Are RISLA Loans Right for You? Pros and Cons of Student Loan from Rhode Island

Introduction to RISLA Student Loans

The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is a quasi-public state authority that provides education loans to students and families in Rhode Island. RISLA offers competitive interest rates and flexible repayment options on student loans to help Rhode Island residents pay for college.

  • The RISLA Loan is an alternative student loan with fixed and variable interest rates and flexible repayment options. It can be used to cover tuition, room and board, books, and other education-related expenses. Parents and graduate students can also take out RISLA loans.

  • The Rhode Island Family Education Loan (RIFEL) is a loan program that allows parents, family members, or others to take out a loan on behalf of a student. The RIFEL loan has fixed interest rates and can be used to cover the family contribution portion of college costs.

RISLA loans are administered by College Ave Student Loans and are available to students attending eligible schools in and outside of Rhode Island. The application process is simple and funds can be used at over 2,000 colleges and universities across the country.

RISLA offers competitive interest rates and does not charge any application or origination fees on their loans. They also provide options like cosigners and interest rate reductions to help borrowers. RISLA aims to provide affordable financing options tailored to Rhode Island students and families.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a RISLA student loan, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. student loan are the key requirements:

Residency Requirements

To qualify for a RISLA loan, you must be a resident of Rhode Island. student loan you must meet one of the following:

  • Have a Rhode Island driver’s license or state ID
  • Be registered to vote in Rhode Island
  • Have lived in Rhode Island for 12 consecutive months prior to applying

So if you are from out of state but attending college in Rhode Island, you would not qualify for RISLA. The loan program is designed for Rhode Island residents.

Credit Requirements

RISLA does not require a credit check or have a minimum credit score requirement. student loan  As long as you meet the other eligibility criteria, your credit does not factor into the approval process.

This makes RISLA more accessible for students who may not have established credit yet. Many private student loans require a credit check and good credit for approval.

Enrollment Status

This includes:

  • Public or private 4-year colleges/universities
  • 2-year community colleges
  • Career training programs

You can be enrolled as an undergraduate, graduate, or professional student. The school must be located in the United States or Canada and be eligible for federal financial aid.

Part-time students enrolled less than half-time are not eligible for RISLA loans unfortunately. You need to maintain at least 6 credits per term for undergraduates or 4.5 credits for graduate students.

How to Apply

Applying for a RISLA student loan is a straightforward process. Here are the key steps:

Where to Get an Application

  • Online at Simply click “Apply Now” and you can complete the application electronically.

  • By mail. Call 1-800-555-1234 or email and request an application be sent.

  • In person at college financial aid offices. Most colleges in Rhode Island keep RISLA applications on hand. Stop by the financial aid office to pick one up.

Documents Needed

  • FAFSA information. Your FAFSA student aid report will be required to confirm eligibility.

  • ID documents. You’ll need to provide a copy of your driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued ID.

  • Income verification. Tax returns or pay stubs will be required to confirm your income.

  • Cosigner information. If you use a cosigner, their ID and income docs are needed too.

Application Timeline

  • Apply as early as possible, ideally 90 days before the semester starts.

  • Allow 2-3 weeks for RISLA to process complete applications.

  • Late applications may still be accepted, but funds may be limited.

  • Loan disbursements are sent to your school before each semester, after you’ve accepted your loan award.

So in summary, applying for a RISLA loan involves submitting an application with income and ID documentation. Applying early maximizes your chances of getting funding.

Loan Amounts Offered

RISLA offers both undergraduate and graduate student loans with different annual and aggregate limits.

Undergraduate Loan Limits

The maximum annual loan amount for undergraduate students is $10,000. The aggregate loan limit (total for all years of undergraduate study) is $30,000.

First year undergraduates can borrow up to $3,500, second year students up to $4,500, and third year students up to the maximum of $5,000.

Graduate Loan Limits

For graduate students, the maximum annual loan amount is $20,000. The aggregate limit for graduate study is $150,000.

Graduate student annual loan limits depend on the cost of attendance and other financial aid received. The maximum per year is $20,000.

Both undergraduate and graduate students must be enrolled at least half-time to qualify for RISLA loans. The annual and aggregate limits apply to the total borrowed, including from prior years.

Interest Rates and Fees

RISLA offers competitive interest rates on student loans to Rhode Island residents. The interest rates are determined based on market rates when the loan is originated.

Current Interest Rates

The current interest rates for RISLA loans for the 2022-2023 academic year are:

  • Undergraduate Students: 4.99%
  • Graduate Students: 6.49%
  • Parent PLUS Loans: 7.49%

These are fixed interest rates that will remain the same over the life of the loan.

Origination Fees

RISLA does not charge any origination fees or prepayment penalties on student loans. This makes RISLA loans a cost-effective option compared to private student loans or federal loans like Direct PLUS loans that charge origination fees.

Repayment Fees

RISLA does not charge any fees for making payments on your loan or paying off your loan early. You can repay ahead of schedule with no penalties. However, there is a late fee of 6% of the monthly payment amount if a payment is more than 15 days late.

Repayment Options

RISLA offers several options for repaying your student loans to fit your financial situation.

Repayment Plans

The standard repayment plan has fixed monthly payments for a 10-year term. There are also graduated, extended, and income-driven repayment plans available. With a graduated plan, payments start low and increase every two years. The extended plan stretches payments over 25 years for lower monthly amounts. Income-driven plans base your payment on your discretionary income and family size.


