RI Student Loan Authority announces new, free loan payback tool

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Rhode Island students and employers have a new free tool when calculating how best to repay student loans. Nonprofit Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) announced Wednesday that it will offer a new online tool to help college graduates and families conquer their debt. RISLA will offer the Student Loan Repayment Solutions tool to employers to provide to their employees. This will help employees who have loans learn how to repay, manage, and analyze their debts and also receive personalized counseling on how to pay off their debts. The tool comes at no cost to either the employers or employees.

“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 at a press conference at the College Planning Center at the Warwick Mall. “The folks at RISLA recognize that their job is not just to sell loans, it is to make education more affordable and to help Rhode Islanders achieve their career objectives.”

Nationally, $1.2 trillion of college debt exists. Rhode Island graduates have an average of $35,169 in federal student loans – the second highest average in the nation. Additionally, more than $127 million in federal parent (PLUS) loans were taken out in Rhode Island during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Rep. Eileen Naughton, who Magaziner named a “big advocate” for the issues of student loan and education affordability, was present at the announcement and also commended the new program.

“Students are able to figure out how and what kind of job that will enable them to use their skills and meet their obligations. But more than that [it will help] the employer, who wants to attract the brightest and the best students in Rhode Island to work for them, and the state has an interest in the best and brightest to start businesses here,” she said. “Rhode Island has really stepped forward in recognizing the burden [of student loans].”

Naughton also spoke of how the tool, an online portal that calculates how best to manage college debt, can be used by parents who have assumed paying the loans of their children.

RISLA already has companies offering the tool to their employees, one of which is Boston based accounting firm KLR. KLR’s Human Resources Director Steven Loffredo said the tool will be helpful to their newest hires and that Rhode Island was taking an essential step forward.

“It’s important for the state to take a leadership role in this and we are doing it,” he said.

Web and mobile app development company MojoTech also served as a guinea pig for RISLA’s tool.

“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,” said MojoTech Operations Director Jacob Brier. “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.”

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