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Rhode Island college graduates in the Class of 2016 had an average of $31,217 in student loan, according to The Institute for College Access & Success. That’s a lot of debt to have when starting your career, but it’s well below the average student loan balance of $37,172.
According to the report, 39% of residents managed to make it through four-year public and private schools without resorting to Rhode Island student loans. But the majority of students might have a hard time making it to graduation without loans.
If you’re having difficulty in paying for school, the key is to know your options. That could help you avoid borrowing more money than you need and get lower rates on the loans you take out.
Rhode Island student loans
All Rhode Island students can choose between federal and private student loans to help pay for college. Additionally, you’ll have access to state-based education loans through the nonprofit Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA).
Federal student loans
The federal government offers loans to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as to parents who want to help their children. Federal student loans offer some benefits that you won’t see with private student loans, including forgiveness programs and income-driven repayment (IDR) plans.
Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans don’t require a credit check of borrowers before they’re approved, but Direct PLUS Loans do.
Here’s a summary of what’s available, as of April 13, 2018. For more recent information, contact the Federal Student Aid office.
|Loan type||Designed for||Requires a credit check?||Interest rates||Loan fee|
|Direct Subsidized Loans||Undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need||No||4.45%||1.066%|
|Direct Unsubsidized Loans||Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students||No||4.45% for undergraduates, 6.00% for graduate and professional students||1.066%|
|Direct PLUS Loans||Graduate and professional students, and parents of undergraduate students||Yes||7.00%||4.264%|
Private student loans
Unlike federal loans, all private student loans require a credit check of borrowers. If you’re brand new to credit or have made some mistakes, you might need to get a cosigner to improve your chances of being approved.
Also, private student loans typically don’t come with student loan forgiveness programs or IDR plans. Despite these drawbacks, the top private student loan companies offer competitive interest rates and terms to borrowers who qualify. Here are a few examples.
|Student loan company||Variable interest rates||Fixed interest rates||Origination fees|
|LendKey||As low as 4.68%||As low as 5.36%||None|
|Citizens Bank||4.04% – 12.01%||5.25% – 12.19%||None|
|College Ave||3.69% – 10.94%||5.29% – 12.07%||None|
RISLA student loans
RISLA is a nonprofit quasi-state agency that offers college loans and student loan refinancing. To qualify, you need to be a Rhode Island resident or attend school in the state.
Students and parents can take out a RISLA College Loan, which is designed for undergraduate students. If you’re a graduate or professional student, you can apply for a RISLA Graduate School Loan.
Unlike private student loan companies, RISLA offers special benefits to its borrowers. For example, you can get on an Income-Based Repayment plan if you can’t afford your payments. You also will have access to the following programs:
- Student Loan Forgiveness for Internships: You can access up to $2,000 in student loan forgiveness on nonfederal RISLA loans for completing an eligible internship for credit.
- Nursing Rewards: If you’re a new nurse working in Rhode Island, you’ll pay no interest on RISLA loans for up to four years.
- Primary Care Provider Loan Repayment: If you’re a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant, you can get thousands of dollars in loan forgiveness by staying and working in Rhode Island.
To be eligible for a RISLA loan, you need to earn at least $40,000 a year and have a credit score of at least 680. If you don’t meet these requirements, you can use a cosigner who does meet the criteria to help you get approved.
Here are some details about RISLA student loans, as of April 13, 2018. Check the RISLA website for the latest information.
|Undergraduate loans||Graduate loans||Parent loans|
|Payment plan||Immediate repayment plan||Deferred repayment plan||Immediate repayment plan||Deferred repayment plan||Immediate repayment plan|
|Fixed APR (with autopay)||4.49%||6.25% to 6.42%||4.74%||6.67%||5.49%|
|Repayment term||10 years||15 years||10 years||15 years||10 years|
|Repayment begins||15 days after final disbursement||Six months after you leave school||15 days after final disbursement||Six months after you leave school||15 days after final disbursement|
|Loan limits||$1,500 to $40,000 per year||Up to $40,000 per year||$1,500 to $40,000 per year|
Refinancing Rhode Island student loans
If you’ve already left school, it might be worth taking another look at your student loans to make sure you’re not paying more than you should. Refinancing your Rhode Island student loans could potentially get you a lower interest rate, monthly payment, or both.
Here are a few of the top student loan refinancing companies and how they compare with RISLA.
|Student loan company||Variable interest rates||Fixed interest rates||Minimum loan balance||Origination fees|
|CommonBond||2.57% – 6.65%||3.20% – 6.65%||$5,000||None|
|Earnest||2.57% – 5.87%||3.89% – 6.32%||$5,000||None|
|SoFi||2.48% – 7.52%||3.99% – 7.80%||$5,000||None|
|RISLA||N/A||3.49% to 7.64% (with autopay)||$7,500||None|
To make sure you get the lowest interest rate possible, compare the top student loan refinancing companies. Examine repayment terms and other features, too, that might fit your needs best.
Getting Rhode Island student loans that are right for you
Ideally, you shouldn’t need to take out student loans to pay for college. But having access to the options when you need them can help you avoid paying more than you have to for your education.
As you research your student loan options, keep other financing methods in mind, including scholarships, grants, and jobs. The more time you spend trying to get funds from these sources, the less you’ll need to borrow.
If you do end up taking out student loans, make sure to look into refinancing the debt when you graduate. Depending on what you’re paying, you could get a better deal.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Get real rates from up to 4 Lenders at once
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.57% – 5.87%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.80% – 6.38%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 7.52%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 7.99%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.57% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.17%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|