Rhode Island leads the way in student lending innovation
posted May 7, 2018
RISLA to use mobile technology and identity verification to streamline application process for the lowest fixed rate student loans in the country
Warwick, RI – May 7, 2018…The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is excited to announce that it will be leading the way in using mobile technology and identity verification tools to streamline the student loan application process. Families can conveniently get pre-qualified and apply for RISLA’s low-cost education loans right from their phones by texting “college” to 24000. 
This fully mobile service will allow users to securely and privately access rate offerings and determine their eligibility for a loan with RISLA from their phone with minimal data entry. Once pre-qualified, borrowers can complete the online application, upload image captures of any documents needed for the application process, and electronically sign from their mobile device or continue the application process on their home computer.
Other education loan providers can require the borrower to enter several pages of information before the student or family is even told what their interest rate will be. As a non-profit, full transparency is a priority to RISLA.
“RISLA's non-profit status and its AA rated tax-exempt bonds enable RISLA to offer one of the lowest fixed interest rate student loans in the country,” said Charles P. Kelley, RISLA’s Executive Director. “But we also recognize that it is not enough to have the lowest interest rates. We must also leverage new technology to provide a great customer experience for students and families on the go.”
“When we help families refinance their education loans, we are often shocked at the high interest rates that many borrowers are burdened with. We realized that we needed to do more to make low cost state-based programs like RISLA’s easier to access and remove barriers that typically prevent students and parents from getting the best deal for their individual situation.” said Lindie Thibodeau, Director of Marketing for RISLA.
RISLA’s college loans are available to qualifying RI residents and to out-of-state families of students who are attending any of RI's outstanding institutions of higher education.
A video is available now on sources of federal student aid, how to borrow responsibly for college, and why fixed rate loans are a safer option for students and families by texting “Smart” to 24000. 
Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is a non-profit state authority that has been helping families pay for college for over thirty-five years. RISLA gives back to the community with free college planning and financial aid counseling through the RISLA College Planning Center and through Bridge.jobs, a free internship finder that connects students with Rhode Island employers. For more information on RISLA or to apply for a loan, please visit risla.com.
Families Can Receive Free Help Applying for College Financial Aid at Local High Schools
posted January 12, 2018
The RISLA College Planning Center will be traveling across Rhode Island to provide easy access to free assistance completing the FAFSA and CSS Profile forms
Warwick, RI – January 12, 2018…The RISLA College Planning Center is happy to announce that in addition to its two permanent locations in Warwick and Cumberland, Rhode Islanders will have access to free college planning services at local high schools throughout Rhode Island this winter. Throughout January and February, RISLA College Planning Center counselors will be traveling across the state in an effort to make filing the FAFSA and CSS Profile easier for college-bound families.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly referred to as the FAFSA, is the first step to applying for college financial aid. All schools use this application to award federal student aid and many use it to determine how much institutional aid a family is eligible for.
Many parents and students find this form, which contains over 100 questions, complicated and confusing. Families should be aware there are free services available to help them complete these forms.
Students and parents interested in booking an appointment at their local high school can contact the school guidance office. The RISLA College Planning Center traveling schedule is posted below:
Wednesday 1/17/18 Central High School
Thursday 1/18/18 Rogers High School
Friday 1/19/18 Middletown High School
Friday 1/19/18 Classical High School
Monday 1/22/18 Rogers High School
Wednesday 1/24/18 Jacqueline Walsh School for the Arts
Wednesday 1/24/18 Paul Cuffee School
Thursday 1/25/18 Tiverton High School
Friday 1/26/18 Shea High School
Friday 1/26/18 Middletown High School
Monday 1/29/18 Rogers High School
Wednesday 1/31/18 East Providence High School
Friday 2/2/18 Hope High School
Friday 2/9/18 JSEC High School
Friday 2/16/18 Woonsocket High School
Wednesday 2/28/18 Blackstone Valley Prep Academy
All of the College Planning Center’s services are provided free-of-charge by RISLA, a non-profit state authority. The College Planning Center has been providing expert in-person and web-based college planning guidance to students and parents since 1998. The CPCRI offers one-on-one college planning counseling, informational seminars, and online tools to promote college planning and financial aid awareness among Rhode Islanders. For more information, please visit www.collegeplanningcenter.org.
