PROS / Citizens Bank offers competitive interest rates, high loan limits and helpful customer support.
CONS / It does not offer any unemployment protection.
VERDICT / Citizens Bank offers customer service not normally found at banks and a wide array of student loan options.
Citizens Bank is one of the 13 largest banks in the United States and a leader in private student loans. With the changes in the student lending industry, Citizens Bank continues to offer students a variety of private student lending options. Citizens Bank acquired Charter One Bank, and both are part of the same company; however, the company continues to brand both companies in the student lending industry. Both Citizens Bank and Charter One offer the same loan programs to their borrowers.
Citizens Bank's competitive APRs, full array of student loan types and variety of rate-reduction offers make it a leader in the college loan industry and the winner of the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.
The bank offers student loans for current students of both undergraduate and graduate classes. Citizens suggests that you take advantage of federal student loans before supplementing your borrowing with a private student loan. Yet the loan limits for both the undergraduate and graduate private student loans are very competitive through Citizens Bank.
Your loan limit depends on what type of graduate program you are entering. Medical and dental programs have the highest loan limits, followed by business and law school and then the majority of other graduate programs.
Citizens Bank offers consolidation loans for college. With student consolidation loans, you can take the outstanding balances for both private student loans and federal student loans and combine them into a single loan amount. The advantage to consolidation is it usually results in a lower monthly payment and more competitive interest rate.
The APRs for both the variable- and fixed-rate college loans Citizens Bank offers are very competitive with the rates of other private student loan lenders. While Citizens does offer a lower base rate for its variable-rate student loans, it also has a wide range. The APR you receive from Citizens Bank is based on your credit worthiness and financial situation. The cap for the APR of Citizens' variable-rate loan falls in line with those of most other private student loan companies we reviewed.
When you apply for a Citizens Bank student loan, you can get a rate reduction. If you previously housed a student loan at Citizens Bank or have a qualifying account, then you may be considered for an APR rate reduction. This is an excellent benefit, especially considering that Citizens Bank already has low base rates for its student lending APRs.
One feature Citizens Bank is missing is unemployment protection, which other student loan lenders offer. With unemployment protection, if you lose your job during the student loan repayment process, then the lender stops monthly payments on your loan. Interest will continue to accrue, but you don't have to have the worry of meeting the payment while you're out of work. Unemployment protection normally lasts one year.
Citizens Bank offers three different lending terms. which coincide with different APR tiers. Shorter terms have more competitive interest rates and longer terms have higher rates, but potentially lower monthly payments. Only the best student loan lenders offer a variety of rates to choose from.
Like most other private student loan companies, Citizens Bank has a rate-reduction offer during the repayment period. If you set up automatic deductions from your debit account, you can be eligible for an APR reduction. This is an easy way to get a discounted rate while also preventing the stress of remembering to make your student loan payment.
Citizens Bank offers the standard six-month grace period after you graduate before you need to start repayment on your loan. Interest still accrues during this period, but you are not responsible for the monthly payment.
Help & Support
The help and support Citizens Bank offers is among the best we found while reviewing loans for college. The live chat feature on Citizens Bank's website is very helpful. The staff representatives are knowledgeable and prompt in their communications. There is an abundance of educational material on Citizens Bank's website to instruct students and parents about the nuances of student loans. The FAQs quickly address common concerns. The phone and email support is beneficial for resolving more difficult questions and concerns.
Citizens Bank is an excellent bank to house your private student loans. The help and support it offers is top-notch, including the educational material on the site and the friendly customer service. The APR is competitive and matched with a variety of rate-reduction offers. Citizens Bank doesn't offer unemployment insurance. If you need a bank for private student loans, Citizens Bank is a viable option.