Citizens Bank: We'll refinance student loans

Royal Bank of Scotland owns Citizens Bank of Pa. (Kelvin Ma / Bloomberg)

With lenders under pressure from the Obama administration and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help prevent more graduate students and other private-student-loan borrowers from joining the 850,000 who are already in default, Citizens Bank, the UK-owned Rhode Island company that's one of Pennsylvania's largest lenders, says it's preparing to be one of the first banks to offer student-loan refinancing: variable-rate loans into fixed-rate loans, interest rates starting below 3%, no fees, and other perks. 

The Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan is in part a response to a recent CFPB report on private student loans, which linked some students' difficultlies paying back to their loans to the fact that student loan debt -- since it can't be easily written off even by bankrupt people -- is hard to consolidate with other loans into refinancing loans. Bankers met last week with CFPB boss Richard Cordray to talk about the problem.

CFPB found "that there are very few refinancing options for student loans and has urged the creation of a market for the refinancing of private student loans to help make student debt more manageable, which is why the product was created," Citizens spokeswoman Susan Buehler told me.

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