You can combine multiple federal student loans into one Direct Consolidation Loan through RISLA. This can simplify repayment with one monthly bill and may offer a lower interest rate. Consolidation can also allow you to switch to an income-driven repayment plan or extend your repayment term. Private student loans are not eligible for federal consolidation.

Forgiveness Programs

RISLA offers student loan forgiveness programs for certain careers and situations. Public Service Loan Forgiveness is available for government and nonprofit workers after 10 years of payments. Teacher loan forgiveness provides up to $17,500 for math, science, and special education teachers who teach for five years in low-income schools. The Total and Permanent Disability Discharge program forgives loans if you’re unable to work due to disability. You may also qualify for forgiveness if your school closed before you could complete your program.

Deferment and Forbearance

Deferment allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loans. Interest will not accrue on subsidized loans during deferment, but it will continue to accrue on unsubsidized loans.

  • Enrolled at least half-time at an eligible postsecondary school
  • In a full-time course of study in a graduate fellowship program
  • In an approved full-time rehabilitation program for individuals with disabilities
  • Unemployed or unable to find full-time employment (for up to 3 years)
  • Experiencing economic hardship (for up to 3 years)

To apply for deferment, contact your loan servicer. You will need to provide documentation of your eligibility.

Forbearance allows you to temporarily reduce your monthly loan payment or completely stop making payments. Interest will continue to accrue on all loan types during forbearance. Forbearance is granted at the discretion of the loan servicer in cases of financial hardship.

To apply for forbearance, contact your loan servicer. You will need to explain your situation and provide documentation of financial hardship if requested. Forbearance can be granted in increments of up to 12 months at a time, for a maximum of 3 years.

Carefully consider deferment and forbearance options if you are having trouble making payments. While they provide temporary relief, interest may still accrue and cause your loan balance to increase.

Delinquency and Default

 Delinquency can have serious consequences for borrowers.

After 90 days of non-payment, RISLA loans go into default status. Default occurs when a borrower fails to make payments as outlined in the loan agreement for an extended period. This has significant impacts:

  •  This makes it difficult to qualify for future loans, mortgages, credit cards, apartments, utilities, cell phone plans, and more. A default can remain on a credit history for up to 7 years.

  • Wage garnishment – The government can seize a portion of the borrower’s wages, tax refunds, and government benefits to repay the defaulted loan.Collection fees – Collection agencies charge up to 25% fees on top of the loan balance to recover defaulted amounts.

  • Lawsuits – The lender can take legal action and sue defaulted borrowers. This can result in judgments against the borrower.

  • Ineligibility – Borrowers in default cannot receive additional federal student aid. This includes grants, loans, and work-study assistance.

To get out of default, borrowers have a few options:

  • Loan Rehabilitation – Make 9 on-time monthly payments over 10 months, based on income, to have the loan taken out of default.

  • Consolidation – Combine defaulted loans into a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan with new terms.

  • Settlement – Offer a lump sum payment for less than the amount owed to settle the defaulted balance.

  • Payment in full – Pay off the entire defaulted balance and any fees to return to good standing.

Getting out of default quickly is critical to avoid long-lasting credit damage and collection consequences. RISLA borrowers struggling to make payments should seek help before default occurs.

Pros and Cons of RISLA Student Loans

RISLA student loans offer some advantages compared to private student loans, but also have some potential drawbacks to consider.


  • Lower interest rates than private loans. RISLA bases rates on financial need, whereas private lenders typically offer higher rates based on credit scores.

  • More flexible repayment options like income-based repayment. Private lenders typically require fixed payments.

  • Option to pause payments through deferment or forbearance if facing financial hardship. Private lenders may not offer these options.

  • Loan forgiveness programs may be available for certain careers or situations. Private loans lack forgiveness options.

  • No credit check or cosigner required. Private loans often require good credit or a cosigner.


  • Loan limits may not cover full cost of attendance. Private loans can cover remaining gaps.

  • Application process can be lengthy with required paperwork. Private lenders may offer quicker approvals.

  • Missing payments can hurt credit score and lead to delinquency fees. Private lenders also penalize late payments.

  • Interest accrues during school, capitalizing upon repayment. Some private lenders offer in-school deferment.

  •  Same is true for private student loans.

Overall, RISLA loans are a good option for low-cost financing, but private loans may provide more flexibility. Consider both when making borrowing decisions.

Other Student Loan Options

When considering how to pay for college, RISLA student loans are one option, but not the only one. Here is a brief overview of some other common student loan alternatives:

Federal Student Loans

 The main benefits of federal student loans are that they don’t require a credit check, offer fixed interest rates, and have flexible repayment plans. The downside is that federal student loan limits may not fully cover the cost of attendance.

Private Student Loans

 Private student loans typically require good credit and a co-signer. Interest rates are variable. Private loans can cover any remaining cost of attendance not met by federal loans, but generally have less flexible repayment options.

Institutional Loans

Some colleges and universities offer their own low-interest student loans with borrower-friendly terms. . Amounts available vary by school. Institutional loans are worth checking into along with other options.

Payment Plans

Many colleges offer tuition payment plans that allow families to spread out costs interest-free over the course of a semester or year, rather than paying in one lump sum. Payment plans don’t reduce costs but can help with budgeting.

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