ISL Student Loan Refinance Review

Our Rating: C+ (Compare)

ISL may be best for borrowers who are still in school. ISL is a nonprofit lender that offers many refinancing options, including special rates for medical doctors, residents, and dentists.

Loan Limits $5,000 – $300,000
Fixed Rates 3.94%* – 9.33%
Variable Rates None
Terms 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
Min. Credit Score 670
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*Lowest rates always include the 0.25% interest reduction for enrolling in auto-pay.

Skip to: Rates & Fees | Eligibility Requirements | Repayment Options | Consumer Reviews & Complaints | FAQ

Loan Refinancing Options
Private student loans
Private parent loans (in parent’s name)
Federal student loans
Federal Parent PLUS loans (in parent’s name)

ISL Refinance Rates & Fees

ISL Education Lending (ISL) has fixed rates for student and parent refinance loans between 3.94% and 9.33%. ISL also offers in-school refinance loans, and medical & dental professional and resident refinance loans. Lowest rates always include the 0.25% interest reduction for enrolling in auto-pay.

Since January 2022, ISL has raised its lowest available fixed rate for new loans 61.5% (from 2.44% APR). Its highest fixed rate is 50.0% higher (from 6.22% APR) than it was at the start of the year.

ISL offers 0.00% interest for up to 24 months on private loans for service members while serving on active duty between September 11, 2001 and June 30, 2023.

Refinance Loan Rates
Loan Type Fixed Rate
Student Refinance Loan 3.94% – 9.33%
Parent Refinance Loan 3.94% – 9.33%
Medical & Dental Professional Refinance 3.64% – 8.53%
Medical Resident Refinance 4.10% – 8.46%
In-School Refinance 5.60% – 7.89%

Additional information about ISL refinance rates:

  • Checking your rate with ISL will not affect your credit score. They will conduct a soft, not hard, credit inquiry (learn the difference).
  • ISL does offer a discount for setting up auto-pay: 0.25% interest rate reduction.
  • No variable rates.

Student Loan Refinancing Calculator

Based on advertised rates, use the calculator below to determine what your new monthly payment and potential savings may be if you refinance with ISL.

Additional Fees

Beyond interest rates, there are a number of fees a refinance lender may charge up-front or during the loan servicing period. Below is a list of these fees that ISL does or does not charge.

Fee Type Amount Charged
Application Fee Undisclosed
Loan Origination Fee None
Disbursement Fee Undisclosed
Prepayment Penalty None
Late Payment Fee None
Returned Payment Fee Undisclosed
Collection Fee Undisclosed
  1. Application fee – fee to apply for rates & approval.
  2. Loan origination fee – fee to create the new loan.
  3. Disbursement fee – fee for distributing funds to lenders to pay off loans that have been refinanced.
  4. Prepayment penalty – fee for making extra payments to reduce a refinance loan balance or pay it off early.
  5. Late payment fee – fee for making a late payment.
  6. Returned payment fee – fee for failed payments due to insufficient funds, also known as a “bounced check”.
  7. Collection fee – fee for collection activity on a defaulted debt.

Current Promotions & Offers

ISL periodically offers limited time promotions. One current promotion is a $500 cash back bonus offer for medical resident loan refinancing. Check the ISL website before you refinance to take advantage of any new offers.

ISL appears to offer a referral program but does not specify program benefits.

ISL Refinance Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for refinancing with ISL, all borrowers must meet the criteria below.

  • Citizenship Requirement: U.S. citizenship or permanent residence.
  • Income Requirement: no minimum income disclosed; maximum debt-to-income ratio 40% to 45% (including rent or mortgage payments).
  • Credit Score Requirement: 670 minimum TransUnion FICO Score 4.
  • Graduation Requirement: none.
  • Location Requirement: U.S. residence (including APO and FPO addresses).

Additional restrictions apply for specific individuals and loans.

  • Monthly payments for approved credit may not exceed 40% of gross monthly income (if a mortgage or rent is not included, debt-to-income ratio cannot exceed 25%).
  • Applicants and/or cosigners with a mortgage who earn a combined income greater than or equal to $100,000 per year must have monthly payments for approved credit that do not exceed 45% of gross monthly income.
  • No previous bankruptcies.
  • No charge-offs, reposessions, collections, judgments, foreclosures, wage garnishments, or tax liens.
  • No defaults on any private or government student loans.

