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Frequently Asked Questions: Student Loan Refinancing for Parents

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Student Loan Refinancing for Parents
  • How can I complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

    The FAFSA is considered the application for federal student loans, and is typically a student's first step in applying for financial aid.

    You can fill out the form online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Students are strongly encouraged to apply online, but if you prefer, you can complete a paper version of the FAFSA and send it via mail. Check with your high school guidance counselor or college financial aid office for a paper form.

  • Do I need to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for a private student loan?

    No. Private student loan borrowers DO NOT need to submit a FAFSA. Simply complete the online Citizens Bank Student Loan application to apply. However, students are encouraged to exhaust all available Federal Aid before taking a private student loan to pay for college.

  • How do I apply for a Federal Direct Loan?

    You will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This form will enable your college to determine your eligibility for all types of federal aid, including Federal Direct Loans. After you find out whether you are eligible for the Federal Direct Loan, you will need to complete a Federal Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN). Visit the Federal Student Aid site for complete details about federal loan options.

  • How much can I borrow through the Federal Direct Loan program?

    The types of loans, and amount you're eligible to borrow each year is determined by your school each year. However, there are limits to the amount you can receive. Annual and lifetime limits vary based on the year of school you are in, and whether you filed as a dependent or independent student. You can visit the Federal Student Aid site for more details, but to give you an idea of what to expect, below are the current annual limits:

    • First-year undergraduate: $5,500
    • Second-year undergraduate: $6,500
    • Third-year & beyond undergraduate: $7,500
    • Graduate or Professional (independent students): $20,500
  • Do I need to apply for financial aid each year?

    Yes. You will need to complete the FAFSA form each year. Every year you will receive a new financial aid award letter from your school.

  • Do I have to fill out a new Federal Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) each year?

    Usually, you do not have to complete a new MPN each year. These forms are good for 10 years. You may have to fill out a new form if you change schools or change your lender.

  • What happens when I have more than one child in college at the same time?

    Under federal financial aid formulas, you'll qualify for additional financial aid when you have more than one child attending college at once. Just be sure to note on your FAFSA that you have multiple college students. In addition, many colleges and universities offer tuition discounts for more than one child per family.

  • What should I do when I've had changes in my financial situation?

    Simply notify your school of any substantial change in your family's financial situation since you last provided your financial information. You'll need to file an updated FAFSA form that includes documentation of your new circumstances. You may be eligible for some form of additional financial assistance.

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  • What is student loan refinancing?

    Student loan refinancing gives you the ability to refinance one or more federal and private student loans into a single loan with new terms, including a new interest rate, monthly payment amount, or repayment length. Even if you have previously consolidated or refinanced your student loans, you may be able to lower your interest rate and/or your monthly payment by refinancing with the Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan®.

  • What is student loan consolidation?

    For people with multiple student loans, consolidation can help simplify payments by combining these separate loans into one. When you use an Education Refinance Loan, Citizens Bank will combine these separate loans into a new, single loan. This new loan will have new terms, such as a new monthly payment amount, interest rate and repayment length. Student loan consolidation is for people carrying multiple student loans with separate due dates, payment amounts and interest rates. By combining these many loans into one, you can simplify your loan payments and make it easier to fit student loan repayment into your budget.

    Federal loan consolidation is common, but only recently have students been able to consolidate their federal and private loans together. If you need to simplify your student loan payment process, the Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan® gives you the option of consolidating your federal and private loans together and receive a new term, a new repayment length and a new interest rate. Unlike federal loan consolidation where your new interest rate is based on a weighted average of each loan's rate, Citizens Bank will base your new interest rate on the market and your credit score.

    If you have questions about whether student loan consolidation is right for you, speak with one of our Student Lending Specialists.

  • How does student loan refinancing work?

    There is an application process, including credit approval, similar to what you experienced when you applied for your existing student loans. The primary difference is that you need to submit details on the existing student loans that you’re currently paying, and part of our review process will be to verify the student loan information with your existing loan servicers and determine a payoff amount for those loans. If you are approved for a refinance loan, we will use the proceeds of your new loan to pay off your prior loans.

  • How do I find out my rate?

    Now you can find out your interest rate and potential monthly savings in under 2 minutes. Simply click "Get My Rate" and enter in a few pieces of information. Once submitted, you will be presented with your interest rate options, without affecting your credit score. You can then go on to complete the online application. Your final interest rate and loan terms will be based on the verified information entered in your loan application.

  • Will getting my rate have an impact on my credit score?

    Selecting "Get My Rate" only requires a "soft credit pull" which does not affect your credit score. Submitting a full application results in an inquiry on your credit report.

  • What information will I need to get my rate?

    You will need the following personal information in order to find out your rate and savings:

    • Name
    • Address
    • Date of Birth
    • Social Security Number
    • Email Address
    • Phone Number
    • Total Amount to Refinance
    • Total Current Monthly Payments

  • How long are the rates offered available to me?

