Citizens Bank Student Loan Refinance Review

Our Rating: B (Compare)

College Ave may be a good option for a student borrower with a strong credit history and steady employment with an average to above-average income.

Loan Limits $5,000 – $300,000
Fixed Rates 3.99%* – 8.24%
Variable Rates 3.44% – 8.24% (25.00% Cap)
Terms 5 to 15 years
Min. Credit Score Undisclosed
Apply Link

*Lowest rates always include the 0.25% interest reduction for enrolling in auto-pay.

Skip to: Rates & Fees | Eligibility Requirements | Repayment Options | Consumer Reviews & Complaints | FAQ

Loan Refinancing Options
Private student loans
Private parent loans (in parent’s name only)
Federal student loans
Federal Parent PLUS loans (in parent’s name only)

College Ave Refinance Rates & Fees

College Ave’s fixed rates are between 3.99% and 8.24%. Variable rates are 3.44% to 8.24%. Note that the lowest rates always include the 0.25% interest reduction for enrolling in auto-pay.

In 2022, College Ave has raised its lowest fixed rate for new loans by 33.4% (from 2.99% APR) and its highest fixed rate by 58.8% (from 5.19% APR). Meanwhile, the lowest variable rate has increased 17.0% (from 2.94% APR) while the highest variable rate is up 61.9% (from 5.09% APR).

Refinance Loan Rates
Term Fixed Rate Variable Rate
5 – 15 Years 3.99% – 8.24% 3.44% – 8.24%

Additional information about College Ave refinance rates:

  • Checking your rate with College Ave will not affect your credit score. They will conduct a soft, not hard, credit inquiry (learn the difference).
  • Variable rates are based on the 1-month LIBOR (2.55% as of this writing) as published by The Wall Street Journal on the 5th day (or the next business day) of the preceding calendar month.
  • Variable rates are capped at 25.00%.

Student Loan Refinancing Calculator

Based on advertised rates, use the calculator below to determine what your new monthly payment and potential savings may be if you refinance with College Ave.

Additional Fees

Beyond interest rates, there are a number of fees a refinance lender may charge up-front or during the loan servicing period. Below is a list of these fees that College Ave does or does not charge.

Fee Type Amount Charged
Application Fee None
Loan Origination Fee None
Disbursement Fee Undisclosed
Prepayment Penalty None
Late Payment Fee $25 or 5% of the unpaid amount of the monthly payment
Returned Payment Fee $25
Collection Fee Unspecified
  1. Application fee – fee to apply for rates & approval.
  2. Loan origination fee – fee to create the new loan.
  3. Disbursement fee – fee for distributing funds to lenders to pay off loans that have been refinanced.
  4. Prepayment penalty – fee for making extra payments to reduce a refinance loan balance or pay it off early.
  5. Late payment fee – fee for making a late payment.
  6. Returned payment fee – fee for failed payments due to insufficient funds, also known as a “bounced check.”
  7. Collection fee – fee for collection activity on a defaulted debt. College Ave discloses a collection fee but does not specify a dollar amount.

Current Promotions & Offers

College Ave promotes monthly sweepstakes for borrowers to earn a $1,000 scholarship. No purchase is necessary to participate, but only current secondary and postsecondary students of the age of majority are eligible.

The monthly drawing occurs on the fifth day of each month. Potential winners will be notified via email or telephone, depending on the preference they indicated in their online entry.

Periodically, College Ave also advertises contests, scholarships, discounts, and other prizes. These are typically limited-time offers.

College Ave Refinance Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for refinancing with College Ave, all borrowers must meet the criteria below.

  • Citizenship Requirement: U.S. citizenship or permanent residence.
  • Income Requirement: undisclosed.
  • Credit Score Requirement: undisclosed.
  • Graduation Requirement: associate’s degree or above.
  • Location Requirement: within the United States, excluding Maine.

Additional restrictions apply for specific individuals and loans.

  • The refinance limit is $300,000 for graduates with degrees in medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, or veterinary medicine.
  • Those with undergraduate or other graduate degrees may refinance up to $150,000.
  • Disclosures reference a debt-to-income ratio but do not specify limits.
  • In order to refinance a loan, the loan must not have delinquent status.