ISL Student Loan Repayment Options

Lenders vary greatly on the benefits and options provided to borrowers during the loan servicing period. Additionally, benefits may only be available on a case-by-case basis. ISL offers some relief options.

Deferment & Forbearance

ISL does not explicitly offer any deferment or forbearance options. Instead, ISL refers borrowers to its servicer, Aspire Servicing Center, for assistance; this assistance is unspecified and may or may not include discretionary forbearance or deferment.

Aspire Servicing Center is a for-profit subsidiary of ISL.

Condition Coverage
Returning to grad school Undisclosed
Disability rehabilitation Undisclosed
Active military duty Undisclosed
Involuntary unemployment Undisclosed
Economic hardship Undisclosed
Natural disaster Undisclosed
Temporary hardship Undisclosed

Additional Options

ISL may offer other opportunities for relief or contract modification.

  • Co-signer release is available after 24 consecutive, qualifying payments.
  • Death / disability discharge is available in the unfortunate circumstance that a borrower passes away or suffers total permanent disability.
  • If a co-signer dies or is permanently disabled, the borrower will not be required to find another co-signer; in this case, ISL will effectively release the co-signer (or their estate) from his or her obligation.

ISL Reviews, Complaints & Lawsuits

Beyond our own findings, our team also collected the most genuinely insightful customer experiences we could find, including any instances of legal action against the company in which the details became public.

ISL Online Reviews

Below are 3 samples of ISL customer reviews we found on public forums, included here for their value as unsolicited and uncensored user experiences. Note that these reviews are unverified, may include inaccuracies, and may provide outdated information (about rates, bonus offers, etc.). Some reviews have been edited for length or clarity.


“I have 37K in private loans from postbacc that I have regretfully not even looked into refinancing until now. I was approved through ISL with a fixed rate of 4.75% (worlds away from my current 8.5% with Navient). The finance charge is ~8K, which from what I can tell, is a normal part of this process right? Also, I signed on for the quickest repayment plan, which obviously has the highest monthly payments once residency is over. I won’t be able to afford that, but opted for the plan to get the lowest interest rate, with plans to just refinance again before I get to that full repayment period after residency.”_perestroika on reddit, 11/10/2021


“I was able to go through with a loan refinancing through the company ‘Iowa Student Loan’ and quite literally cut my payments in half. Knocked my interest rates in half as well. For the first time in over 5 years, I can breathe. I’m not going to bed stressed out about how I’m going to pay next month’s bills and therefor was able to get some time to better my mental health, job hunt a bit, and now work for a company that I really enjoy the work I do and, while I still don’t make GREAT pay, pays me enough to live comfortably. Sorry for the run-on sentence there, but I’m just over the moon with joy to type this.”eccles714 on reddit, 6/5/2020


“I’ve been in school on and off for awhile (stay at home Mom of two young children) and I’ve always dealt with Iowa student loan liquidity. Now all of a sudden I start getting info from [a different, for-profit loan servicer] and my monthly payments almost double. Doesn’t seem right!”Jenn2182 on ComplaintsBoard.com, 8/22/2012


More (unfiltered) customer reviews of ISL are available at TrustPilot.com (4.6 out of 5).

ISL Consumer Complaints

As consumer finance companies, student loan refinancing lenders fall under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency. As part of their mission, the CFPB allows consumers to log official complaints. These complaints are publicly available on the CFPB official website.

Complaints about ISL Education Lending are listed in the database under Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corporation (ISLLC). Since March 2, 2012, consumers have filed 129 complaints about ISLLC, equivalent to one (1) complaint every 29 days and 18 hours; this complaint rate is 91.8% higher than the average daily complaint rate among reviewed lenders.

In 2022, ISLLC’s consumer complaint rate is up 10.0% (as of this writing) compared to the complaint rate in an average year.

In 2021, ISLLC received 20 complaints or 62.9% more than its average annual complaint rate. Also in 2021, consumers filed the equivalent of one (1) complaint for every $3.228 million in that year’s corporate revenue or one (1) complaint for every 11 employees.

The allegations made in these complaints are unverified, are not necessarily representative of all consumers’ experiences with ISL, and may contain outdated information (about rates, bonus offers, etc.). Note that a lender with a large customer base is likely to also have a higher number of complaints when compared with smaller lenders.

Line Graph: ISLLC Consumer Complaints, from 2012 (11), 2013 (5), 2014 (17), 2015 (13), 2016 (11), 2017 (16), 2018 (13), 2019 (7), 2020 (7), and 2021 (20)

Below we’ve included 3 of the most recent complaints (as of this writing) in which the consumer consented to sharing their details.


