RISLA Student Loan Refinance Review

Last Updated: October 5, 2021 by Melanie Hanson

Our Rating: A (Compare)

Loan Limits $7,500 – $250,000
Fixed Rates 3.29% – 6.09%*
Variable Rates NA
Terms 5, 10 or 15 years
Min. Credit Score 680
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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

The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority or RISLA is a nonprofit, state-affiliated educational financer that offers student loans, parent loans, and refinance loans.

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

RISLA Refinance Rates & Fees

RISLA’s fixed rates are between 3.29% and 6.09%. Lowest rates always include the 0.25% interest reduction for enrolling in auto-pay.

Refinance Loan Rates
Term Fixed Rate
5 Year 3.29% – 5.44%
10 Year 3.29% – 5.84%
15 Year 3.29% – 6.09%

Additional information about RISLA refinance rates:

  • Checking your rate with RISLA will not affect your credit score. They will conduct a soft, not hard, credit inquiry (learn the difference).
  • RISLA does offer a discount for setting up auto-pay: 0.25% interest rate reduction.
  • There are 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 RISLA.

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 RISLA does or does not charge.

Fee Type Amount Charged
Application Fee None
Loan Origination Fee None
Disbursement Fee None
Prepayment Penalty None
Late Payment Fee 6% of the overdue amount
Returned Payment Fee $10
Collection Fee Unspecified
  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

RISLA offers a 0.25% interest reduction to borrowers who enroll in autopay.

RISLA partners with some organizations, such as AAA Northeast, to supply special offers to their employees and members.

RISLA Refinance Eligibility Requirements

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

  • Citizenship Requirement: U.S. citizenship or permanent residence
  • Income Requirement: steady employment with a minimum annual household income of $40,000.
  • Credit Score Requirement: 680 minimum.
  • Graduation Requirement: none; part-time students may also qualify for refinancing.
  • Location Requirement: available in any U.S. state, though if you live, work, or attend(ed) school in Rhode Island, this may improve your chance to qualify for a lower rate.

Additional restrictions apply for specific individuals and loans.

  • No past or current liens or bankruptcies.
  • Only loans used to attend nonprofit Title IV institutions are eligible for refinancing.
  • Additional undisclosed eligibility requirements apply.

RISLA 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. RISLA’s relief options are some of the industry’s most flexible.

Deferment & Forbearance

RISLA awards forbearance in 3-month periods up to a maximum of 12 months for the life of the loan.

Though RISLA does not disclose any conditions for deferment due to natural disaster, they were among the first private lenders to announce the suspension of loan payments due to COVID-19.[1]

See more about RISLA’s deferment and forbearance conditions below.

Condition Coverage
Returning to grad school (half- or full-time) Deferment, up to 36 months
Disability rehabilitation Forbearance, 3 – 12 months
Active military duty Deferment
Involuntary unemployment Forbearance, 3 – 12 months
Economic hardship Forbearance, 3 – 12 months
Natural disaster Undisclosed
Temporary hardship Forbearance, 3 – 12 months

Additional Options

RISLA may offer other opportunities for relief or contract modification.

  • Co-signer release is not an option with a RISLA refinance loan.
  • Death / disability discharge is available in the unfortunate circumstance that a borrower passes away or suffers total permanent disability.
  • RISLA offers income-based repayment (IBR) plans based on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Poverty Guidelines.
  • The minimum monthly payment for an IBR is $10 instead of the standard $50.
  • After borrowers make 25 years of qualifying IBR payments, their loans may be forgiven.

RISLA Reviews, Complaints & Lawsuits

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

RISLA Online Reviews

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


“I would recommend RISLA for anyone looking to refinance student loans, they were very easy to work with and updated my documents needed section every day. I also received calls updating me on my status which was very helpful for me especially because my family did not have much experience in this.”Olivia Kelly on Trustpilot, 5/3/2021


“We faithfully paid off the student loans for our son, on time for 12 years. After we paid off the loans we received a letter from RISLA asking if we wanted to refinance another student loan that we had. Long story short, if you are self employed, have a credit score of 782, you will be turned down. Worst experience of our life.”Marjie on The College Investor, 12/27/2017


“I graduated in 2014, refinanced in 2016. I had 15-year private loans with variable interest rates hitting as high as 11% through [a major financial services conglomerate]. I got fed up with applying to various places (even [the major financial services conglomerate]) and getting denied because I had a high debt-to-income ratio, so I made an account on Credible. This led me to finding RISLA.

Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) was one of the only places willing to refinance me. I think the other one was [a national bank], but I never applied. I think RISLA has different refi standards if you live with your cosigner – a parent in my case. They ask for other things like bank account statements to see if you have enough money to survive a month of unemployment.

Overall the refi application process was much longer than expected because they wanted specific things (60-day payoff letters instead of 30, bank statements of myself and my cosigner, etc.) which was a bit of a pain, but I went from a 15-year variable with high rates to a 10-year at 5.74%.

Of course I recommend them simply because they took me – but they also have a non-federal (yes, as in for private loans) IBR plan where you pay 15% of your discretionary income and will be forgiven after 25 years. I’m sure there are limitations as to when after refi you can activate IBR but I never pursued it since I’m dumping all discretionary income into the loans.”Squows on reddit, 12/4/2017


More (unfiltered) customer reviews of RISLA are available at TrustPilot.com (4.8 out of 5).

RISLA CFPB 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 its mission, the CFPB allows consumers to log official complaints. These complaints are publicly available on the CFPB official website.

Since 2011, consumers have submitted 38 complaints about Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) to CFPB. One (1) of these complaints explicitly addresses student loan refinancing.

RISLA averages 1 complaint for every corporate employee, or 1 complaint for every $916,315.79 of company revenue ($34.82 million total).

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

Consumer Complaints About RISLA, Public Complaints Filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Agency: 38 total from 2010 to 2020

Below we’ve included 3 recent complaints in which the consumer consented to sharing their details. Some may have been edited to improve readability.


Complaint 3173909
3/8/2019
District of Columbia

“On XX/XX/2019, I contacted my current private loan company RISLA ( ” Rhode Island Student Loan Authority ” ) about refinancing a loan. The representative reviewed the account and noted that I had a high interest rate of 7.75 %. The representative advised me that refinancing my loan through their program would greatly reduce my interest rate and could result in a lower monthly payment. The representative advised that as long as I met minimum credit requirements, I would be able to refinance. I reviewed the requirements outlined on their website and noted the following qualification statement : ” Unfortunately, refinancing isn’t an option for everyone. If you are looking to refinance your loans, you are going to need to have good credit, or at least have a cosigner with good credit. What exactly does that mean? Although criteria varies from lender to lender, having good credit typically means : Being current on all of you existing debt Having little to no delinquency of your outstanding debts over the past few years Having a credit score at least in the mid 600 ‘s, but often higher Having no public records such as judgments, liens, or bankruptcies on your credit report Being able to demonstrate your monthly earnings and meeting the lender ‘s minimum earning thresholds. ” In reviewing my situation, I confirmed that I met and exceeded all the above outlined criteria. Reasonably relying on the lender ‘s website statement and representative, I applied for refinancing of my private loan. No more than five minutes after applying online to refinance, I was informed that I did not qualify for the loan and my application was denied. On XX/XX/2019, I received a letter from the lender outlining the reasons for the denial. In their denial, the lender noted the following reasons for the denial : 1 ) Excessive obligation in relation to income 2 ) FICO score below acceptable value 3 ) Liquidity is less than monthly expenses On XX/XX/2019, I called the lender to review the denial letter. The lender representative specifically cited the following reasons for the denial. 1 ) My savings liquidity was too low. 2 ) My debt to income ration was 67 %, which exceeded their 50 % requirement 3 ) My credit score was XXXX, not the XXXX that they require. The lender also informed me that a hard inquiry would be noted on my credit profile due to the refinancing application. When considered in its totality, this lender coaxed me into making an application for a loan that on its face was attainable. Nothing in their stated criteria on the website nor in the statements made to me by the representative indicated that I needed to have the money in my savings account, a 50 % debt to income ratio, or a XXXX credit score to qualify for the loan. In further explanation of their reasoning for the denial, the lender indicated to me that their guidelines for qualification are subject to change and that explains why the criteria they use is not outlined on their website. This was an unfair solicitation and constitutes an unfair business practice. RISLA fraudulent induced me into making an application, not adequately spelling out the specific criteria for which to qualify. Furthermore, I am now penalized for making the application due to the hard inquiry placed on my credit report. I request a full accounting and investigation of their unfair application practice.”


Complaint 4069057
1/14/2021
Rhode Island

“My debt for Rhode Island Student Loans was update as current even though i already past my statue of limitations. Collections was opened in XX/XX/XXXX, RISLA falsely updated as current in XX/XX/XXXXand XX/XX/XXXXof XX/XX/XXXXin order to re-age account. I never made a payment nor did i ever contact them so this is fraud.”