College Ave Student Loan Repayment Options

Lenders vary significantly on the benefits and options provided to borrowers during the loan servicing period. Additionally, benefits may only be available on a case-by-case basis. College Ave offers some relief options.

Deferment & Forbearance

College Ave does not disclose any conditions that may make a refinance loan eligible for deferment or forbearance.

See College Ave’s conditions for deferment and forbearance below.

Condition Coverage
Returning to grad school (Fellowship) Unspecified
Disability rehabilitation Undisclosed
Active military duty Undisclosed
Involuntary unemployment Undisclosed
Economic hardship Undisclosed
Natural Disaster Unspecified
Temporary Hardship Unspecified

Additional Options

College Ave may offer other opportunities for relief or contract modification.

  • Co-signer release is not available with College Ave.
  • Death / disability discharge may be available in the unfortunate circumstance that a borrower passes away or suffers total permanent disability.

College Ave Reviews, Complaints & Lawsuits

Beyond our own findings, our team also collected the most genuinely insightful customer experiences we could find, including any instances of legal action against the company in which the details became public.

College Ave Online Reviews

Below are 3 samples of College Ave customer reviews we found on public forums, included here for their value as unedited, uncensored, and unsolicited user experiences. Note that these reviews are unverified, may include inaccuracies, and may provide outdated information (about rates, bonus offers, etc.).


“So about a month ago I started the search for better rates on about 33,000 on my own loan and about 15,000 on my wife’s. Mine was for a mix of my bachelor/masters degrees. We ran our application through Credible and College Ave Loans (a leg of Nationwide) quoted us the best rates at just a bit over 4%. We also checked out a few other companies that weren’t included in Credible, but none beat the lowest rate.

First I refinanced my wife’s loans and I used her Credible referral link to sign myself up. Through the referral link we scored an additional $1,200 cash referral bonus that was transferred to us within days. 1k to the referrer (wife) and 200 to the new referral (me). I was worried about that part, but it was a smooth transaction.

Our loans which varied in providers (Firstmark, Navient, Nelnet, Etc.) all were paid off within 3 weeks of our application and I just set up my first payment through Nationwide/College Ave at a much better rate than we were at before.

We both have excellent credit, stable employment history, and our jobs are fairly middle of the road salaries.

Highly recommend Credible and College Ave based on my initial experience.”Inception05 on reddit, 8/5/2018


“I’ve been struggling to make my [private lender] student loan payments which were almost $700 for a few months now and had run out of deferrals. Refinancing is really overwhelming with so many options. My dad sent me a link to [a marketplace lender website] and they gave me tons of quotes. I ended up going with college ave student loans and they got my payments down to $200 for the first two years of the loan, and $400 after that. Very glad to be rid of Sallie Mae and have a loan with a reasonable rate and payment :)”samanas6608 on reddit, 2/5/2018


“I ended up going with College Avenue – one of the first lenders that got back to me. I was offered a five year repayment at 2.75% for $187,770. This lowered my interest from 6.8% for a savings of about $8,000 since I plan to pay this off in the next 1.5-2 years.

I’m not sure if it’s typical for College Avenue Refinancing, but I got a “Head of Refinancing” actually calling me, giving me cell phone and e-mail access for questions as they arose. (It could have been the loan amount that earned me this special service)…

Once approved through College Avenue Refinancing the longest part was getting the payoff amounts from my individual loans.

The most challenging thing throughout the whole process was keeping track of which company I was actually working with- Credible found me the lenders, College Ave Refinancing was my lender, and the day after my loan disbursement I was contacted by Navient who will be collecting the payment. Maybe I’m naïve about how this all works, but my head was spinning with all the names and log-ins that I had to keep track of. Now that it’s done it will be nice to make 1 payment though. It’s hard not to feel cheated and ripped off (and averse to debt) when the company you’re working with keeps changing.”Dr. Abigail Plzin on White Coat Investor, 5/13/2016


More (unfiltered) customer reviews of College Ave are available at TrustPilot.com (2.6 out of 5).