Notice to Hurricane Harvey Victims
posted September 6, 2017
If you are a resident of Texas or Louisiana, we recognize you and your family may have been seriously affected by Hurricane Harvey. During this difficult time, we want to do our part to help make life a little bit easier.
To help ease any financial burden you and your family may be experiencing, we are automatically putting your RISLA non-federal loan accounts into a temporary deferment. This means you will have no payments due for three months after the hurricane affected your area.
This deferment will not have any effect on the total amount of forbearance time for which you are eligible. However, interest will continue to accrue on your account during this deferment period. If you are able to pay during this time, please feel free to do so and we are happy to remove your account from this temporary deferment at your request.
Please know that our thoughts are with you as your state recoveries from this terrible tragedy. If you have any questions at all, or need to further extend your deferment, please reach out to our customer service team toll-free at 1-888-897-4752 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Internship Summit at State House reinforces importance of internships in growth of skilled workforce and RI economy
posted May 2, 2017
Providence, RI (May 1, 2017) – Employers and students gathered today at the State House in recognition of the important role that internships play in developing a skilled workforce, retaining the best talent in Rhode Island, and opening up opportunities for new college graduates. The event, the Bridge.jobs Internship Summit, commended employers for their exemplary internship programs, provided opportunities for students to learn strategies to increase their employability, and fostered connections between RI employers and college students through networking opportunities.
The Bridge.jobs Internship Summit kicked off with an employer recognition ceremony. CVS Health, Social Enterprise Greenhouse, RISD Museum, IGT, BankNewport and FM Global were applauded for their exemplary internship programs.
“College students in our Corporate Intern Program have the opportunity to gain real world work experience, while CVS Health business leaders have the opportunity to pre-recruit top candidates for full-time opportunities in the following year,” said Christy Del Regno, Director of Diversity and University Recruiting at CVS Health. “Given the dynamic nature of health care, we look for not only top performing students academically but also strategic thinkers who take an analytical approach to our business and who bring valuable leadership and collaboration skills to our organization.”
A recent survey run by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) showed that 72.7% of interns are offered full-time employment at the completion of their internship. In the same survey, employers indicated that converting interns into full-time employees is the primary goal of running internship programs. These results underscore the importance of internships in increasing employment opportunities and creating a more skilled workforce.
At the event, students had the opportunity to network with RI employers during an internship fair and attend breakout sessions on creating a personal brand through social media, building relationships & networking, translating strengths to a resume, and diversity & cultural competency. Meanwhile, employers attended a session on building and strengthening a successful internship program. The event wrapped up with a networking luncheon where employers and students had the opportunity to speak face-to-face.
“Since we launched Bridge.jobs less than five years ago, nearly seven thousand area students have registered in hopes of finding an internship in Rhode Island,” said Charles P. Kelley, Executive Director of RISLA, the agency that hosts the Bridge.jobs website. “We are proud to work with our partners to make hundreds of opportunities available to students, but it is imperative that even more Rhode Island employers start hosting interns. Internships are a gateway to employment opportunities, a more skilled workforce, and a revitalization of our economy. That is why we are making a major push to grow this successful program.”
Bridge.jobs was launched in 2013 to encourage work-based learning for students, youth, and adult learners throughout Rhode Island. The objective of the program is to increase the work readiness, knowledge, and skills of the current and emerging workforce in the state, while giving students and adults greater opportunities to remain in RI and contribute to the state’s economic growth.
Bridge.jobs is a partnership between RISLA, the Governor’s Workforce Board, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of RI, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, and Rhode Island’s public colleges and universities.
