Citizens Bank Student Loans Review

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

Lender Loan Amount APY Range Terms Key Benefit
Citizens Bank $1,000  – 350,000 4.68% – 11.04% fixed; 1.29% – 10.60% variable 5 – 15 years Multi-year approval program

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 of APR of 4.68% to 11.04% and a variable rate APR of 1.29% to 10.60%. 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 

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo has interest rates that are slightly higher than Citizens One, with a fixed rate range of 4.53% to 10.72% and a variable rate range of 2.68% to 9.45%. Wells Fargo offers several discounts on their student rates, including customer discounts of up to 0.75% and automatic payment discounts of 0.25%. Wells Fargo has fewer repayment options than Citizens One, offering only immediate or deferred payments. The list of eligible schools for Wells Fargo is a fairly restricted one, limited to institutions that have a history with the bank, as opposed to Citizens One’s broad list of all 4-year, title IV institutions.

The main advantage of Wells Fargo is the flexibility it offers when it comes to repayment assistance. Beyond the standard 12-month forbearance program, Wells Fargo also offers short-term payment relief up to two months, payment options if an account is past due and a loan modification program that can reduce payments on a temporary or permanent basis. Coupled with the fact that they recently have stopped issuing late payment fees altogether, Wells Fargo is a very attractive choice for students on less secure financial footing.

Ascent

Ascent offers two different types of private student loans, a cosigned credit-based loan and a non-cosigned future income-based loan. 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 3.18% to 13.92% variable and 4.00% to 14.92% 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. The lender offers loans to qualified borrowers at variable rates between 1.24% – 10.99%1 APR, fixed rates between 4.24% – 12.39%1 APR. 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 Student Loans Disclosures
1. Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans, and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.
2.Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans, and include an interest-only repayment discount and 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 0.375%% as of July 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.

The bottom line

Major benefits of Citizens One include its larger credit limit and the fact that loans can be applied for at any time during the year, rather than the fixed window before the school year set for federal loans. Citizen One’s application is also much faster and more straightforward than the FAFSA form required by the federal government. Citizens One student loans are a good choice for international students who don’t qualify for federal loans. These loans are also a good supplement for students who need to take out loans about and beyond the loans available to them through the federal government.