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RISLA Student Loans: 2024 Review

Updated on Jan. 1, 2024
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At a glance

4.0
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Bankrate Score
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Repayment Options
Rating: 3.6 stars out of 5
3.6
Affordability
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
4.4
Customer Experience
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
4.0

About Bankrate Score

The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is a private student loan company operating in all 50 states and Washington D.C. RISLA sets itself apart from most other lenders in the private student loan space by offering income-based repayment and partial loan forgiveness options. It’s a particularly good option for borrowers who live or go to school in Rhode Island, as they could qualify for additional rate discounts.

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Loan amount $1,500-$50,000
Rates
APR from 4.40%
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Term lengths 5 to 15 years

RISLA is best for students who are looking for unique student loan benefits and have a high income. 

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RISLA features

RISLA is one of the only private lenders to offer income-based repayment plans, which is typically only available with federal loans. It is also a good choice for borrowers who want to refinance their student loans but who have not earned a degree.

RISLA offers undergraduate, graduate, parent and refinancing loans. The lender does not charge any fees and also offers rate discounts for borrowers, making it a strong contender when shopping. 

RISLA: In the details

RISLA pros and cons

Borrowers can save extra money through income-based repayment, but with steep income requirements, RISLA may not be the perfect fit for everyone. 

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Pros

  • Income-based repayment : Borrowers have access to income-based repayment, which will reduce payments to 15 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income. This is a rarity among private lenders; typically this option is only available through the federal government.
  • Multiyear loan option: With RISLA, you can submit one application and be approved for multiple years of school. Each year you need funds, you’ll simply provide the amount you’re requesting without a full application.
  • Partial loan forgiveness: Borrowers can have up to $2,000 in student loans forgiven when they complete an internship.
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Cons

  • High income requirements: For any of RISLA’s loans, you or your co-signer must earn at least $40,000 annually to qualify.
  • Few repayment options: RISLA’s private student loans have only two repayment terms, and your repayment period is determined by whether you choose immediate or deferred repayment. Its refinancing loans also limit your choice to five, 10 or 15 years.
  • No variable-rate loans: Some borrowers may prefer a variable interest rate on student loans, especially in a low-rate environment. However, all of RISLA’s loans come with fixed interest rates.

RISLA student loan requirements

RISLA doesn’t disclose its minimum credit score or debt-to-income ratio requirements. That said, borrowers are required to have the following in order to be approved for a loan.

  • Be enrolled or planning to attend a Title IV degree-granting program at an eligible public or nonprofit school.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Have a minimum income of at least $40,000 a year.
  • Meet RISLA’s credit, liquidity and debt-to-income ratio requirements.

These rules apply to private and refinancing loans.

Who is this loan good for?

A RISLA student loan is a good option for those who are looking to refinance their student loan but have yet to earn their education degree. 

Interest rates

For RISLA’s deferred loans, interest accrues while the borrower is in school. This interest is capitalized, meaning it will be added to the principal balance once the repayment period begins. Borrowers can also choose to make interest-only payments to decrease the amount that is capitalized.

RISLA provides a 0.25 percent interest rate discount when you set up automatic payments directly from the RISLA portal. Automatic bill pay from your bank will not count as autopay. The rates listed below include this discount.

Loan product Variable rate Fixed rate
Undergraduate student loans N/A 4.40% to 8.45% APR
Graduate student loans N/A 4.40% to 8.45% APR
Certificate loans N/A 4.45% to 8.45% APR
Parent loans N/A 5.74% to 8.74% APR
Student loan refinancing N/A 5.79% to 8.74% APR

Fees and penalties

RISLA does not enforce any fees for application or origination of the loan. It also doesn't charge for late or insufficient payments.

Repayment terms and grace period

Only RISLA student loans with deferred repayment have a grace period. The first bill for all immediate repayment loans will be issued 15 days after the loan is disbursed, while the deferred repayment plan gives borrowers six months after leaving school to begin making payments. All RISLA parent student loans have immediate repayment.

Deferred student loans have a 180-month term, while the term for immediate repayment loans is 120 months. Student loans taken out by parents also have a 120-month term. Borrowers refinancing loans can choose a five-, 10- or 15-year term.

RISLA offers in-school deferment for borrowers who go back to grad school and forbearance for borrowers experiencing financial hardship for a total of 24 months over the life of the loan. 

How to apply for a loan with RISLA

The application process takes only a few minutes to complete and can be done 100 percent online. If you’re applying with a co-signer, they must also provide all of the same documentation.

Once you submit the proper documentation, RISLA will conduct a credit check to determine your eligibility. The credit check will reveal your credit score, previous loan history and debt-to-income ratio. RISLA may also request a pay stub or tax return to verify that your annual income is at least $40,000. 

If you meet RISLA’s requirements, you’ll get a confirmation letter over email, which will include all of your loan’s details.

To apply for a student loan through RISLA, you’ll need to provide the following:

Customer service

Borrowers can contact RISLA’s customer service department by calling 800-758-7562 for private student loans or 866-268-9419 for student loan refinancing. You can also email customerservice@risla.com. RISLA’s customer support team operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET.

RISLA frequently asked questions

How Bankrate rates RISLA

Overall Score 4.0
Repayment Options 3.6 RISLA has several types of loans but offers few repayment term options for each.
Affordability 4.4 RISLA’s APRs are low, especially for borrowers in Rhode Island, though it does charge a few fees.
Customer Experience 4.0 RISLA has an online portal and an automatic payment option but undisclosed customer service hours.

Methodology

The Bankrate team evaluated over 20 lenders to select our top picks for the best student loans. To do this, Bankrate considers 14 factors, including loan amounts, fees, repayment terms and options, as well as fixed and variable APR ranges. Then, lenders are rated using our vetting system known as the Bankrate Score, which focuses on three main categories.

  • Availability: We looked at minimum and maximum loan amounts, as well as the lender’s eligibility requirements, co-signer option, degrees covered and state availability. Lenders that offered the most flexibility as well as nationwide servicing and that offered financing for a variety of programs ranked higher in this section.
  • Affordability: Fixed and variable interest rates, fees, penalties and discounts were measured in this category. Lenders with the lowest rates, fewer fees and multiple discounts got the higher scores.
  • Customer experience: Our team looked at the ease of the application process, as well as online account management tools, customer support hours, app availability, repayment options and grace periods offered by the lenders. This allowed us to determine the lenders’ ability to satisfactorily serve customers.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.