Sallie Mae Student Loans Review

Sallie Mae is a publicly traded consumer bank that offers private student loans to pay for undergraduate, graduate specialty degrees. The company started in 1973 as a government entity that serviced federal student loans. It went private in 2004 offers a range of student loan products. Beyond student loans, Sallie Mae Bank offers savings products to help families plan pay for college, credit cards with incentives for using cash back rewards to pay back student loans.

Best Features

  • Student loans completely cover school-certified expenses – tuition, fees, books, housing, meals, travel laptop.
  • Customer service 100% U.S.-based.
  • No loan origination fee.
  • A 0.25 percentage point interest rate discount if enrolled in autopay.


  • Sallie Mae does not offer refinancing.
  • Adding a creditworthy co-signer is strongly encouraged to get the best interest rates.

Find the Best Student Loans for You

What Types of Student Loans Does Sallie Mae Offer?

Sallie Mae provides a range of loans for students parents to help pay for undergraduate graduate degrees, along with specialty degrees. Loans also accommodate part-time students those pursuing continuing education coursework or earning professional certification.

  • Undergraduate student loans.
  • Graduate student loans.
  • Career training student loans.
  • Parent loans.
  • K-12 loans.
  • MBA loans.
  • Medical school loans.
  • Medical residency loans.
  • Dental school loans.
  • Dental residency loans.
  • Health professions graduate loans.
  • Law school loans.
  • Bar study loans.

How Does Sallie Mae Work?

Students can use a loan from Sallie Mae to pay for a year of school-certified expenses, such as tuition, fees, housing, meals, books, travel even personal expenses, like a laptop.

To start the process of applying for a loan, applicants provide information to Sallie Mae including:

  • Your address.
  • Your Social Security number.
  • Two personal contacts other than a co-signer.
  • Your employment information, including gross income company name.
  • School information, including your enrollment status, degree, course of study, academic period of enrollment year in school.
  • Financial aid scholarships you expect to receive.
  • Financial information, including bank accounts monthly rent or mortgage payments.
  • The requested loan amount.

Sallie Mae then conducts a credit review. If the application is approved, you will choose the type of interest rate repayment option.

What Are Sallie Mae’s Loan Terms, Fees Discounts?

Sallie Mae’s Smart Option variable rate loan starts at 1.13%, which includes the 0.25 percentage point discount if you select monthly autopay. Rates can be up to 11.23% depending on your creditworthiness. The fixed-rate Smart Option loan starts at 4.25% with the autopay discount goes up to 12.59%. Sallie Mae does not charge application or origination fees. Late fees are 5% of the amount past due – up to $25 – the returned check fee is up to $20. If you’re struggling with loan payments, you might not be eligible for Sallie Mae’s loan repayment incentives.

How Do You Qualify for Sallie Mae Student Loans?

If you’re attending a school outside of the United States, you must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident to qualify for a Sallie Mae student loan. If you are not a citizen are attending a U.S. school, you’ll need a co-signer who is a citizen or resident. The minimum loan is $1,000. Sallie Mae does not disclose its minimum credit score other eligibility requirements but emphasizes that you must attend a degree-granting institution.

What Credit Score Do You Need to Apply for a Sallie Mae Student Loan?

Sallie Mae’s website does not disclose a required credit score. It does say that Sallie Mae usually provides a credit result after the student – co-signer, if applicable – submits the application. In some cases, credit specialists may ask for more information or documentation before making a decision.

What Are Sallie Mae’s Deferment Repayment Options?

Sallie Mae offers several repayment options. With deferred repayment, you won’t have loan payments while in school or during your separation or grace period – the six months after you finish school before principal interest payments begin. Fixed repayment sets a monthly loan payment amount while you’re in school during your grace period. After that, your loan payments will increase. Interest repayment is when you only pay interest while in school during your grace period, after which you’ll begin paying monthly principal interest.

Sallie Mae offers in-school payment assistance if you have trouble managing monthly student loan payments selected the fixed or interest repayment plans. After leaving school passing your grace period, if you need help making principal interest payments, Sallie Mae offers repayment alternatives. A graduated repayment period permits interest-only payments for a year after your grace period. Also, you can defer payment while in an internship, fellowship or residency program. Deferment or forbearance is available while serving in the military, though forbearance should be a last resort.

Additional Features

Sallie Mae offers free Chegg Study 24/7 online homework help worth $100 four months of Easybib Plus, which scans papers for plagiarism, errors missing citations.

Is Sallie Mae a Reputable Lender?

Sallie Mae received 4.6 out of 5 stars from U.S. News & World Report. This rating is calculated based on factors measuring affordability, eligibility customer service. Sallie Mae is accredited by the Better Business Bureau, from which it has an A+ grade. Sallie Mae has been BBB accredited since 2015.

How Is Sallie Mae’s Customer Service?

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau received 169 complaints about Sallie Mae student loans in 2020, with most related to dealing with the lender or servicer. The company gave a timely response to all complaints.

Sallie Mae Student Loans Are Best For:

  • Borrowers who want a choice in fixed or adjustable-rate loans with options for repayment.
  • Those seeking a loan during a medical or dental residency, or while studying for a law bar exam.
  • Students who need to cover expenses beyond tuition, such as books, housing, travel, meals technology like a laptop.
  • Borrowers who prioritize U.S.-based customer service.

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