal finance and mortgages specialist
July 3, 2022

Overview

Citizens Bank is one of the oldest financial institutions in the U.S. In addition to diverse banking and lending options, it provides student loan refinancing and loans for undergraduate, graduate, law and health professions degrees. To qualify, you must be enrolled in a four-year degree program at a Title IV-eligible private or public institution.

Citizens Bank is one of few lenders that refinance student loans without a completed degree. Since the Federal Reserve is about to raise its interest rates, now is a better time than ever to refinance.

You can fund up to 100% of your college education with Citizens Bank. There are several repayment options: You can make full payments or interest-only payments while in school or defer payments until after you graduate.

Citizens Bank is a Better Business Bureau accredited business with an A+ rating. You may want to consider this lender if you prioritize good customer service, expect to have sizable education expenses, and would like flexible repayment options.

Interest Rates Are About to Rise! Refinance Your Student Loan Now!

GREAT CHOICE 2022
8.5 / 10
Editorial Score
Citizens Bank
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Editorial Score
8.5 / 10
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6.0 / 10
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10 / 10
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10 / 10
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8.0 / 10
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10 / 10

Products & Services

Citizens Bank provides private student loans in many categories, as well as student loan refinancing. All types of in-school loans offer several repayment options, including deferment until after graduation, interest-only payments while in school, or full principal and interest payments while in school.

Student Loan Refinance

To apply for a student loan refinance with Citizens Bank, you must have at least $10,000 in student loan debt. You’ll also need to show that you have made at least 12 qualifying payments since leaving school. Citizens Bank does not require a completed degree to qualify, unlike many other lenders.

You can refinance up to $300,000 if you went to school for a bachelor’s degree or below, up to $500,000 for graduate degrees, and up to $750,000 for professional degrees. You can combine both federal and student loans. 5-, 7-, 10-, 15-, and 20-year terms are available. Fixed rates range from 4.29% to 7.83% APR and variable rates range from 2.24% to 7.58% APR.

Interest Rates Are About to Rise! Refinance Your Student Loan Now!

Parent Loan Refinance

Citizens Bank offers parent loan refinances if you have between $10,000 and $500,000 in student loans to refinance. You can combine private parent loans as well as Parent PLUS loans. 5-, 7-, 10-, 15-, and 20-year terms are available. Fixed interest rates range from 2.44% to 6.38% APR and variable interest rates range from 1.99% to 6.13% APR.

Medical Loan Refinance

To qualify for a medical loan refinance with Citizens Bank, you’ll need to have at least $10,000 in private or federal loan debt and must have graduated from medical school or have been matched to a qualifying residency or fellowship program when you apply. Residents and fellows have a fixed rate of just $100 per month during their program.

You have a couple of options for repayment. You will either begin making full payments of principal and interest 6 months after your program ends or 4.5 years after your loan is disbursed, whichever comes first. Fixed interest rates range from 2.44% to 6.57% APR and variable interest rates range from 1.99% to 6.32% APR.

See Citizens Bank’s Student Loan Refinancing Options

Undergraduate Student Loans

You can borrow as little as $1,000 in undergraduate student loans, and as much as $150,000 or the cost of your education, whichever is lower. Fixed rates vary from 3.23% to 11.50% APR and you can choose a 5-, 10-, or 15-year term.

Graduate Student Loans

As long as you’re enrolled at least half-time in your graduate degree program, which is usually 6 to 8 credit hours per semester, you can borrow up to $150,000. Graduate student loans have a fixed rate that varies from 4.64% to 10.95% APR, with the option to choose between 5-, 10-, and 15-year loan terms.

See All Citizens Bank’s Student Loan Options

MBA and Law Loans

To qualify for an MBA or law loan with Citizens Bank, you’ll need to be enrolled at least half-time in your degree-granting program. You can borrow anywhere from $1,000 up to $225,000. Fixed rates for both types of loans range from 4.24% to 9.02% APR. You can choose a 5-, 10-, or 15-year term.

Bar Study Loans

This type of loan can provide you with funding to cover exam fees and living expenses while studying for the bar. To be eligible for a bar study loan with Citizens Bank, you must be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible institution and within 6 months of graduation or have graduated within the last 6 months.

You can borrow as little as $1,000 and up to $16,000, with loan terms of 5 or 10 years. Fixed interest rates range from 7.4% to 12.83%.

Medical and Dental School Loans

If you’re earning a doctorate in medicine, osteopathic medicine, dentistry, optometry, podiatry, pharmacy, or veterinary medicine, you can borrow up to $350,000. If you’re earning a degree in cardiac perfusion, chiropractic medicine, cytotechnology, advanced practice nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or physician assisting, you can borrow up to $180,000.

To qualify, you must be enrolled at least half-time for an eligible degree listed above. Fixed rates range from 4.18% to 8.24% and you can choose a 5-, 10-, or 15-year term.

Medical Residency Loans

You might qualify for a medical residency loan with Citizens Bank if you’ve graduated in the last 12 months or if you are at least in your second year of medical studies. You can borrow from $1,000 to $20,000 with fixed interest rates ranging from 6.97% to 10.08%. You can choose a loan term of 5 or 10 years.

Parent Loans

If you’re the parent of a student who is enrolled at least half-time, you can borrow $1,000 up to the total cost of education, depending on their field of study. Fixed interest rates range from 4.55% to 7.58% and you can choose a 5- or 10-year term.