Senator Jack Reeds reminds students about the importance of filing the FAFSA
posted October 11, 2016
RISLA Deputy Director, Noel Simpson, Talks to WPRI Channel 12 News about Student Debt
posted September 9, 2016
If you are unable to vie the video below, please visit WPRI.
New Tool Helps Employees Conquer Student Debt
posted September 7, 2016
Rhode Island employers now have a free new benefit they can offer their employees to help them get a grip on their education loans
The non-profit Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) announced today at its College Planning Center in the Warwick Mall that it will be offering a new online tool to help graduates and parents of college students conquer their student debt. The Student Loan Repayment Solutions tool, offered for free to employers by the non-profit Rhode Island Student Loan Authority, will allow employers to provide a free benefit to their employers which can help them organize, manage, and analyze their education debt, as well as get personalized counseling on how to pay off their college debt.
“Student Loan Repayment Solutions is a valuable tool for families to manage the complexities and expense of their student loans,” said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. “I commend the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority for creating new partnerships and products to help meet the financial challenge our students face.”
“The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority is one of the best success stories in the state,” said Representative Naughton. “Now they are offering yet another tool for graduates still paying off student loan debt. Between loan forgiveness programs and debt refinancing, as well as a host of other options, the counseling offered through the Student Loan Repayment Solutions will not only help them manage their debt, but will be a benefit to employees and employers alike. This partnership will help a lot of struggling people.”
Nationally employers are realizing that the number one concern that many employees have are their education loans. “Not only do millennials carry debt, but they struggle with it. A majority report having too much debt, difficulty in making payments, and worries about it… Moreover, even several years after college, the percentage of those worried about repaying student loans remains high,” stated Annamaria Lusardi in the Wall Street Journal on Oct 5, 2015.
The student loan crisis has exploded over the past decade:
- There is currently $1.2 Trillion nationally in college debt
- Grads have an average of $35,169 in federal student loans which is the second-highest in the nation
- There were over $127 million in federal parent (PLUS) loans taken out in RI in 2015/16
RISLA’s online Student Loan Repayment Solutions counseling tool will help borrowers understand how to best deal with their education loans for their individual circumstances. For example the majority of the loans that a student borrows are federal loans and there are as many as eight different repayment plans to choose from.
“For ten years RISLA has been providing in person financial literacy seminars for high school and college students and we recognized that there was a need to make student loan repayment counseling an online resource that was scalable, convenient and confidential for employees.” Said William Bianchi, Financial Literacy Manager at RISLA. “I believe this is the first state based program in the country addressing this issue through employers.”
RISLA’s free tool and one-on-one counseling will help empower employees to get a grip on their education loans by:
- Helping employees gather and organize their student loan information
- Counseling employees on payoff strategies, refinancing, consolidation and income-driven repayment plans
- Educating employees about loan forgiveness programs they may qualify for
- Determine best course of action for achieving their goals
- Reducing payments, cutting finance charges, simplifying life, decreasing interest rates, etc.
The problem of college debt isn’t limited to just students and grads. All too frequently, parents are also burdened with high interest rate education loans they have taken out for their children. It is not unusual for parents to have multiple federal PLUS loans with interest rates of 7.9 or 8.5%.
Several companies have already recognized the value that this can provide and have enthusiastically agreed to make it available to their employees.
“The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is a tremendous resource for us and our clients, many of whom are overwhelmed by their student and parent loans. RISLA has helped a number of our clients refinance their student and parents loans, saving them thousands of dollars in interest. Charlie Kelley and his staff provide thoughtful and proactive solutions for our clients as they navigate through the maze of college funding choices.” Donna Caccia, CPA and Partner – Cayer Caccia CPAs
“Recent graduates and current and future students entering the accounting field are required to obtain 150 college credits, as well as successfully pass all four sections of the CPA exam, to receive their CPA designation. Today, many students meet this requirement by continuing on with their graduate studies, which often results in increased student loan debt. RISLA already provides seminars to help employees to better understand their student loan repayment options, and now the addition of this new online tool will be a very helpful resource that we can make available to all of our employees, especially our newest professional staff.” Steven Loffredo, Human Resources Director – KLR
“Improving access to higher education, particularly by making it more affordable, is critical in keeping pace with improvements in technology and increased competition in the global workforce. Those efforts will take time, but RISLA isn’t waiting around for a massive overhaul, it’s addressing the symptoms head on, right now. As soon as I learned about the Student Loan Repayment Solutions tool that RISLA built, I was immediately able to see its value. I believe it will be able to help a lot of people ease the burden of student debt, and I’m eager to share it with our team at MojoTech.” - Jacob Brier, Operations Director at MojoTech.
