Citizens Bank was founded in the late 1800s in Rhode Island. Today, it’s one of the largest commercial banks in the U.S., with a presence in about 40 states. Branches are concentrated in the New England, mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions.
Citizens Bank is a subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
- Citizens Bank offers multiyear approval loans, meaning that once you get started, you can continue to secure funding for subsequent years in school without needing to go through a credit check every year.
- Borrowers who are Citizens Bank customers who sign up for auto payments can reduce their interest rates by 0.5 percentage point.
- International students can apply if they have a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with good credit.
- Citizens Bank only offers student loans for four-year, Title IV-eligible public and private institutions. In other words, if you’re attending a two-year institution, including most community colleges, or a for-profit school, you are not eligible.
- There is no preapproval or instant application. You must go through a hard credit inquiry to see if you are approved.
Find the Best Student Loans for You
Citizens Bank offers undergraduate, graduate and parent loans. The company also offers refinancing loans for both student and parent loans.
Citizens Bank does not disclose minimum FICO credit score, minimum credit history or maximum debt-to-income ratio requirements for loan approval. It also does not have a preapproval or “instant” application available. You’ll need to apply before you can find out about approval and loan terms. Co-signers are accepted.
Citizens Bank offers both fixed- and variable-rate student loans with terms ranging from five to 15 years.
You can apply for a loan from $1,000 to $350,000. For undergraduate and graduate degrees, the lifetime aggregate limit is $150,000, while MBA and law degrees cannot exceed $225,000. Loans for health care degrees have limits of either $180,000 or $350,000, depending on which degree you choose.
There are no application, origination or disbursement fees.
If you already have a Citizens Bank account such as a checking account or existing student loan, you’ll get a 0.25-point loyalty discount on your interest rate. Borrowers who authorize automatic payments for their loans will get another 0.25 interest rate discount.
To qualify for a loan, you’ll need to fill out an online application. The company will determine your eligibility using information such as credit score, income, credit history and employment history.
While co-signers are not required, you may need one to qualify for a loan if you don’t have sufficient credit history.
If you’re planning to use the funds to study abroad, you’ll need to make sure the program is run through a U.S. college since Citizens Bank will not disburse funds to schools outside of the U.S.
Citizens Bank does not disclose a minimum credit score, as it bases its lending decision on multiple factors such as your credit score, credit history and debt-to-income ratio. The company has a minimum household income requirement of $12,000 per year for either the borrower or co-signer.
In some cases, the student loan application decision may be immediate or within three to five business days. But the average application process takes approximately two to four weeks.
Citizens Bank student loan borrowers can decide whether to make payments while in school. Repayment options include:
- Interest-only payments while in school
- Full payments while in school
- Deferred payment, with no in-school payments required
Citizens Bank does not disclose specific requirements or policies regarding forbearance or deferment due to financial hardship.
Borrowers can lower their student loan interest rate by 0.25 percentage point while enrolled in automatic payments and another 0.25 if they are customers of Citizens Bank.
The company has a chat feature on its website that instantly connects you to a live representative as well as a phone hotline to speak with a live agent. Phone hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time Monday through Friday and 8:30 to 5 on Saturday. The company also has an email question answering option where you can look up previously submitted questions and answers or ask your own question. Email questions typically receive answers in one business day.
U.S. News rated Citizens Bank 4.3 stars out of 5 overall for its student loans. The median for lenders rated by U.S. News was 4.4. Citizens rated above average for affordability and below average for eligibility and customer service.
Citizens Bank has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is BBB-accredited.
In 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received 26 student loan complaints about Citizens Bank. The most common issues were related to:
- Dealing with the lender or servicer
- Struggling to repay the loan
Citizens Bank provided a timely response to the CFPB for all issues.
- Four-year undergraduate or graduate students who want to go through the application process only once
- International students with a U.S.-based co-signer
- Students who don’t want to pay loan fees
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