Citizens Bank Student Loans Review

Citizens Bank’s lending arm, Citizens One, offers student loans as well as student loan refinancing to qualified borrowers.

Fixed APR
4.25%–11.53%
Loan Amount
$1K–$150K
Fees
Late fee
SimpleScore
3 / 5.0
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SimpleScore Citizens One 3
Max Fixed APR 3
Perks 3
Transparency 4
Loan Amount 1
Fees 4

In particular, Citizens One offers loans for international students and are also a good deal for existing banking customers who may be interested in taking out student loans. Citizens One student loan rates are competitive and transparent, while the lender itself offers plenty of benefits to borrowers for undergraduate, graduate and parent loans.

Citizens One at a glance

LenderLoan AmountAPY RangeTermsKey Benefit
Citizens Bank$1,000  – 350,000as low as 4.25% fixed; as low as 2.24% variable5 – 15 yearsMulti-year approval program

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In this article

    What we like about it

    Citizens One allows international students to apply for private loans provided they have a co-signer who is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. Domestic students are offered multiyear loan approval, which allows them to request loans for subsequent years with only a soft credit check after an initial application. Multiyear approval allows borrowers to skip the step of reapplying each year for another loan. Citizens One allows for the release of the applicant’s co-signer from the loan after 36 months of on-time payment. The lender also offers a loyalty discount in the form of a 0.25% interest rate reduction if either the student or co-signer has a pre-existing account with Citizens Bank.

    Things to consider

    While Citizens One doesn’t have set eligibility requirements to apply and doesn’t disclose a minimum credit score required, it generally recommends that applicants have good to excellent credit. For borrowers who may not qualify, a co-signer can help ensure loan approval and the lowest interest rate possible. Citizens One doesn’t have many options for students who might struggle with making consistent on-time payments, offering only the standard forbearance program of 12 months in total, with payments waived in two-month blocks. Only students in 4-year bachelor degree programs are eligible for Citizens One private loans, disqualifying many community college and trade programs.

    What you need to know about Citizens One

    Students enrolled at least half time at an eligible institution may qualify for loans from $1,000 to $150,000 for undergraduate borrowers, with the total amount of private and federal debt capped at $150,000. Certain degree programs like law school, MBA degrees and healthcare degrees also offer higher maximum loans.

    Citizens student loans have a fixed rate APR as low as 4.25% and a variable rate APR as low as 2.24%. Loan repayment terms offered are for five, 10 and 15 years. Citizens One also offers three repayment plans: immediate repayment once school begins, interest-only repayment until the end of school and deferred repayment that allows the lender to hold off making any payments until after a 6-month grace period following graduation.

    Here’s how to apply for a Citizens One student loan:

    1. Gather any necessary information, including your social security number, proof of income, information about your school, and immigration status documentation for international and DACA borrowers.
    2. Complete the online application, adding a co-signer if necessary.
    3. Select your rates and terms.
    4. Sign and accept your loan documents.

    Citizens One fees and penalties

    Citizens One does not charge an application fee or an origination fee, unlike many lenders, making both applying for your loan and processing it free of charge. It also does not charge any fee for pre-payment. Citizens One does issue fees for late payment. Any payment not made within 15 days of the due date will accrue a fee amounting to 5% of that payment’s amount.

    Citizen One alternatives 

    Ascent

    Ascent offers two different types of private student loans, a cosigned credit-based loan and a non-cosigned future income-based loan.

    Fixed APR
    3.78%–14.75%
    Loan Amount
    $1K–$200K
    Fees
    5% of past due amount
    SimpleScore
    3.6 / 5.0
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    SimpleScore Ascent 3.6
    Rates 2
    Perks 5
    Transparency 4
    Loan Amount 3
    Fees 4

    Students are allowed to apply on their own for student loans or add a cosigner in order to secure favorable rates. Even students with low incomes and no credit history may qualify. The interest rates for both types of loans are 2.72% – 13.00% variable and 3.53% – 14.50% fixed. The major advantage of Ascent is their future income-based loans for independent students who plan on applying without a cosigner or those with a poor credit history. To qualify, students need to be enrolled at least half-time and maintain a certain GPA.

    Discover

    Discover is another attractive option when it comes to private undergraduate student loans.

    Fixed APR
    4.59%–12.64%
    Loan Amount
    Up to 100% of costs
    Fees
    None
    SimpleScore
    4.6 / 5.0
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    SimpleScore Discover, Member FDIC 4.6
    Max Fixed APR 3
    Perks 5
    Transparency 5
    Loan Amount 5
    Fees 5

    Like Citizens One, Discover also gives borrowers the option of prequalifying for future loans through a multi-year option. Discover charges no fees and covers up to 100% of school-certified college costs. The lender also rewards student borrowers for good grades, with students who earn at least a 3.0 GPA eligible for a one-time cash reward of 1% of the loan amount.

    Discover, Member FDIC Disclosure

    1. Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans and include a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.
    2. Lowest APRs shown are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans and include an Auto Debit Reward. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable margin percentage. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 0.250% as of October 1, 2020. Discover Student Loans may adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Our lowest APR is only available to customers with the best credit and other factors. Your APR will be determined after you apply. It will be based on your credit history, which repayment option you choose and other factors, including your cosigner’s credit history (if applicable). Learn more about Discover Student Loans interest rates.

    Check Your Student Loan Rates

    View our top-rated lenders and find the best rates today. It’s quick and easy.

    Discover Disclosure: 1. Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans and include a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments. 2. Lowest APRs shown are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans and include an Auto Debit Reward. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable margin percentage. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 0.250% as of October 1, 2020. Discover Student Loans may adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Our lowest APR is only available to customers with the best credit and other factors. Your APR will be determined after you apply. It will be based on your credit history, which repayment option you choose and other factors, including your cosigner’s credit history (if applicable). Learn more about Discover Student Loans interest rates.

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore™

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best student loans of 2020.

    Max Fixed Rate

    Lenders who offered a lower maximum fixed rate were awarded higher scores.

    Perks

    We awarded higher scores for lenders that list more perks including services, discounts and special offers for their borrowers.

    Transparency

    Lenders that laid it all bare by publishing important data about products — APR, offered loan amounts, applicable fees and customer support contact links — scored higher for transparency.

    Loan Amount

    Lenders that offered higher loan amounts compared to others received higher scores. 

    Fees

    We awarded higher scores to lenders that have fewer loan fees for borrowers. 

    Margaret Wack

    Contributing Writer

    Margaret Wack writes about personal finance, health, wellness, arts and culture, among other topics.

    Reviewed by

    • Courtney Mihocik
      Courtney Mihocik
      Finance Editor

      Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in insurance, personal finance, and loans. Previously, she wrote and edited for Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, Ballantyne Magazine, Thread Magazine, The Post, ACRN, The New Political, Columbus Alive and the Institute for International Journalism.