RISLA Student Loan Refinancing: Is It Right for You?

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

RISLA Student Loan Refinancing Review

We’ve got your back! Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

Refinancing with Earnest

Refinancing rates from 2.57% APR. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.

Check out Earnest

With student loan debt ballooning, a few states have passed legislation to form refinance programs. These programs help residents refinance student loan debt with lower interest rates. The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) offers one program you should consider, even if you don’t live in the state.

Rhode Island Student Loan Authority review

RISLA is a non-profit organization commissioned by the state of Rhode Island in 1981. Since then, it has provided programs to help make higher education more affordable. Services include loans, refinancing, college planning assistance, and financial literacy resources.

RISLA student loan refinance program review

Some of RISLA’s programs are for Rhode Island residents and students who attend college in the state. But its refinance program is open to anyone residing in the 50 states. Here’s an overview of the program.


With RISLA, you can refinance the following loans:

  • Private loans
  • Parent PLUS loans
  • Stafford loans
  • Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loans

The program offers 5-, 10-, and 15-year terms and fixed interest rates. It also gives you a 0.25 percent discount if you set up automatic payments. Here’s a breakdown of the interest rates (including the discount):

  • 5-year term: 3.49%-6.14% APR
  • 10-year term: 4.24%-7.14% APR
  • 15-year term: 4.74%-7.64% APR

You’ll also pay no upfront fees when setting up the new loan or prepayment fees if you pay it off early. You can refinance between $7,500 and $250,000. The maximum amount you can refinance depends on the highest degree you’ve earned.

RISLA requires that applicants have a FICO credit score of 680 and an annual income of at least $40,000. However, you can meet the income requirement with a cosigner.

Adding a cosigner

If you don’t earn enough to meet the program’s income requirement, you can combine your income with a cosigner who lives at the same address. If you and your cosigner do not live at the same address, at least one of you must earn the minimum.

In some cases, applying with a cosigner might be a good idea even if you earn enough on your own; it might qualify you for a lower interest rate.

Make sure your cosigner understands that RISLA does not have a cosigner release program. Once your income and creditworthiness improve, however, you may reapply to refinance without a cosigner.

Income-based repayment

Once you’ve refinanced through RISLA, you might qualify for an income-based repayment (IBR) plan. On an IBR plan, your monthly dues are 15 percent of your and the cosigner’s discretionary income or less, depending on your income and family size.

Additionally, your loans will be forgiven after 25 years of payments. Forbearance and deferment periods don’t count toward that 25-year timeline. Plus, your forgiven balance may be taxable.

RISLA also requires that you submit income and other documentation each year. Depending on changes in your income and family size, they may adjust your payments. See the full terms of RISLA’s income-based repayment plan on their website.

Forbearance and deferment

RISLA offers forbearance for up to 12 months for financial hardship. The program allows you to apply for forbearance in three-month increments.

Deferment is also available up to 36 months, but RISLA offers it only to graduate students. To qualify, the student must be attending school at least half-time.

Pros and Cons

If you’re interested in refinancing with RISLA, there are some key benefits and drawbacks to know.


Income-based repayment: Private student loan servicers generally don’t offer flexible payment options. Income-based repayment plans are especially rare. RISLA’s income-based repayment plan can help you stay afloat when you’re financially struggling.

Competitive rates: All of RISLA’s interest rates are fixed. With a cosigner, you might be eligible for the lowest rates available.

It’s not state-restricted: Unlike other state-based refinancing programs, RISLA doesn’t require you to be a Rhode Island resident. Borrowers across the country can take advantage of the program.


High income and credit requirement: RISLA requires an annual income of at least $40,000 to qualify. Some other refinancing programs have no minimum income requirements or require as little as $24,000 a year.

RISLA’s credit score requirement is also fairly high at 680, with or without a cosigner. If your debt load is bringing down your credit score, you might not qualify.

No cosigner release: It’s not a standard feature by any means, but some other refinancing programs allow you to release a cosigner without having to refinance again. With RISLA’s high eligibility standards, it might take you a while to improve your credit score and income standing to be able to refinance alone.

Can’t refinance Perkins loans: If you want to refinance your Perkins loans because you won’t qualify for cancellation, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Applying for RISLA refinancing

You can apply online or by calling RISLA directly at 1-800-758-7562. During the application process, you’ll provide the following information:

  • Name, phone number, email address, and permanent address
  • Highest level of education completed
  • Social Security Number, date of birth, and citizenship
  • Driver’s license number
  • Employment and income information
  • Liquid assets
  • Housing costs
  • Details about the loans you wish to refinance, including the lender, payments, and balances
  • Your desired loan term

After you apply, you’ll receive a preapproval response immediately. If you are preapproved, you’ll need to send RISLA the following documents to verify your information:

  • Most recent billing statements for each loan you want to refinance (unless they’re existing RISLA loans)
  • 60-day payoff amount for each loan you want to refinance (unless they’re existing RISLA loans)
  • Pay stubs or another form of income verification
  • W2s from the previous tax year
  • Statements verifying your liquid assets

You can submit your supporting documents through RISLA’s website.

Should you refinance with RISLA?

If you meet RISLA’s income and credit requirements, its refinancing program might be a good option. If you have federal loans, you won’t have to give up an income-based repayment plan. You’ll also get access to competitive rates, especially if you have a cosigner.

If you might be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness, you might want to keep your loans where they are. The same applies if you already have a favorable interest rate. Also, with RISLA’s high minimums for income and credit scores, you might benefit from other refinancing options.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
LenderVariable APREligible 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

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.