Finding a Loan to Pay for College

Learn how to pay for college by finding the right student loans

If you've begun thinking about how to pay for college, federal and private student loans are options you've likely considered. As you compare different loans to determine which one is right for you, you may feel confused about which features are best suited to your individual situation. If you're wondering where to start, take a look at our student lending information and let us help you find the right fit.

  • Overview of Student Loans
  • Choosing the Right Student Loans
  • Choosing a Lender
  • Using Loans (Home Equity vs Student)
  • What Happens if I'm Denied a Private Loan?

Student loan overview

See the bigger picture with school loans

Beginning the college application process can be daunting, especially when you're figuring out how to pay for college. Fortunately though, the same basic steps are followed by most prospective students and their parents:

  1. Decide on a short list of potential schools where you are interested in attending college.
  2. File the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1, even if you don't know where you will be attending school. You can always go back to your FAFSA application and make updates via the FAFSA website.
  3. Apply for any academic grants and scholarships.
  4. Review the financial aid packages you receive from your schools to see your total expenses, federal grants, scholarships, and federal student loans available. Typically it is received in late March from schools that have accepted you for admission, but check with the school for specific dates.
  5. Determine how much additional funding you'll need after exhausting grants, scholarships and subsidized federal loans to meet the total cost of attendance.
  6. Utilize savings or apply for private student loans to cover the remaining costs.

Here are the principal types of student loans for college:

  • Federal Perkins Loans (need based).
  • Subsidized Stafford Loans (need based).
  • Unsubsidized Stafford Loans (all are eligible).
  • PLUS Loans for parents and graduate students.
  • Private student loans (like the Citizens Bank Student Loan™).

It's important to note that Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and PLUS Loans are either Federal Loans or Federal Direct Loans, depending on which program your school participates in. Check with your school to see which type of Stafford and PLUS programs they offer to their students.

Learn more about our affordable Citizens Bank Student Loan

Check out our helpful information about our affordable Citizens Bank Student Loan for students attending eligible institutions and apply today. If you still have questions, call an Education Finance Specialist at 1-888-411-0266, and we'll help walk you through the process of applying for school loans.

Choosing the right student lending option

Understand student loan interest rates and total loan costs

Many families chose to secure private student loans to help finance college expenses. But how do you choose which loans are the best for your family?

Experts say more than $150 billion in financial aid is available each year for post-secondary students. That's why it's important to start the process with the FAFSA application as it gives you access to federal student loan options, grants and scholarship opportunities. However, you should also make sure your student lending research includes private student loans as they are often a great supplement to the free and federal funding that won't cover all your expenses.

Factors to consider for private student loans

There are several factors that parents and students should take into account when comparing student lending options:

  • Competitive student loan interest rates. This is likely at the top of the list for most people. Make sure to scrutinize and compare both the prevailing student loan interest rates and any associated fees.
  • Fixed or variable interest rates. You'll also need to assess whether fixed or variable college loan interest rates are better for your situation. Most private student loans have variable rates. Does the lender offer both options?
  • Annual percentage rate (APR). What is the APR, or the amount you will pay in interest and other fees charged per year? When comparing loans, most borrowers look to the APR because it represents how much total interest you will pay by the end of your loan's term.
  • Flexible repayment and deferment options. Does the loan give you the option of switching to an alternative repayment plan in the event that your financial situation changes? Will you have the flexibility to secure a loan deferment in certain situations?
  • Quality of customer service. Are the institution's online capabilities strong? Can you get your questions answered in a timely manner?
  • Loan resale. Will the lender eventually sell your loan to another institution, and if so, how will that change your service quality?

Looking for more college loan information? Browse our student loan FAQ.

Now that you know more about college loan interest rates, check out Citizens Bank's offerings

Find additional student loan information for students and parents and get helpful information about our Citizens Bank Student Loan. If you still have questions, call an Education Finance Specialist at 1-888-411-0266, and we'll help walk you through the process.

Student lending institutions

Choosing a reliable bank for your private student loans

With college costs growing at about twice the rate of inflation and many family savings pools affected by economic changes, private student loans are becoming more necessary for paying for college than ever. Private student loans offer an opportunity to close the gap between what a family has on hand and what it costs to send their children to college. Be sure to maximize grants, scholarships and federal loans first before taking out a private student loan.

