Citizens One

What to Expect with a Student Loan Co-signer

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Learn more about what a co-signer is, who can co-sign a student loan and how co-signing a private student loan impacts a co-signer’s credit

Lending institution must be sure borrowers have steady income and reasonably good credit record before they’ll lend them money. Unfortunately, because most undergraduate students do not have established credit scores or steady incomes, many will not qualify for a loan on their own or, if they do, they likely won’t qualify for the best rates.

In order to be approved for a student loan, students will likely need to apply for student loans with a co-signer of their choice. A co-signer can be any trusted adult who is willing and financially qualified. Learn more about what it means to be a co-signer, how it could impact credit and what alternative options are available in this guide from Citizens Bank.

Student loan co-signer considerations

Before deciding whether or not to become a co-signer, you might want to recommend that your student’s potential co-signer take the following aspects of co-signing a student loan into account:

  • Co-signing a loan could lead to lower interest rates
  • Co-signers may be released from the loan early
  • Co-signing can help a student establish credit
  • Co-signing a loan will impact the co-signer’s credit

Alternatives to taking out a student loan with a co-signer

Rather than co-signing a student loan, some parents, guardians or other trusted adults choose to take out a parent student loan on a child’s behalf. With parent student loans, the responsibility for repayment falls solely to the adult borrower rather than the student. The Citizens One Student Loan for Parents is a private parent student loan that offers competitive rates along with flexible terms and repayment options. For more information about the Citizens Bank Student Loan for Parents or on co-signing a student loan vs. taking out a parent student loan, contact a Student Lending Specialist.

Learn more about college loan options and planning and paying for college from Citizens One

There are several factors that the student and trusted adult should consider when determining whether to apply for a student loan with a co-signer or applying for a parent student loan on their own, and we’re here to help you understand them. The student loan application process  is a guide to help answer your questions on applying for loans. We offer helpful information on planning and payment for college at

Getting to Know You

Continuing with our blog series, ‘Getting to Know You’.  We will be getting to know a financial aid colleague from each state in the region a little better. Next up, Montana!

Getting to Know You

When I sat down to start this blog post, I didn’t want to just pick someone at random. More importantly I did not want to pick someone from my office and make it seem like I was playing favorites. So instead, I mass-emailed my state’s Financial Aid association and asked for recommendations to see who everyone felt should be “spotlighted”. I received two nominations from two amazing professionals who recommended two people who they felt deserved appreciation for their hard work. Janet Riis recommended Shauna Savage who coincidentally was this month’s Spotlight for the Distinguished Service Award. Shauna, in her humbleness suggested that I spotlight the other person instead. Sandy Christiansen, University of Montana nominated Emily Williamson, the Director of Financial Aid & Scholarships at Montana State University of Billings. Shauna stated the following when asked why she felt Emily should be spotlighted:

“I would like to have to have her spotlighted since I think she is an inspiration to everyone she meets and whoever hears her speak. She is a wonderful role model especially for young women entering the financial aid field. She worked hard to become the amazing young woman she is. She earned the role she is in today due to hard work and strong ethics. I am so proud to have had her as a supervisor.  I had much more experience in financial aid than she did when she became my supervisor. I had similar experiences with this in the past and it was not always an easy path to travel.  Emily always gave me the respect I felt I deserved and I loved working for her. She would ask advice from me and then proceed in the way she felt best. She always considered the needs of her employees and the students. I do not know of anyone who does not like or respect her.”

Coincidentally, Emily is also my supervisor and I can confirm that she is one of the most hard-working people you could ever meet. She puts our whole team before herself and often can be seen working the front desk so that team members can work on files, attend trainings or even just to take vacations. Even more than being a supportive leader, she makes work fun and less stressful by just being her amazing self. However, don’t just take my word for it read below to see how charismatic she is.

Emily's picture

What is your background and how did you get into financial aid?

I was an unsuspecting freshman eager to put her work-study award to use at the University of Montana. Oddly enough my top pick wasn’t the financial aid office, but they were the first to call and the rest is history.

What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?

One summer in high school I was a flower shop delivery driver. I experienced some very strange apology attempts from lovers who had erred in their ways.

What’s your favorite book?

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy reading and gardening. I find pulling weeds extremely therapeutic after a long day, week or month at work.

