What you need to know:
- RISLA offers competitive refinancing rates with flexible terms and added borrower protections.
- Borrowers experiencing financial hardship may be eligible for an income-based repayment plan that includes loan forgiveness after 25 years.
- RISLA doesn’t require a degree in order to qualify for refinancing.
Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) operates as a nonprofit quasi-state agency that’s been in business since 1981. It provides higher education products and services, like private student loans, parent loans and refinancing loans.
RISLA’s refinancing opportunities are available to students nationwide. Its refinancing loans offer competitive rates and provide borrower protections that aren’t typically found with other private lenders.
Read on for our RISLA student loan refinance review for details on its rates, terms and application process.
RISLA student loan refinance review
Rhode Island Student Loan Authority was originally created to benefit Rhode Island students and families. Its refinancing loans, however, are available to undergraduate and graduate students across the country — regardless of what state they reside in or where they attended college.
Here’s a brief overview of what to expect when refinancing with RISLA.
RISLA Student Loan Refinancing
As of November 2020
3.74 - 7.94%
5, 10 and 15 years
$7,500 - $250,000
*Rates as of November 5, 2020, and may include an autopay discount and are subject to change without notice.
Pros of refinancing with Rhode Island Student Loan Authority
RISLA refinancing comes with many borrower protections and perks, like:
- Income-based repayment (IBR) that includes loan forgiveness after 25 years of qualifying payments. Borrowers and cosigners must provide proof of financial hardship to qualify.
- No degree required to refinance.
- No upfront fees (e.g. application, origination, interest and services fees).
- Autopay discount of 0.25% available.
- Loan forgiveness in the event of death or permanent disability of the primary borrower.
- Military deferment available for deployed, active-duty personnel.
- Grad school deferment (up to 36 months) available for borrowers who re-enter graduate school after refinancing.
- Up to 12 months of forbearance might be available during unemployment, disability or hardship.
- Ability to check interest rate without impacting your credit.
- Quick online application that can be completed in five to 10 minutes.
Additionally, loan eligibility isn’t limited by state residency. But you might qualify for a better rate if you live, work or went to college in Rhode Island.
Cons of RISLA student loan refinancing
The biggest downside to refinancing with RISLA is that it doesn’t currently have a cosigner release program. However, you have the option to apply for a new refinancing loan through RISLA without a cosigner later down the road.
Additional disadvantages include:
- Charges late fee equal to 6% of the late payment amount.
- Other fees may include returned check ($10) or default-related fees.
- No option for a variable rate.
Loans eligible for RISLA refinancing must’ve been used at a college in the U.S. for education purposes. This includes private student loans, Parent PLUS Loans, Stafford Loans, and subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Loans.
RISLA also requires that borrowers:
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- Reside in any U.S. state.
- Be an obligated party on the loan that’s refinanced.
- Must pass a credit check and meet other financial eligibility requirements.
RISLA requires borrowers and/or cosigners to meet a minimum income requirement of at least $40,000 per year.
This can be a combined household income if the borrower and cosigner live at the same address. But it becomes an individual requirement if they live at separate addresses.
You can complete a pre-qualification application to quickly check your rate without a hard credit check. Submitting your full RISLA refinance application online takes about five to 10 minutes.
The primary borrower and cosigner (if applicable) need to provide personal and financial information. This includes your Social Security number, date of birth, address and level of degree that was received — “incomplete degree” is also an option.
You should receive instant pre-approval. In some cases, it might take an additional business day if there are any issues with pulling your credit.
You’ll then need to provide supporting documentation, including:
- Recent billing statements for each loan included in your refinance application.
- A 60-day payoff figure for all loans being refinanced.
- Paystubs or other proof of income.
- W2 forms.
- Documents verifying your liquid assets (e.g. savings).
Once RISLA verifies your provided information, it’ll finalize your approval within one to two business days.
Should you refinance with RISLA?
Lenders are scrambling to compete for business so we recommend shopping around with at least three different lenders to get the best refinancing rate and terms.
RISLA is a solid refinancing option with a great reputation for customer service. And it’s IBR benefit provides a unique safety net that you won’t find with other private lenders.
But you’ll only benefit from this rare protection if you run into financial issues in the future. Your repayment plan will revert back to a standard plan if you no longer have financial hardship along the way. So, the IBR benefit shouldn’t be used as a long-term repayment strategy.
It’s worth checking your rate with RISLA, especially if you didn’t finish your degree since you might have a tough time finding a lender willing to move forward with refinancing. RISLA is one of the few refinancing lenders that openly welcomes borrowers without a degree.
Additionally, you might score an even better rate with RISLA if you or your cosigner has a prior or existing connection to Rhode Island.