How to find the right student lending institution to borrow from

Here are a few things to consider when evaluating student loan lenders:

  • Do you or your family already have accounts with a bank that offers student loans for the school of your choice? If not, consider a full-service institution that offers a variety of banking options, like checking accounts and student loans.
  • Do you or your family already have student loans through a particular lender? If the answer is yes, you might consider staying right where you are, as long as you are happy with the rates, service, and repayment options.
  • Does the lender offer competitive rates, different payment options and online account access?
  • Does the student loan lender have years of experience offering student loans? Do they appear on a preferred lender list or offer the ability to reach a live person for expert advice? Citizens Bank has over 25 years of experience in the student loan industry.

When you've decided which school you'll be attending, ask your school's financial aid office for a list of its preferred lenders. Preferred lenders of student loans have originated loans for students of that school before, and may be more familiar with your school's process, personnel or policies. However, your school is required to process a loan from any lender, even if they are not on their preferred lender list.

Learn how you can get outstanding customer service from your student loan lender

Find helpful information about our affordable Citizens Bank Student Loan and our convenient student banking options. Also, review our frequently asked questions about student loans and if you want to speak to someone, call an Education Finance Specialist at 1-888-411-0266, and we'll help walk you through the process.

Paying for college using home equity

How to use your home's equity for higher education

College tuition and room and board charges are rising every year. With most families' savings pools negatively affected by the difficult economic climate, many of them need to be more creative when figuring out how to pay for college.

For many, this means obtaining private student loans from banks to cover educational costs over and above those covered by federally guaranteed student loans. But others may choose to close the financial gap by tapping into the equity in their home and using a home equity loan for college expenses. Home equity is the difference between the fair market value of your home and what you owe on it. In other words, it's the portion of the total value in your house that you already own.

Most financial institutions offer both student loan and home equity options. The key difference between the two is that home equity loans require you to own a home with accrued equity that can be borrowed against.

Advantages of paying for college with a home equity loan from Citizens Bank:

  • Proceeds from a home equity line of credit are not considered 'income', so are not reported as an asset.
  • The loan amount is limited only by the amount of equity in the applicant's home, their debt-to-income ratio and credit-worthiness.
  • Home equity loans may qualify you for tax breaks, since in many cases the interest you pay is tax-deductible (check with your tax advisor first).

Start a home equity loan application and get on the road to financing your child's college education.

Learn about other student lending options for your child's education

If using home equity loans for college is not right for your family, Citizens Bank has another option—the Citizens Bank Student Loan—a private education loan. If you have questions about how a student loan can help with college financing, call an Education Finance Specialist at 1-888-411-0266, and we'll help walk you through the process.

Student loan approval

What if my student loan application is denied?

It is possible that your application for a private student loan may be denied. Don't panic or think this means you won't be able to attend college. There are still plenty of possible avenues to pursue. If your parents are helping you, they may consider paying for college with a federal loan designed for parents, the PLUS loan. But you can also apply for a private student loan with a cosigner.

If you apply for a private student loan on your own, without a cosigner, and are denied, it's probably because you have insufficient personal credit history, as is typical for someone of your age. You'll simply have to find a qualified cosigner and re-apply. That cosigner could be a parent or other guardian, a grandparent, an older sibling or perhaps a favorite uncle or aunt. By cosigning your loan, they're agreeing to personally step in and help repay the loan in the event you cannot. At the same time, it doesn't remove your role as the primary borrower. You and the cosigner are equally responsible for repayment.

On the other hand, if you apply with a cosigner and are denied a private student loan, you can find another qualified cosigner and re-apply. The good news is that there are benefits to serving as a cosigner and some lenders do offer the option to be released as a cosigner after a certain period of on-time payments. For example, our Citizens Bank Student Loan has a cosigner release option available after 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest.

How to help prevent student loan denial by establishing good credit

Here are a few pointers on how you can establish good credit, so that in the future you'll possibly qualify on your own:

  • Start out small: Establishing good credit takes time. Start with one credit card.
  • Pay on time, every time: Never miss a monthly payment.
  • Don't pay down, pay off: Pay your credit card bills in full each month.

Learn more about flexible student financing options from Citizens Bank

Review our other helpful student loan information to make sure you're prepared for the start of college. If you want to learn more about our Citizens Bank Student Loan or have questions about paying for college, call an Education Finance Specialist at 1-888-411-0266, and we'll help walk you through the process.