Assistant Director of RISLA's College Planning Center gives advice to those planning for college [Video]
If you are unable to view the video below, please visit: http://turnto10.com/news/education/back-to-school-planning-for-college-costs
RISLA's Noel Simpson speaks on missed financial aid opportunities with Channel 12 [Video]
College Planning Center Extends Hours for Busy Financial Aid Season
posted February 17, 2016
(February 1, 2016) - The Rhode Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is pleased to announce that it has extended the hours of its College Planning Center of Rhode Island (CPCRI) this month to help families complete their financial aid forms before the common March 1 deadline.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, must be completed in order for students to qualify for federal financial aid, including grants and scholarships. Some colleges also require the CSS PROFILE. The CPCRI is staffed by seasoned financial aid experts who can assist families with the completion process of both the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE forms and significantly cut down the amount of time it takes to file.
Many colleges have a March 1 deadline for receiving financial aid applications so it's necessary for families to complete the FAFSA and other college financial aid applications in a timely manner so they don't miss out on available student aid.
The CPCRI has three convenient locations and their services are provided at no cost. They are located at the Warwick Mall, at 576 Metacom Avenue in Bristol, and in Cumberland at the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln.
The expanded hours are:
Appointments are required and can be made online at www.collegeplanningcenter.org or by phone at 401-736-3170. The College Planning Center of Rhode Island is a free service provided by the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority.
RISLA Refinance Program Featured in the Stateline
December 14, 2015 - To view the full article, click here.
RISLA Refinance Program Featured in the Washington Post
December 13, 2015 - To view the full article, click here.
6th Annual College Planning Center College Fair to be held Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 at McCoy Stadium
posted September 8, 2015
Warwick, RI – The College Planning Center of Rhode Island (CPCRI), a free service run by the non-profit Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA), has teamed up with the Pawtucket Red Sox, B101 and Coast 93.3 to host a college fair on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, from 6-8pm at McCoy Stadium. At the fair, students will have the opportunity to speak with college representatives from over 100 colleges and universities and get their questions about student life answered.
All high school students - even students that aren’t sure if college is right for them - are encouraged to attend.
A lot is at stake for students as studies have shown college graduates earn higher salaries and experience lower unemployment rates than those without a college degree. Choosing a college wisely can mean the difference between graduating and dropping out, so students need to do their research before sending in applications.
Students should be open-minded as they start their college search and learn as much as possible about colleges so they make informed decisions about where to apply.
It’s important for students to identify schools that are good matches both academically and financially, so students should be aware of the financial aid opportunities available to them and carefully compare school financial aid policies so they do not graduate with too much debt.
Admission to the college fair is free and plenty of free parking is available. The event will take place indoors, rain or shine. The College Planning Center recommends students come prepared with a list of questions to ask the schools.
RI Student Loan Authority Reduces Interest Rates and Eliminates Fees
Now Offering One of the Lowest Fixed Rate Education Loans in the County
posted June 30, 2015
WARWICK, RI (May 26, 2015) – The non-profit Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) has announced that student loan interest rates on its fixed rate loans have been reduced to as low as 3.99%. In addition, all up-front fees have been eliminated for the 2015/16 academic year.
“RISLA’s goal is to make higher education and training more accessible and affordable for Rhode Island families,” said RISLA Board Chairman Robert Delaney.