At which store or travel destination would you like to max-out your credit card? Any reason why?

Scotland is on my list of places to visit and if I happen to find myself a kilted husband while I’m there, I won’t complain.

Favorite line from a movie?

“Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This… is my BOOMSTICK!” ~ Army of Darkness

What is the best thing you ever got from a fellow staff member? (i.e. an item or piece of advice)

When I applied for my current position, my dear friend Terri Gruba gave me some sage advice:  “Remember it’s not brain surgery, nobody is going to die if you screw up.”

If you had to share a memory about work, what would it be and why?

There are too many to tell, but for me they all are linked to the amazing sense of pride I get knowing that the work I do, we all do, is so impactful on our students’ lives. That we can be the difference in someone attaining a degree and fulfilling their dreams. As a first generation, Pell Grant recipient myself I have experienced this on personal level, and knowing that I can do the same for others is extremely powerful, humbling and inspiring.

If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Oh man, this is tough but I would have to choose some type of TexMex, and since I’m currently craving Crispy Pinto Bean Burritos from Taco Time that’ll have to be my pick.

Do you have a secret talent? Or is there a talent you wish you had?

No secret talents, I’m an open book perhaps too open sometimes. So maybe I should wish for the ability to not mirror my thoughts on my face in certain meetings or settings.

What is something on your bucket list?

To live abroad.

Do you have any phobias?

I am afraid of birds, especially those of the larger variety… Fowl are foul.

What was one thing you could not live without as a kid?

My Velveteen Rabbit

If you could say one thing to the person who nominated you, what would it be?

Thank you! I am very humbled by the nomination especially when I know that I work with a great group of Montanans who are even more deserving of the spotlight.

What is one thing you like to share about yourself that people often forget to ask about?

I enjoy any and every opportunity to dress up in a costume and make a fool of myself.


Alora Blue
Association News Committee, Montana

President’s Report and Farewell

My very first thought this morning when Association News Chair Ellie Roberts asked me for my Farewell Post for the blog was “Oh my God, I’ve been impeached…”.  But my calendar tells me something different.  It’s been almost a full year since Joe Donlay passed the gavel to me and now it’s almost time to pass it on to the very capable hands of Ken Kocer.  When I threw my hat in the ring for this three-year stint on the Board, it sounded like such a long period of time to commit.  In reality it’s been more like a heartbeat…and truly an amazing experience I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

Here are some highlights of the year:

Two, two, two treasurers in one!!  (I’m channeling an old breath mint commercial…remember Certs??)  After determining that only so much labor could be expected from one volunteer individual in the Treasurer position, the NASFAA Board last year voted to split this position into two individuals, serving in overlapping two year time frames.  The premise for the decision was to split up responsibilities to make the time commitment more manageable, and make the training process less burdensome for outgoing Treasurers.  Hopefully Donna Carter and Becca Dobry will be able to enlighten us at the upcoming board meeting as to how the first year went and what changes may be necessary in this split going forward.

Vice-President:  And in a continued effort to more fairly distribute workload between executive board members, this elected position has moved to a two-year commitment, with current VP Stephanie Covington graciously agreeing to be the first VP to serve the two years even though when she was voted in for the current year it was for a one-year term!!  I’m always impressed with the service that so many of our members give to RMASFAA and their willingness to go above and beyond.  Thank you Stephanie for voluntarily doubling the commitment and the fun!!

Ad Hoc Archive Committee:  Out with the old and in with the new!  After years of batting this topic around and not being able to answer that burning question “What should we do with all of this old stuff?”, VP Stephanie Covington and her ad hoc committee has formulated a game plan for disposal of old and archiving of new.  Thank you to Stephanie and her crew for all of the crazy amount of work that went into this process!  For those of you who will be at the Business Meeting in Wichita, Stephanie will be updating us all on the game plan.

Summer Institute, oh Summer Institute…wherefore art though??   Knowing that 2017 was our last year on the Colorado School of Mines contract for SI, two sets of individuals (Joe Donlay and Rob Drybread in Colorado and Beth Sisk and myself in Nebraska) set about the task of visiting several locations to see if there was a better, more cost effective location for SI out there.  The end result is a move to Colorado Springs beginning 2018!  We’re excited to be bringing this popular event to Colorado College with another breathtaking view and a wonderful facility.  Mark your calendars people, because Carolyn Halgerson and her SI crew are already making plans for a fantastic event the week of June 3rd!!

