Financial Aid and Student Loans in Rhode Island

If you’re planning on attending college in Rhode Island, you’ll likely going to need to explore the various student loan and financial aid options available to help you pay tuition and other costs. The state ranks 49th out of 50th in terms of college affordability, averaging $48,147 per year to attend a four year college. 

At Funding U, we provide a comprehensive checklist for how to pay for college, and here we’ll give you an overview of scholarship programs, grants, and student loans in Rhode Island to help you fund your studies cost effectively.

What scholarship programs does Rhode Island have?

Rhode Island offers several scholarships to students who want to attend in-state schools. You can access both local and national scholarships that can reduce your borrowing.

Some notable scholarships include:

Matthew Siravo Memorial Foundation Scholarship Award

  • Total award: $2500
  • Deadline for Application: March 1, 2020
  • Scholarships Awarded: Maximum of 4 per year

U.S. high school seniors residing in Rhode Island and living with epilepsy are eligible to apply. The non-profit organization, established in honor of 5-year-old epileptic, Matthew Siravo, raises awareness of epilepsy through its annual scholarships to epileptic high school seniors in Rhode Island. Applicants must reside in Rhode Island.

The Paul Sherlock Scholarship

The scholarship is in honor of the late Paul V. Sherlock, a professor and local state representative in Rhode Island.

Students are eligible to apply if they reside in Rhode Island and have graduated from an accredited Rhode Island or high school, completed a recognized home course study, or hold a GED. They may also apply if they are enrolled at a nationally accredited 2-year or 4-year college, university, or proprietary tertiary school. Written proof of admission is required.

The Rhode Island Academic Promise Program

  • Total Award: $250 – $750
  • Deadline for Application: March 1, 2020
  • Scholarships Awarded: Varies on availability of funds and number of applicants

The scholarship award is available to state-resident undergraduate students at the Community College of Rhode Island. They must demonstrate that their family resources are not sufficient to meet the costs of attending a higher education institution.

The RI Office of the Post-secondary Commissioner offers this scholarship. It needs students to show a RIHEAA-calculated financial need of not less than $1,000 to be eligible.

Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship

Rhode Island students can also apply for the congressionally funded Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship. It is highly competitive and only goes to a few students each year with applicants numbering in the dozens.

Eligible awardees can expect to receive up to $1,500 per year, to be used in any approved school, college, or university in the U.S. (but not in military academies).

Students are rated on academic competence, SAT and ACT scores, community activities, and enrollment pending in a four-year college program. The grant is renewable for up to three years, depending on the student’s grade score requirements and achievement. 

What grant programs does Rhode Island have?

Grants, if you can get them, are one of the best ways to finance your education. In most cases, you will not have to repay the money.

Rhode Island provides several need-based grants to its residents through various grant programs.

All applications for funding opportunities must be through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA form) at a minimum. In some applicants’’ cases, particular documents may require additional documentation after the initial review of the FAFSA submission.

A few notable grants available within the state include:

The Rhode Island Promise Grant

The grant covers tuition and fees for students enrolled in tertiary education full time. Governor Gina Raimondo introduced the award in 2017 to make it more affordable for needy students to pursue a college education.

The Rhode Island State Grant

The Rhode Island State Grant offers eligible college students provide from $250 – $900 annually. Applicants must reside in Rhode Island. Out-of-state students are not eligible to apply.

Also, students must prove that they are U.S. citizens or authorized residents. They’ll also need to maintain at least a half-time status of enrollment in college courses, and be working towards a recognized certificate or degree from a tertiary institution.

Higher Education Opportunity Incentive Grant

The Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families will give grants in an amount making up the difference between received financial aid and the cost of attendance, up to the full difference, to students who are under the custody of this department. The award amount is based both on needs and academics, and there is no upper limit aside from the fact that your total financial aid will not exceed your cost of attendance.

What student loan programs does Rhode Island have?

Rhode Island has a unique student loan program available to residents. Disbursement of loans is via the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority, at the lowest possible cost.


The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is a non-profit state authority that provides affordable higher education loans to students resident in Rhode Island. Founded in 1981, RISLA offers students free admissions, financial aid assistance, and financial literacy guidance through the College Planning Center of Rhode Island.

When students choose to finance federal loans using RISLA, they are taking advantage of monies that not subject to federal taxation, which saves state residents a significant amount on federal loans. Most institutions use the FAFSA form to determine your eligibility for institutional aid.

Federal student loans

Prospective Rhode Island students can receive federal financial aid assistance by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid(FAFSA). 

Private co-signed student loans

There are many private student loan opportunities for those who need additional assistance on top of federal student loans. Many banks, credit unions, and dedicated lending companies offer private student loans, but almost all require a co-signer.

No co-signer student loans in Rhode Island

Funding U began because we identified thousands of students who were unable to qualify for a private student loan because they didn’t have an eligible co-signer. While we’re no longer the only provider of such loans, we offer no co-signer student loans to career-focused students currently enrolled full time in college. The requirements for receiving a loan are dependent upon the GPA of the student and the graduation rate of the institution they attend. To learn more about our no co-signer student loans click here. NOTE: Funding U does not offer loans to residents of the state of Rhode Island.  However, if you are attending a school located in Rhode Island and are a resident of another state that is eligible you may apply.

What Schools Does Funding U Lend to in Rhode Island?

Funding U’s no co-signer loans are offered to students at eligible four-year, non-profit, undergraduate degree-granting universities.

The requirements mean that we do not lend to for-profit schools, 2-year schools, graduate schools, or trade schools. Our eligibility requirements are based on models that aim to predict how likely a student is to graduate. We have minimum GPA requirements that students must meet and minimum 6-year graduation rates that schools must reach to be eligible.

Find out more about how we determine our eligibility here.

Below is a table listing all of the schools in Rhode Island that Funding U is currently lending to with additional details on which grades are eligible based on the school’s six-year graduation rate. 

School NameFreshman
6 yr
Grad Rate
Brown UniversityYesYesYesYes9598
Bryant UniversityNoYesYesYes8190
Johnson & Wales University-ProvidenceNoNoYesYes6776
Providence CollegeNoYesYesYes8692
Rhode Island CollegeNoNoYesYes5075
Rhode Island School of DesignNoYesYesYes8995
Roger Williams UniversityNoYesYesYes7079
Salve Regina UniversityNoYesYesYes7284
University of Rhode IslandNoNoYesYes6785

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