    The interest rates offered are what you will receive based on the verified information you enter if you continue and apply for an Education Refinance Loan in session by selecting “Apply Now” from the rate quote results page. If you come back at a later time, the initial rate offer may no longer be available to you. You may return at any time to request a new rate quote.

  • Can you consolidate federal and private student loans?

    When you apply for an Education Refinance Loan through Citizens Bank, you can include any student loan debt that was taken out in your name and used to finance education (for example: the Citizens Bank Student Loan™ for both undergraduate and graduate students, the Citizens Bank Student Loan™ for Parents, private student loans from other lenders or federal loans like Federal Direct PLUS or Stafford loans could be consolidated together). You cannot include any other debt (such as credit card or mortgage debt), even if it was used to pay education expenses. Additionally, loans taken out by parents cannot be consolidated with loans taken out by students. Our application process will review the debt you wish to consolidate to ensure it is eligible to be refinanced. You may even be able to refinance student loan debt you previously consolidated into a single loan.

  • Which loans can I include in my refinancing?

    You can include any student loan debt used for financing your education (for example, Citizens Bank Student Loans, other private student loans from other lenders, or your federal loans like Federal Direct PLUS or Stafford loans). You cannot include any other debt (for example, credit card or mortgage), even if it was used to pay education expenses. You may also be able to refinance your student loan debts, even if you previously consolidated them into a single loan.

    Our application has a list of the most common loan servicers; however, you may submit loans for which the servicer is not on our list. When we review your application, we will review whether loans from that servicer may be refinanced.

  • How much can I borrow with the Education Refinance Loan?

    Minimum: $10,000

    Maximum Aggregate Loan Amount

    • $300,000 (Bachelor's degree or below)
    • $500,000 (Graduate degree)
  • Am I eligible to refinance?
    • The student loans you refinance must be in repayment and you cannot currently be attending school. If you are currently enrolled in school and are seeking additional financing, please consider the Citizens Bank Student Loan.
    • You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number, residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co‑signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
    • You must have at least $10,000 in student loans to refinance. Borrowers with a verified bachelor's degree must have made at least three (3) full on‑time payments on all the loans you wish to refinance and may need to provide proof of graduation.
    • Federal loans currently on an income driven repayment plan are not eligible to refinance. Ineligible Federal repayment programs include: Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE Plan), Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE Plan), Income‑Based Repayment Plan (IBR Plan), and Income‑Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR Plan).
    • Borrowers with a verified graduate degree do not have a minimum payment requirement and may apply while in their grace period.
    • If you have not earned at least a bachelor’s degree from a federally accredited college or university, you must have made at least twelve (12) full on‑time payments on all the loans you wish to refinance.

    For more information about eligibility requirements, speak to a Student Lending Specialist.

  • How do I decide that refinancing is the right decision for me?

    While refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans is often a smart decision, it is not the right decision for everyone. Our informational guide, “Should I Refinance My Student Loans?” can help you evaluate whether the Education Refinance Loan is right for you.

  • Do I need to have graduated to qualify?

    No, graduation is not a requirement to apply for the Education Refinance Loan. However, you must not currently be in school and must be making payments on the student loans you wish to refinance. Additionally, if you did not graduate, you will need to have made at least 12 consecutive, on‑time student loan payments before you apply.

  • Do you offer co‑signer release for the Education Refinance Loan?

    Borrowers may apply for co‑signer release after making 36 consecutive on‑time payments of principal and interest. When applying for co‑signer release, a credit review will be performed to ensure the borrower meets certain credit and eligibility guidelines for holding the loan on their own. For the purpose of co‑signer release, on‑time payments are defined as being made within 15 days of their due date. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on‑time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Those interested can request an application for release by calling our trusted servicing partner, Firstmark Services, at 866‑259‑3767.

  • How good must my credit be to be eligible?
    • You will need to present a reasonably strong credit history, which is derived from your credit score, along with a minimum household income (for either the borrower or co‑signer) of $24,000.
    • Although a co‑signer is not required, if you have little or no credit history, we strongly encourage you to apply with a qualified co‑signer to increase your chances of being approved. A qualified co‑signer can also help you secure a lower interest rate.
    • Borrowers may apply for co‑signer release after making 36 consecutive on‑time payments of principal and interest on your Education Refinance Loan. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co‑signer release.
  • Will this loan application impact my credit score?

    All Citizens Bank Student Loans are credit-based, so any applications submitted will result in an inquiry on the applicants' credit report.

  • What is the difference between a variable‑ and a fixed‑rate loan?

