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 2.44%* – 6.22%
Variable Rates None
Terms 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
Min. Credit Score 670

*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 2.44% and 6.22%. 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.

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 2.44% – 6.22%
Parent Refinance Loan 2.44% – 6.22%
Medical & Dental Professional Refinance 2.24% – 5.97%
Medical Resident Refinance 2.79% – 6.01%
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 does not currently advertise any promotions or offers directly tied to its student loan refinancing. ISL does appear to offer a referral program but does not specify its benefits.

Past promotions include a cash back bonus offer. Check the ISL website before you refinance to take advantage of any new offers.

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 2012, consumers have filed 119 complaints about ISLLC, equivalent to one (1) complaint every 30 days; this is 73.4% faster than the average daily complaint rate among reviewed lenders.

In 2021, consumers filed 19 complaints about ISLLC, which is equivalent to one (1) complaints for every $3.397 million in 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 (19)

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


Complaint 4865924
11/1/2021
Georgia

“On XX/XX/2019 I enrolled at digitalcraft bootcamp, skills fund advertised student loans. I was under the impression i applied for the XXXX XXXX XXXX student loan. According to credit agreement, the funds will not be disbursed unless the school is in compliance with its funding obligation. The school certification would determine if I am eligible for the loan and for how much. Skills fund recently stated they only do unsecured consumer debt loans, not student loans for bootcamps, and I do not generate 1098 forms. Myself I did not receive a student loan despite being approved by digitalcraft and promoted by skills fund. On my aspire account within my forbearance letter my loan is referred to as XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX ( XXXX ) and/or private student loan ( s ). When I called Aspire customer service they stated it is not a student loan and this is a consumer loan despite it showing as an education loan on my credit report and no 1098 forms are listed in the tax information section.”


Complaint 4642587
8/18/2021
Connecticut

“Facts : I XXXX XXXX am a consumer as defined by 15 USC 1692a ( 3 ). ” ASPIRE aka ISL/XXXX ” is a creditor as defined by 15 USC 1692a ( 4 ). ” ASPIRE aka ISL/XXXX ” alleges that I XXXX XXXX owe them a debt as defined by 15 USC 1692a ( 5 ). ” ASPIRE aka ISL/XXXX ” is a corporation whose residence is in the state of IOWA. XXXX XXXX is a natural person whose residence is in the state of CONNECTICUT. We are still within the statute of limitations for this case as the company in question is still violating my rights as a consumer willfully after being asked to stop since XXXX of XXXX and XXXX of XXXX. ” ASPIRE aka ISL/XXXX ” has failed to supply any record of payment by me validating these claims of late payments from XXXX. As you can see my account was closed because of SUCCESSFUL ON TIME PAYMENTS for the duration of the loan and relationship with ASPIRE aka ISL/XXXX. ALLEGATIONS/COMPLAINT : – ” ASPIRE aka ISL/XXXX ” in an attempt to collect on this alleged debt has violated 15 USC 1692 ( b ) by communicating with third parties about this alleged debt without expressed consent of myself the consumer. They have shared this debt with numerous credit data furnishers and sold this alleged debt to a data furnisher without verifying its validity after I the consumer notified them in writing that this alleged debt was not mine and I was taking steps to investigate it personally. – ” ASPIRE aka ISL/XXXX ” in an attempt to collect on this debt has sent letters threatening to ruin my reputation by sharing my private information violating 15 USC 1692d ( 1 ). – ” ASPIRE aka ISL/XXXX ” in concert with the consumer data furnishers both have caused my phone to ring repeatedly at work and on my personal phone even after I asked them to stop violating 15 USC 1692d ( 5 ) and 15 USC 1692e ( 8 ) by threatening to communicate to other persons and credit data furnishers information which I believe to be false.”


Complaint 4380066
5/15/2021
Iowa

“This student loan was in a repayment plan up until XX/XX/XXXX when I was told that the remaining debt was considered satisfied for less than the full balance following the plan completion. My parents received collection letters beginning in XXXX for an outstanding balance but I was never directly contacted. When I contacted Aspire Servicing Center about an outstanding balance of over {$1100.00} spanning 3 accounts in XX/XX/XXXX, I spoke with a representative and informed them that I had already paid off the balance following a repayment plan ending in XX/XX/XXXX. At that time, Aspire informed me that their legal team would investigate the account. Upon completion of the investigation, they informed me they would cease collection activities. I did not pay this account off in XX/XX/XXXX since it was already paid off as of XX/XX/XXXX, so the credit reporting incorrectly reflects the account as in a collection status from XX/XX/XXXX through XX/XX/XXXX.”


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-
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-
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
  8. Better Business Bureau, Search Businesses and Charities