Sallie Mae Student Loans Review

Best for large loan amounts – Sallie Mae

Looking to start a relationship with a student loan company? Sallie Mae might be for you whether you’re looking for something casual as part-time student — or a long-term commitment like medical school.

Fixed APR
Loan Amount
100% of the costs of attendance
$25 or 5% late fee
4 / 5.0
SimpleScore Sallie Mae 4
Rates 3
Perks 5
Transparency 4
Loan Amount 5
Fees 3

Sallie Mae is a student loan giant that funds loans for full-time and part-time students.

If you’re looking for a private student loan to help pay for your college, Sallie Mae is probably a name you’ve seen before. Founded in 1972 as a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), Sallie Mae offers private student loans for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs as well as professional training courses and parent loans. The bank is now completely private after it split into two companies in 2014, with the new entity — Navient — servicing federal student loans.

If you go with Sallie Mae, you’ll find great rates and flexibility for your personal loans — even if you’re only going part-time. All of these factors should put Sallie Mae at the top of your list for funding your education.

In The News
Sallie Mae in the news
  • Sallie Mae announced in November 2020 that it would be laying off more than 100 employees in Delaware due to a company-wide restructuring. These 100 employees represent 6% of the company’s total workforce.
  • Sallie Mae announced its third-quarter earnings in October 2020. The company exceeded expectations, with a per-share earnings of $0.47, despite the volatility of the student loan industry this year. This earnings number is higher than the same quarter last year, where the company had earnings of $0.29 per share.
  • In 2020, the federal government paused repayment on all federal loans. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help you if you have private loans. However, Sallie Mae announced on its COVID-19 page that it has options available for those borrowers experiencing financial difficulty.

[ Read: You Don’t Have to Pay Federal Student Loans Until 2021 — But You Should ]

Sallie Mae Disclosure

Lowest rates shown include auto debit discount. Advertised rates are for the Smart Option Student Loan for undergraduate students and are valid as of 7/22/2021.
Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. Payments may be required during the grace/ separation period depending on the repayment option selected. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs assume a $10,000 loan to a borrower who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae loans. The borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan.

Sallie Mae is one of the most well-known lenders in the student loans world. Sallie Mae offers private student loans for nearly every level of higher education for both part-time and full-time students. Sallie Mae student loans come with competitive interest rates and plenty of perks, including multiple repayment plans and autopay discounts.

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When rating student loan companies, we use our SimpleScore methodology and consider the lender’s interest rate, perks, transparency, loan amount, and fees to make recommendations for the best student loans. 

In this article

    Sallie Mae at a glance

    Variable APR1.13%–11.23%
    Fixed APR3.50%–12.60%
    Eligible degreesUndergraduate, career training, graduate, doctorate, parent
    Cosigners acceptedYes
    Loan amount$1K to 100% of costs
    Best forLarge loan amounts
    Standout featuresLoans for part-time students
    Sallie Mae customer serviceContact page 855-756-5626 (855-SLM-LOAN) Sallie Mae P.O. Box 3319 Wilmington DE 19804-4319

    What we like about Sallie Mae student loans

    Covers up to 100% of costs

    Many student loan lenders have a cap on the dollar amount it will lend to a single student. This can be problematic for those attending expensive schools or seeking expensive degrees such as law school or medical school. Sallie Mae, rather than having a maximum dollar amount, covers up to 100% of the student’s costs, which include tuition, fees, textbooks, housing, food, travel, and a laptop.

    Multiple repayment plans available

    One of the most significant downsides to choosing a private loan over a federal one is that private loans don’t typically come with the same variety of repayment plans. Sallie Mae offers multiple repayment plans, so you don’t have to worry about being stuck with a monthly payment that doesn’t fit your budget.

    [ Read: How to Apply for a Student Loan ]

    Comes with free FICO scores and educational resources

    In addition to the perks of the student loans themselves, Sallie Mae offers borrowers other perks. Borrowers will get free access to their FICO scores, updated quarterly. They’ll also get access to a free four months of Chegg study help.

