RISLA student loan refinancing review
Low, fixed rates and zero origination fees for residents of all 50 states.
finder.com’s rating: 4.1 / 5.0
- Best for borrowers who want access to income-based repayments with forgiveness if they hit a financial rough patch.
- Pick something else if you make less than $40,000 a year and can’t find a cosigner to apply with.
3.19% to 5.59%
Max. Loan Amount
Min. Credit Score
|Product Name||RISLA Student Loan Refinancing|
|Minimum Loan Amount||$7,500|
|Max. Loan Amount||$250,000|
|APR||3.19% to 5.59%|
|Interest Rate Type||Fixed|
|Minimum Loan Term||5 years|
|Maximum Loan Term||15 years|
|Requirements||Annual income of $40,000+ or apply with cosigner who does, pass credit check|
Deni Sharp is a freelance writer with years of experience in higher education, particularly student loans and financing. She has a passion for helping students navigate the trenches of financial aid so they can realize their full potential. In her free time, you can find her at home in Arizona hanging with her family and adorable pup, Theo.
Refinancing through the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) can seem like a dream for borrowers who are stuck with high-interest or variable-rate loans. It offers fixed-rate loans with APRs starting at 3.74% — even lower if you live, work or attended school in Rhode Island. Plus, it doesn’t come with any origination or prepayment fees. And you can refinance both private and federal student loans — including PLUS loans.
But where RISLA really stands out is its income-based repayment option if you’re facing financial hardship. Not only will it extend your loan term to 25 years, but like with federal loans, it will forgive any remaining balance when your term is up. This is unheard of in the private student loan arena.
However, income requirements are strict — you or your cosigner must make at least $40,000 a year to qualify. And it doesn’t offer cosigner release, meaning you’ll have to refinance your student loans again in order to take them off your contract.
Not sold on RISLA? Compare your other refinancing options below.
First, am I eligible?
You need to meet the following eligibility requirements to qualify for refinancing with RISLA:
- Annual income of at least $40,000 or apply with cosigner who does
- Pass a credit check
You may also need to meet other eligibility requirements not listed by RISLA.
What states is RISLA available in?
Although RISLA is based in Rhode Island, residents of all 50 states can apply for refinancing. However, those who live, work or attended college in Rhode Island could qualify for a discounted rate.
How much will I pay to refinance with RISLA?
One of the benefits of refinancing with RISLA is its low, fixed interest rates and minimal fees. Rates range from 3.74% to 8.39% depending on your loan term. It doesn’t charge any application, origination, disbursement or prepayment fees.
Does RISLA offer discounts?
Yes — you can receive a 0.25% reduction in your interest rate if you sign up for autopay. You might also qualify for a lower rate if you live, work or attended college in Rhode Island.
What are the benefits of refinancing with RISLA?
From its low fixed rates to its deferment options, here are a few perks of refinancing with RISLA:
- Low fixed interest rates. RISLA’s refinancing loans come with fixed rates that start relatively low — especially if you’re looking to refinance more-expensive federal PLUS loans.
- Income-based repayments. RISLA is one of the only private refinancing providers that offers income-based repayments with forgiveness at the end of the 25-year loan term. Just keep in mind you’ll need to prove financial hardship to qualify.
- Interest rate discounts. You can qualify for lower rates if you live, work or attended college in Rhode Island — or if you sign up for autopay.
- Stellar customer reviews. Over 1,700 reviewers on Trustpilot give RISLA an almost perfect 4.8 out of 5 stars thanks to its efficient application process and helpful customer service team.
- Transparent, informative website. RISLA offers a wealth of information about the refinancing process and what you can expect.
What to watch out for
Keep an eye out for these potential drawbacks when refinancing with RISLA:
- Relatively high income requirements. You’ll need to bring in at least $40,000 a year — or have a cosigner who does — in order to qualify for refinancing.
- Limited repayment plans. If you’re not facing a financial hardship, then you’re pretty much stuck with the standard repayment plan.
- No cosigner release. RISLA encourages borrowers to use cosigners, but doesn’t allow you to release them once a portion of the loan has been repaid.
Compare other student loan refinancing offers
What are my repayment options?
All refinanced loans come with the same standard repayment plan. You’ll be on the hook for fixed monthly repayments of interest and principal over five, 10 or 15 years — depending on your loan term.
However, if you’re experiencing financial hardship, you might qualify for income-based repayments (IBR). With this plan, your term is extended to 25 years and payments are never more than 15% of your monthly discretionary income. You’ll also qualify for loan forgiveness on your remaining loan balance after your term is up.
This is extremely rare for a private refinancing provider to offer. You can find out if you qualify by using the IBR calculator on the RISLA website.
Does RISLA offer deferment or forbearance?
RISLA also offers up to 12 months of forbearance if you’re facing unemployment, disability or some other financial hardship. This allows you to pause repayments in three-month increments until you get back on your feet.
You also have the option to defer your student loans for up to 36 months if you decide to go back to graduate school.
What servicer does RISLA use?
Because RISLA is a nonprofit, state-based lender, it continues to service your loans after the refinancing process is complete. This means you’ll make repayments and apply for deferment or forbearane through RISA, not a third-party servicer.
What do borrowers say about RISLA?
As of November 2019, borrowers seem to be happy with RISLA’s service. Although the nonprofit isn’t accredited, it has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). It also has only had three complaints in the last three years — rare for a student loan provider and servicer. It fares even better on Trustpilot, with borrowers giving the lender 4.8 out of 5 stars based on over 1,700 reviews.
Not all of the reviews are directly related to student loan refinancing since the nonprofit offers other types of student loans. But for the most part, borrowers seem happy with RISA’s easy application process, friendly customer service reps and fair rates.
How do I apply?
Before you apply, make sure you meet all of the eligibility requirements. As a reminder, you don’t have to live in Rhode Island to qualify, but it could help lower your interest rate.
Once you’re ready to apply, follow these steps:
- Go to RISLA’s website and hover over Apply for a Loan.
- Click Refinance Loans and then click Apply now.
- Follow the directions to enter details about yourself, your employment and your student loans.
- Read and agree to RISLA’s terms and condition.
- Submit the application.
What documents do I need to apply?
You’ll be asked to submit the following documents during the application process:
- Most recent billing statements for each loan you wish to refinance
- 60-day payoff figures for each loan you wish to refinance
- Pay stubs or other income verification
- Documents verifying liquid assets
What happens after I apply?
You’ll receive an immediate decision after submitting your initial application — including the rates and terms you prequalify for. Then it takes one to two days to receive full approval after submitting the documents listed above.
More about RISLA
RISLA is a nonprofit lender based in Rhode Island that strives to arm borrowers with the knowledge they need to make informed, responsible decisions when it comes to borrowing for college. In addition to student loan refinancing, RISLA also offers undergraduate loans, parent loans and graduate student loans.
Find out how RISLA stacks up to the competition with our guide to student loan refinancing.
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