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RISLA Review

RISLA student loans can work for students or parents who need to borrow money for school, as well as those who need to refinance existing loans. Auto-pay discounts are offered, and interest rates are competitive when you compare to other lenders.

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Holly Johnson
Written by:Holly Johnson
Award-Winning Personal Finance Contributor

Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is a non-profit organization that provides a range of student loans for students and parents. Borrowing options include student loans for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as parent student loans, certificate loans, and refinance loans. Customers who choose this lender may be able to qualify for competitive rates and terms, and some loan options allow borrowers to defer payments until after they graduate.

Pros
RI Advantage offers additional savings
No origination fees or hidden fees
Special interest savings for RI nurses
Co-signer release options available
Partial loan forgiveness for internships
Multi-year loan option
Income-based repayment offered
Cons
$40,000 minimum income required
No variable rate loans
Lowest rates go to Rhode Island students
Lowest rates require auto-pay

What Types of Student Loans Do RISLA Offer?

Nearly any type of borrower could turn to RISLA loans for their financing needs, including students currently enrolled in college, graduates who are considering a RISLA student loan refinance, and parents helping their kids fund higher education.

Here are the main loan types this lender offers:

  • Undergraduate and Graduate Student Loans
  • Student Loan Refinancing
  • Parent Student Loans
  • Certificate Loans

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Loan Review

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Loan Features

RISLA offers a range of student loan options for current and future students, including undergraduate and graduate student loans for borrowers attending school. These loans can be repaid over 120 to 180 months, and immediate or deferred payments are available. There are also income-based repayment options that let students base their monthly payments on how much they earn.

Loan terms Immediate or deferred payments
Repayment period 10 or 15 years
Loan amount $1,500 to $45,000 per year
Loan Structure Flexibility Fixed interest rates; income-based repayment options available

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Loan Interest Rates and Fees

RISLA student loans don't charge any origination fees or hidden fees, nor will you pay any fees if you pay your student loans off early. Interest rates range from 4.99% to 6.94% with auto-pay, but it's worth noting that students attending college in Rhode Island can qualify for the lowest possible rates through a program called RI advantage

Borrowing/Origination Fees None
Prepayment Fees None
Late Payment Fees 6% of the late payment amount
Maintenance Fees None
Fixed Rates 4.99% to 6.94% with auto-pay
Variable Rates None

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Loan Qualification Requirements

Borrowers who are considering RISLA student loans must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is attending a Title IV degree-granting school. A minimum credit score of 680 is required, and the student or their co-signer must have a minimum income of at least $40,000.

Institution Type & Course Load Requirements Must attend a Title IV degree-granting school
Minimum Credit Score 680
Minimum Income $40,000
Maximum Debt-to-Income Not disclosed
Co-signer/Joint Application Requirements Co-signers accepted

RISLA Student Loan Refinancing Review

RISLA Student Loan Refinancing Features

A RISLA student loan refinance can come with a repayment plan that lasts from 5 to 15 years, and immediate or deferred refinancing is available. The maximum amount refinanced is limited to $250,000, and fixed interest rates are the only type offered. That said, there are some income-based repayment options available, which can make repayment easier to handle.

Loan terms Immediate or deferred refinancing
Repayment period 5, 10, or 15 years
Loan amount $7,500 per year up to $250,000 maximum
Loan Structure Flexibility Fixed interest rates; income-based repayment options available

RISLA Student Loan Refinancing Interest Rates and Fees

Refinance loans from RISLA come with no origination fees and no hidden fees. However, a late payment fee of 6% of the loan amount can be charged if you pay your bill after its due date. Interest rates are fixed and vary based on your credit score, your income, and whether you choose to make immediate payments or defer payments until after you graduate school.