Complaint 5761863
7/12/2022
Tennessee

“I attended XXXX XXXX from XXXX. My student loans were disbursed by XXXX XXXX ASPIRE SERVICE CENTER AND XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX beginning in XXXX. I filed for bankruptcy to which XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX/Aspire filed a claim in my case. They filed a claim on XX/XX/XXXX for the amount of {$23000.00} with the court and was paid through the court system. XXXX XXXXAspire was acquired by XXXX XXXXXX/XX/XXXX XXXX When my case was discharged, Aspire began trying to collect from me under XXXXAspire for the amount the court did not pay through the case. When I spoke on the phone with several representatives previously with the last one being today, different things have been told to me. The rep today ( XX/XX/XXXX ) told me that payments have not been made and that they did not file a case in a bankruptcy, so I sent her the printout from the XXXX to show proof of payment. She then found the payments in their system but stated that they pulled the debt back and billed it under the gaurantor which is XXXX. XXXX was not the guarantor when XXXX XXXX/Aspire filed the claim in the case on XX/XX/XXXX, they did not become the guarantor until XX/XX/XXXX to which at that time Aspire had already began receiving payments from the court. Payments were made by the court on the following dates below : They are now trying to make me pay for the loans under the new owner when they filed a claim and were paid under the old owner. Thank you for your help, Date Check Number Name of Party Description Payment Amount Total XX/XX/XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$120.00} {$5300.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$480.00} {$5100.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$390.00} {$4700.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX GXXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$390.00} {$4300.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$480.00} {$3900.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$390.00} {$3400.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$390.00} {$3000.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$480.00} {$2600.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$390.00} {$2100.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$390.00} {$1700.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$480.00} {$1300.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX GXXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXXMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$390.00} {$880.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$390.00} {$490.00} XX/XX/XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX AMOUNT PAID TO CREDITOR {$100.00} {$100.00}”


Complaint 5480234
4/22/2022
Colorado

“The laws of FDCPA 15 USC 1692 states that every time you mailed me a notice or bill it was a violation of 1692b ( 5 ) as they have logos that would allow anyone included but not limited to my mail main or relatives knowing that someone from this company is communicating with me concerning an alleged debt owed. I have five ( 5 ) documents that have been sent to me, each were sent with this violation on the envelope. Please see Attachment 3 for example. The law of FDCPA 15 USC 1692e, 807 ( 9 ) and 807 ( 11 ) – False or Misleading Representations.. .have both violated since – 807 ( 9 ) – there is no author, no one signed the letters.. .and – 807 ( 11 ) – they failed to disclose that the communications is from a debt collector as seen in the included Attachments 1 & 2. Aspire Servicing Center is in violation of 15 USC 1692e.. .as they are telling me an amount is due on my account that has a positive credit balance balance which is false and misleading as I can not pay something that is already positive. I have reason to believe and do so believe, pursuant to 15 USC 1666d.. .if there is a credit of account balance with surplus over 1 dollar in accordance to the journal and ledger entries described in IRS Publication 583, the amount balance should be credited and the remaining balance must be directed to, I the consumer by check. The documentary evidence must be provided to clarify this amount as this a formal instruction in accordance to 15 USC 1666 ( b ) ( 2 ) to provide the documentary evidence which includes books of account in accordance with 15 USC 44 to resolve this billing error. See attachments 4-15.”


Complaint 5388834
3/30/2022
California

“I attended digital craft in XXXX, GA on XXXX. XXXX is part of the XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, which is accredited by the XXXX XXXX XXXXXXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. I never received the mandatory private education loan applicant certification form or was made aware of alternative federal resources from my lender or school. Pursuant to Section 155 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, ( HEA ) and to satisfy the requirements of Section 128 ( e ) ( 3 ) of the Truth in Lending Act, a XXXX XXXX XXXX now known as XXXX XXXX Lending must obtain a self-certification signed by the me ( applicant ) before disbursing a private education loan. The XXXX is required on request to provide this form to prior to receiving the payment from the lender. At the time i initiated the loan application on XX/XX/XXXX, I was not given any additional resources besides skills fund loan program credit application.”


For a full list of complaints made against ISL in the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database, click here.