Training:   It was only a couple of years ago that RMASFAA offered its first Webinar in the training realm.  Now this year, starting with seven opportunities for Credentialing and many more sessions for training outside of the credentialing realm, it’s been a crazy year for the Training Committee.  The number of individuals that these training offerings have reached is staggering.  Congrats to Janet Dodson and her committee for an incredibly successful year!!

NASFAA Thought Force:  Participating in the NASFAA alignment thought force conversation about the possibility of aligning vision and function among the national, regional and state associations were four brave souls (Art Young, Brenda Hicks, Mary Sommers and myself).  This coming together of national and regional representatives spawned some interesting and sometimes provocative conversation.  Unfortunately because the needs and wants across the regions appear to be so vastly different, the conversation has somewhat stalled.  But the conversations aren’t over and the work of the Thought Force is certainly appreciable, and I am confident that at least parts of the conversation will take root and eventually result in organizational efficiencies down the road.

So it is with mixed emotions that I write my final farewell post for the year.  I wouldn’t have missed the experience for anything, but I am happy to see what the next BOD has in store for this amazing organization.  There are no better financial aid folk than RMASFAA folk, and I have cherished my trips around the region to state conferences and my interactions with this amazing Board. I hope to see a lot of you in Wichita here in a couple of weeks, but if not, I wish you a fruitful and satisfying year!!

Vicki Kucera
RMASFAA President



Distinguished Service Award – Shauna Savage

Continuing with our RMASFAA Distinguished Service Award series. Throughout the series we will be asking past recipients of this award to share their stories and experiences with RMASFAA. The next post in this series features Shauna Savage, Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Montana Tech. 

Shauna Savage

Can you tell me a little about your current position and something fun about you?

I am the Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Montana Tech.  Some of my responsibilities are managing our scholarship program, being the funky-tech for Banner, and supervising two of the best and hardest workers I know.

My first RMASFAA was in Wichita, KS.  There was a group that drove from Montana and to say the trip was epic is an understatement.  We still have great laughs over all the crazy things that happened.  We made wonderful memories and I’m a little sad that we won’t have a repeat this time around.

How did you get involved in Financial Aid?

When I was in my sophomore physics class at Montana Tech, my professor handed me a sticky note that said I had to go to see the Director of Financial Aid in the Financial Aid Office.  I had no idea why I was asked to do so but at the end of the meeting, I was offered a work-study position.  I guess it was a good fit since twenty plus years later I’m still in the business.

Can you tell me about your experiences with RMASFAA?  

I have served on the RMASFAA Board as the Montana delegate, the Membership Chair, the Electronic Initiatives Committee Chair, and now on the Leadership Pipeline Chair.  I have also served on the Association News Committee, Conference Planning Committees, and Conference Program Committees.  I enjoyed each area that I served as it really allowed you to get to know people in the association better and to have a better understanding of all the amazing opportunities that RMASFAA provides to its members.

What did (and does) this award mean to you especially since a few years have passed?

It reminds me that good teamwork and perseverance help you reach your goal.

Do you have any relationships with other Distinguished Service Award recipients?

There are many other Distinguished Service Award recipients that I have served on the RMASFAA Board with, become friends with, and reach out to when I have a question, need support, or am looking for mentors for Leadership Pipeline.  However, the one that stands out to me is Terri Gruba.  She has been a great mentor, biggest cheerleader, and a dear friend.

What has been the best moment of your career so far?

I have lots of great moments from the student who learns to complete their FAFSA on their own to seeing them graduate and move on to successful careers or the relief and gratefulness that a family or student has when they realize that they can afford to pursue their higher education dreams.  I think that is why most of us truly enjoy our work.

The one moment that stands out to me personally was being recognized as Montana’s Financial Aid Professional of the Year in April.  It was so unexpected and the way my campus responded to the announcement was really overwhelming.

What’s next for you? (Personally or Professionally)

I’m going to take a little hiatus from volunteering professionally, except for the RMASFAA Conference in Montana in 2019, and use the extra time to spend with my youngest daughter.  She is a freshman in high school and, now that my oldest has graduated, I know that no one can prepare you for how fast it goes!