Borrowing/Origination Fees None
Prepayment Fees None
Late Payment Fees 6% of the late payment amount
Maintenance Fees None
Fixed Rates 4.29% to 6.79% with auto-pay
Variable Rates None

RISLA Student Loan Refinancing Qualification Requirements

Students who want to refinance with RISLA can do so during school or after they graduate. However, their loans must have been used for earning a degree at a Title IV degree-granting school, and for-profit schools don't qualify. Co-signers are accepted, and borrowers can apply with or without a co-signer.

Institution Type & Course Load Requirements Original loans must have been used for attendance at eligible Title IV degree-granting (for-profit schools excluded) institutions in the United States
Minimum Credit Score 680
Minimum Income $40,000
Maximum Debt-to-Income Not disclosed
Co-signer/Joint Application Requirements Co-signers accepted

Parent Student Loan Review

Parent Student Loan Features

Parent student loans from RISLA come with immediate repayment options or payments that begin six months after the dependent leaves school. Borrowers can access $1,500 to $45,000 in funding per year, and interest rates are always fixed. Repayment options are for 10 or 15 years depending on the borrower's needs.

Loan terms Immediate or deferred repayment
Repayment period 10 or 15 years
Loan amount $1,500 to $45,000 per year
Loan Structure Flexibility Fixed interest rates; income-based repayment options available

Parent Student Loan Interest Rates and Fees

RISLA parent student loans don't charge any origination fees or hidden fees. Interest rates are always fixed, although the lowest rates come with auto-pay and the RI Advantage discount. Note that a late payment fee of 6% of the late payment amount can apply.

Borrowing/Origination Fees None
Prepayment Fees None
Late Payment Fees 6% of the late payment amount
Maintenance Fees None
Fixed Rates 4.99% to 6.94% with auto-pay
Variable Rates None

Parent Student Loan Qualification Requirements

Parent student loans are available to parents whose dependent is attending a Title IV degree-granting school, although the student must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. A minimum income of $40,000 applies, and a minimum credit score of 680 is necessary for borrowers.

Institution Type & Course Load Requirements Student must attend a Title IV degree-granting school
Minimum Credit Score 680
Minimum Income $40,000
Maximum Debt-to-Income Not disclosed
Co-signer/Joint Application Requirements Co-signers accepted

Certificate Loan Review

Certificate Loan Features

RISLA also offers student loans for borrowers who are earning a certificate instead of a degree. These loans are offered in amounts that range from $1,500 to $45,000 per year, and immediate or deferred repayment options are available. Borrowers can repay their certificate loans over 10 to 15 years.

Loan terms Immediate or deferred repayment
Repayment period 10 or 15 years
Loan amount $1,500 to $45,000 per year
Loan Structure Flexibility Fixed interest rates; income-based repayment available

Certificate Loan Interest Rates and Fees

Certificate loans from RISLA don't have any origination fees or hidden fees. There are no prepayment penalties to worry about either, although a late payment fee of 6% of the late payment amount can apply. Note that interest rates are always fixed, and that the best options go to those who opt for auto-pay and attend school in the state of Rhode Island.

Borrowing/Origination Fees None
Prepayment Fees None
Late Payment Fees 6% of the late payment amount
Maintenance Fees None
Fixed Rates 4.99% to 6.94% with auto-pay
Variable Rates None

Certificate Loan Qualification Requirements

Students who want to borrow with a certificate loan must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, and they must attend a Title IV degree-granting school. The same $40,000 minimum income amount is required, along with a minimum credit score of 680.

Institution Type & Course Load Requirements Must attending a Title IV degree-granting school
Minimum Credit Score 680
Minimum Income $40,000
Maximum Debt-to-Income Not disclosed
Co-signer/Joint Application Requirements Co-signers accepted

RISLA Application Process

If you plan to apply for a student loan from RISLA, you should know that you can check your rate with only a "soft pull" on your credit report. This will let you gauge your approval odds and see how much you might be able to borrow without filling out a full loan application.

Either way, you can begin the process by clicking on the button that says "Apply Now."