ISL Lawsuits

While ISL has faced charges from the U.S. Department of Education (for which the lender was required to pay $2.4 million) and 31 complaints to the Iowa Consumer Protection Division of the attorney general’s office, the lender has not face major litigation in the last decade.[1][2]

Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corporation (ISLLC), ISL’s parent company, was heavily criticized for its own legal action in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when ISLLC initiated over a dozen lawsuits against indebted student borrowers. By early April, ISLLC agreed to cease new lawsuits and “retroactively dismiss any suits filed after the declaration was issued.”[3]

Note that while this information is updated regularly, ongoing legal action is subject to change.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most common questions consumers have about student loan refinancing with ISL.

  • Is ISL good for refinancing student loans?
    ISL may be a good option for borrowers who are still in school or who have not earned a bachelor’s degree.
  • Does ISL have a minimum credit score requirement to refinance student loans?
    Yes, ISL discloses a 670 minimum credit score to qualify for student loan refinancing.
  • Are ISL loans federal?
    No, ISL loans are not federal. ISL has no affiliation with the federal government or the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Does ISL charge a prepayment penalty?
    No, ISL charges no penalties for early payments or repaying a loan in full before its term is over.
  • Does checking your rates with ISL hurt your credit score?
    For its prequalification process, ISL performs a soft credit check, which will not hurt your credit score. If you proceed with an application, however, ISL will perform a hard credit check that may affect your credit score.
  • Is ISL a bank?
    No, ISL is not a bank nor is it affiliated with any bank.
  • Can I refinance a ISL loan?
    You can refinance ISL student loans, student loans from another private lender, and federal loans. There is no limit to the number of times a borrower may refinance with ISL. Note, however, that every new line of credit requires a hard credit check that may affect your FICO score.
  • Can I refinance just some of my loans with ISL?
    Yes, you can refinance some, all, or just one of your qualifying student loans with ISL. You may choose to refinance your private loans only or refinance private and federal loans together.
  • Can I refinance loans that have already been refinanced?
    Yes, you can refinance loans as many times as you want with ISL. Note that each time you refinance, you will have to submit a new application; every application requires a hard credit check that may affect your credit score.
  • Can my spouse and I refinance our loans together with ISL?
    ISL does not refinance loans with more than one borrower. A spouse may act as a co-signer, however.
  • How long does it take to refinance with ISL?
    ISL does not specify a timeline.
  • Who services ISL refinance loans?
    ISL refinance loans are serviced by ISL’s for-profit subsidiary Aspire Servicing Center.
  • Does ISL offer a grace period?
    No, ISL does not offer a grace period with its student loan refinancing.
  • Can I get any special rates or discounts with ISL?
    Yes, ISL offers a 0.25% interest rate reduction with enrollment in automatic payments. They also offer special rates to military (active duty and veterans), medical doctors, and dentists.
  • What happens if I file for bankruptcy?
    Filing for bankruptcy will not discharge your ISL refinance loan.
  • Does ISL partner with any major student refinance lender marketplaces?
    Yes, ISL partners with Credible as part of its multilender marketplace. INvestEd and Purefy also advertise ISL as a featured student loan refinance lender.

Compare Student Loan Refinance Reviews

Lender Rating
RISLA A+
Brazos A
CommonBond A
Credible A
Advantage A-
ELFI A-
Laurel Road A-
Mpower Financing A-
Splash Financial A-
Purefy B+
UW Credit Union B+
LendKey B+
College Ave B
PenFed B
SoFi B
Earnest B-
EDvestinU B-
INvestEd B-
MEFA B-
Sparrow B-
Yrefy B-
Citizens Bank C+
ISL C+
Lend-Grow C+
SELF Refi C+
SuperMoney C+
First Tech Federal C
BECU C-
Navy Federal C-
First Republic Bank D+
iHelp D+
Discover D
Nelnet Bank D
PNC Bank D-
NaviRefi F

Sources

  1. Des Moines Register, Reader’s Watchdog: Reader Feels Trapped by Nonprofit Student Loan Firm
  2. Career College Central, Sweeping the Student Loan Scandal Under the Rug
  3. Washington Post, Higher Education: As Americans faced layoffs and lost wages, student loan companies kept going to court to collect
  4. ISL Education Loans (ISL), Student Loan Refinance
  5. ISL, Request Information About the Referral Program
  6. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Consumer Complaint Database
  7. Dun & Bradstreet, Business Directory: Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corporation
  8. Better Business Bureau, Search Businesses and Charities