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Citizens Bank / Citizens One Student Loans Review: Refinancing and Private Loans

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Citizens Bank is a traditional bank whose Rhode Island roots go back to 1828. Its national lending division, Citizens One, competes against Silicon Valley startups to offer student loans and student loan refinancing.

Visitors will see either “Citizens Bank” or “Citizens One” on the company’s website, depending on where they live.

Undergraduates, graduate students and parents can take out student loans through Citizens One, and former students and parents can refinance college loans. In this article, we review Citizens One’s undergraduate student loan and refinancing options.

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Citizens One student loan refinancing review

Citizens One undergraduate private student loans review

Citizens One student loan refinancing review

Citizens One entered the student loan refinancing market in 2014, and in early 2018 it introduced refinancing for parents. Now parents can refinance multiple children’s loans into one, and they can also refinance loans while their kids are still in school. We’ll focus for the rest of this review on refinancing for former students.

Citizens One says its refinance loan is best for those who have been out of school for a few years and have built credit on their own. Those who have just finished undergrad will likely need a co-signer to qualify. Consider refinancing if you:

  • Have private student loans
  • Have federal student loans and don’t plan to use federal programs like income-driven repayment or public service loan forgiveness. You won’t be able to take part in those programs if you refinance federal loans.
  • Have good credit, a stable income and a history of paying off debts on time

You’ll get the biggest savings by choosing the shortest repayment term you can handle. Those with poor credit, irregular work or plans to pursue income-driven repayment or loan forgiveness should steer clear of refinancing.


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citizens one student loan refinancing at a glance

  • Fixed rates: 3.35% to 8.24% APR. Variable rates: 3.11% to 8.46% APR.
  • Loan duration: 5, 10, 15 or 20 years.
  • Loan amounts: $10,000 minimum. Maximum depends on highest degree earned: $90,000 (undergraduate), $225,000 (master's and doctoral degrees), $300,000 (law), and $350,000 (professional degrees such as a doctor of dental surgery).

Rates updated Feb. 1, 2018.

Lowest listed APRs include the 0.25% rate reduction that borrowers get for signing up for automatic payments, plus the 0.25% loyalty discount for Citizens Bank customers.

» MORE: Compare student loan refinance lenders

Can you qualify?

Citizens One allows former students who didn’t graduate to refinance, as long as you’ve been repaying your loans on time. International students can also refinance if they use a U.S. citizen or permanent resident as a co-signer. Citizens One does not disclose the percentage of its refinance customers that have co-signers.

You’re most likely to be eligible if you:

  • Have good credit. Citizens One says borrowers with good to excellent credit, typically defined as a credit score of 690 or higher, are in the best position to qualify for refinancing. You’ll probably need a creditworthy co-signer otherwise.
  • Are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or have a co-signer who is. International students can qualify for refinancing if their co-signer meets the citizenship requirements.
  • Have made the required student loan payments. If you graduated with a bachelor’s degree, you must have made three on-time payments toward your loans to qualify. If you didn’t complete a bachelor’s, you must have made 12 on-time payments. You don’t need to have attended a school that participates in the government’s Title IV financial aid programs to refinance.

How to refinance with Citizens One

To get the best interest rate possible, compare multiple refinancing options. Also look at lenders’ available repayment terms and whether you can postpone payments for a period of time if need be.

If you’re ready to refinance through Citizens One, apply on its website. Here’s how:

  1. Check your interest rate. Before submitting an application, you can undergo a soft credit inquiry and see what interest rate you’ll likely receive. This won’t affect your credit. Click “Get My Rate” on the website and enter basic loan and contact information.
  2. Complete an application. The full online application requires you to provide your:
    • Social Security number
    • Gross monthly income
    • Monthly housing payment
    • Employment information, including employer and how long you’ve worked there
    • Current loan documents, which include the amount Citizens One must pay your current lender to take on your loan balance
  1. Agree to let Citizens One do a hard credit check. This may lower your credit score slightly, but it’s necessary in order for lenders to approve borrowers for a loan.
  2. Finish the paperwork. Once the application is approved, you’ll select a loan term and sign the promissory note for your new loan. Citizens One will pay off the loans you’ve chosen to refinance, and you’ll begin repayment soon after.

More details

  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services
  • Application or origination fee: None
  • Prepayment penalty: None
  • Late fees: 5% of late payment amount

Repayment options for struggling borrowers

Citizens One offers standard protections if you need to pause payments, which could happen due to circumstances like a job loss or a medical emergency. Interest will accrue when you’re not making payments, which could increase your loan balance overall.

  • Deferment: Citizens One offers academic deferment if borrowers go back to school and military deferment for those on active duty.
  • Forbearance: Borrowers experiencing financial hardship can postpone payments in two-month increments for up to 12 months total throughout the loan term. That’s not as generous as what some other lenders offer.

FAQs

  • Can I apply with a co-signer? Yes. You may get a lower rate if you do.
  • Is there a co-signer release option? Yes, after 36 months of on-time payments.
  • Can I qualify if I’ve filed for bankruptcy in the past? Citizens One does not disclose this information.
  • Can I qualify if I didn’t go to a Title IV-accredited school? Yes.
  • Can I qualify if I didn’t graduate? Yes. But you must have made 12 on-time monthly payments first.

» MORE: Read more student loan refinancing FAQs

Contact Citizens One

Contact a student lending specialist at 1-877-405-2262.