    Initially, a variable rate loan may be lower than your fixed rate option. However, over time the variable rate may change based on the one‑month LIBOR, and the monthly payment amount may change as well. A fixed rate will remain the same over the life of the loan, and you’ll owe the same monthly payment each month. In both cases, your actual monthly payment amount will be reported to the credit bureaus.

  • What information will I need to complete my application?

    Both the borrower and co‑signer may need to submit the following:

    • Social Security number (or Alien ID number for permanent resident)
    • Gross monthly income
    • Employer name, phone number, and length of employment (if applicable)
    • Monthly rent or mortgage payment (if applicable)
    • The current lender/servicer of your existing student loans, full account number of those loans, current loan balances, your monthly payment, the next payment due date, and the interest rate and type. Your most recent monthly billing statement will have all of this information.
  • What are the steps to getting an Education Refinance Loan?

    After you apply, here are the steps to getting your loan:

    1. Decision
      We will validate your income and existing student loans and run a credit check. Then, we will notify you whether you're approved for a refinance loan.
    2. Term Selection
      If approved,* we'll outline the loan options you qualify for, and you'll choose terms like a fixed or variable interest rate and a 5‑, 10‑, 15‑, or 20‑year term to pay back the loan.
    3. Closing
      You (and your co‑signer, if applicable) must accept the loan terms and sign the promissory note. You'll receive a Final Disclosure that confirms your loan terms and provides your Right to Cancel notice.
    4. Old Loans Paid Off
      Citizens Bank will pay off the federal and/or private student loans you're refinancing or consolidating.
    5. New Loan Begins
      You begin repaying your Education Refinance Loan right away.

    *Approval and rates for a student loan refinance will depend on your credit score and presence of a co‑signer. Rates and terms available may not be better than your original loan, and lower monthly payments may cause you to pay more in interest over the extended life of the loan.

  • If I need to provide proof of residency or Social Security number, what documents can I use?

    To apply for the Education Refinance Loan, borrowers and co‑signers, if applicable, must be US citizens or permanent residents with valid Social Security numbers. If you are a US citizen, you may need to provide a copy of your Social Security card, your birth certificate, or your passport. If you are a permanent resident, you may be asked to provide proof of residency in the form of your current U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I‑551 (Resident Alien Card). If you do not have yours available, a temporary WSCIS Form I‑551, a passport stamped "Temporary 551," or Form I‑90 (Application to Replace Alien Registration Card) may be used.

  • Will I need to provide additional documents after I submit my application?

    When we review your application, we try to verify both your identity and the income you report on your application through an automated process. If we are unable to verify the information you provide on our own, we will ask you for documents to help us make our decision. All applicants for the Education Refinance Loan will be asked to provide a recent billing statement for each loan they list to refinance. This will help us finalize both the amount to refinance and the address to send payments to your prior lenders.

  • What do I need to provide for income verification?

    Employment income received through traditional paychecks

    Two most recent pay stubs, dated within 60 days of application submission.

    Self-employment/family business income

      If you are self-employed or employed by a member of your family, provide either:

    • Your two most recent federal tax returns; 
    • IRS Form 4506-T (This form authorizes us to obtain income tax returns on your behalf.)

    Social Security benefits, disability, retirement/pension, nontaxable interest income

       A copy of any of the applicable documents below:

    • Award letter including the frequency and amount of the income
    • Policy agreements
    • Account statements
    • Your most recent 1099-R
    • Your most recent federal tax return 
    • IRS Form 4506-T (This form authorizes us to obtain income tax returns on your behalf.)

    Investment income

      A current asset statement to show proof of ownership plus a copy of one of the following:

    • Your most recent federal tax return
    • A one-year income history shown through account statements
    • IRS Form 4506-T (This form authorizes us to obtain income tax returns on your behalf.)

    Income from a new job

      If you have not yet started your job but want to use that income in your application, you must be scheduled to start employment before your first payment is due. Please provide:

    • An executed offer/acceptance letter or employment contract that includes your new employment and salary

    Child support, alimony or separate maintenance

     A copy of either:

    • A full, executed divorce decree indicating the amount and schedule of payments;
    • or
    • A written legal agreement or court decree describing the payment terms

     If you don’t see the income you listed on your application in the table above or are unable to provide the requested documents, please contact us and we’ll help you determine how we can verify your income.

  • What happens after I complete my application?

    We’ll validate your income and the existing student loans you want to refinance. Then we’ll notify you of a credit decision. If you’re approved, you will choose your loan terms from the options you qualify for, including the interest rate and how many years you have to pay back the loan. If you decide to accept the loan, you will be required to:

    • Acknowledge and accept the terms of our offer.
    • You and your co‑signer, if applicable, will be required to review and sign your application and promissory note.

    Before we deliver your refinance loan proceeds to your prior lenders, we'll provide you with (1) a Final Disclosure that will confirm the terms of the refinance loan and (2) a Right to Cancel notice that explains you have at least three business days to cancel your refinance loan without penalty along with instructions on how to do so.