Charles P. Kelley, Executive Director of RISLA said, “The recent sale of tax exempt bonds went extremely well. Investors appreciate that RISLA has run a very successful program for over twenty years and its education loans have a very low default rate.” Kelley continued, “This enables RISLA to offer a fixed interest rate to students and families that is among the lowest in the country.”
RISLA’s safe, fixed interest rates start as low as 3.99% for the ten year repayment term with auto-debit. Families making the commitment to higher education can take advantage of these historically low interest rates to help students finance their education. RISLA also offers a “Parent-Only” loan where the student is not obligated on the loan.
To put RISLA’s loan program in context, for the 2015/16 academic year the Federal PLUS loan for parents has a fixed rate of 6.84% and an upfront fee of 4.292%. Last year the average family in Rhode Island borrowed approximately $15,000, in addition to the student’s Stafford loan, meaning that family could save approximately $3,252 in interest and fees over a ten year repayment period by using RISLA’s 3.99% loan.
RISLA loans also provide for loan forgiveness, up to $2,000, for qualifying internships and zero interest rate for up to four years for qualifying nurses who stay in the state after graduation. More information about RISLA’s loan programs can be found at www.risla.com.
RISLA is a non-profit, self funding, quasi-state organization dedicated to student success. RISLA also operates the College Planning Centers of Rhode Island and the internship portal www.bridge.jobs in collaboration with the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of RI, the Governor’s Workforce Board, The Providence Chamber of Commerce and the State Institutions of Higher Education.
Reed, Raimondo Visit the College Planning Center to Help Kickoff College Goal RI
Free workshops will help college-bound students and their families apply for financial aid
To view the full article, click here.
College Planning Center Offers Expanded Winter Hours to Help More Families Complete the FAFSA
posted January 13, 2015
January 11, 2015 - The Rhode Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is pleased to announce that it is offering expanded winter hours at its College Planning Center of Rhode Island (CPCRI) to help more students and families complete their financial aid forms. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is the form students must complete in order to be eligible for federal financial aid, including grants and scholarships, at educational institutions nationwide. The FAFSA is also the application used to determine eligibility for the Rhode Island State Grant.
Most colleges have priority deadlines for awarding financial aid so it's imperative that students complete the FAFSA and college financial aid applications in a timely manner so they won't miss out on available student aid. The CPCRI is staffed by financial aid experts who can help students and families complete the forms and take away much of the stress associated with completing this long and complicated financial aid form.
In addition to receiving assistance with the FAFSA, families can also get help filing the CSS Profile and other financial aid forms at the CPCRI. During the summer and fall, students and families may book a free session for college planning and admissions guidance.
The CPCRI has three convenient locations and their services are provided at no cost. They are located at the Warwick Mall, in Bristol at 576 Metacom Avenue and in Cumberland at the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln. The expanded hours are:
Warwick: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 9-7; Wednesday & Friday 9-7:30; Saturday 12-7 and Sunday 12-6.
Bristol: Monday, Thursday, Friday 9-4:30; Tuesday and Wednesday 9-7.
Cumberland: Monday, Tuesday and Friday 9-4:30; Wednesday and Thursday 9-7.
Appointments are highly recommended and can be made online or by phone at 401-736-3170.
The College Planning Center of Rhode Island is a free service provided by the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority.
Statewide Internship Effort Targets Employers
PROVIDENCE, RI (January 9, 2014) – Recognizing the valuable role internships play in the preparation of the state’s workforce and its economic growth, the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (“RISLA”), the Governor’s Workforce Board, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of RI, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island’s public colleges and universities, and the RI Partnership Project together announced a targeted new campaign to promote internships to Rhode Island employers through its BRIDGE.JOBS initiative. The group was joined in the announcement of the employer campaign by Governor Lincoln Chafee at GTECH’s world headquarters in Providence.
The BRIDGE.JOBS campaign was launched over a year ago to encourage work-based learning for students, youth, and adult learners throughout Rhode Island. The objective of the program is to increase the work readiness, knowledge, and skills of the current and emerging workforce in the state, while giving students and adults greater opportunities to remain in RI and contribute to the state’s economic growth. Through its free website, BRIDGE.JOBS matches qualified interns with internship opportunities throughout Rhode Island.