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Citizens One undergraduate private student loans review

Citizens One doesn’t disclose credit score or income requirements for borrowers or co-signers. But the company says you’re a strong candidate for a loan if you or your co-signer has good to excellent credit, typically defined as 690 or higher. Like other lenders, Citizens One says the majority of its undergraduate borrowers use co-signers, who are responsible for repaying the loan if the student can’t.

Citizens One is one of the only lenders to offer multiyear approval for student loans. That means that after freshman year, you can request loans for each subsequent school year without undergoing a hard credit check, which affects your credit (or that of your co-signer). You’ll also save time by not having to fill out an application or upload required documents every year.

A Citizens One private student loan may be a solid choice if you:

  • Need to fill a gap in the financial aid you received for college after filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA.
  • Have good or excellent credit, or access to a co-signer who does.
  • Are an international student. You’ll need a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and you won’t have access to multiyear approval. But some lenders don’t lend to international students at all.

» COMPARE: Private student loans


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citizens one student loans at a glance

  • Fixed rates: 5.25% to 11.99% APR. Variable rates: 3.46% to 11.56% APR.
  • Loan duration: 5, 10 or 15 years.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 minimum. Maximum: $100,000 for undergraduates.

Rates updated Feb. 1, 2018.

Lowest listed APRs include the 0.25% rate reduction that borrowers get for signing up for automatic payments, plus the 0.25% loyalty discount for Citizens Bank customers.

Before turning to private student loans, fill out the FAFSA to be eligible for federal loans, grants and work-study. Borrow up to the maximum amount of federal loans available first; they have more flexible repayment options than private loans and don’t require a co-signer.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s FAFSA Guide

Can you qualify?

You’ll be in the best position to qualify for a Citizens One loan if you:

  • Have access to a creditworthy co-signer. Undergraduates, who usually have little or no credit history, often need a co-signer to get approved for student loans. Citizens Bank lets you release your co-signer from the loan after 36 consecutive on-time payments, so they’re no longer responsible if you can’t repay it.
  • Attend an eligible school. You must attend a nonprofit school that grants four-year degrees and participates in the federal government’s Title IV financial aid programs.
  • Are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or have a co-signer who is.

» SIGN UP: Check your credit score for free

How to apply for a Citizens One student loan

To get the best interest rate available, compare multiple private loan options. Also look at each lender’s repayment terms and how much flexibility they offer if you run into trouble paying your bill.

Ready to borrow through Citizens One? Apply on the Citizens One website. Here’s how:

  1. Complete an application. The company says the process takes five to 10 minutes if you (and your co-signer) gather the required information ahead of time, including:
    • Social Security number
    • A pay stub that’s no more than 30 days old, or another way to show income
    • Proof of monthly housing payments
    • Employer name, phone number and how long you’ve worked there
    • School name
    • Cost of attendance and financial aid received
    • A reference, for student borrowers
    • Co-signer name and email address
  1. Agree to a hard credit check. In order to see the interest rate you qualify for, Citizens One will perform a hard credit inquiry, which affects your credit. But lenders must take this step in order to approve you for a loan.
  2. Wait for the funds to be disbursed. After your application has been approved, Citizens One must certify the loan request with your school. From there, the loan money will be available based on the school’s timeline.

Loan details

  • Origination fee: None
  • Grace period: 6 months
  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services
  • Prepayment penalty: None
  • Late fees: 5% of the late payment amount
  • Co-signer release available: Yes, after 36 consecutive on-time payments

General repayment options

Making payments while in school is the cheapest option over time: Citizens One offers the lowest interest rates to those who begin repayment right away. If that’s not possible, you can wait until after graduation to repay your loan. Here are the plans available:

  • Immediate repayment: With this option, you’ll start making full payments as soon as the loan is disbursed, while you’re still in school.
  • Interest-only repayment: You’ll pay interest monthly as it accrues while in school, then make full payments after your grace period ends.
  • Deferred repayment: You’ll start repaying your loans, plus interest that has accrued while you were in school, once the post-graduation grace period ends. Accrued interest will be added to your total loan balance — and you’ll pay interest on top of that throughout the rest of your loan term.

Repayment options for struggling borrowers

Citizens One offers standard protections if you need to pause payments, which could happen due to circumstances like a job loss or a medical emergency. Interest will accrue when you’re not making payments, which could increase your loan balance overall.

  • Deferment: Citizens One offers academic deferment if borrowers go back to school and military deferment for those on active duty.
  • Forbearance: Borrowers experiencing financial hardship can postpone payments in two-month increments for up to 12 months total throughout the loan term. That’s not as generous as what some other lenders offer.

Citizens One extras

An additional 0.25% interest rate discount is available if you or your co-signer already have a Citizens Bank account at the time of application, like a checking account, auto loan or mortgage. That adds up to a potential 0.5% interest rate cut including the discount for making automatic payments.

But Citizens Bank operates only in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Citizens One undergraduate student loans FAQs

  • Can I apply with a co-signer? Yes. It will likely help you qualify or get a lower interest rate.
  • Is there a co-signer release option? Yes, after 36 consecutive on-time payments.
  • Can I qualify if I’ve filed for bankruptcy in the past? Citizens One does not disclose this information.
  • Can I qualify if I’m not attending a Title IV-accredited school? No.

Contact Citizens One

Student lending specialists can be reached at 1-888-333-0256.

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