The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority, or RISLA, offers a variety of services to support both Rhode Island (RI) residents and out-of-state students attending eligible RI schools. Being a non-profit and quasi-state authority, RISLA prides itself in helping students make responsible financial decisions and furthering their careers. If you are eligible for a RISLA loan or are simply looking for career help while in RI, RISLA can be a wonderful resource.
Remember, always compare your options when shopping for a student loan. We recommend Credible, because you can compare up to eight different lenders (including RISLA) at once. Check out Credible here.
RISLA offers two fixed-rate loan options for students: a 10yr 4.24% immediate repayment option and a 15yr 5.99% deferred repayment option. Repayment begins 15 days after the final disbursement for the immediate repayment option and 6 months after graduation for the deferred repayment option. Both loans are eligible for a 0.25% deduction if the payments are done through ACH auto-debit (basically a recurring charge on your bank account).
As is standard, interest accrues after the first disbursement. For students who choose the deferred repayment option, a statement of accruing interest is provided to students and can be paid off (this does lower the total cost).
Loans range from a $1,500 minimum up to the cost of education (with a $40,000 per year cap) and have neither prepayment fees nor origination (upfront) fees. This means you can repay your loan early to cut down on interest without incurring a fee.
RISLA’s loans are credit-based, meaning that students just going into college or without a good credit score (>680) will likely need a cosigner. Fortunately, RISLA offers a co-signer release option after 2 years of on-time payments.
In line with their career development oriented approach, RISLA offers a $2,000 loan forgiveness for students who participate in an eligible, for-credit internship and submit a simple 2-page application. RISLA also provides a free internship finding service (through bridge.jobs) to connect students with RI employers, making this loan forgiveness option easier to fulfill. While RISLA offers this service, the internship can be done out of state.
RISLA also provides loan forgiveness options for nurses and nurse educators, with individual programs for each. Nurses can get a four-year zero interest period, while nurse educators may be eligible for up to 20,000 in loan forgiveness.
RISLA also offers refinancing of student loans between $7,500 and $250,000, depending on the degree earned by the loan holder. You can apply to refinance with RISLA regardless of what state you reside or the state your college was located in.
Rates are based upon your credit. Discounts are given for autopay, to borrowers who work and also to borrowers who went to school or live in Rhode Island.
The fixed rates vary between 3.49% – 7.64%. There are other eligibility requirements which you can view here.
This is one of the areas where RISLA really excels. The customer testimonials on RISLA’s site generally applaud the personal attention RISLA provides as well as the counseling that goes above and beyond your typical loan provider. To test this, I called RISLA’s customer service to ask a few questions about their student loans. After a short hold, I was redirected to the nicest receptionist who quickly answered all of my questions about credit scores and the cosigner process. The whole process took less than a minute.
Overall, RISLA provides both competitive rates for their borrowers as well as excellent extended (and free) services for students. It is clear that RISLA has been trying to expand beyond just being a loan provider, especially through their internship finding collaborations and financial literacy programs. For students seeking a more personal oriented experience that is harder to find with federal loans or private banks, RISLA is certainly a strong competitor.
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