    Things to consider

    Minimum requirements aren’t listed on the website

    Sallie Mae’s website doesn’t share minimum requirements, such as the credit score they require for student loans. Many competitors openly share this information, and this lack of transparency could cause many borrowers to choose a different lender.

    No soft credit checks available

    Unlike many other lenders, Sallie Mae doesn’t allow borrowers to prequalify through a soft credit check. This fact is even more problematic because the company doesn’t list its loan requirements on its website. You have to do a hard inquiry to find out if you’re eligible.

    Sallie Mae vs. the competition


    SoFi is one of the best in the business for private student loans. In fact, the lender got its start in 2011 specifically to offer student loan refinancing. Both SoFi and Sallie Mae offer competitive rates. Sallie Mae offers slightly lower rates for its variable loans, while SoFi has a slightly better low and maximum rate for fixed-rate loans. However, both lenders provide a discount for autopay. Read our full SoFi student loan review.

    How much will a Sallie Mae student loan cost?

    One of the benefits of Sallie Mae’s student loans is that the lender doesn’t charge origination fees. This can help cut costs when compared to lenders that do charge these fees. To figure out how much your loan will cost, consider the amount you plan to borrow, the interest rate Sallie Mae offers you, and the amount of time you plan to take to pay off the loan. Keep in mind that Sallie Mae charges late fees, while some of its competitors don’t.

    Sallie Mae student loan refinancing

    Refinancing is when you take out a new loan to cover your existing student loans. It basically involves one lender buying your loan from another at a new interest rate with new terms. Sallie Mae doesn’t currently offer student loan refinancing or consolidation.

    If you currently have a private student loan with Sallie Mae and want to refinance to secure a lower rate, you can still refinance with a different lender. Shop around before choosing a lender to make sure you’re getting a good rate.

    [ Read: Here Are the Details of Paying Back Student Loans ]

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    How to apply for a Sallie Mae student loan

    Are you considering Sallie Mae as your private student loan lender? Here’s how to apply for a Sallie Mae student loan:

    1. Make sure Sallie Mae offers the type of loan you need. The company provides loans for undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as career training programs.
    1. Consider how much you’ll need to borrow. Sallie Mae offers up to 100% of student expenses, including housing, meals and more. But you don’t necessarily have to borrow that much. If you can afford to pay your own living expenses while in school, you can save money in the long-run on your loans.
    1. Fill out an application. When you apply with Sallie Mae, you’ll indicate what school you’re attending and what level of degree you’re working toward. From that information, it’ll determine what amount you’re eligible for.
    1. Choose between variable and fixed rates. Sallie Mae offers both rate options. You may get a lower rate with a variable-rate loan, but keep in mind it can increase in the future.
    1. Await the results. Depending on your credit and financial situation, Sallie Mae might give you a decision right away, or you might have to wait for someone to look at your application.

    Last updated November 12, 2020 – Updated editorial review of Sallie Mae.

    We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the student loans we recommend. Contact us at with comments or questions.



    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore™

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best student loans of 2020.

    Max Fixed Rate

    Lenders who offered a lower maximum fixed rate were awarded higher scores.


    We awarded higher scores for lenders that list more perks including services, discounts and special offers for their borrowers.


    Lenders that laid it all bare by publishing important data about products — APR, offered loan amounts, applicable fees and customer support contact links — scored higher for transparency.

    Loan Amount

    Lenders that offered higher loan amounts compared to others received higher scores. 


    We awarded higher scores to lenders that have fewer loan fees for borrowers. 

    Reviewed by

    • Adam Morgan
      Adam Morgan
      Senior Editor

      Adam Morgan is a senior editor at The Simple Dollar who’s covered finance and culture for 15 years. He developed the Simple Dollar’s proprietary scoring metric — the SimpleScore — and founded the annual Simple Dollar Awards. He is a former contributing editor to Bankrate and, and his writing has been featured in The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The AV Club, and elsewhere.