See All Citizens Bank’s Student Loan Options

Rates and Terms

Student loans from Citizens Bank come with a wide range of rates and terms, depending on the loan type. Citizens Bank recently discontinued variable rates for in-school loans, but you can get a fixed rate ranging from 3.23% to 12.83%. Variable rates are still available for refinances and range from 1.99% to 7.58% APR, while fixed-rate refinances can vary between 1.99% and 7.98%

If you have an existing qualifying Citizens Bank account prior to applying for a student loan, you can get a 0.25% interest rate decrease on your loan. Qualifying accounts include checking, savings, and money market accounts, as well as auto, home equity, HELOC, and mortgage loans.

You can also get a 0.25% interest rate decrease if you sign up for autopay. The lender charges no application, origination, disbursement, or prepayment fees.

Citizens Bank offers student loans with flexible repayment options that vary slightly depending on which type of loan you’re getting. Generally, you can defer repayment until after graduation. You can also make interest-only payments while still in school, or even make full payments on the principal and interest before you graduate.

If you miss a loan payment and it is 15 days past due, the bank will charge a fee of 5% of the payment. If you have trouble making payments, you may be eligible for forbearance of up to 12 months over the life of your loan. 

Get Started with Citizens Bank

Application Process and Qualifications

You can apply with Citizens Bank online or via phone. You should be ready with the following information:

  • Name, phone number, address, date of birth, and email
  • Social Security number
  • Proof of income, such as a pay stub dated within the last 30 days
  • Information about your employer including name, contact information, and length of your employment
  • Information on your monthly housing costs
  • School information, including name, cost of attendance, and financial aid documentation
  • Information on when you intend to graduate, which will determine your loan period and loan amount
  • If applicable, cosigner name and email

While the qualifications vary slightly between different loan types, Citizens Bank requires fairly consistent criteria to be eligible for a loan. Requirements include:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • International students must have a creditworthy permanent resident or U.S. citizen cosigner
  • You must be enrolled half-time at minimum with an eligible institution and enrolled in a degree-granting program.
  • You or your cosigner must have good credit
  • You must have no prior student loan defaults
  • You must be the age of majority in your state of residence or have a cosigner

Although Citizens Bank doesn’t have a minimum credit score, it does consider your credit history, debt-to-income ratio, and credit score when determining approval. You’ll also need at least $12,000 in income per year to qualify.

See Citizens Bank’s Student Loan Options

Approval Time

There is no online prequalification or approval process with Citizens Bank, unlike some other online-only lenders. You may get your approval within 3 to 5 business days, but most applications take 2 to 4 weeks for processing and approval.

Once approved, your school’s financial aid department will determine when the funds are disbursed to you. This is on par with the average student loan lender.

Additionally, Citizens Bank is one of just a few lenders that offers multi-year approval after your freshman year. This allows you to avoid hard credit inquiries each year.

Customer Service

Citizens Bank’s customer service team is available via phone, email, or live chat. I reached out through the chat function to test the team’s service and knowledge. I actually reached out twice, as I wanted to confirm that the first representative was correct.

First, I spoke with an agent named Angel who told me that Citizens Bank is discontinuing all variable rates on in-school student loans and student loan refinances.

Customer Service

Later, I spoke with Philip. I asked him for a bit more detail about qualifying for a loan before asking him to verify what the other agent told me.

Customer Service

Customer Service

Customer Service

Based on what Phillip said, it appears that Angel may have been a bit confused about the changes to variable rates. However, both representatives were very polite, friendly, and helpful. There was no wait time to be connected with an agent and both agents actively responded throughout our conversations.

Summary

Citizens Bank has a student loan option for just about any degree or refinancing situation. While many lenders offer autopay discounts and zero fees, Citizens Bank offers additional savings with its loyalty discount. The ability to apply for multi-year loan approval is an added bonus.

However, there are a few drawbacks. You can only qualify for a student loan if you are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education. Citizens Bank doesn’t offer prequalification, so you’ll need to apply to find out if you qualify and to get personalized rates, which requires a hard credit pull. Citizens Bank’s website is a bit outdated, as is its lack of online preapproval.

Despite the drawbacks, Citizens Bank offers a great variety of options for both in-school and refinance loans. It sets itself apart by offering loans to international students, as well as refinances to those who have not completed their degrees.

With over 25 years of experience offering student loans and an A+ rating with Better Business Bureau, Citizens Bank is a trustworthy lender that can provide student loans to more people at cheaper rates.

Interest Rates Are About to Rise! Refinance Your Student Loan Now!

FAQ

Does Citizens Bank have a good reputation?

Yes, Citizens Bank has a good reputation. It has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a BBB accredited business. It has also won awards for customer experience and diversity in the workplace in recent years.

What credit score does Citizens Bank require?

Citizens Bank does not disclose a minimum credit score, however, it does state that you must have good credit or have a cosigner with good credit.

Is Citizens Bank the same as Citibank?

No, Citizens Bank is not the same as Citibank. The two institutions are unrelated.

Ginny Dorn
Written by

Ginny Dorn is a freelance personal finance writer. She specializes in credit card debt, personal loans, and mortgages. She graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences.

Pros:
  • Multi-year loan approval available
  • Loyalty and autopayment discounts lower interest by 0.5%
  • Limited fees compared to other lenders
Cons:
  • Hard credit pull to qualify and get personalized rates
  • Loans only available for four-year degrees
  • No online approval, unlike most competitors
Bottom Line

Although Citizens Bank doesn’t offer instant online approval like other lenders, it does offer many different loan types with generous discounts and limited fees. If you’re an existing customer, you can access additional savings on student loans and refinances. This lender is also a good fit if you’re seeking a loan as an international student, as long as you have a cosigner willing to apply along with you.

Citizens Bank is one of the only companies that doesn’t require you to graduate before you refinance your student loans. You can borrow as much money as you need for your degree, pay back your loan on your own terms, and get help from the exceptional customer service team when you need it.