College Ave Consumer Complaints

As consumer finance companies, student loan refinancing lenders fall under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency. As part of its mission, the CFPB allows consumers to log official complaints. These complaints are publicly available on the CFPB official website.

Since April 11, 2017, consumers have submitted 43 complaints about College Ave Student Loan Servicing, LLC (College Ave) student loan product to the CFPB. College Ave averages one (1) complaint every 45 days and 19 hours, which is 24.5% higher than the average daily complaint rate among reviewed lenders.

Among complaints about College Ave, 25 or 58.1% include accompanying narrative explanations. Six (6) or 24.0% of these narratives explicitly reference student loan refinancing.

In 2022, the average annual complaint rate is 125.8% higher (as of this writing) than it is in an average year.

In 2021, College Ave received 10 complaints, which is 25.5% higher than its average annual complaint rate; it is also equivalent to one (1) complaint for every $2.027 million in estimated corporate revenue or roughly one (1) complaint for every 7 employees.

The allegations made in these complaints are unverified, are not necessarily representative of all consumers’ experiences with College Ave, and may contain outdated information (about rates, bonus offers, etc.). Note that a lender with a large customer base is likely to also have a higher number of complaints when compared with smaller lenders.

Line Graph: College Ave Consumer Complaints, public complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from 2014 (0), 2015 (0), 2016 (0), 2017 (2), 2018 (5), 2019 (6), 2020 (8), and 2021 (10)

Below we’ve included the 3 most recent complaints (as of this writing) in which the consumer consented to share their details.


Complaint 5262064
2/25/2022
Michigan

“Someone used my SSN and other info to cosign a loan application through College Ave. When I found out, I contacted College Ave and let them know that it was a case of identity theft and I had not actually authorized this individual to use my info. Fortunately, the loan application was denied and no funds were disbursed. However, I still filed a police report for identity theft with the XXXX Police Department in Michigan Report # XXXX, Contact XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX to verify ). I requested a copy of the application from College Ave so I can use it to support my police report and they refused to provide it, despite the fact that it was made using my information. As a result of their refusal to provide a copy of the application, College Ave is preventing me from seeking justice for having my identity stolen and used to fraudulently secure a loan.”


Complaint 5154626
1/26/2022
Georgia

“On XX/XX/2022 College Ave disbursed a student loan to Georgia XXXX in the amount of {$17000.00}. I am not enrolled this semester, and so Georgia XXXX returned the loan on XX/XX/2022. College Ave is not recognizing the returned funds and is still charging me interest on this amount. * Georgia XXXX bursar says to contact XXXX XXXX XXXX. * XXXX XXXX XXXX says the funds were returned and to contact the Bursar with questions. * College Ave says they don’t have records of the funds being returned. In addition, on XX/XX/2022, a payment was made by XXXX XXXX to College Ave in order to refinance my College Ave loans. College Ave is not recognizing this payment and is still charging me interest on these loans. College Ave says they have no record of the loans being returned or the payment being made and I have no way of proving who paid what. * XXXX XXXX says the payment was sent. * College Ave isn’t recognizing any payment. * I’m being charged interest by both parties.”


Complaint 4836975
10/22/2021
South Dakota

“Ive been in touch with this lender, CollegeAve, 10 times since this issue started. During Covid my father lost his job. I called asking if there was some way we could adjust the payments due to our income changing. He is my co-signer. They told me I could only defer it or make $ XXXX monthly payments. I wasnt thrilled about how low the only other payment option was, but I said I would go with that option. They put me on forbearance instead. The next month, when I went to make the payment, I called letting them know there was a mistake. I was told there was nothing they could do about it and I would have to wait the 6 months until the forbearance was up. I called 3 more times. I called again when they dinged my credit for a missed payment while I was on forbearance. After threatening to take legal action, it disappeared off of my credit report and student loan statement. I waited the 6 months to call again and attempt the {$25.00} option for the 2nd time ( or see if there were other options ) and was put back into forbearance. Again I was told there was nothing that could be done. My forbearance is up XX/XX/XXXX. I need an income based repayment plan. They have now added a year of interest to my balance. I was told my only option would be to refinance if I wanted something better suited for my income, but with my credit score alone I dont qualify for one. My co-signers credit has only taken a hit since not having work to pay his debts.”