  • When do I stop making payments on the loans that I am refinancing?

    Refinancing loans can take one to two billing cycles, so you should continue making your regularly scheduled payments until you receive your first billing statement from us. Your prior lenders will be able to confirm at that time that your prior student loans have been paid in full and that no further payments are required. Depending on when your prior lender credits our payment to your prior loans, the amount you owe could change before our payment is credited, leaving you with a small balance with your prior lenders. If you have a remaining balance with a lender after our payoff has been processed, you would need to make payments until the loan is paid‑in‑full to avoid late fees or other collection efforts by your prior lenders. Citizens Bank asks lenders to return overages to us so that we can apply them as a principal credit to your account; however, your prior lenders may have different policies related to overpayments so you should reach out to those lenders if you have questions.

  • When do I start making payments on my Education Refinance Loan?

    Principal and interest payments will begin within 21 to 50 days after your loans have been refinanced. We will notify you in advance so that you have plenty of time to make your first payment on time.

  • Is there any penalty for prepaying my Education Refinance Loan?

    No, there is no prepayment penalty or any other penalty for paying more than the minimum monthly payment or for paying off the entire loan early.

  • Do you offer interest rate reductions?

    Yes, there are interest rate reductions available for borrowers of the Citizens Bank Student Loan, Student Loan for Parents, and the Education Refinance Loan. Check out each of the product pages for detailed information on available discounts.

  • I’m trying to access my online application and am not sure which option to choose. How do I get to the right place?

    If you’ve received an email that you need to take action on your loan, you should choose either “Log In” or “Check My Loan Status.” If you do not already have a user account you should create one at this time.

    If your application has not been submitted for a credit review, you should choose "Finish an Application." There, you will see four options:

    • I have a saved application I would like to finish. If you didn't finish your application when you began it, please select this option and you will be able to log in with your user account.
    • I started an application by phone or online and need to create an account. If you have not yet created a user account, please select this option.
    • I am the borrower, and for the first time I am logging in to finish the loan the co‑signer started. If your co‑signer completed his or her portion of the application and you have not started yours, then please select this option.
    • I am the co‑signer and for the first time I am logging in to finish the loan the borrower started. If the borrower has completed his or her portion of the application but you have not started your portion yet, then please select this option.

    If you have already submitted your application for a credit review or created a username and password, you can always choose either to "Log In" or "Check My Loan Status" from the main page to access your most up‑to‑date loan status. If you need to get back to the main page, you can select "Start Over."

  • How do I sign my promissory note?

    You may choose whether to physically sign or e‑sign your student loan application and promissory note.

    Physically Signing: If you choose to physically sign your note, provide a bank statement verifying your name and physical address as stated on the application. If you cannot provide a bank statement, then a utility bill with this information is acceptable, along with a W‑2 or first two pages of your 1040 verifying your name, address, and SSN. If you do not file taxes or receive W‑2s but can be claimed as a dependent on another's tax return, we will accept the 1040 of the individual who claims you as a dependent.

    E-signing: This must be done through our application portal, not through the Sign and Certify function on Adobe Acrobat products. You must first review and agree to the Electronic Documents Consent. Then, under your Loan Documents Checklist, you can choose to complete your signature on the application and promissory note. You will be asked to complete four steps: 1) review your application/promissory note, 2) enter and validate the e‑sign code found on the bottom of the last page of the note, 3) consent to the terms of the note, and 4) consent to verify identity using the information found on your credit report.

    After you select "Continue," you will be asked to answer four questions related to your credit report. These questions are generated by Equifax, a credit reporting agency, and relate to items in your personal credit profile. These questions allow us to verify your identity and protect you from fraud.

  • Can I email my required documents?

    Yes, you can, but please note that we cannot currently accept emails in .jpg format. For security purposes, we strongly recommend that you upload your required documents directly to your application by logging in and reviewing your Action Items list.

  • Where do I mail my documents?
    • Via Standard Mail:
      Education Finance
      P.O. Box 42124
      Mailstop RTL295
      Providence, RI 02940
    • Via Overnight Mail: Education Finance
      480 Jefferson Boulevard
      Mailstop: RJE295
      Warwick, RI 02886
  • What number do I call if I have questions?

    For assistance with the Education Refinance Loan call 1‑888‑333‑0128.

    For assistance with the Student Loan, or Student Loan for Parents call 1‑800‑708‑6684.

  • How do I manage my new loan?

    Our servicing partner, Firstmark Services, offers online access to manage your new Education Refinance Loan, Student Loan, or Student Loan for Parents. You can access the site here where you'll be able to sign up for automatic payments, make one‑time payments, and update your personal information, if necessary. For assistance with the Firstmark Services site, please call 1‑866‑259‑3767.

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