Complaint 3597669
4/8/2020
Rhode Island

“Rhode Island Student Loan Authority ( RISLA ) has debited my bank account for my payment, but not posted it to my student loan account. They have stolen over {$1000.00} from me. I submitted a payment on the RISLA website using the same stored bank information I have for all previous payments. The payment posted to my bank account within a few days with no issues. I got a follow-up email from RISLA that my payment was returned. I verified it was not, and called customer service expecting them to have some sort of resolution process to work this out with my bank. No one would even make an attempt to look into the issue, they would just read ” your payment was returned ” from the account notes and not proceed any further. I have spent over three days on the phone trying to get assistance. Here I am with a $ XXXX payment debited out of my bank account, my student loan is still showing a payment due, and I have had no assistance.”


For a full list of the 38 complaints made against RISLA in the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database, click here.

RISLA Lawsuits

RISLA has not been subject to any major lawsuits in recent years. RISLA is at least partially financed by the State of Rhode Island, however. With taxpayer dollars on the line, such state-funded nonprofit lenders may be aggressive when it comes to pursuing delinquent borrowers.[2]


Frequently Asked Questions

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

  • Is RISLA good for refinancing student loans?
    RISLA may be a good refinance lender for borrowers who are financially stable, have established credit history, and have a student debt balance of at least $7,500.
  • Are RISLA loans federal?
    RISLA loans are not federal. RISLA has no affiliation with the federal government or the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Does RISLA charge a prepayment penalty?
    There are no penalties for early payments or repaying a loan in full before its term is over.
  • Does checking your rates with RISLA hurt your credit score?
    For their prequalification process, RISLA performs a soft credit check, which will not hurt your credit score. If you proceed with an application, however, RISLA will perform a hard credit check that may affect your credit score.
  • After I get my rates, how long do I have to decide if I want to refinance my student loans?
    Once your refinance application is approved, RISLA will offer you loan terms that will be available to you for 45 days. After 45 days, you will be required to submit a new application if you still wish to refinance with RISLA.
  • Is RISLA a bank?
    No, RISLA is not a bank nor is it affiliated with any bank.
  • Can I refinance a RISLA loan?
    You can refinance a RISLA student loan or a student loan from another private lender. There is no limit to the number of times a borrower may refinance with RISLA. 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 RISLA?
    Yes, you can refinance some, all, or just one of your qualifying student loans with RISLA. 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 RISLA. 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 RISLA?
    No, spouses may not combine debts at RISLA. A spouse may act as co-signer on a refinance loan, however.
  • How long does it take to refinance with RISLA?
    Refinancing with RISLA will likely take between 6 and 16 weeks. Once you submit your application, you will be notified of your approval status within 1-2 business days. Any loan terms and/or rate offers are valid for 45 days. Upon acceptance, the first payment is due 30 days after disbursement.
  • Who services RISLA refinance loans?
    RISLA is its own loan servicer.
  • Does RISLA offer a grace period?
    No, RISLA does not offer a grace period. Student refinance loans enter repayment immediately after disbursement.
  • Can I get any special rates or discounts with RISLA ?
    RISLA offers a 0.25% interest rate reduction for setting up automatic electronic payments.
  • What happens if I file for bankruptcy?
    RISLA does not specify a course of action but does caution “[i]f you file for bankruptcy you may still be required to pay back this loan.”[3]
  • Is RISLA a Credible lender?
    RISLA does partner with Credible as one of its marketplace lenders.

Compare Student Loan Refinance Reviews

Lender Rating
Advantage B+
BECU C-
Brazos A
Citizens Bank B-
College Ave A-
CommonBond A+
Discover D+
Earnest B+
EDvestinU B
ELFI A-
First Republic Bank B
First Tech Federal C-
iHelp D
Laurel Road A-
MEFA B-
NaviRefi D-
Navy Federal C+
Nelnet Bank D-
PenFed B+
PNC Bank C
RISLA A
SELF Refi C+
SoFi B-
UW Credit Union A

Sources

  1. WPRI Channel 12 News, RISLA Suspends Some Student Loan Repayment for Those Impacted by COVID-19
  2. Boston Student Loan Lawyer, The Student Loan Lenders Most Likely to Sue You
  3. Rhode Island Student Loan Authority Application and Solicitation Disclosure RISLA Refinance Loan
  4. RISLA, Student Loan Refinancing
  5. Rhode Island Student Loan Authority Annual Report, Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2020 And Dated December 31, 2020
  6. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Consumer Complaint Database
  7. Dun & Bradstreet, Business Directory
  8. Better Business Bureau, Search Businesses and Charities