From there, you'll need to submit information to RISLA such as:

  • State you live in
  • Your school
  • Program you're applying to
  • Requested loan amount
  • Your full name
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Phone number

At this point in the process, you'll be shown the rates you're pre-qualified for. However, you should note that these rates are not guaranteed, and that you'll only get them if your income and credit score meet official RISLA requirements.

If you want to move forward with your application, you can choose one of the loan options available to you and click on the button that says "Continue to Application."

At this point in the process, you'll be asked to supply your Social Security number and other pertinent information about yourself, your income, and your employment status.


You also have to agree to a disclosure and check a box that says you know a hard inquiry will be placed on your credit report to move forward.

RISLA Customer Support

RISLA offers quite a few ways to contact them, including various phone numbers for support based on the type of student loans you have. That said, the company says you can reach a live support agent from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST on Monday through Friday. Their main customer service number is 1-800-758-7562, and their email address is customerservice@risla.com.

The company also has an online contact form you can use to send them a message, and they even have a page on their website that lets you check your application status without speaking to anyone.

Customer service reviews for RISLA are also top notch in general, with many reviewers praising the company's reps for their knowledge and professionalism. A few customer service reviews on Trustpilot can give you an idea of what to expect:

"This was a completely open process from start to finish. I talked to Abe at the beginning and he assured me this would not be difficult. I am not techy by any measure but I was able to download all necessary info with email assistance and a couple of phone calls. Everyone I spoke with was friendly and ready to help. Thanks for helping me save some $$ and for your service."- Robert C.

"Representatives with RISLA were great to deal with, both for a refinance of loans from another lender and my son's senior year. Process was simple and straightforward compared to Sallie Mae!"-Scott L.

RISLA Online Reviews

RISLA boasts an average star rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars across more than 3,000 user reviews on Trustpilot, which is well above average. Also note that 88% of RISLA customers gave the company a 5-star rating at last count.

In addition to praising the customer service offered through this company, reviewers also said they appreciated the extra help they got with college planning, and that the entire process was a breeze from start to finish.

The positive reviews are related to The negative reviews are related to
Quick and easy loan approval process Lack of notification regarding missing documents for approval
Knowledgeable and helpful representatives Problems with strict approval requirements
Competitive rates and terms Long wait for loan funds to show up in some cases

RISLA Perks and Bonuses

Flexibility:

Despite the fact these loans never come with variable interest rates, RISLA loans have plenty of flexible features. For example, these loans always allow for income-based repayment options, so you can tailor your loan payment to your budget and your goals. Nurses can avoid interest on their student loans for up to four years if they work in an eligible position in a Rhode Island medical institution, and eligible internships qualify for up to $2,000 in student loan forgiveness.

Also note that most of their loans let you make immediate monthly payments or defer payments for up to six months after leaving school. Other benefits include:

  • Military benefits for RISLA loans
  • RI Advantage interest rate discount for students attending college in Rhode Island
  • Payment forbearance for those who qualify
  • Forgiveness upon death or eligible disability

Mentorship:

RISLA offers an entire college planning center that can help you make good decisions when it comes to borrowing for school. The company can help you with everything from filling out your FAFSA form to comparing financial aid awards and reviewing college essays.

RISLA also offers e-brochures, as well as college savings calculators and financial education for students. You can even schedule an appointment with a professional who can help guide you through the process.

Technology:

While RISLA doesn't have an app for their student loans, the company does have an RI Scholarships app that helps students find scholarships and other financial aid based on their grades, their extracurricular activities, and more.

The company also lets customers make payments through eUAS, a separate online servicing system.

Final Thoughts

RISLA offers a variety of student loan options with competitive rates and terms, although the best options go to students who opt for auto-pay and plan to attend school in the state of Rhode Island. Minimum credit score and income requirements do apply, however, so make sure to consider your eligibility with or without a co-signer.

Since RISLA lets you check your rate without a hard inquiry on your credit report, they're definitely worth checking out either way.

About the Author

Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson

Award-Winning Personal Finance Contributor

I’m a professional writer who is obsessed with money, travel, and budgeting.

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