“By supporting internships and partnering with the business community, Rhode Island government is making a valuable and long-lasting investment in the state’s economy,” Governor Chafee said. “Meaningful work experience for Rhode Island’s students builds skills and résumés for the current and future workforce.”
“Since we launched BRIDGE.JOBS last year, thousands of area students and adults have come to the site to view the hundreds of available internship opportunities,” said Charles P. Kelley, Executive Director of RISLA, the agency that hosts bridge.jobs. “We are proud to work with our partners to make these opportunities available to students and adults, but it is imperative to encourage more Rhode Island employers to participate. Internships are a gateway to employment opportunities, a more skilled workforce, and a revitalization of our economy. That is why we are making a major push to grow this successful program.”
Thursday’s announcement at GTECH underscores the commitment that many area employers have already made to the BRIDGE.JOBS program. Leo Perrone, Director of Global Talent Acquisition at GTECH, Alexis Devine, Youth Development Coordinator at Lifespan, Valerie Joseph, RN, Nurse Manager at Clinica Esperanza, and Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce all spoke of the benefits of providing internship opportunities to high school and college students as well as adults. The growth of internship opportunities has also been a priority of Governor Chafee and the Governor’s Workforce Board along with the Rhode Island Foundation. RISLA recently received a $100,000 grant from the Foundation, as part of the Make It Happen RI campaign to promote the benefits of BRIDGE.JOBS to Rhode Island employers.
BRIDGE.JOBS is a partnership of the Governor’s Workforce Board, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of RI, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island’s public colleges and universities, and the RI Partnership Project. To learn more about RISLA’s Bridge Jobs initiative, please contact Adrian van Alphen at 401-468-1796, or visit www.bRIdge.Jobs.
College Planning Center of RI Announces Expanded Hours to Help Students Meet Financial Aid Deadlines
WARWICK, RI January 7, 2014 - The College Planning Center of Rhode Island (CPCRI) has expanded hours at its three Rhode Island locations to help students and parents meet college financial aid deadlines.
Many students and parents find the financial aid process intimidating. The CPCRI, the state’s leading non-profit resource for college planning, helps remove barriers to higher education by providing much needed help in navigating the complex financial aid process. All services are provided free of charge.
"Each year as the cost of college grows, we have more and more families making appointments to get help completing their financial aid forms,” said Stacy Crooks, Director of the Center. “Offering extended hours will help us serve more families during this busy time of year.”
The financial aid experts at the CPCRI are available to provide free one-on-one help to families completing college financial aid forms such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS/PROFILE.
“Last academic year our College Planning Center helped nearly 13,000 students and so far this year we are up 15% from where we were at this time last year,” said Noel Simpson, Deputy Director of the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA), the agency that sponsors the CPCRI.
All services offered by the College Planning Center are free to Rhode Island residents. Along with helping complete financial aid forms, the CPCRI also provides academic, admission, financial literacy and college selection advice to students. The Center is managed by Stacy Crooks, a former college financial aid and admissions officer. Additional help is available online through the CPCRI’s Financial Aid 101 tutorial and students can sign up for free email reminders (Ed Alerts) containing important deadlines and financial aid tips at www.collegeplanningcenter.org.
The College Planning Center’s locations and hours of operation are:
- Warwick Mall, 400 Bald Hill Road, Warwick, RI: Mon-Fri 9:30-7:00 Sat 12-7 and Sun 12-6
- East Bay Office, 576 Metacom Ave, Bristol: Mon, Tues, Wed 9:30-7:00 Thurs, Fri 9;30-4:30
- Northern RI Office at the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland Lincoln, One James McKee Way, Cumberland: Mon, Tues and Friday 9:30-4:30, Wed and Thursday 9:30-7:00
Parents and students are asked to call ahead for an appointment at 401-736-3170 or book an appointment online at www.collegeplanningcenter.org.