RISLA Review: Student Loan Refinancing and Private Student Loans

RISLA offers income-based repayment, making it a good choice for borrowers who may require flexibility in the future.
Cecilia ClarkAug 6, 2021

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Student loan ratings

RISLA
  • Student loan refinancing

  • Private student loan

The bottom line: The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority, known as RISLA, is a nonprofit state-based agency that refinances student loans and makes loans to undergrads, graduate students and parents. Its loans are available nationwide and best for borrowers who may need wiggle room on payments in the future.

Student loan refinancing review

RISLA Student Loan Refinance

RISLA Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Fixed APR

3.49 - 8.14%

Min. Credit Score

680

Pros

  • Income-based repayment plan available, with forgiveness after 25 years.

Cons

  • No co-signer release available.
  • Students cannot refinance a parent PLUS loan in their name.

Best for borrowers who want payment flexibility should they run into financial trouble.

RISLA offers refinancing customers a rare option: an income-based repayment plan if they experience extended financial hardship. Other aspects of the product are less flexible: Loans are available at fixed interest rates only, and borrowers cannot release co-signers from the loan after a period of time.

RISLA could improve its student loan refinance product by offering:

You can apply for a RISLA refinanced student loan on its website. Before deciding on a student loan refinance lender, compare multiple options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, compare lenders’ repayment options and the flexibility they offer borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

If RISLA denies your refinance application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other lenders or need a co-signer.

NerdWallet recommends before you apply. This will let you know which lenders you may be eligible with, without affecting your credit.

Private student loan review

RISLA Private Student Loan

RISLA Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Fixed APR

3.64 - 5.46%

Min. Credit Score

680

Pros

  • Income-based repayment plan available, with forgiveness after 25 years.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Partial loan forgiveness for eligible internships; interest forgiveness for qualifying nurses.

Cons

  • Fewer repayment terms available than other lenders.

Best for students who may need wiggle room on payments in the future.

RISLA’s private student loan is a good option for borrowers who value payment flexibility. RISLA offers an income-based repayment plan that caps payments at 15% of income and forgives any remaining balance after 25 years, similar to the federal government’s income-driven repayment plans. RISLA also forgives up to $2,000 for borrowers who complete eligible internships, and covers interest costs for up to 48 months for qualifying nurses.

You previously had to live in Rhode Island or go to school there to qualify for a private student loan from RISLA. Its in-school offerings are now available nationwide.

RISLA could improve its private student loans by:

Before taking out a RISLA student loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal student loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

» MORE:

to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.

If RISLA denies your student loan application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other lenders or, if you haven’t already, try applying with a co-signer.

If you don’t have access to a co-signer — or still aren’t eligible with one — consider or specialize in .

NerdWallet believes the best student loan is one you can repay at the lowest interest rate you can get. That's why NerdWallet’s student loan ratings reward lenders that offer a variety of loan terms, limit their fees and penalties, and extend borrowers multiple options to avoid default. Points are also awarded for soft credit checks, underwriting transparency and other consumer-friendly features. Use these ratings as a guide, but we encourage you to shop around for the lowest interest rate you can qualify for. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for its reviews. Read our

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