For a full list of complaints made against College Ave in the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database, click here.

College Ave Lawsuits

College Ave has not been subject to any major legal action since its 2014 launch. Note that while this information is updated regularly, ongoing legal action is subject to change.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most common questions consumers have about student loan refinancing with College Ave.

  • Is College Ave good for refinancing student loans?
    College Ave may be a good option for a student borrower with a strong credit history and steady employment with an average to above-average income.
  • Does College Ave have a minimum credit score requirement to refinance student loans?
    College Ave does not disclose a minimum allowable credit score to qualify for student loan refinancing.
  • Are College Ave loans federal?
    College Ave loans are not federal. College Ave has no affiliation with the federal government or the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Does College Ave charge a prepayment penalty?
    There are no penalties for early payments or repaying a loan in full before its term is over.
  • Does checking your rates with College Ave hurt your credit score?
    College Ave performs a soft credit check for their prequalification process, which will not hurt your credit score. If you proceed with an application, however, College Ave will perform a hard credit check that may affect your credit score.
  • Is College Ave a bank?
    College Ave is not a bank, nor is it affiliated with any bank.
  • Can I refinance a College Ave loan?
    You can refinance a College Ave student loan or a student loan from another private lender. There is no limit to the number of times a borrower may refinance with College Ave. Note, however, that every new line of credit requires a hard credit check that may affect your FICO score.
  • Can I refinance just some of my loans with College Ave?
    Yes, you can refinance some, all, or just one of your qualifying student loans with College Ave. You may choose to refinance your private loans only or refinance private and federal loans together.
  • Can I refinance loans that have already been refinanced?
    Yes, you can refinance loans as many times as you want with College Ave. Note that each time you refinance, you will have to submit a new application; every application requires a hard credit check that may affect your credit score.
  • Can my spouse and I refinance our loans together with College Ave?
    College Ave does not allow spouses to combine their debts into a single refinance loan.
  • How long does it take to refinance with College Ave?
    After receiving a final loan disclosure, College Ave typically pays off all student loans within 3 to 4 weeks. The first repayment is due 25 to 55 days after loan disbursement.
  • Who services College Ave refinance loans?
    University Accounting Service (UAS) services all College Ave refinance loans.
  • Does College Ave offer a grace period?
    College Ave does not offer a grace period with its refinance loans.
  • How often do variable rates change?
    College Ave uses the 1-month LIBOR to determine variable rates. Rates update monthly.
  • Can I get any special rates or discounts with College Ave?
    Yes, College Ave regularly offers one-time deals and prizes in addition to monthly scholarship sweepstakes. This lender also partners with other organizations to offer their employees and/or members special deals.
  • What happens if I file for bankruptcy?
    Filing for bankruptcy will not necessarily discharge a College Ave Refinance Loan.
  • Does College Ave partner with any refinance lender marketplaces?
    Yes, College Ave partners with Credible as part of its multilender marketplace. Purefy‘s marketplace also features College Ave.

Compare Student Loan Refinance Reviews

Lender Rating
RISLA A+
Brazos A
CommonBond A
Credible A
Advantage A-
ELFI A-
Laurel Road A-
Mpower Financing A-
Splash Financial A-
Purefy B+
UW Credit Union B+
LendKey B+
College Ave B
PenFed B
SoFi B
Earnest B-
EDvestinU B-
INvestEd B-
MEFA B-
Sparrow B-
Yrefy B-
Citizens Bank C+
ISL C+
Lend-Grow C+
SELF Refi C+
SuperMoney C+
First Tech Federal C
BECU C-
Navy Federal C-
First Republic Bank D+
iHelp D+
Discover D
Nelnet Bank D
PNC Bank D-
NaviRefi F

Sources

  1. College Ave, Student Loan Refinance
  2. College Ave Refi Education Loan Variable Rate Application and Solicitation Disclosure
  3. CFPB, Annual Report of the CFPB Private Education Loan Ombudsman
  4. CFPB, Consumer Complaint Database
  5. Dun & Bradstreet, Business Directory: College Avenue Student Loans, LLC
  6. Better Business Bureau, Search Businesses and Charities