Dani Reynolds
Association News Committee – Newman University


RMASFAA Philanthropy Project

We are proud to be partnering with Wichita, Kansas based organization ICT SOS at RMASFAA 2017…

And We Need Your Help!


ICT SOS ( seeks to end domestic sex trafficking through prevention efforts and acts as a liaison between volunteers and the professional organizations who work with at-risk and trafficked youth to create a community that is educated, empowered, and equipped to take action for local impact.

How Can You Help While at the RMASFAA Conference?

Here’s How:

  1. Provide items for the Fresh Start Bags. It may be a challenge for those traveling to pack a full Fresh Start Bag.  ICT SOS has made the following recommendations regarding donations:
    • Do not donate toiletries and hygiene products.  They currently have a very large supply of these items.
    • The most-needed clothing items are sweatpants and hoodies for teen boys and girls.  They ask that you provide new items.  This sends a message that the receiver is WORTH nice, new things.
    • If your office would like to go together to build a full Fresh Start Bag, please note the guidelines listed HERE.
  2. Provide items for tattoo removal/cover-up.  Specifically, they request the following:
    • Unscented Lotion
    • Aquaphor and/or A&D Ointment
    • Liquid anti-bacterial soap
    • Smaller drawstring type backpack
  1. Provide cash donations.  Cash is king!  It travels easily and it allows ICT SOS to purchase the items most-needed for the Fresh Start Bags.  You may donate cash on-site at the conference (donation receipts will be available) or offer checks made payable directly to ICT SOS.

When making your packing list for the RMASFAA Conference, don’t forget to include ICT SOS!  Thank you for helping us make a difference for this very worthy organization.

If you have any questions about the philanthropy project, please contact Robb Cummings, Philanthropy Chair at or 785-228-9910.

See you next month in Wichita!

Find more info on the attached document or online:


Distinguished Service Award- Pat McTee

Continuing with our RMASFAA Distinguished Service Award series. Throughout the series we will be asking past recipients of this award to share their stories and experiences with RMASFAA. The next post in this series features Pat McTee, Director of Student Success Services at American Indian College Fund.


McTee-97669 cropped


What does receiving the Distinguished Service Award mean to you?

Being recognized for one’s contributions is a special honor, but when that recognition comes from your peers it’s much more special.  When looking over the list of recipients it strikes me as to how many of them I have looked up to with awe over the years.  It’s very humbling to now see my name besides theirs on the list.

What was your first experience with RMASFAA?

Quite honestly I don’t recall my first RMASFAA experience.  It’s been a few years.  I became a RMASFAA member when I moved to Nebraska to work at the University of Nebraska Kearney.  Getting involved with the Nebraska association introduced me to many amazing financial aid professionals, and quite a few were very involved with RMASFAA.  It seemed only natural to follow their example, and it only took a few years before I was helping with my first RMASFAA Summer Institute in 1988.  Since then I’ve either been on the committee or served as faculty for about 15 Summer Institutes.

If someone was interested in joining RMASFAA, what would be a few things you would suggest?

I made a career move that took me away from RMASFAA for about 7 years.  During that time I was involved with the Midwest region (MASFAA).  It’s a good association but nothing like RMASFAA.  The conferences, summer institutes, training, and camaraderie provided by RMASFAA are second to none.  Join and get involved!

When an Assistant Director at one of the schools I worked at was retiring after over 20 years in financial aid, she commented to me that her only regret was that she had not gotten involved with either RMASFAA or the state association sooner.  I worked with her for only 5 years and encouraged her to attend meetings and become involved during that time. She commented on how much she grew professionally and personally just as a result of those few years.  I’m confident that if she had been involved for her whole career that she would have been one of RMASFAA’s top leaders.

What’s the best thing to happen since you started working with RMASFAA?

I’d have to say that without a doubt the best part about involvement with RMASFAA is the connections I’ve made throughout the years with other financial aid professionals all across the country.  I have an amazing peer support network that’s both professionally and personally important to me.  The opportunity to work with these amazing individuals, ranging from a brief phone call to a DC committee trip to the hill, has been awesome.  To be able to call many of them friends and laugh and cry through life with them has also been invaluable.

Get involved!  You’ll never regret it!